10 cars for every type of traveler
Automakers often create a target consumer for their cars, inventing profiles that include age, gender, income, marital status, life stage and preferred activities -- a bit like a Facebook profile for motorheads.
They even sometimes give these ciphers a name like, Celeste.
Here are 10 categories of traveler they should have on file, and the vehicles that best suit their needs.
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1. Shopaholics: Cadillac Escalade ESV
Ours is a compulsively consuming society, and while we all partake of its bounteous offerings, some folks need their AmEx swiped more often than others.
With cushy leather seats for those long trips to the outlet mall, all-wheel-drive for all-season impulse buying excursions, a potent V-8 capable of plowing over competing shoppers, and more cargo space than Imelda Marcos’ closet, this SUV is an ideal enabler: a hoarders delight.
Do not buy this car if: You don’t own an Exxon/Mobile franchise.
2. Aviophobics: Mercedes S350 Diesel
Afraid that every plane you board will nosedive into the Pacific? Don’t believe that aeronautics is a real science? Dislike tiny liquor bottles, tinier seats and even tinier bathrooms?
With the 1,000-kilometer-plus-range of its diesel engine, capacious cabin and every creature comfort you can imagine (and some -- like active, flank-hugging seats -- that you can’t) this First Class cruiser will get you from New York to Chicago, nonstop, on a single tank of gas, without any turbulence or TSA pat-downs.
Do not buy this car if: You prefer traveling coach.
3. Ski bums: Ferrari FF
Everyone at Gstaad was still driving Range Rovers or G-Wagens this season, even though luxury SUVs are sooooo 2003.
So trump the powderati and pick up one of these grand tourers. With Ferrari’s first-ever four wheel-drive system, a sonorous V-12, room for four real adults (and their skis, courtesy of the brand’s first hatchback), and enough leather to keep Steven Tyler in tatters, this prancing horse is the proper way to gallop toward the slopes.
Do not buy this car if: You can’t afford the US$28,000 custom leather luggage set.
4. Honeymooners: Smart Passion Coupe
With the same power output as a butterfly’s quadriceps, the handling characteristics of mattress balanced on a bottle of wine, as much interior space as a box of cereal and all the creature comforts of a pauper’s coffin, one hour in this car will test the fidelity and potential longevity of any relationship.
Do not buy this car if: You can afford anything else.
5. Gentleman ranchers: ICON FJ45
In addition to Manhattan penthouses, Brentwood mansions, and Caribbean islands, a certain breed of masculine executives is drawn to owning vacation properties in rugged, buffalo-ridden areas like Montana.
Folks like these need a vehicle that can traverse obstacles that start at “boulder” and increase exponentially from there.
With every single component re-imagined, rebuilt, and fantastically over-engineered (even the air conditioning vents are military-grade aluminum) the ICON Land Cruisers are as butch and stylish as they are capable.
Do not buy this car if: You prefer to stay indoors.
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6. Staycationers: Nissan Leaf
With the economy uncertain, people are choosing to stay local during their time off, and there’s no better vehicle for keeping close to home than this battery-powered pod.
With a range of only 117 kilometers, the Leaf is ideal for a week’s worth of fast-food dinners and big box store junkets. And, lacking a spa at your in-home resort, you can meditate to the whir of the electric motor. It’s very relaxing.
Do not buy this car if: You crave escape.
www.nissanusa.com US$35,200 (before US$7,500 Federal Tax Rebate)
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7. Sad dads: Mercedes E63 AMG Wagon
You finally purchased your dream car -- a Porsche 911 -- swerving your spouse’s practicality dictates with two back buckets just big enough for your toddlers.
But now the kids are five and seven, and have grown these annoying legs. You require speed and luxury, but also want to stay married.
This is your solution: a leather-lined, muscle missile, with valet-inspiring elegance, enough hustle to satisfy your Fittipaldi fantasies, and space in back for a year’s worth of juice boxes.
Do not buy this car if: You dislike engine noise.
8. Gamblers: Jaguar XF
Launched in 2008, the XF represented Jaguar’s radical departure from its retro-centric design language. It succeeded in this.
What it didn’t quite do was vanquish the marque’s reputation for producing a litter of fickle kitties.
According to the experts at Consumer Reports, Jag has the lowest reported reliability of any vehicle manufacturer, and the base XF has the lowest reported reliability of any vehicle Jag makes, making it the perfect vehicle for risk takers and speculators.
Do not buy this car if: You can’t stand Vegas.
9. Obsessive compulsives: McLaren MP4-12C
Envisioned by an executive chairman (Ron Dennis) who’s more fastidious and domineering than a White House chief of staff, built in a Lord Norman Foster-designed factory that’s cleaner than the grout in Howard Hughes' bathroom, and engineered to strike an impossibly uncompromising balance between performance and comfort, the MP4-12C is so perfect, and perfectly OCD, it might just appear in the DSM-5.
Do not buy this car if: You’re going to drop crumbs on the seat.
10. Harried families: Dodge Charger R/T
Try as you might to keep car trips short, the kids are inevitably arguing, crying or asking, “Are we there yet?”
The solution? Buy one of these near-eyed meanies in Undercover Black or Patrol White, get in the left lane, and gun the Hemi. Everyone will assume you’re Five-Oh, and move out of your way.
The rush of speed will keep the kids breathlessly quiet and pinned to their seats, and you’ll be there and back quickly, and migraine-free.
Do not buy this car if: You lack a lead foot.
Also on CNNGo: 10 trips for every type of traveler
First published June 2012, updated January 2013