19 Reasons to Hate Small Cars

Tight Car Park


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Tight Car Park

Mini Motion

Escalade or smart car? When it comes to their vehicle of choice, many American drivers follow a “go big or go home” credo because size, indeed, does matter. We’re not going to say which side of the road we’re on, so to speak, but as someone who has driven compact cars and sedans over the years — with an occasional borrowed SUV or minivan — we admit to having a few gripes when it comes to the road’s tinier warriors.

Related: 51 of the Smallest Cars Ever Made

Traffic jam

They Challenge the Tall or Wide

So you’re a very tall guy or gal. Perhaps girth is your issue. A small car can prove intimidating. It’s embarrassing to have to squeeze into it, belly brushing against the steering wheel. It’s even worse when someone suggests you sit in the back seat of a two-door compact car.

Here let me help you

They Make the Older Feel Even Older

Some smaller cars ride so close to the ground that you can forget about simply hopping out after parking. Whether it’s a sports car or simply a compact model, you might need a hand to emerge, and that’s no way to feel like a spring chicken. 

Related: 15 Popular Cars for Drivers Over 50

A helping hand

They Dash Decorating Dreams

We found the ideal chair at HomeGoods for a room we were redecorating and bought it, figuring it would easily make it home in what we drove. Pulling the compact up, we realized the car had the space, but the angles were off. The maneuvering that followed bordered on the comical. End result? Rather than cough up for home delivery (we were just over the border of a nearby state), we had the store rep take that lovely chair right back in for an immediate return.

Dejan Marjanovic/istockphoto

They Limit Stocking Up

This past year-plus has introduced many to bulk buying — and maybe panic buying — at wholesale clubs and the neighborhood grocery store, from multipacks of toilet paper to an abundance of rice and canned goods. Small-car drivers may pack the shopping cart to its limit, only to have to figure out how to get it all home. Is it wrong to call an Uber for the kids?

Buying a Christmas tree

They Jeopardize Getting the Christmas Tree Home

Forget those warm-and-fuzzy images of a family driving home with a freshly cut fir strapped firmly to a car’s generous, straight roof. One year we had to wedge our Christmas tree-to-be into a tiny trunk, which could not be closed or tied. One ill-advised fast turn later found me pulled onto the shoulder, walking back to rescue the tree from a lane of traffic. It survived. My pride did not.

Rush Hour

Their Horn Will Never Intimidate

Sometimes you really need to lay on the horn — Did they not see me? How dare they cut me off like that? — but small-car drivers really cannot intimidate. A tiny toot of a small car’s horn draws only a laugh, not remorse.

Related: How to Stay Safe From Road Rage, Including Your Own

Back seat Car interior inside

They Discourage Carpooling

You can take a friend or two out or decide which of your kids can bring their friend along for a day out, but having a small car usually means accommodating only two or three passengers or an uncomfortable fifth person, making carpooling with the gang an unlikely option.

Related: The Best Ways to Reduce 13 Monthly Bills and Expenses

In the Parking lot.
Valery Yurasov/istockphoto

They Cause Others to Judge Your Financial State

“Oh, you chose the economy model…” Some people do indeed look at what you drive and make all kinds of assumptions about the state of your career, bank account, or even marriage.

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Two Toyota Prius Hybrid Cars one red, one blue in parking lot
Cindy Shebley/istockphoto

They Can Encourage Stereotyping

“She drives a Prius.” Some would translate that as “She must be a tree-hugging liberal who eats granola and takes yoga.” Since when did cars come to signify so much more than a way to get people from Point A to Point B?

Related: 15 Reasons I Drive An Electric Car

Parking Lot

They Fool You Into Thinking You Found a Parking Spot

After cruising row after row in a parking lot you spot an open space about 10 cars ahead on the right. Fooled again: There’s a compact car already in place that you couldn’t see behind all the SUVs.

Too little car trunk for luggage

They Limit What You Take On Vacation

Road tripping by small car may limit what you pack as much as soaring airplane luggage fees. If you’re in a group, you may have to announce a one-bag-per-person limit to get the hatchback to snap shut. And a family may have to forgo bringing a lot of supplies from home, which forces you to buy more when you reach the destination, since a small car can’t fit everyone and their suitcases, water toys, groceries, and backyard games.

Related: 10 People Who Shouldn't Buy a Truck

Distraught mechanic trying to figure out where malfunction is while repairing car engine in a workshop.
Drazen Zigic/istockphoto

They Can Annoy the Mechanic

We’ve heard complaints from a mechanic here and there that small cars mean smaller spaces under the hood, making their job harder. The last thing we want to do is annoy the mechanic.

Related: 32 Lies Your Mechanic Has Told You

Semi Truck in Mirror

They Make You Feel Small

Driving at night can be stressful, especially when drivers are dwarfed by speeding 18-wheelers and other large vehicles. All drivers in small cars have felt that “whoosh” when a truck speeds by — it’s unnerving, to say the least.

Related: 43 Most Over-the-Top SUVS and Trucks You Can Buy

Snow storm on the highway

They Can Be Sidelined in Some Weather

It may sound like an old wives’ tale that a small car can be swept off the side of a bridge in high winds, but it is essentially possible. Small cars and tall cars, often lighter than heavy trucks and SUVs, surely don’t flip off bridges often, but driving one in high-wind conditions can make for a terrifying trek.

Related: 50 of the Biggest Cars Ever Made

Interior view of car with trunk full of goods

They Can Make Moving a Challenge

It’s hard enough to have to move, even when it’s just across town. It’s even harder when you are trying to do it yourself. When your car is small, a couple of trips can stretch into a very long day filled with short tempers and stress.

Related: 10 Moving Nightmares (and How to Avoid Them)

Young man grilling during tailgating party near football stadium
SDI Productions/istockphoto

They Can’t Tackle Tailgating Parties

Pull down the back of the truck, set up a grill, and let the buffet begin? Small cars do not lend themselves to tailgating parties. Their owners will find themselves promising to bring extra beer and chips so they can park nearby and still join in with the “big boys.”

Recieving a receipt and ordered food at drive through
Ziga Plahutar/istockphoto

They Don’t Exactly Encourage Lunch-on-the-Go

It can be hard dipping into a drive-thru meal in any car. A compact offers even more challenges — and mess — for road trippers or those simply short on time, who will probably go on finding fries strewn across the car mats for the next week.

Related: Rude? Friendly? Here’s How Your Favorite Fast-Food Drive-Thru Ranks

drive-in movie
Kirkikis / istockphoto

They Put a Damper on Drive-in Movies

Compact cars and drive-in movies are also not an ideal combination, whether it’s trying to fill a car with kids in PJs or getting romantic at the end of a date.

Related: The Best Drive-In Movie Theaters in America

Food Groceries in Trunk of Car COVID-19

They Can Limit Job Options

Did you ever notice that antiques dealers often drive an SUV, truck, or van? It’s a practical choice, since they are always on the lookout for a “cash and carry” deal — if they can’t take it on the spot, the seller may balk — and need to later set up wares at fairs and shows. Having a car that suits a career choice is a plus, whether it’s as a masseuse with multiple tables and accessories, a mobile dog groomer, or a woodworker who has to deliver their own goods.

Related: Jobs That Could Grow During a Pandemic or Recession