Friday, October 18, 2019

Small Car Stereotype: Poor, Bad Credit, Horrible Life

2019 Mitsubishi Mirage GT

There's a good discussion on The Truth About Cars' "Ace Of Base: 2019 Mitsubishi Mirage" post. It seems to be one of the few articles I've seen about the Mirage that doesn't simply trash it and reader comments don't add fuel to the dumpster fire. However, one post caught my eye.

The post goes like this:

But a lot of people are stuck working terrible hourly jobs where you’re expected to cover any shift you must miss and a car breakdown can get you fired. For someone who NEEDS a RELIABLE car to get to work, NEEDS great MPG to make commuting in from their economically depressed area feasible, wants accident-avoidance features to stay safe and some modern goodies to give themselves some small joy in life, and needs to establish or re-establish credit, this thing makes infinitely more sense than going to the bad-credit used-car store and getting a 24% loan on a crash-involved used FCA product.

It, like other posts over the years, paints an awfully grim persona of potential Mirage buyers: Someone who lives in a bad area of town, someone who lives a terrible life, and someone who has bad credit. But, hey, it's better than a crappy-ass used car, right?

I wish this small car stereotype would cease, because not all of us fit this persona. Like I said when I first started this blog in 2008, some of us actually simply prefer a small, nimble, efficient, and inexpensive vehicle. It doesn't make us any less of a car enthusiast, any less of a gearhead, or any less happy. It's like saying that people who drink Coors beer must be sad, live in the ghetto, and have a life deprived of joy. After all, they don't drink craft beer. It's clearly better.

No, it's clearly an opinion.

I'm totally fine with opinions, but holy shit: Not all small car buyers—not all Mirage buyers—are experiencing hard times which lead them to their inexpensive car purchase. Of course, if you spent the same $10,000 on a clapped out BMW, no one blinks an eye. After all, that's the enthusiast's choice. Place roll-eyes emoji here.

I sold a $30,000 Subaru WRX and got our Mirage, then put away a bunch of cash. I have five cars, and we live a very good life with nice things, nice people, in a good part of town. Oh, my credit is very good, too. So how is it possibly that someone like ME would even CONSIDER a "penalty box" like the Mirage, when I could've had all sorts of cars?

I've gone into the unnecessary justification of why we bought one in a previous post. You can read that.

I know North Americans love their big vehicles, and that's fine. And I'm not trying to single the post's creator out. But this sentiment is endemic among people who don't understand why we like small cars. You are clearly buying a cheap car because you have to not because you want to. Sure, there are plenty of people who need to, but yes, some people simply want to.

Ask me how I know.


Klee said...

"Not all small car buyers—not all Mirage buyers—are experiencing hard times which lead them to their inexpensive car purchase."

110% agreed.

I'm also reading a bit about that("Small Car Stereotype: Poor, Bad Credit, Horrible Life") too from other they don't write it that way but they sprinkle some of that stuff in their article. I think it's just people's immediate judgement when they see what car you drive...when it's actually the fact that I actually LOVE to drive the Mirage and they actually HATE driving a car...ANY car because driving is a 'chore'

Unknown said...

I don't feel like I should be left out of the conversation because I bought a smart ForTwo because it it was under 9' in length. Some people have crap credit, some don't, others need a really short car.

Kitty said...

I've been enjoying selling, owning, and driving small cars for the last 50 years and I still do. When my Yaris hatchback that I bought new 12 years ago expires some day, I'll be shopping for a used Mirage unless something small and more interesting to me comes along in the meantime.

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr a.k.a. Kamikaze said...

Besides economic conditions, some cultural aspects also influence the choice for smaller cars. It's often pointed out that immigrants, usually from countries where smaller cars outnumber any stereotypical American landyacht, tend to be more favorable to such models because they're already quite familiar with similar ones available abroad.

krashpass said...

I got my first Fiat 600 at 14 in the mid 60s, and was hooked on small cars.
I flew around the back yard in reverse, laughing my ass off.
I had 9 in all over the years.
Plus VWs, a Honda 600, 3 Geo Metros, and yes, my 2014 Mirage, now at 140,000.
Sure they were cheap, but cheap fun just leaves you more money to spend on more fun.
Not to mention I've spent most of the last 50 years "semi-retired", simple because,
with out the heavy dept load of the "Latest, Greatest and Biggest", I didn't have to work as much.
Think about that when you are making that $400 car payment :)

Ian Cassley said...

I've cars ranging in size from a '64 Galaxie 500 (17½ feet long with an overbored 428 under the hood) to my current '93 Festiva. We've had Suburbans, minivans, a Chevy Astro, early VW Beetle, a Honda Civic, VW Rabbit, a '57 Meteor Rideau 500.

The smaller cars were always way more fun to drive that the larger ones with the added bonus of getting better gas mileage. We currently have the Festiva and a 2010 Ford Escape and if we don't need the room I'd much rather take the Festiva.

lorrwill said...

I have always loved little cars. I learned to drive on a tiny little Fiat in the early 70's and have never taken to bigger cars or trucks. My first gen Insight got totaled at 17 years old so I snagged a (GASP) used manual Yaris liftback and I love her. Yes, I get the snarky comments IRL as I live in one of those kinds of areas, but I also don't think some people appreciate frugal, efficient and economical or perhaps they slap on all the negatives to make themselves feel superior.