So I have lived at the coasts. In NY/CT suburbs if I went to the mall or grocery store parking, I would know where my car is parked by looking for the “open spot” between the SUV’s, that was my economy sedan. In CA, since gas shot up (& down) we have the two extremes. One those who bought hybrids, but for the most part their usage does not justify the extra price paid over a comparable car. But it is a statement they want to make. The SUV drivers are all out and doing their thing. I will also add that we have a lot more of cars that actually are worse on gas than the average SUV, Chargers, and a whole host of 8 cylinder cars that I have not kept track of.
Having knee and back pain, I appreciate the higher sitting position in any car, hence not being able to tolerate my Camry much.
Our big car happens to be a minivan, but are considering an SUV for replacement, mostly because of our commute, which is on a road populated by 18 wheelers. The sedans gets crushed big time. It is mostly the problem with being seen and being able to see. They are probably not safer as we all know, but then again everything is relative. I patch it up to midlife crisis. But if most cars on the roads we travel were compact sedans, we would seriously reconsider esp given the extra expenses for gas and tires and all.