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Why are so many inferior vehicles considered status symbols?



  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 13,458
    I think one of the things that separates "insipired ugly" from just plain ugly is intent.

    That may be true but the unifying thing between the two is the term 'ugly'. In other words inspired or not ugly is ugly.

    Actually I think the Aztec is better looking than the xB, but then again thats not saying much.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    between varying degrees of ugliness. For example, I once owned a 1969 Bonneville, one of the beaky styles. That sucker was kinda ugly, but I still thought it was way cool. It was big and had a hunkered-down, menacing look to it.

    I also had a 1967 Newport hardtop coupe, the style with a Barracuda-ish roofline. It was more creased and stuffed-shirt, and had a lot of Lincoln-Mercury influence in its style (stylist Elwood Engle penned most of the 60's crisp, angular Fords before jumping ship to Chrysler) It was ugly too, but I just didn't consider it to be quite as cool. If anything, it was kinda stodgy looking, and old fogey-ish, whereas the Bonneville had more of a youthful, sporty flair to it.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    Rumor has it the xB was meant to look like the Chevy Astro, which has a cult following in Japan as a gray-market car. Also has to do with current Japanese life (congestion, insane home prices) - the ideal car in Japan is a small mobile room so you can get away from your family. It wasn't designed with the same intent that Scion had when it brought it over. Here, I think it's a status symbol that says "I am proud to shock and offend people with no imaginations." But it's not really an inferior vehicle in its class, is it?

    Audi hasn't been competitive in reliability, resale, or even ride quality. Mercedes Benz in build quality (but kept alive by perception lag). Land Rover ergonomics are known to be inferior to much of the competition. Lexus, inferior in dynamics. Infiniti, in interiors. Everyone has a weakness. If they're not priorities for the buyer (like if you don't mind the G35's interior) then great!

    But some people buy BMWs and then complain that the steering's too sensitive and the cabin too small. Or they get a full sized SUV and complain about the mileage. That's buying an inferior vehicle because it's a status symbol. By inferior I mean by the buyer's actual preferences, which he or she didn't think about before falling in love with a car and buying it.

    I saw it a lot in high school. The internet was just picking up, maybe they didn't have easy access to research. I mean, who would've known that a Z3 isn't a great car for driving from SF to LA and back every weekend, or that an Integra type-R is expensive to insure?
  • odie6lodie6l Hershey, PaPosts: 1,172
    "But it's not really an inferior vehicle in its class, is it?"

    See, that's the thing. The "Brick on Wheels" (as my wife calls them) gets a mind blowing 32 mpg city and (have heard from a few owners) upwards of 40 mpg Hwy. For only having a 1.8ltr 103hp motor, that's pretty impressive (with gas hitting $3.05 at local gas station today).

    But would you overlook the looks to get MPG's in the 32-40 range for under 20k Loaded and consider it a status symbol vehicle?

    My neighbor just got a leftover'05 for $16,800 loaded. She had an '00 Accors Wagon that got totaled by local trash company and they gave her an allowance of $12,000 for a new vehicle (settlement). Anyway, she says that she gets asked everywhere she goes what she thinks of the vehicle and why she would ever consider buying one. Needless to say, she says the thing is solid as a rock and has put 22k in miles on it in 6 months.

  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    "But would you overlook the looks to get MPG's in the 32-40 range for under 20k Loaded and consider it a status symbol vehicle? "

    I wouldn't overlook the looks. It's ALL ABOUT the looks; otherwise you go get an xA. Funkiness is a status that you don't have to be rich to buy, just a little crazy =].
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    Interesting point re different types of status and what it takes to achieve them I think.

    The last-gen Camaros were absolute rocket sleds, esp. considering the price. Basically de-tuned Corvettes in queen-sized dresses. At any run-of-the-mill stoplight drag race, an owner of one could be reasonably sure he'd 1) win or 2) intimidate the other guy into not racing.

    A definite measure of status to some, and as long as you worked for a living, you could acquire it. You just had to be willing to be a "Camaro guy" and deal with all that comes with it... ;)
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    ...a lot of guys would love to have a Camaro but are too self-concious about the "Joe Dirt" image. I say, "So what?" I think I'd rather be considered a Joe Dirt than a Steven Rhodes, (Al Bundy's old neighbor).
  • b3nutb3nut Posts: 83
    My wife found the xA and xB both to be hideous, I thought the xA was sharp (considered buying until I got vetoed) and the xB was ugly in a cute, outside-the-box way. You really have to sit in an xB and open the doors and look at the space-efficiency to "get" it. If I could have gotten away with it I would have considered the xB, it's a genius vehicle from a functionality standpoint. But Kia's new Rio5 scratched my hatchback itch well enough, and the looks were wife-approved, so that's what followed me home in the end (and I love the car, it's wonderful).

    But I remain a fan of the Scions, and would heartily recommend them to anyone...can't go wrong with a Toyota product, after all.

    Todd in Beerbratistan
  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    Along with the MR2, the XA is the only Toyota whose appearance I like.

    I don't really like the XB. It does have a lot of interior room for a small car, however.
  • sp01sp01 Posts: 81
    The last F-Bod Camaros had the go and the track capability, decent styling more or less, but still came off as repulsively unrefined; an image the Corvette has about finally shed.

    My complaint was that they were too big overall, and typical of GM (I hate to say) remarkably space-inefficient. Awful lot of body there for the actual usable space created, IMO. Front and rear overhangs too long, door cavities deeper than needed for the structure and componentry, etc., etc. Seems to me the car could've shed about 18 inches (and not a few pounds) overall and should have had more shoulder room for it width.
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,993

    Do you NOW, still feel the same about the 2009' Camaro concept ???? Does it do a better job utilizing it's interior space ????

  • Another reason why Audi remains semi-popular is because the main car magazines promote the brand so often.Every issue has some article about some upcoming Audi or how they do the tech better or how it really isn't an over-priced VW.For some reason a lot of automotive writers seem to really like the brand although they rarely(if ever)own one themselves. And they are hardly ever in long term fleets.
    As far as a status symbol I guess that depends on personal perception. I've never seen Audi as a status car but I guess some do.
  • smittynycsmittynyc Posts: 291
    About halfway down the block from my office is one of Manhattan's "power lunch" spots, extremely popular with media, finance, and entertainment types. Since one of my personal favorite non-power-lunch spots is a few doors down from it, I walk by a couple of times a week.

    The street right outside the restaurant is like a showroom for ultra-high-end cars, who park there as their potentates dine inside. Just today I saw TWO Maybachs, e.g.

    I see a LOT of the highest-end Audis parked outside that place (the freaking enormous one that has a backseat that looks like a club room at a luxury hotel). FWIW.

    The one car that I used to see a lot of there and hardly ever see anymore is the Benz S-Class. Two years ago, that was the main car for this crowd. Now it's those Audis and a Maybach here and there and lots of BMW 7 series and an occasional Range Rover G-Wagen/smaller Benzes. You'll see a Caddy occasionally. And of course lots of the ubiquitous limos and Town Cars.

    The most unusual ride I've ever seen was Frank Gifford's -- a freaking immaculately maintained early/mid 90s (?) sky blue Mercedes convertible. I'm not joking; it looked like it just rolled off the assembly line. It had an amazing depth and shine to the finish.
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