15 Things Your Choice of Car Says About You

By: Jack Sackman
Kids in soccer uniforms getting into minivan
Nothing quite communicates that you’re a parent like sporting a minivan. Ariel Skelley/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Let’s be honest, a lot of personal judgements are made about people based on the car they drive. And, to be honest, you can tell a lot about someone from their ride. You can tell their socioeconomic status, whether they have children, if they care about the environment and if they are cheap with a dollar. Not surprising then that a quick glance at someone’s car leads people to make snap judgements about the person driving it. Here are 15 things your choice of car says about you.


15. You Just Graduated From College

With some rare exceptions, most students drive certain types of cars. And by certain types of cars, we mean old cars. Second-hand cars that they got from their parents or another relative. Cars that are paid off and have a certain amount of wear and tear on them, as well as some rust. We’re talking here about a 1998 Toyota Corolla, a 2002 Dodge Neon or a 2000 Ford Fiesta. And if you have bumper stickers about your alma mater on the back of the car, it is a dead giveaway. Add a missing hub cap or two and you can be spotted as a recent graduate from a mile away.


14. You Didn’t Go to College

Are you a young person (typically a guy) driving a large new pick-up truck? Got your baseball hat pulled down tight over your eyes and hanging your left elbow out the driver’s side window? Chances are most people you pass on the street assume you spent your tuition money on that truck and decided to skip college in favor of a blue collar job, or to just hang out with friends and drive a truck around all day. This might sound a little harsh, but nothing says “blue collar” to people as loudly as a pick-up truck. And a lot of snap judgements are made about young people who drive them. But why should you care. You’re driving an awesome truck around town.


13. You’re An Old Hippie

Are you riding around in an old Volvo station wagon? How about a 1960s Volkswagen Beetle? Worse, a 1960s Volkswagen van? If yes, then you are advertising to the world that you are an old hippie. These tend to be the vehicles of choice for the flower power generation, and there is no better way to announce that you were at the original Woodstock than to drive around in an old, long Volvo wagon or a dilapidated VW van, complete with side curtains. Many people get stuck in a time warp and continue wearing the clothes and driving the car from the time in their life when they were most current, hip and relevant—long after their fashion sense and car have become outdated and obsolete. This seems to be particularly true for people who came of age during the 1960s and loved that particular decade.


12. You’re Socially Conscious (and Have Money)

You don’t have to do anything more to let people know you care about the environment than roll up to a stop light in a Toyota Prius. People who have a social conscious and, essentially, see cars as a necessary evil, drive hybrid gas/electric cars—the most well-known one being the Prius. These people also tend to drive all-electric vehicles and ultra-small compact cars such as those made by Smart. However, people who drive these cars are also advertising that they have money in their wallet to go along with their big heart. That is because hybrid and electric cars are expensive and people tend to pay a premium to own them. But, hey, can you really put a price on saving the planet?


11. You’re Obnoxious (and Have Money)

When you see a Hummer on the street or in a parking lot, don’t you always wonder who drives it? Don’t you always assume they’re obnoxious? After all, does anyone really need a vehicle as large as a Hummer? Sure, you assume they have money. But you also assume they’re a jerk, right? Nothing quite screams “obnoxious” like a Hummer or a large truck with oversized wheels. Add an ear splitting spoiler on the muffler and the nightmare is complete. You’re officially scaring old people and small children. And the people who see you take up two parking spots at the grocery store will assume, rightly or wrongly, that you’re a jerk.


10. You’re the Boss

If you drive a BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus or Porsche, then you can bet that people will assume you’re running the show at work. These are high-end luxury vehicles that are stylish, tastefully appointed and showcase that the person in the driver’s seat has attained a certain position in the workplace. These are the type of vehicles you see glistening in the driveways of large homes situated on estate lots and acreage in upscale neighborhoods, or filing out of the parking lots at private schools. To drive one of these cars is to let people know that you are the boss and person in charge. You’ve worked hard—hard enough to afford a super nice, fully-loaded foreign-made car.


9. You Want to Be the Boss

If you drive an Acura, Audi or Volvo, you’re letting the world know that you’re doing very well, and hope, one day, to be the boss yourself. These are decent, high-end cars that are not quite at the top end of the luxury car market, but nice enough to let the neighbors know that you got a decent bonus last quarter. These are the cars driven by people who manage others and are one rung below the boss at work. You know, the type of cars that we all respect when we see them but don’t cause us to take a second look. Nevertheless, driving a new Volvo V60 or an Audi A5 lets the world know you’re on your way.


8. You’re Self-Employed

Nothing tells the world you’re self-employed quite like a vehicle that’s painted with your name and phone number all over it. The purview of real estate agents, home renovators and design consultants, these are the pick-up trucks and sport utility vehicles that read “Blinds by Blanche” or “Tony’s Bathrooms and Kitchens” on the side, along with a phone number and website address. Traveling billboards, as they are often called. Driving one of these professionally painted vehicles not only lets people know you work for yourself, but also that you have very little pride or personal taste. There are better ways to market your services.


7. You Still Live With Your Parents

If you’re older than 24 and are driving a supped up compact car such as a Honda, Subaru or Chevy that has extra-large tires, custom rims, a mega suspension, banging sound system, tinted windows and wicked loud spoiler on the muffler, than trust us when we say that everybody you pass assumes that you spend all your money on your car and can afford to do so because you still live at home with mom and dad. You’re the person who spends all day Saturday working on their car in the driveway while dad mows the lawn and mom sticks her head out the front door to ask if anyone needs a drink. Don’t be this person.


6. You’ve Settled Down

Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Volkswagen Jetta. Nothing says I’m hunkered down paying off my mortgage while watching Netflix quite like these cars. Safe, practical, reliable and affordable, these are the cars that people drive who are cost conscious and not that interested in cars. Standard commuter cars, the Corolla, Civic and Jetta are what people use to commute from the suburbs into work and home again each day. On the weekend, they can be found clogging up the parking lot at Costco or Home Depot, or parked alongside a running trail at a neighborhood park. If you’re driving one of these cars, you’re telegraphing that you’re in full nesting mode.

5. Your Kids Are Your Priority

This one is reserved for the Dodge Grand Caravan. This is the most cost efficient and practical minivan for people who have kids. In fact, we’re pretty sure that you can’t buy a Dodge Grand Caravan unless you can provide proof that you have at least two kids under the age of 13. Rolling around town in this minivan lets everyone know that you are a parent and that your kids are your top priority. It’s the safe choice for practical parents on a budget. It also says that you could care less whether you look cool or not; that roominess is more important than style to you; and that you have realistic expectations of your children. There’s a reason why the Dodge Grand Caravan is the bestselling minivan in North America.

4. You Want to Be a Super Parent

This bring us to the higher-end minivans—the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey and Volkswagen Routan. These are the minivans of choice among tiger moms, helicopter dads and parents who are constantly pushing their kids to outperform everyone else. You know, the parents who are featured on shows such as Dance Moms. The dads who are always their kid’s soccer or baseball coach. The family whose kids are in every conceivable competitive sport, and who are always racing out the door in the evening to get to some activity while their kids finish eating dinner in the back seat. Drive one of these high-end minivans and you’re letting the world know that you want to be a super parent and do it all. You’re also saying that you want your kids to do it all too.

3. You’re Super Cheap

Are you someone who is driving a car that is more than 12 years old? Do you pride yourself on never spending money on your vehicle? Is the rust that’s eating through the trunk a source of pride? Did you tape the muffler on yourself? If yes, congratulations. You’re showing the entire world that you’re a cheapskate. You’re also letting people know you could care less how your 1992 Volkswagen Passat or 1995 Subaru Forester looks because you’d rather die than spend a penny on your ride. But take heart. The observant passerby will also assume that you’re rich and have money squirreled away in a bank vault somewhere—safe from anyone touching it. And your kids will assume that they have a large inheritance coming to them one day.

2. You’re a Senior Citizen

They’ve come a long way from the 1970s and 1980s, but if you’re driving a modern day Lincoln Continental or Buick Lucerne, sorry, but you’re still driving an old man car. Ditto for the Chevy Impala, Cadillac STS and anything with the Pontiac logo on it. Nothing tells people you’re collecting social security quite like these rides. And while they’re smaller than in the past, these are still full-sized cars favored by the late afternoon buffet crowd. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone under age 65 driving any of these cars. They’re practically built for people who are moving into their twilight years. Anybody who sees a Lincoln Town Car pass by automatically assumes the driver has grey hair, or no hair at all for that matter.

1. You’ve Officially Given Up

For people who no longer care and don’t care who knows it, we suggest driving a second-hand Nissan Versa, Chevy Sonic or Toyota Yaris. Second-hand with a beat up body would be preferable. These vehicles let people know that your only concern is living long enough to get from point A to point B. Anything else is not worth considering. It’s not that these vehicles are particularly junky or bad, it’s just that they are completely lacking in style, substance, performance or other worthwhile traits—letting everyone you pass know that you could care less. When a vehicle is only a tool, or a means to end, you’ll find yourself driving a Nissan Versa. Hopefully the hatchback version, but even that may require too much thought and care. You’ll take whatever’s on the lot for the cheapest price. Future repairs be damned. Good luck, traveler. Good luck.