Starkman: You Might Just Be an A-hole If You Drive One of These 10 Vehicles

May 12, 2024, 12:30 AM

The writer is a Los Angeles freelancer and former Detroit News business reporter. This column first appeared on his blog,

By Eric Starkman

A person’s choice in automotive vehicles says a lot about them. I own a Subaru Outback and I’m proud of the stereotype associated with my wheels, even if I don’t quite fit the mold.

Subarus were long the vehicles of choice for mostly crunchy granola coast liberals, although Tesla has since captured much of the crowd. Still, Subaru has retained its legacy image. When former NPR journalist Uri Berliner penned his takedown of his longtime employer for being too far left, he noted that he drove a Subaru to make certain readers didn’t mistake him for a Trump supporter.

Subaru owners love animals, which is why nearly 70 percent of them own a pet and 50% of them have at least one dog, including me.  Buy a Tesla and you are making one of the world’s richest persons even richer. Buy a Subaru and you are contributing to animal welfare: Subaru and its retailers have donated more than $42 million to national and local organizations, aiding in the adoption, rescue, transport, and health care of nearly 350,000 animals and pets.

While dogs in South Dakota must fear Gov. Kristi Noem, the state’s notorious cold blooded puppy murderer, they can find safe sanctuary at Schulte Subaru in Sioux Falls, where the dealer last year added a dog park to its complex.

Subaru embraced lesbians long before it was fashionable. When a woman in a Forrester pulls up next to me, I feel an immediate kinship, despite knowing the attraction likely isn’t mutual.

Not all nameplates evoke positive thoughts and associations. Indeed, there are some that are closely associated with a-holes. As a public service, I’ve compiled a list.

And the envelopes, please:

10: Nissan Altima

The Altima is manufactured by Nissan, Japan’s poor excuse for an auto manufacturer, and belongs on a Hertz rental lot, which is how I had the misfortune of driving one. 

Altima owners like to drive their POS vehicles into the ground, but unfortunately, they don’t hold up over time. The vehicles almost invariably have loud or broken mufflers, and I’ve noticed that many Altimas have their sideview mirrors or other parts held together with duct tape as they whiz by at 90 mph on the highway. Altima drivers like to press their accelerator pedals to the metal.

Tinted windows are understandably a popular option for Altima owners. If I owned an Altima, I, too, wouldn’t want to be seen driving one.

9: Chrysler 300

The Chrysler 300 is the ultimate FU to environmentalists, as it’s one of the most fuel inefficient vehicles in its class. It’s also an unsightly vehicle, so uninspiring I’d guess it was designed by someone who flunked art in high school.

Fortunately, I live in Southern California, where I can’t ever recall seeing a Chrysler 300 on our roads, so they may be illegal here. It’s hardly a surprise that Chrysler is owned by Stellantis, one of the most hideous corporate names ever conceived, and whose CEO Carlos Tavares is regarded by the UAW and others as an a-hole himself.

Stellantis discontinued the Chrysler 300 last year, giving the Sierra Club and Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design something to cheer about.  

8: Mercedes G Wagon

The Mercedes G Wagon, with a MSRP starting at $143,000, announces to the world that the owner has more money than they know what to do with. One could buy a better quality Lexus LX for a fraction of the cost, or buy about four Jeep Gladiators and still retain a quasi a-hole status.

I don’t get the popularity of the Mercedes brand, but for family reasons, I’m compelled to say that it appeals to some very wonderful people.

7: Ford Lightning

I confess that I long wanted to buy a pickup but decided against it when a former female colleague I admired and respected said, “Please don’t be that guy.”

It’s one thing to buy a pickup when you don’t do any real work that requires one, but buying a Ford electric Lightning makes clear that you don’t. The EV pickup has poor range, particularly if you are towing another vehicle or drive it in climates where the temps go below freezing. Even in Southern California, I’ve yet to see gardening crews or other trades folks driving a Lightning. If a contractor or plumber showed up at my home driving a Lightning, I wouldn’t trust them.

Ford photo

While the Lightning is electric, it’s considerably heavier than its F-150 gas engine sibling, causing significantly more road damage and more harm in traffic accidents. According to Bloomberg, the Lightning is built from metal that’s damaging the Amazon, hardly a surprise for a company that destroyed fertile farmland and century old trees to build an electric battery plant in rural Michigan.

6: Corvette

The Corvette is popular with white men undergoing menopause or a middle-age crisis, so I will refrain from being too harsh. Old white guys shouldn’t be ridiculing other old white guys. Still, I’m compelled to warn that there are reportedly serious issues with the Corvette’s transmission, which might require Vet owners to up the doses of their blood pressure medications.

GM photo

If I was responsible for the Corvette’s marketing, I’d partner with the folks at Depends and develop a super absorbent and odor masking upholstery. I’d also include a leather jacket selected and approved by GM CEO Mary Barra to make Vet owners look and feel younger.

5: Mustang Mach-E

The Mustang is among the most iconic U.S. nameplates and its American heritage should be respected. Ford shamefully manufacturers the electric Mustang in Mexico, which is doubly shameful because the automaker boasts on its website that it is “All In On America.”

Ford photo

That Ford has no class and doesn’t respect the Mustang’s 60-year-old heritage doesn’t give others license to indulge the automaker’s disgrace. It appears many Americans agree because Ford has slashed the price on its electric Mustangs, and they are still piled up on dealers’ lots.

Sorry, Ford, karma is a bitch.

4: GMC Denali

To explain why the Denali ranks high on this list, I’m going to turn things over to Jalopnik reader Logan Carter who posted this astute comment about the vehicle:

GMC photo

I hate this vehicle (and its Escalade cousin) with every fibre of my being. They may be great for road tripping, but in the suburban neighbourhoods where they live they’re a total goddamn menace. They take up way too much room and drivers can’t see kids in front of them. In two or three years they rattle and squeak from every nook and cranny because at the end of the day, GM chooses its suppliers based on lowest bid, and they build utter shit.

Having driven in a few new GM Denali/Chevy Silverado pickups, a new Escalade, and having read multiple reviews… I wouldn’t buy a new GM product if you put a gun to my head.

They build garbage. They’ve always built garbage. They always will build garbage. 

I’ve declared Carter America’s GM Poet Laureate

3:BMW (All makes and models)

Including Beamers on this list requires no explanation.

Full disclosure: More than a decade ago, I leased a BMW. I’ve been seeing a therapist ever since, hoping to overcome my feelings of shame and inadequacy.

2: Cybertruck

There is no shame in owning a Tesla – it’s more technologically advanced than any EV sold in the U.S. and every owner I’ve spoken with insisted they loved their vehicles.

But a Cybertruck? The vehicle reeks Elon Musk, who admittedly is a brilliant technologist but also is undeniably the embodiment of a world-class mega a-hole. I know that the 20 percent of Tesla’s workforce Musk just threw to the curb will back me on this.

Like Tesla founder, like Cybertruck owner.


Nantucket residents recently got a taste of the sort of person who buys a Cybertruck. A visitor to the island with Connecticut plates blocked a crosswalk on Main Street and then got stuck in the sand by the beach.

Speaking of karma, Tesla was forced to recall all its Cybertrucks to fix an accelerator pedal that can get stuck and behave like a Nissan Altima driver.  A delicious instance when a-holes finish last. 

1: GMC EV Hummer

It’s not even close: Buyers of the EV Hummer have royalty a-hole status.

The monster truck weighs more than 9,000 pounds, and multiple reviewers say it lacks sufficient braking power for a vehicle with such incredible power and brawn. Reviewers also warned about poor visibility and that its off-road capabilities suck.

The Verge

Underscoring that GM intended the EV Hummer for a-holes, the vehicle has a “WTF Mode”, which enables it to go from 0-60 in three seconds. WTF – who cares if some people get killed so rich folks can shave some seconds off their acceleration time. The EV Hummer easily costs more than $100,000 with just a few options.

Although the Hummer is an EV, a climate group recently warned the vehicle is more environmentally harmful than most gas engine vehicles.

When someone buys or leases an EV Hummer, they are broadcasting to the world they care not one iota about the environment or the safety of others. It’s easily the most irresponsible vehicle ever manufactured, which is especially disgraceful given that GM CEO Mary Barra vowed GM’s days of knowingly making unsafe vehicles were over when she was named CEO more than 10 years ago.

Barra made that promise in wake of the automaker’s defective ignition switch crisis that was linked to 97 deaths and hundreds of accidents. Barra has disclosed that the EV Hummer is one of the GM vehicles she most enjoys driving.

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Reach the writer at Confidentiality is assured.

Read more:  Starkman Approved

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