The US is a very weird car market . People here tend to be anti-hatchbacks/wagons, and want bigger cars with many cylinders in the engine - much more so than the rest of the world. In my opinion, the US is missing out on some excellent car choices as a result. For a long time, Europe has had a wide selection of premium small cars and low displacement turbo/turbodiesel engines.
The US, on the other hand, has had to deal with pieces of crap like this:
The US car market is becoming more like the rest of the world though. People are downsizing and putting more emphasis on fuel economy. Cars are getting better, so there is rarely even a sacrifice of performance or comfort. This is a positive thing, if you ask me.
Yeah, some wives (mine included) get deeply offended if they don’t drive a badass SUV. Recently I tried to make a point that a regular Odyssey or Sienna minivan would work just fine considering we have two preschoolers and there was no point in buying a more expensive SUV if its interior will end up covered in mud/soda/food/vomit.
I am in favor of station wagons. They have the same cargo capacity as an SUV, but are more efficient and have better driving dynamics. If you regularly carry more than 5 people, then maybe a 7 seater is necessary. However, most people don’t carry more than 5 people around regularly. For some reason, there is just some kind of anti-wagon sentiment in the US. Hence, we don’t get a lot of the cooler models, like the new S4 wagon or E class AMG wagon.
Re: sports cars… well, buying those is based on emotional reasons. Every time I go through an “I should buy a sports car” phase, it goes away after a while. Hence, I have decided that buying a pure sports car would not be a good decision, unless you really have a lot of money to spend. In the mean time, “hot hatches” or fast station wagons seem like a reasonable compromise.
Yeah, but the thing is that I am not middle aged. I think it’s more of a mid/late 20s thing where you realize that sooner or later, you are going to buy a house, have kids, etc. At that point, you will no longer be able to live frivolously. Instead of buying a fast car with only two seats, you will be shopping for chic SUV like IEV’s wife or a minivan like STL. (no offense to either of those alternatives - this is just to illustrate a point)
Buying a sports car doesn’t have to be a middle age thing. I have a 400+hp trans am I refuse to sell despite the impracticality of keeping it. I do love it when I drive it, also, it stands as the sort of line in the sand where I refuse to give in 100% and become a slave to practicality. You should always try to maintain some small semblance of your individualism and youth (at least I think so). I don’t want to become someone in their 30’s that wakes up one day and realizes they’re entirely unhappy because somewhere along the way they let themselves and their relationships get absorbed by the daily grind.
I don’t think I could love somebody who genuinely wanted to drive a minivan instead of an SUV.
Right now I drive an 8 year old Lexus IS. I’d love a new car, but it makes no financial sense to get a new car when mine runs perfectly well, insanely reliable, and is paid off. If I were to get a new car relatively soon, I’d look at a Jeep Grand Cherokee, or a CPO Audi A4/BMW 3. I like sport sedans and SUVs.