I have a real beef with the way we define practicality as a society. Why is there this universal idea that more space automatically means a car is more practical? If you rarely transport other people or large things, admit it: you’d probably be a lot happier in a smaller car.
When I reviewed the Toyota 86, I adored using that thing in everyday driving situations. It was so much smaller and easier to park than my own four-door Mitsubishi Lancer. To me, the 86 was incredibly easy to daily drive, save for the janky stereo and its stiffer ride over bumps. It had enough space for the errands I usually run. I wanted to give it a higher score for daily driving, as it did the job pretty well for one person, but got overruled.
Apparently even our scores for daily driving assume that you need to own a car with more space for some reason. I still have a major issue with this, as what qualifies as “practical” is so person-dependent it’s unreal.
There is no way on earth that a three-row crossover or even a larger sedan is somehow more practical than a small coupe for a single person or a childless couple. That mindset that you need a bigger car strikes me as mindless consumption for consumption’s sake. It’s also why we don’t get the fun smaller cars the rest of the world does: we’re too busy buying larger crossovers instead because we might need to buy some shelves once, ever.
I don’t miss the extra space whenever I end up testing a smaller car. I rarely use my backseat. The cavernous trunk and backseat space is good for hauling the race car’s parts, but that’s really the only reason why I’d be hesitant to trade off the Lancer.
If the race car was out of the picture, I simply wouldn’t need a bigger car. I don’t have (or want) kids, and I usually only ever have one other person in the car with me. I don’t buy a ton of stuff on a regular basis, either. Even grocery runs usually just fit in the passenger seat. Most of the time, I feel as if my car’s big, usable-by-humans backseat is merely an albatross in space form that makes my car harder to maneuver and less fuel efficient.
You should buy to your own daily needs and wants—not to anything more. The idea that everyone needs a larger car “just in case” is absurd. There are such things as rentals out there if none of your friends have a bigger car that suits your once-or-twice-a-year need. U-Haul pickups aren’t the height of luxury, but they get the job done for far cheaper than a year’s worth of daily driven truck gas.
Sure, cars aren’t bought on needs alone. Some of you enjoy having a bigger vehicle, and that’s a perfectly valid experience in its own right. If you like big cars, keep on doin’ you. There’s no replacement for that feeling of joy you get when you walk out to a car you really love.
Some of you may have other reasons besides outright need for driving a big behemoth, and that’s fine, too. One of my favorite people in college ended up with a hand-me-down F350, and while it was tricky to stuff into dinky college parking spots, she made it work because that’s what you do.
Personally, I’d be a lot happier in something the size of the Toyota 86 or an old Volkswagen Beetle for 99.999999% of my daily activities. I do not need a usable backseat to fetch coffee and a burrito.
If you’ve ever been annoyed by tiny parking spots, large turning radiuses or the fact that your rear seats just gather dust, why not buy a smaller car? You’ll probably be a lot happier with it, because it’s obviously the more practical choice for your own daily driving needs.