A gigantic sport-utility vehicle, built under the philosophy that Bigger Is Better, basically making it the Spiritual Successor to 1950s cars with giant tail-fins. Smaller cars, or at least their drivers, tremble in fear at its presence on the highway — or maybe it's because the road itself is shaking under its weight. The name will be something bold, authoritative and often referring to freedom, power and the rugged wilderness, like "Crusader"note Well, a lot of Arabs are gonna get killed because of it, "Passport" or "Kilimanjaro". It's filled with all sorts of equipment to help it tow trailers, climb mountains, and get through the rain, snow, sleet, hail, mud, and whatever else Mother Nature can throw at it...
...very little of which will be used by 90% of the people who buy it. Instead, it will most likely serve as a mall crawler in suburbia (or a "suburban utility vehicle"), shuttling tots to soccer games and groceries back to the house. Fuel economy will be measured in either the single digits or in gallons per mile. The driver will be either a very tiny woman Compensating for Something, a man in his midlife crisis who is alsoCompensating for Something, a Mexicancartel boss looking for something huge, intimidating, and capable of seating lots of goons with lots of firepower, or a celebrity using it to flaunt his wealth (pro athletes, rap musicians, and action movie stars are the most common), in which case it will likely also be a Pimped-Out Car. When it comes time for Junior to get his or her license, expect the kid to shudder at the thought of having to maneuver the thing.
The rough British equivalent of this trope is the "Chelsea tractor", which refers to huge 4x4s (aka SUVs in America) that never leave the city and are owned by people who don't need the offroad capabilities. Among the vehicles stereotypically associated with this trope are Land Rovers (especially Range Rovers), Porsche Cayennes, BMW X5s, and other 4x4s of that ilk, luxury vehicles that, while smaller than the typical American example, make up for it with their focus on flashiness. Such people are often stereotyped as arrogant and insecure.
This is chiefly an American and British trope, as Europe and Japan's narrower roads, crowded city streets, and pricier gas make such vehicles uneconomical in those places. Likely to show up when a work is carrying a Green Aesop. Compare Absurdly Long Limousine, and God help you if the two are combined. The rough equivalent for smaller cars is the Rice Burner. Note that this trope isn't about large SUVs that are actually used for their intended "sport" and "utility" purposes, but rather, for when they are used as suburban status symbols.
Quickly becoming a Discredited Trope, as the one two punch of the late 2000s gas crisis and the 2010s economic crisis hit the SUV market hard, even in the United States. Even the Trope Namer Hummer brand was shut down in 2009. However, between the Grandfather Clause and the fact that the Hummer is still one of the most famous Real Life examples of this trope, Hummer Dinger will keep its old name until the site decides otherwise.
Suzuki once ran a series of ads for one of their smaller SUVs showing off all the things that drivers couldn't do in their competitors' larger vehicles (park in tight spots, be able to reach down to the ticket at the toll booth without getting out).
Kia also ran an ad like this, showing the compact Sorento clearing off-road obstacles that much larger SUVs got stuck in.
A PSA was once made comparing these giant SUVs to wild animals to educate owners of said vehicles to be careful when driving them.
Films — Animated
A pimped out Hummer makes an appearance at "Sarge's SUV Boot Camp" at the end of Cars. When ordered to drop and give Sarge twenty (miles), he complains of dirt getting in his rims, making it obvious that he's never been off road.
Over the Hedge had the antagonist driving around in one, while simultaneously talking on her cell phone and drinking coffee. As RJ explains when he introduces the forest animals to suburbia, "Humans drive around in these because they are slowly losing their ability to walk."
In The Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks claims that SUVs would be Awesome, but Impractical in a survival situation, stating that most (but not all) of them are built more for suburbia than off-roading (referring to them as "gas-guzzling, aesthetically engineered, irresponsibly marketed vanity plates").
On Reno 911!, the deputies got issued a Hummer and were ecstatic about it... until they encountered problem after problem due to its bulk and poor gas mileage.
Top Gear frequently invokes this when talking about SUVs, especially ones like the BMW X5 and the Range Rover. Oddly enough, Jeremy Clarkson actually enjoyed the huge and unwieldy Hummer H2 for its charm, claiming that driving it made him feel like a seven-year-old boy and defending his love of it to Richard Hammond and James May, despite hating the H1 which is more capable off-road.
Similarly, one of the cars used in NCIS: Los Angeles is a Dodge Challenger. While the car itself isn't an example of this trope, it's used when the team is undercover and wants to project the image of someone who would drive a Hummer Dinger.
The Monstrosity of How I Met Your Mother, which has 4000 horsepower and gets 0.05 miles to the gallon. It has a smaller variation, the Monstrosity Sport, which has 3999 horsepower and gets 0.06 MPG. "Mon-stro-si-ty, 'cause global warming isn't real!"
Now once a month pay half your rent to make sure your body's covered Feel the freedom of the road, with suspension like no other As long as we get paid you can drive it off a cliff With your family and your dog inside, we don't give a shit
The political satire group Capitol Steps had a song called "God Bless my SUV", which is exactly what it sounds like:
And I'm proud to be an American who gets just 5 MPG Though I live alone, the car I own could seat a hundred three And I'll gladly park so close to you, when you pull out, you can't see No I'll never trade my Escalade! God bless my SUV!
FoxTrot had a storyline where Roger went to a "Humbler" dealership. Said vehicle turns out to be comically huge, have a gas mileage of 25 meters per gallon, and is hinted to be so heavy that it affects the orbit of the Sun.
Over the Hedge had a strip, later incorporated into the movie, in which Hammy asked how many humans can fit into a vehicle so huge. RJ's response: "One."
Parodied in Grand Theft Auto III with radio ads for the "Maibatsu Monstrosity", an SUV that can seat 12 and cross rivers... "though I've only crossed a couple of puddles. But it's good to know it's there!"
Within the games themselves, the Landstalker fills this role perfectly, complete with a tendency to roll over at the slightest provocation, particularly in the III-era games. It's no longer as easy to roll in IV, but it remains slow and lumbering.
Zig-zagged with the Patriot in the IV-era games, which is specifically based on the Hummer H2. On one hand, the civilian version fits this trope perfectly, with a low speed, a large turning circle and a propensity for rolling over. However, a faster, more agile version is used by NOOSE, the game's resident State Sec, and is a prime choice for one to use in the Vigilantemissions due to its speed, mobility and resilience.
It's subverted even harder in the III-era games, where it was based on the original Hummer. There, it was also used as a military truck, and even the civilian version was one of the best off-road vehicles in the game.
Lampshaded in IV, which has a "Player Image" stat which summarizes the player's image based on the vehicles he rides around in the most. Having any of the game's four-wheel-drive SUV's as your favorite car will grant you the title of "Soccer Mom".
GTA V tears into this trope with Bravado Motors, an all-American automaker that just got bailed out by the government... and went on to keep making the same gas-guzzling SUVs and muscle cars that put them in that situation in the first place, because that's the American Way.
"Together, we're holding onto the dream. And that dream is luxury, and a gas-guzzling luxury car, created in a nation that's 95% condemned. We haven't forgotten what America wants: a hunk of overpriced shit that goes fast and gets you vapid pussy."
The Saints Row games have a giant diesel pickup truck called the Compensator. A Hummer H1 Alpha expy called the Bulldog appears in Saints Row 2 and 3 and is mostly drive in wealthy suburbia, though it is a very effective vehicle because of its durability.
In the rather silly FMV game Corpse Killer, your stereotypical Jamaican sidekick repeatedly informs you of his desire to buy a Hummer. One sidequest has the two of you looking for pirate treasure so he can buy one.
Mentioned in Forza Motorsport 4's Autovista mode, when Jeremy Clarkson talks about the Hummer H1 Alpha, describing how it can drive through 20 inch deep flooded roads perfectly fine, then noting that it is not something generally encountered on the way to the gym.
Averted with the SUV's in Test Drive Unlimited 2 where their whole purpose is for off-road racing that the Classic or Asphault classes struggle to grip dirt roads. Although via wrecks, you can find dedicated off-roaders such as a V8 buggy or a Lancia Stratos rally car.
Averted for some reason in the MMO Drift City. Early on in the storyline, you're given a mission to drive an SUV around a long winding, hilly section of road spanning around the perimeter of the starting city. The game claims that SUVs are better for climbing up the steep hills because they have more power. Truth is, any car can drive up a hill just as easily as any SUV due to the game's mechanics. SUVs themselves generally have a higher "Toughness" stat, which has a small impact (no pun intended) on how much damage you do to enemies when you collide into them. How often you need to refuel your car depends on the tier of the car your driving, not the type, which means that SUVs last just as long as every other car in the same tier, only they don't drive nearly as fast. Also, all the cars in the game have their Serial Numbers Filed Off, unless they're from the Chrystler corporation or it's subsidaries Dodge and Jeep. For example, the "Comet" is a Mitsubishi Eclipse under a fictional name. One of the end-game SUVs is based off the Hummer H3, and actually is one of the most powerful vehicles in the game, even able to compete with other end-game cars.
The X3: Terran Conflict mod, Xtended, has the Mani luxury yacht, a very capable pocket warship with a withering amount of firepower and endurance. The ship's description then goes on to say how it's impractical, inefficient, and is used almost exclusively as a status symbol by wealthy Terrans. True to the old Hummer, it gobbles up energy cells at a phenomenal rate when jumping between jump gates, and is cumbersome to handle when fighting enemies at close range.
Bowser's car in Super Mario 3D World manages to be this despite being a one-man convertible, because Bowser himself is so big and because the car is weaponized.
In Mercenaries II: World In Flames, a mechanic mentions a new enormous monster of an engine she's working on. It has unbelievably fast acceleration and speed... Unfortunately it eats up 200 gallons per mile.
One half of the Trope Namer is a website (now dead) formerly run by the Sierra Club called "Hummer Dinger" that criticized these vehicles. It specifically focused on the Hummer H2 (the other half of the Trope Namer), which it saw as the most egregious real-life example of this trope.
Emogame 2 featured a boss fight against Tim Allen driving one of these, complete with a mounted machine gun and an Eagleland Type 2 rant from Allen about how his truck and his lifestyle are worth more than the environment.
In Kevin & Kell, one of these is driven by a flea. It's lampshaded.
The episodes "The Last Temptation of Krust" and "Marge Simpson in: 'Screaming Yellow Honkers'" feature the Canyonero. The truck's commercial jingle makes up the image caption. The latter episode centers around Homer purchasing one, but when he finds that his is an "F-series" model (which has a lipstick holders built in instead of lighters), he proceeds to give it to Marge, which causes her to develop some series road rage. It's Marge's car in The Simpsons: Hit & Run.
Lyrics: Can you name the truck with four wheel drive, smells like a steak and seats thirty-five. Canyonero!
In another episode, Rainer Wolfcastle talks about his enormous Hummer with Homer, providing the page quote.
The episode "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" has the Homer, a ridiculously garish, overpriced monstrosity built to Homer's... unique specifications, which winds up bankrupting his brother Herb's auto company. It's a parody of both this trope and of the Edsel, a notorious flop of an automobile from the late '50s.
The second Danny Phantom episode with Desiree has Danny and Tucker drooling over giant Hummer-esque SUVs. Sam talks about how bad for the environment they are, and tries to egg Danny into destroying them. He denies her on the grounds that he's a hero. But Desiree hears the wish and turns them into literal Monster Trucks. Meanwhile, Tucker is completely enamored by the vehicle's big shiny rims.
Stan's big black SUV from American Dad!. One episode from 2010 even parodied the changing car market. Francine is telling the family to cut back on expenses because the economy has caused the family to lose all its savings in the market. Roger tells Francine that Stan spends over $400 a day fueling his SUV, and so Francine demands that Stan trade it in for a hybrid. Stan refuses because he's "A big man who needs a big SUV so everyone will know how big he is". The rest of the episode focuses on Stan trying to come up with the money to keep his SUV, only to end up deeper and deeper in debt.
Subverted in one episode of King of the Hill where Hank is looking at trading in his old pickup truck for a new one. Hank, the old curmudgeon that he is, dismisses the flashy bells and whistles of his new truck as an example of this trope, only to find them incredibly useful when he has to save Bobby.