Labor Secretary Hilda Solis makes a statement with her SUV (video)

Cabinet officers ride massive Chevy Suburbans, but Labor Secretary Hilda Solis chose a smaller, more fuel-efficient model as more in tune with the new direction of American labor.

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis speaks to reporters in Washington Wednesday.

When members of the president’s cabinet arrive at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington to speak at Monitor breakfasts, they usually roll up in massive, black Chevy Suburban SUVs.

But when Labor Secretary Hilda Solis arrived for breakfast on Wednesday, her vehicle was totally different. It was a (relatively) small, silver Chevy Equinox, a crossover which weighs in at 3,823 pounds. That is nearly a ton lighter than the Suburbans which ferry around other cabinet officers.

Secretary Solis told reporters her choice of an official car is designed to “send a signal that we are for supporting our American workers, American made products, fuel efficient as well.” The fully loaded Equinox is rated at 22 miles per gallon in the city, versus 15 m.p.g. for the more traditional cabinet officers’ bigger vehicles, which seat nine. Her car is rated for five passengers.

While the secretary spoke in an animated fashion about a variety of labor issues at the Monitor-hosted gathering with reporters, she clearly enjoyed talking about her official vehicle, too, which she calls “the bullet” given its silver color. “They let me pick the color,” she said.

Because Solis is in the line of succession to the presidency, her car is specially equipped, as all cabinet members' cars are, with special communications and security equipment.

“When the car arrived in the garage I was very, very excited and wanted to test drive the car, which typically we are not supposed to do. Secretaries are not supposed to drive ourselves,” Solis said. “I asked my staff if they could jump in with me” and had a security agent “ride along shotgun,” she said.

She has had the car less than two months.

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