If you haven't read the polemical and funny writing of James H. Kunstler about suburbs, you are missing out. If you are interested in vital, safe places, Kunstler is a must. This is the fellow who wrote The Geography of Nowhere and Home From Nowhere.
He absolutely gets why the architectural forms characterizing low density, sprawl do not work. He makes the point that a place must be aesthetic, interesting, and humane in order for it to be truly "civic". This is civic richness.
In a TED.com presentation he describes the failure of suburbs as the "asteroid belt of architectural garbage." Check him out below.