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I drove up to Las Vegas last Saturday morning. Traffic was relatively light, so we were buzzing along at 80-90 mph on I-15 and were going with the flow of traffic (posted speed limit = 70). I hit 105 briefly in my aged Miata at one point while passing some cars.

On long straight stretches of open road, this doesn't seem outrageously fast or unsafe. However, when I was going 90, it was a little disconcerting to be passed by SUVs. How fast should they be going?

Question: Once you get your Elise, with top speed @150, how fast do you plan to drive it on the highway?? What would you say is a responsible limit??
 

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All SUVs should be restricted to a top speed of 70 and be confined to the right lane, along with semi's, their close cousins.


(I'm only being half-serious ;) )
 

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No Mikester, you aren't completely out of line. Remember the Firestone tire debacle?

There are plently of SUVs out there with tires that are either underinflated or don't have a proper speed rating to go too far past 100 mph. Problems may not develop right away if an SUV exceeds the max speed in which a tire was designed, but maybe 10k miles down the road. For example, a popular SUV, the Ford Explorer comes with tires equipped for 112mph. I'm not sure if the vehicle can even reach that speed, but I'm sure someone somewhere is running a tire rated for 106mph.

I also wonder what these SUVs would do in the event of having to make an emergency manuever, be it braking hard or turning.

But in any case, I let them do what they want and I get out of their way.
 

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I know that I'm just inviting flames, but my redesigned 2002 Explorer XLT V8 cruises along at 95+ mph quite stabily. It certainly inspires more confidence at those speeds than my '02 Miata did (though my Miata was obviously more capable at those speeds). The new Explorers are surprisingly car-like in their handling. I wouldn't do 120 in my Exploder, but it is capable of changing lanes and braking from 100 without any drama.
 

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Ford redesigned the Explorer's suspension, lowered it and changed a few other bits at about that year (2002).
The newer models handle much more like a car than they used to.
Best,
John
 

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Sometimes however, a cushy ride and controls that don't relay any feedback actually mask what is going on with the car. The analogy here being, 150mph in a Mercedes S-class on the Autobahn feels more safe than 150mph in a Porsche GT2, but because of buoyancy and suspension, the latter is actually more safe...
 

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Is the Explorer capable of towing 2500 lbs w/o a towing package? With the millions of these things out on the road I'm thinking I can pick up a '00- '01 on the cheap and use it as a towing/tire picker-uper/dog/girlfriend and friends hauler.
 

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The reason the Autobahn is soo fast and relatively safe is because semi trucks are not allowed on it. And you hardly see any SUVs.

If the freeways were like the Autobahn 150mph ALL DAY LONG!!! :D :D

Neil
 

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I'll sound off as a father and ER Physician here. Be safe. Working on trauma victims is not hard. The hard part is going to tell the children, mothers, fathers, wives, whatever, that their loved one died because they were stupid. That is the worst part of my job. Do a track day. It may not be you that is at fault. It may be a drunk, or someone gabbing on a cell phone but people do unpredictable things that make you take evasive action. Anticipate and get your thrills on an unoccupied road. I'll admit my own penchant for speed, so I have raced SCCA and I work on the medical side of the racing industry. Soapbox off...
 

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_JD_ said:
Is the Explorer capable of towing 2500 lbs w/o a towing package? With the millions of these things out on the road I'm thinking I can pick up a '00- '01 on the cheap and use it as a towing/tire picker-uper/dog/girlfriend and friends hauler.
My '02 with the V8 and the towing package is rated at just north of 7000 pounds and will tow it all day long. I think that the '00-'01 is rated at a bit less with the V8 and like 4000 lbs. with the V6. Two cautions though:
Don't pick up an Explorer with a five-spd. for towing. Apparently that tranny becomes the weak link in the drivetrain and drops the tow rating down to something like 2200 pounds.
Also, don't pick up an Explorer for towing if you're hoping to use rented trailers. U-Haul recently stopped renting trailers to pull behind Ford Explorers.
 

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Cale said:
I'll sound off as a father and ER Physician here. Be safe. Working on trauma victims is not hard. The hard part is going to tell the children, mothers, fathers, wives, whatever, that their loved one died because they were stupid. That is the worst part of my job. Do a track day. It may not be you that is at fault. It may be a drunk, or someone gabbing on a cell phone but people do unpredictable things that make you take evasive action. Anticipate and get your thrills on an unoccupied road. I'll admit my own penchant for speed, so I have raced SCCA and I work on the medical side of the racing industry. Soapbox off...
I didn't mean to sound cavalier in my post. I know that there's not much I can say in an internet forum to convince you, but I do try to be as safe and courteous a driver as I can be. The only evidence that I can offer is my clean driving record and the single accident that I've had in years (I was rear-ended in construction).
I think that your message is a good one. It's not worth endangering your own life or others' to shave a few minutes off of your drive time by driving at an unsafe speed. I do feel that sometimes speeds above the posted speed limit can be relatively 'safe,' however.
 

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I believe non-rated speed rated tires have a minimum standard of 90MPH. I think that means they can run at their rated speed at the rated load for one hour at the recommended pressure without failing. If they are underinflated or too high a load, then failure can occur in less time or at a lower speed.

The forces exerted by a moving vehicle go up with the square of the speed. So a manuever that is safe in an SUV at 50MPH may be well beyond it's limits at 70. I the g-forces in a turn are .5Gs at 50MPH they will be 1.0Gs at 70.71 MPH. A reasonable lane change at 70 MPH to avoid something can become a maniac slide at 100 MPH because the G-forces involved more than double. Because of their high center of gravity, an SUV's tendency to trip and roll greatly increases at speed. They may be very safe at 10 MPH in a straight line, add turns and disaster can ensue.

If I remember correctly the interstate highway system was designed so that no curve exceeded .3 Gs at 70 MPH. Anything that exceeds that should be marked for maximum speed. It has been a long time since I read that, but I think that is correct. Maybe we have a civil engineer that verify it. Standards could have changed, or I could have a faulty memory.

I think going beyond 90 MPH in an unmodified truck or SUV is probably going beyond it's safety limits with good visibility to hazards ahead. Less with increased traffic or hills, or visibility problems.

I had an old Blazer that was worn and lifted with big tires. It was unsafe at about 55 MPH under normal high conditions.


Greg
 

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It's not the truck itself since they will still rent trailers to Mountaineer and Aviator owners (essentially the same as an Explorer). It has to do with the trouble they've had with Explorer owners in the past, something to do with accidents and damage claims.
 

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sonza68 said:
It's not the truck itself since they will still rent trailers to Mountaineer and Aviator owners (essentially the same as an Explorer). It has to do with the trouble they've had with Explorer owners in the past, something to do with accidents and damage claims.
Yep. I called and got a prepared statement that said that it was not a safety matter but a corporate policy that applies to all years and models of the Explorer, blah blah blah. I asked if they rented to the Mountaineer and they said 'yes,' so I asked them if they'd rent me a trailer if I just slapped a Mercury badge on my truck because that's how Ford does it. They were not pleased.
To be honest, I'm glad that I no longer need even consider U-Haul. My last few interactions with them were terrible.
 

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Little Bastard said:
The reason the Autobahn is soo fast and relatively safe is because semi trucks are not allowed on it. And you hardly see any SUVs.

If the freeways were like the Autobahn 150mph ALL DAY LONG!!! :D :D

Neil
Semi Trucks are allowed on the autobahn (though not many SUVs thankfully). I spent a lot of time in Europe (dated a girl for 4 years from Germany) and trucks are allowed on the highway. One thing that is different is that most trucks are not allowed on the highway during the weekend. They need some special permission to do so. One of the reasons that the autobahn is safe is because it is incredibly difficult to get a German driving license and the rules are followed very closely. My ex-girlfriend told me that passing on the right is strictly enforced with a stiff punishment. One sad thing is that more and more stretches of the autobahn now have a speed limit. It was amazing to see people actually follow the rules and traffic flowed much more smoothly even though most of them are only 2-lane each way. I miss those roads :(

About the Ford Explorer topic ... if your vehicle rolls when you get a flat tire, it is not the tire's fault. It is the vehicle's fault. No matter how great a tire is, there is still a chance of a blowout. If the vehicle that is driven or the lack of driving skills of the driver can't handle that, then that vehicle/driver should not be on the road.

Just my $0.02.
 

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I just watched a special on the Autobahn on the History channel. The moral of the story was that it is the greatest road on earth but that Americans will never be willing to invest the money required to create a road that good. Apparently the Autobahn is twice as thick as American freeways and if there is any defect the entire stretch of pavement is removed and replaced. Also, traffic laws are strictly enforced, driver's licenses are much harder to obtain (and very expensive). There is also an elaborate camera system that allows controllers to open the breakdown lane to truck traffic in backups after scanning miles of freeway to ensure that it is not blocked. Amazing stuff.
They showed people being ticketed for passing on the right and for tailgating. I wish there was more of that here.
 

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I think I saw the same documentary. Yes, it is an amazing system of highways. In the US's defense, we have MUCH more highways and it would be too expensive to build them as elaborate as the German system of highways.

One thing I noticed with some people is that they think the Autobahn is just one road. Everyone always says 'the Autobahn' and some people assume it is one road. To be honest I used to think that too. I have had to explain this to many people.
 

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Odog said:
I think I saw the same documentary. Yes, it is an amazing system of highways. In the US's defense, we have MUCH more highways and it would be too expensive to build them as elaborate as the German system of highways.

One thing I noticed with some people is that they think the Autobahn is just one road. Everyone always says 'the Autobahn' and some people assume it is one road. To be honest I used to think that too. I have had to explain this to many people.
I guess that I give that impression as well. I should have said something like 'The greatest system of roads.'
 
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