Home » Is America Finally Falling Back In Love With Smaller Cars? COTD

Is America Finally Falling Back In Love With Smaller Cars? COTD

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For more than a decade, it seemed as if America had an insatiable thirst for ever-larger vehicles. The city cars that once prowled American streets in the late 2000s and early 2010s were canceled and replaced by larger crossovers. Even small commercial vans have been lost, their sales numbers too small to justify their existence. Sedans and wagons were also lost in the crossoverpocalypse. But is there a change in the atmosphere? Is America ready to fall in love with smaller vehicles again?

I say this because this morning, we wrote about how people are excited to see the new Rivian R3. One reader pointed out how people are going nuts for recent smaller vehicle releases like the Ford Maverick, the new Toyota Prius, and the Rivian R3. It’s not just online, either, as so many people have been buying Ford Mavericks that, initially, Ford couldn’t make enough of them.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Maybe Thevenin is onto something, here:

The Maverick, the new Prius, and now this thing. Every time we get a glimpse of a US-bound vehicle that’s compact, practical, affordable, efficient, and doesn’t look like garbage, the hype train goes absolute bananas.

It makes you wonder if America’s obsessive codependent relationship with luxobarges is starting to wane. I mean, probably not, but one can dream.

America may be falling in love with small cars again, but I doubt that’ll even make a dent in the world domination of SUVs, trucks, and crossovers.

Next, let’s take a look at David’s wrenching escapades from earlier today. Our rust-loving Jeep man got a taste of what wrenching used to be like in Detroit. He faced a broken stud, tons of sludge, horrible fuel, and a rusty engine. Classic David. But, as Michael Beranek wants you to remember, California David is a changed man:

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And then you had to stop wrenching on order to attend “The Oscars”.
Face it, dude, you grew up without even trying. You’re a modern-BMW-EV-driving, dinner-party-attending, paying-attention-to-girlfriend guy. You’re just a few steps away from registering at Crate & Barrel.

I must admit, in the past I dated someone who frequented Crate & Barrel. I’m pretty sure I nearly fainted when I saw the prices for everything in that store. I vaguely remember a wooden chest that cost more than some of the cars I’ve purchased!

Finally, we stop at Cold Start, where Jason talked about the Buick Invicta, a car named after a hardcore poem. Chronometric, a reader known for driving century-old classics, wrote their own poem, or acronym:

I’m
Never
Vanquished
If
Carrying
Tailfins
Astern

Before I wish all of you a good night, I have to talk about some housekeeping. Once again, we’ve been spotting unfortunate transphobic comments on our pages, and a number of readers have been sending in reports about it. As always, we want to keep our comments sections open for pretty much whatever you want to say. However, there are lines that may not be crossed. One of those lines is transphobia. I mean, a trans person works for this website.

Update: A reader is right, I shouldn’t be so lenient. Trans people are just regular, everyday people trying to live a happy life. If you must find yourself calling me a man, feel free to read any site but this one. At the very least, it will be wise to take your comments elsewhere. Deleting comments hasn’t stopped this from happening. So, moving forward, we will ban you if you feel you must broadcast your intentional misgendering of people.

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Have a great night, everyone!

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PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
30 days ago

I got a really nice cheese knife from Crate & Barrel for less than $15…and also a glitter-encrusted pinecone that I use as a Christmas ornament, and a cute set of stacking bowls with matching ramekins and a tray. Their furnishings bore me though.

And absolutely ban those bigoted asshats. I can never tell if they’re bored kids trying to be “edgy” or people so full of hate that it just leaks out everywhere…either way, there’s no room here for that kind of mess.

PunkyBrewstersHubby
PunkyBrewstersHubby
30 days ago

Great article! I drive a ‘24 Mirage G4 named Bluey and I purchased it ON PURPOSE. Some utterly worthless trivia, the Invicta was also a very popular tire sold by Goodyear in the 80’s and early 90’s and they all sucked.

William Domer
William Domer
30 days ago

I saw the Chevy Trax at the Chicago show and was actually amazed by it. Size and price and it actually looked like something a real person would want to own. And I am saying this as a guy who has never owned a GM car in more years than I care to admit. (40 or so cars). I would, however love that red Caddy Eldorado Convertible. Looks like the chrome bumpers weigh more than my 86 Cabriolet

William Domer
William Domer
30 days ago
Reply to  William Domer

PS. If there are anti-LGBTQIA folks posting and being deleted, may I suggest that you allow one or two in so the rest of us can skewer the phobes from here to next Thursday. Last I checked there wasn’t a single car that gave a flying F about the gender of the driver. Then again troglodytes that post that garbage probably don’t drive anything but a keyboard.

Martin English
Martin English
30 days ago
Reply to  William Domer

No.
Just ban then.
No tolerance for arseholes.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

“So, moving forward, we will ban you if you feel you must broadcast your intentional misgendering of people.”

+1

As a Sentient Meat Sandwich, I fully understand.

Mercedes, I know you feel that the best approach is to engage with people to try to get them to come around.

But in my experience, some people put effort into being abrasive assholes. Personalities like that need to be dealt with firmly… and of course these assholes will suddenly become thin skinned when they get called on their bullshit.

I’m suddenly now remembering an article I wrote on the old oppo site about old polluting diesel trucks and how one guy in an old F-series diesel (with the 7.3) left it running while he went into the local McD’s … and the pollution that thing was spewing left me gasping for air even though it was parked a few spaces over… and how I was looking forward to the day where diesels like that get replaced with BEVs.

And that article got picked up somewhere and attracted a buch of doofus diesel bros… who proceeded to call me an effeminate gay libtard male-female butch lesbian… or something like that.

Of course I’m none of that because obviously as Sentient Meat, I have no gender, sexual affiliation or political affiliation!

:-p

Last edited 1 month ago by Manwich Sandwich
Martin English
Martin English
30 days ago

Did you all them snowflakes ????

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
30 days ago
Reply to  Martin English

At least some of them called ME a snowflake!

Julian Marple
Julian Marple
1 month ago

It takes zero effort to just leave people TF alone. Like what does it hurt them that anyone is trans?? I for one am glad we have a space where trans and any other members of the alphabet mafia are welcomed and appreciated. I love your writing Mercedes and think you’re a great asset to Autopian

Sheryl Ring Weikal (Mercedes' very proud wife)
Sheryl Ring Weikal (Mercedes' very proud wife)
1 month ago

Just want to pop in here and say how proud I am of Mercy. As a trans person myself (who had to sue the state of Illinois just to be a lawyer whilst trans), I know all too well the delicate balancing act those of us who exist in professional spaces have to walk – especially, unfortunately, right now. Mercy deals with more transphobia than most people realize (I know from personal experience) and handles it with grace and more civility than I can muster, and the added factor of being a woman of color means she faces misogynoir in addition to transphobia. Once upon a time when I wrote about baseball for Fangraphs and Beyond the Box Score, I caught a glimpse of the kind of transphobia you can experience as a trans journalist.

Mercy is doing an amazing job under incredible circumstances and it’s genuinely awesome to see how much this community supports her. I hope, though, that everyone remembers that being a trailblazer – which Mercy is, for better or worse, because how many Black trans women do you know who are automotive journalists? – is an awful lot harder than it looks. That Mercy makes it look easy doesn’t mean it is.

Bruinhoo
Bruinhoo
30 days ago

And this is where I finally (in hindsight, far too late) realize that Mercedes’ wife, Sheryl, and baseball blogger Sheryl are one in the same! For the folks who (inexplicably!) aren’t part of the Autopian/late 2010’s stats-focused baseball blogosphere crossover, Sheryl is a pretty darn talented writer herself.

And even as a stereotypically oblivious straight, white, culturally christian dude, it was impossible to miss the attacks you were getting hit with simply for existing in those spaces. If nothing else, it seems like the community here has Mercedes’ back.

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 month ago

The answer is the footprint rule really doesn’t apply to BEVs, so once BEVs become the norm we’ll actually be able to get small domestically produced automobiles (sadly we still are stuck with the chicken tax though).

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 month ago

Keep being awesome Mercedes! And have any of your cars cost more than that wood chest?

Myk El
Myk El
1 month ago

I know I’ve posted this thought before, but as a kid primarily in the1980s, my slice of Colorado suburbia was filled with two vehicle families. Mom usually had the family sized vehicle and dad commuted in the mini truck (Toyota, Datsun/Nissan, etc.). It was the opposite in my family, but you get the point. The small trucks got replaced by big trucks in the 1990s and there were still small trucks to be had at the time, so it was definitely a choice. I’m sure the cheap gas at the time helped.

My worry here is that while I’m pleased with folks choosing smaller but still quite usable vehicles is that it’s just a reflection of current tastes. The US has had for a long time this “bigger is better” mentality and it’s reflected in our vehicles quite a bit.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago

Transphobic comments are vile and have no place anywhere even when there isn’t a trans person on the staff forced to read that shit. And when there is a trans person on staff, it’s not just vile, it’s mean and hurtful.

Those commenters should think harder about the kind of life they lead. It doesn’t take any effort to be mindful that other people exist and deserve the same baseline of respect and kindness as anybody else. And if you can’t have the basic human skill of empathy with others who’ve gone through life-changing ordeals, remind yourself that being a mean exclusionary asshole is not a winning strategy, especially as you wonder why your kids don’t visit you at your assisted living facility and put you in hospice care at the earliest opportunity.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
1 month ago

The interest in small cars has always existed, it’s a product of practical, material realities, while the recent large car craze is a result of aggressive marketing motivated by higher profit margins and a self-compounding fear of other large cars. This manufactured culture shift can only last so long before people have had enough.

Anti-SUV and anti-truck sentiment is the highest I’ve ever seen it, to the point that it’s part of many people’s political identity who don’t even have an interest in cars.

I’ve perceived the Biggering (both in bodies and powertrains) to come in 3 flavors:

-Simple consumerism (I want the biggest, best thing with the most in it),

-Identity marketing (your perceived Active Lifestyle and/or Hard Work and/or Upcoming Adventure needs vehicle>X to support it), which also created a level of prestige around SUVs that didn’t exist before, and

-A general Doomsday vibe that’s been lingering over us since at least 2008 (you might need to carry your family and everything you own into the woods to escape the looting after Dogecoin crashes, plow through a roadblock of highwaymen who want to rotisserie-cook your children after the Coronavirus causes a shortage of chicken tenders, pull a school bus out of the river after an driver loses their mind and tries to drown the kids due to the cancelation of the live-action Looney Tunes remake, engage in a James Bond-style high-speed chase against an armored truck to get the deactivation key for the exploding chip installed in your brain through National Public Radio, drive over a fallen tree to escape a forest fire after The Space Laser sets the Midwest ablaze, or even buy some used furniture on Facebook Marketplace). I’ll include in this the fear of having your smaller car pancaked by the people who upsized for the 3 reasons above.

I want to include a disclaimer here that this is a rant about the trend of people (and more importantly manufacturers) going up in size unnecessarily, the people who have a real need for or interest in these things were buying them before and will continue buying them after this trend passes.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ricardo Mercio
Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago

To be fair, I think most of us have bought a set of tires more expensive than it sounds like you’ve paid for some of your cars.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

I mean, I myself have put a set of tires onto a car, that were more expensive than the car I put them on.

Carl Archer
Carl Archer
1 month ago
Reply to  Shop-Teacher

I’ve also installed a rooftop bike rack that was more expensive than the bike.

D-dub
D-dub
1 month ago
Reply to  Shop-Teacher

I have a minivan that doubles in value when I fill the tank.

Phuzz
Phuzz
1 month ago
Reply to  D-dub

When I traded in my Peugeot they gave me £60 for it. It had £40 worth or petrol in it.
(I should have drained the bloody tank first)

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  D-dub

When I was still performing, my basic instrument and gig bag were worth 3x what that piece of shit Horizon was.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
30 days ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

I’ve purchased several cars for less than one of the 4 tires I just bought today and a lot more for less than the full set. To be fair some of those were bought 40 years ago.

Amy Andersen
Amy Andersen
1 month ago

> We’re not saying you have to accept the existence of trans people, though it would be pretty cool if you did.

This is a VERY soft stance and I’m not a fan. I don’t consider my existence to be in any way negotiable.

That One Guy
That One Guy
1 month ago
Reply to  Amy Andersen

Lol, that is a funny way for her to put it and I like your take. But then again there are some people who have non-sensical world views and there’s no convincing them. If it makes you feel better, it’s possible none of us exist. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/confirmed-we-live-in-a-simulation/

Sarah Blikre
Sarah Blikre
1 month ago

You never quite know if it’s going to cause the kind of shitstorm that you actually want.

William Domer
William Domer
30 days ago

Mercedes: Just please continue being you. I am hoping that the bloated, albino insects will be crawling back under their rocks in the near future.

Thevenin
Thevenin
30 days ago

Self-advocacy is hard, even on good days. There are times I have to imagine how I’d react if the abuse was directed at someone other than me.

Please don’t take this feedback to mean that you’re doing bad at self-advocacy. Take it to mean that you’re surrounded by people who would absolutely go on the warpath for you.

Davey
Davey
1 month ago

People are falling in love with less expensive, practical, utility cars (maverick- still not cheap though). I’ve said this lots: if you can only afford 1 vehicle you’re better off getting an suv, crossover or truck. If you’re that focused on the “driving experience” then you’re already making compromises in utility or practicality, and likely have more than 1 vehicle.
My CRV doesn’t handle like my old sporty sedan, but it’s better for 99% of everything else (camping, winter, potholed roads, my pets, people and their luggage/road trips, etc.)
Everyones mileage/needs will vary, prioritizing a sporty drive or overall utility doesn’t mean one is better than the other.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
1 month ago

As to the excitement for these small cars, I think the common denominator here really is good looks. Design matters. Nobody who cared about cars gave a shit about the Prius, until the new one. Now, all of the sudden, shit I’d rock one of those.

Looks matter. Make cars (and trucks!) pretty again!

As to the anti-trans commenters. I have managed to miss those, but to all of them I say go fuck yourselves with a rusty spoon. Piss off to the diesel forums.

Thevenin
Thevenin
1 month ago
Reply to  Shop-Teacher

I think the common denominator here really is good looks. Design matters.

I think style and size go hand-in-hand. Designers go to a lot of trouble to camouflage the bulk of SUVs — if I’m not mistaken, that’s where the overwrought “Decepticon” styling comes from.

I’d imagine it’s a lot easier to form a coherent design statement if you’re not busy painting a hippo to look like a racehorse.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
1 month ago
Reply to  Thevenin

I’d imagine it’s a lot easier to form a coherent design statement if you’re not busy painting a hippo to look like a racehorse.”

That is a great line!

You could be right. I’m all for smaller more sensible vehicles. I’m a truck guy at heart, but modern trucks are too damn big. Especially in the height department. Why are they so friggin’ tall? How am I supposed to get a motorcycle up to the second story that is the bed floor of new trucks!?!

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 month ago

David, I poke fun because I love you. But it won’t be long before you’re looking at old Siennas to stuff your brood in.
Mercedes, don’t let those jerks get to you. They’re part of a lost culture and in the end, love is gonna win.

Diana Slyter
Diana Slyter
1 month ago

And great to see a trans woman of color succeeding in the tough world of automotive journalism!

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 month ago
Reply to  Diana Slyter

Succeeding is an understatement, she’s killing it. The depth of her pieces is astounding.
If newspapers were still a thing, the NYT would’ve poached her by now.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago

Depth and sheer volume. I don’t know how she (and Thomas) can write so many high-quality articles and still have time to drive, much less wrench.

Diana Slyter
Diana Slyter
1 month ago

Been driving VW Golfs for the last 45 years and with it’s spacious hatchback and sometimes a small trailer it’s been all the car I’ve ever needed!

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
1 month ago
Reply to  Diana Slyter

My parents still road trip across Brazil’s often-unpaved roads with 5 adults and a golden retriever in a Honda Fit. A *whole* Golf is downright decadent.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
1 month ago

*Adjusts glasses*

The poem would be an acrostic, were
(subjunctive!) that the verse that had given its name to Invicta.

Congrats to the winners!

I love that the community is tight enough that I’m seeing names I recognize and appreciating their success. COTD really does a lot for me, both in the thrill of the chase and the standings at the end of the day. I’m always a little sad when Mercedes is out of office cause I know COTD is gonna get spotty.

Mercedes, I thought of you when I was out riding yesterday, thinking of your break in period that was what, like 3k rpm in fifth gear for 60mph? So I gave the F900 a little extra up to 7k just for you.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
1 month ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

An acrostic is a poetic form in which the first letter of each line is forms a word or message:

Mechjaz,
English
Collegiate
Has-been,
Jokes
About
Zazz

M-e-c-h-j-a-z

Subjunctive is a verb tense, like past or present, which indicates potential or alternate state than is reality.

Past: “Phantom Pedal was the best commenter.”
Present: “Phantom Pedal is the best commenter.”
Subjunctive: “If Phantom Pedal were the best commenter…”

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 month ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Thank you.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 month ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

It’s in tense.
Like past or predicate?
Like camping, or a circus?

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

*adjusts really thick glasses*

Subjunctive is a mood, not a tense. You can have present, past, and future semantics like “were David a sensible man, he wouldn’t own so many irremediable heaps” (present), “if Torch were to be elected president in the future, the country would certainly change a lot” (future), and “had that deer not crossed the road at that particular moment, the Pao would have been spared” (past).

*throws away glasses because he can’t see shit*

Last edited 1 month ago by The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
Mechjaz
Mechjaz
1 month ago

Hah! I knew someone would get me. Thanks for keeping me honest.

AlterId
AlterId
1 month ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

I always check the COTD tally as well, although mostly for the narcissistic reasons to see if I’ve appeared. (I have, but never for what I’ve thought was my best work. I also hate myself for using the comment review function to check on my upvote totals, but I still do it.)

Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
1 month ago
Reply to  AlterId

Time that could be better spent staring at my own beautiful visage in my bathroom mirror.”

How on earth did a Rivian R3 get an Autopian account?!

Data
Data
1 month ago
Reply to  Zeppelopod

AI is coming for you…

ESO
ESO
1 month ago
Reply to  Zeppelopod

Sounds a lot like something Adrian would say!

AlterId
AlterId
1 month ago
Reply to  AlterId

At the top of any comments page under the “## COMMENTS” text, there’s an icon on the left consisting of a humanoid outline with a gear partially superimposed over it. Click that for a pop-up that lists comments three-to-a-page with links to the comment and the post commented on as well as a trash can icon that, surprisingly, will delete the comment it’s next to. (Well, maybe it’s not that much of a surprise. Certainly not now that I’ve mentioned it.)

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