Cars You Hate Aren’t Necessarily Bad Cars

Illustration for article titled Cars You Hate Aren’t Necessarily Bad Cars

After considerable thought, I have decided to devote today’s column to cars we hate. This may seem like an unusual diversion from the norm, until you remember that I spent last year writing about a Hummer.


Before I get started, however, I’d like to address one crucial topic that I know is on everyone’s mind: What new car did I buy? I know this is important to you, because you’ve been asking me about it for days; for weeks; in every possible setting.

Twitter. E-mail. Facebook. YouTube. Last week, I went on vacation to a very beautiful place, and I was posting all these Instagram pictures of nature, and beaches, and sunsets, and I would log on later to find the replies were always something like: “WHAT CAR DID YOU GET, MAN? HOPE IT’S A HELLCAT!”

So what car did I get? The answer is: I’m not telling! Neener neener neener!

No, I’m just kidding. That would be a bad way to go about being an automotive writer. The truth is that I’ll tell you tomorrow. Today, we are going to discuss cars you hate, and we’re going to do it by using the following maxim: Just because you hate a car doesn’t mean it’s bad. I want you to repeat this, over and over, like when Dorothy insisted “There’s no place like home,” and Toto replied, “WHAT CAR DID YOU GET, DOROTHY? I HOPE IT’S A HELLCAT!”

So what do I mean when I say that just because you hate a car doesn’t mean it’s bad?

Allow me to explain. To do so, I’m going to use, as an example, the Toyota Prius. As many of you know, the Toyota Prius is a five-door hatchback that offers a smooth, quiet driving experience, excellent cargo room, reasonable pricing, a lot of equipment, and impressive fuel economy.


It’s also the most boring car on the road.

This is an undisputed fact: the Prius is insanely boring. Bar none, it’s the most boring, dull, uninteresting, listless car you can purchase today. Seriously: you can get a more exciting ride by falling asleep on a commuter train.


The reason for the Prius’s boring driving experience is that it is not aimed at people who are interested in driving. It is aimed at people who are interested in crocheting. Or knitting. Or crocheting and knitting while driving. The result is that its favorite place to hang out is the left lane, chugging along at a surprisingly constant six miles per hour under the posted speed limit.

Now, most car enthusiasts hear all of this, and they think just one thing: this car sucks. It’s slow, it’s front-wheel drive, it’s only offered with an automatic transmission (and a CVT, at that), it’s bland, and it’s driven by people who have absolutely no interest in doing anything other than getting from Point A to Point B. This. Car. Sucks.


But what was that mantra I told you to repeat?

Just because you hate a car doesn’t mean it’s bad. Just because you hate a car doesn’t mean it’s bad. Just because you hate a car doesn’t mean it’s bad.


And the Prius is the perfect example of that. Because I think car enthusiasts sometimes forget that there’s a wide range of car owners out there who aren’t especially interested in driving, and they need to buy cars, too. And sometimes, these boring, uninteresting, unexciting cars are perfect for large swaths of the population. These cars aren’t bad. They just appeal to different people than you or me.

A good parallel here is computers. I personally don’t really care what computer I use, just as long as it a) has a word processor, and b) can play high-resolution Jimmy Eat World music videos for hours on end. Those are my only two requirements. That’s it. That’s all. I guess e-mail would be nice, too.


And yet, whenever I mention to computer-interested friends that I’m looking for a new computer, I’m always inundated with information, and suggestions, and options for computers that go far above my wants or needs. “You should get a Lexion P714 Widescreen Stovetop Arugula,” they say. “It has a laser that can kill rodents.”

But I don’t want a laser that can kill rodents, or a microprocessor the size of a ceiling fan, or a multi-screen setup that would inspire jealousy in a JFK air traffic controller. I just want my Jimmy Eat World music videos. So I end up buying a MacBook Air, like always, and then my computer friends stop speaking to me.


But you know what? The MacBook Air is all I need from a computer – and for many drivers, the Prius is the same way. The Prius costs twenty-six grand, it has a ton of equipment, it’s reliable, it’s simple, it has enough cargo space to transport a small fishing village, and it gets excellent fuel economy. The Prius is not a bad car. It’s an excellent car. It’s just a bad car for car enthusiasts. (Or at least, the traditional speed-obsessed kind of enthusiasts.)

And that’s why you should repeat the mantra, over and over, whenever you’re tempted to say something is a bad car. Just because you hate a car doesn’t mean it’s bad. Because while you might not like the Prius, some people do – and we should let them go about their business.


But we should stop them from trying to enter the left lane.

@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars, which his mother says is “fairly decent.” He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer.




So here’s a follow up question that this post and an episode of Top Gear make me think about: Should non automotive enthusiasts be allowed to drive? Driving is inherently a dangerous activity, and when a person places themselves in the driver’s seat they not only risk themselves, but also the lives of others on the roads. Should we as a society, trust someone who has no interest in cars to put on the risk and perform an activity they have no interest in?