Hooniverse Asks: What's the Best Car for People Who Don't Care About Cars?

Thom Yorke
Ralph Nader didn’t hate cars, he just hated the poor safety standards he imagined some maintained – cars like the swing axle Corvair and the very basic VW 181. Ralph himself  famously drove a Dodge Dart.
Not everybody is quite as interested in, or passionate about cars as we are. Those civilians however, need to get around town too, and public transportation is woefully inadequate in many areas. That usually means that they have to buy a car, and THAT means that they usually buy the dullest, most basic option they can spend the least amount of effort acquiring, hence perpetuating their impression that cars aren’t fun. It’s a vicious circle.
What we want to find out today is perhaps how to break that circle. What do you think would be cars that non-car folk should experience that might at least let them see what’s on the other side of fun mountain? You know, without upsetting their apple cart too egregiously? What is the best car for people who don’t really give a shite about cars?
Image: Leposava via Flickr

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

  1. Gee Nick Avatar
    Gee Nick

    Mazda anything should wake them slightly. But those folks are probably more likely to fall in love with tech and gimmicky gadgets before driving dynamics, regardless.
    I recently gave my old lady’s father some thrills in my Mazdaspeed3 that he couldn’t shut up about, and two weeks later he went out and bought a Prius. Apparently the Prius crashes well, because that’s all he had to say about the buying decision.
    I give up on this species.

    1. salguod Avatar

      As an owner of both a Mazda3 and a Prius, I can imagine that a non car person is going to find the Prius quieter, smoother riding, more isolated and they’ll love the idea of 45+ MPG. They won’t get it that the firmer ride of the Mazda gives them more control, or that the numb steering of the Prius arguably disconnects them from the road too much. They just like that it’s easy to drive, comfy and economical.

  2. tonyola Avatar

    Honda Accord. It’s a reliable appliance car that still can offer some entertainment value.

    1. The Real Number_Six Avatar
      The Real Number_Six

      Seconded. My sister got a new Accord recently and is justifiably very happy with the car’s excellent steering and ride/handling balance. Normally she doesn’t give a crap about those things, but there’s a nice layer of old Honda goodness in the latest Accord.

    2. salguod Avatar

      Agreed. It’s got just enough “sport” in it to keep them from slowing to 18 MPH on every turn but not so much that they’ll complain that it rides hard or is too noisy.
      Owning a Prius has made me understand why Prius drivers, and likely all Toyota drivers in general, drive so slowly. Everything about the car seems to scream “Slow down!” and the lack of steering feel means that turns and off ramps taken at the suggested speed posted on the signs (you know, the speed that’s 10-20 MPH slower than pretty much any car is capable of) feel too fast. The car is genuinely capable of more, but you really have to push past some serious resistance to do so.
      I suspect that driving a car that feels confident and capable would make folks better drivers.

  3. Jofes2 Avatar

    “Not everybody is quite as interested in, or passionate about cars as we are.”

    1. ptschett Avatar
  4. Tanshanomi Avatar

    Fiesta Ecoboost 1.0.
    “Oh, it’s very economical. Of course, you’ll need to learn to drive a manual (you know, for the MPGs).”
    Then wait six months…

  5. Tanshanomi Avatar

    I can tell you from experience that our ’07 Chrysler 300 Touring took my wife from adoration of floaty Buick LeSabres (her three previous cars) and “All I care about is comfort,” to, “My next car needs to feel tighter, and I won’t go any less than the 250 HP I have now.”

    1. jim Avatar

      In europe, this was a 300 Touring :
      and it came with a diesel !

      1. Tanshanomi Avatar

        In the U.S., “Touring” simply meant the sedan with the 250HP 3.5L V6 (mid-range option, in between the base 2.7L and the Hemi).

      2. Sjalabais Avatar

        I sat in a light-beige taxi version of this in Germany once, and I liked it.

  6. Batshitbox Avatar

    People that don’t care about cars should get something… misanthropic.
    Pinto? Corvair? Late model Ferrari? WW2 era Jeep?

    1. Jeepster Avatar

      Yep – I was thinking the same wavelength. Tool around in this 3b a day in town and then go to some friends farmland the next day …. done.

      1. Batshitbox Avatar

        Admittedly, I didn’t read the criteria for today’s H-A, just reacted to the headline.
        I was thinking the heathen deserved a car with, let’s say, a high rate of attrition. A car with a lot of tears tattooed under it’s headlight, you know? Something that would capture the uninterested, then immolate, asphyxiate, or decapitate them.
        (It’s not the best thing about military Jeeps, but they do have quite a murderous history,)

        1. Vairship Avatar

          I hear 1940s Tatras come highly recommended by zee Germans!

  7. Alff Avatar

    Something incapable of reaching the left lane.

  8. marmer Avatar

    Yeah, Honda and Toyota are the low hanging fruit but I think a better answer today lies in the Korean manufacturers who have got the price/value thing pretty much sorted. Also, depending on the deal and the closeness of the dealer, various small Fords would fill the bill nicely.

  9. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    They should ride the bus or train, move closer to work and walk.

  10. Jeepster Avatar

    NO WAY – they are going to start making these again ! Sorry, thread-hijack time for an article over at bangshift: http://bangshift.com/general-news/good-news-the-delorean-dmc-12-is-going-back-into-production-all-new-1982-stainless-steel-wonders-for-sale/

  11. mad_science Avatar

    Anything with a stick.
    Firstly, it drives driver engagement and most manual drivers start to care more.
    Secondly, pretty much only at least moderately interesting cars are available con manuel, so it’ll force them into something less vanilla.
    Stickshift Jeep or econobox like a Fiesta would be great.

    1. Tiller188 Avatar

      I agree (more manual converts is always a good thing), though with the caveat that it not be quite ANYTHING — if they were to end up with something used that’s a bit of a dog, and/or has worn-out shifter bushings, synchros, etc., I can see it backfiring.

    2. ptschett Avatar

      I like manuals… I wish more of the general populace had experience with manuals, so they’d know why some behaviors are dumb… but overall, I can’t say that the manual transmission driver engagement factor honestly means much to me.
      (It probably doesn’t help that I was driving farm tractors in the field and on the road about 2 years before I was old enough to get a learner’s permit, in 1990’s South Dakota’s permissive learner’s permit at 14, restricted license for 6 AM thru 8 PM solo driving to 16, anything-goes 16-on-up system.)

  12. neight428 Avatar

    Mrs. Neight likes cars, but not like we do. The first car she drove with good handling made a big difference in her appreciation of what cars can feel like as you go about your day, but she is actually repulsed by strong acceleration. She is likewise immune to the charms of the manual transmission, so I’d say that is as likely to annoy a non-hoon as it is to light a spark in their dark cold hearts. Recent tech like heated seats and keys she doesn’t have to find in her purse to use earn far more praise than any of the dynamics and interaction that I appreciate. Adding all that up, I’d go with something like a Lexus GS. It will be good enough that they actually notice the goodness without the tradeoffs that we see as a feature instead of a bug.

  13. Sjalabais Avatar

    I don’t know if there’s a universal answer. My non-enthusiast wife liked my ancient Volvos, and actually misses the ’71 wagon, too. But I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t want to drive one too regularly. Comfort and speed she knows to appreciate. Trouble of any kind can spoil the relationship to the car. So my vote is on something like this:

  14. Cool_Cadillac_Cat Avatar

    Best car for people who don’t care about cars?
    10-15 year old Corolla/Civic/Camry/Accord. This is followed closely by the same gen Taurus/Lumina/Malibu.
    Rental-car class vehicles are that way for good reason.
    I think the rental ’93 Intrepid I took off-road…extensively…still is shedding Utah mud from whatever it is, now.
    Well…it’s not raining, right now.
    Yeah, well…
    When in doubt, exit speed is directly related to entry speed.

  15. MattC Avatar

    We are in a time that the buying public is blessed with a plethora of affordable and reliable options. The Toyota Corolla and Camry instantly come to mind. While most enthusiasts complain about the lack of sporting character these models have, I would bet many would instantly recommend one for their mother/grandmother/child’s first car etc. More than any other manufacturer, Toyota has the lock on efficiently updating essentially the same platform. They also know the target demographic of who is going to buy their cars. Those who want reliability, efficiency, good resale value etc.

  16. Car_Door Avatar

    For the well off: Volvo XC90. It has a nice interior, is supremely safe, looks good, has plenty of space, and is reasonably fuel efficient.
    For the not so well off: Used Subaru Forester. Its a small SUV with awd that is sort of sporty and somewhat reliable.

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      Isn’t the stupid look of the ‘privacy’ glass annoying, like they’ve made a commercial van version?

  17. Maymar Avatar

    I wish I could say – my wife sometimes tags along when I go to test drive events. She rather enjoyed my… spirited driving of a Maxima several years ago, or the absurdity of chasing down Benzes in a smart fortwo blasting Eye of the Tiger, but when I did it in a Jag XE this summer, apparently it was too hard on her back. So, fast, but not too fast?

    1. Vairship Avatar

      Sounds like she enjoys slow car fast!

  18. Preludacris Avatar

    This once, the answer really is Miata instead of Prelude. I could put some work into justifying Prelude, but I hear the top-down driving experience is highly addictive. Plus, getting out of a car that nimble and into whatever dull blob they currently drive should be a nice rude awakening.