rollover: the hidden history of the suv

press reaction
unsafe on any tire?
before you buy...
nixon & detroit

the baltimore sun· david zurawik

"There's no nice way of saying this: if you paid big bucks for one of those tall, expensive SUVs, you are a fool. Twice a fool actually, because not only did you pay one of the highest mark-ups ever calculated by Detroit, but you also are putting yourself and your family in danger.

That's the message of a hard-hitting Frontline report, 'Rollover: The Hidden History of the SUV.' ... Between 'Rollover' and last week's 'American Porn,' Frontline is on a muckraking roll. I mean that in the best sense of the word: taking on powerful wrongdoers, exposing their lies and laying them low.

Furthermore, there are no unsupported, sensational charges and other excesses often associated with muckraking. Frontline builds its case bolt by bolt, explaining the history, economics, consumer psychology, safety record and failure of government oversight that led the public being taken in by the auto industry. ..."

san francisco chronicle· john carman

"... 'Rollover' is the toughest Frontline piece in memory, and a program that everyone who owns an SUV, or is thinking of buying one, should see.

The unsparing conclusion: SUV's aren't safe, and our government has been more adept at protecting the Ford Motor Co. and other automakers than at protecting the rest of us. ...

One thing must be said. The whole Frontline story on SUVs is very tough on Ford and barely mentions General Motors, which is a major underwriter of PBS programming.

I think too highly of Frontline to believe there's a connection, but the disparity is obvious. It is true that Ford's Bronco II and Explorer have had the most central roles in the SUV debates. ..."

houston chronicle· ann hodges

"... Frontline re-tracks a checkered 20-year history of SUVs (some of it already well known) to check out what roles the auto industry, politics and deregulation played in the ongoing questions of SUV safety. ...

Frontline does note that 'for whatever reason (the italics are mine) many SUVs (including the Explorer) are now being designed lower and wider,' the basic safety measure that 'some at NHTSA called for 15 years ago.' Two automotive experts here, however, still say they wouldn't buy one.

And unfortunately, that's the end of that.

Why end there? To anybody who owns an SUV or is thinking of buying one, what's happening now to make them safer is of considerable more interest than the so-called 'hidden history' of the past.

Oh, well. SUV owners will still want to take a look."

boston herald· marisa guthrie

"... The Bush administration might have declined last week to investigate the Ford Explorer, but as PBS' intrepid documentary series Frontline shows, the story did not end (or begin) there. ...

Frontline producers Barak Goodman and Marc Shaffer have assembled the usual suspects to contribute commentary -- lawyers, engineers, politicians and the families of the dead. 'Rollover' is quintessential Frontline, posing probing, antagonistic questions. ..."

new york daily news· david bianculli

"... The hour is filled with damning evidence and scary footage. ...

Test-dummy footage and practice-run rollovers are plentiful. On test tracks, the unwieldy maneuvers of these vehicles are almost as clumsily evasive as the defensive arguments by auto-company executives. ...

The issue, and the controversy is anything but new. ... Yet by tracking how the auto industry avoided regulation all these years and resisted redesigning SUVs even as accidents rose annually, Frontline shows convincingly that the problem is not limited to one or two styles or manufacturers, or to the sometimes defective tires on which they run. When it comes to SUV safety and regulation, it seems that politicians, too, have a history of rolling over."

the newark star-ledger· matt zoller seitz

"While other newsmagazines specialize in the Outrage of the Week, PBS' Frontline digs much deeper, reminding us that today's news is often yesterday's news with the names changed. ...

It's a chilling story, well-told by Frontline."

the kansas city star· aaron barnhart

"There's going to be a reality show airing next month in which the winner will drive off in a brand-new, fully equipped sports utility vehicle. And if you think that's, like, the coolest thing ever, you'd best sit yourself in front of the TV tonight.

That's because the PBS newsmagazine Frontline is airing the definitive program on SUVs and rollovers... A sobering counterpoint to the American public's buying frenzy, it does what Frontline does best - it rewinds the tape and puts today's news stories in the eye-opening context of history. ..."

the globe and mail (toronto)· catherine dawson march

"... It's an investigative doc that's got it all: crusading lawyers and safety advoactes, government stonewalling, the superhuman power of auto industry lobbyists, the sorrow and anger of victims' families and a beautifully ironic ending. ..."