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The Car You Drive and the Signals You Send

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Lindsay Mound/Thrillist

Gas mileage, safety rating, number of cupholders -- all this stuff matters when picking a car, sure. But none of that matters if you have “MONSTER ENERGY” in giant vinyl letters across your windshield. When thinking about the car to buy, it’s important to note the signal you’ll be sending out to the world by driving said car. To help you out, here are the vibes projected by every type of car you typically see on the road.

Car: Electric

Says: “I sold an app.”
Alright, we can admit it: electric cars are cool now. But they still haven’t shaken their image as the playthings of Silicon Valley coders who hit it big. It doesn’t help that charging stations are relatively rare away from the coasts, or that you never see, for instance, an electric pickup. For the foreseeable future, electric cars are probably going to remain the favored pick for people who get paid in bitcoins. Thankfully, it’s better for the environment, so hopefully we’ll start seeing lifted electrics with spinning rims and “my other car is a tractor” stickers soon.

Lindsay Mound/Thrillist

Car: Hatchback

Says: “I’m about to quit my job and hang out on the side of cliffs.”
Know someone who sports a raccoon tan every winter, possesses a yearly pass to multiple national parks, and buys climbing equipment in bulk? Chances are, they’re the proud owner of a hatchback (and possibly a flat-four at that, but those are the real pros). Maybe it’s the ability to fold the seats down and sleep in the back that appeals to outdoorsy types. It doesn’t hurt that they’ll have plenty of room for groceries, so you can feed the whole campsite at the end of the day.

Car: Pickup drivers

Says: “I may be super patient, but I will not help you move.”
The modern pickup driver is but the latest in the long line of people who built this country. Or so they would like to believe. Pickup drivers are out there right now, hauling farm equipment or schlepping supplies to the next piece of Great Infrastructure. It’s a real thing. They’re the quiet, solid, backbone of America. But no, they will not help you move, so stop asking. Just because a full-sized mattress seems to fit magically into the back of a flatbed doesn’t mean they just happen to be free on Saturday.

Car: Hybrid

Says: “Can you believe people still drive SUVs?”
You’re riding shotgun in a friend’s hybrid, the one with the “Coexist” bumper sticker and a yoga mat in the back. They’re stuck in traffic right next to a lifted SUV, and they make eye contact for the briefest moment. Cue the environmentalist takedown. But if you’re the parent in the SUV and it’s full of the entire middle school hockey team and their gear, driving a huge car is pretty reasonable! And a bumper sticker that just says “Kale!” is kinda eye-roll-worthy. Let’s face it: hybrid owners and SUV drivers might never get along. But if you really believe in coexisting, that means accepting that some people need big cars, and other people love great gas mileage.

Lindsay Mound/Thrillist

Car: Touring Van

Says: “I’m gonna need the week of Burning Man off”
Waterbed in the back? Check. Sweet wizard painted on the side? Check. It’s time to hit the playa. Sure, people buy huge vans for real reasons, like they’re lugging gear around, or their entire gospel choir that needs a ride. But it seems like most of the time, it’s someone who really loves Phish, or they’re ready to quit their job and start posting really great Instagrams full-time. And who can blame them?

Car: Sports car

Says: “Ask me what I do for a living.”
Go ahead, ask. He didn’t win this in a half-court shot contest. He won it after years of hard work hedging funds… or something like that. But seriously, sports car drivers have the most confidence out of anyone. That can be annoying when they’re zipping around lanes on the highway, but have you ever been at a four-way stop where everyone is politely waiting for the other cars to go? Not these guys. Sometimes they’re exactly what you need.

Car: Hearse

Says: “Goth is still cool, right?”
Ok, these are obviously a small portion of the population. But has driving a car ever been so On-Brand? If you’re a teen who primarily shops at Hot Topic, driving a hearse is basically the ultimate in cool. The same can be said for a variety of niche-use cars, like if you’re super into the ‘80s and managed to snag a working Delorean, or if you’re the last remaining greaser and pick up a legit hot rod. Whatever suits your style, man.

Car: Ultra-compact

Says: “Let’s talk about the numbers.”
Do they really enjoy driving? The ultra-compact crowd seem to want their cars to disappear completely, so they can regale you with tales of gas mileage, or how they can park in the shopping cart return. And numerically, they’re right. So after you’re done talking about the thrill of shifting into top gear on a wide open highway or bragging about how you can seat eight, do the math. Haven’t you always wanted to park perpendicular to the curb?