Opinion: There’s no such thing as a boring car

Two weeks ago, Associate Editor Byron Hurd and I regrouped at a gas station near Chelsea, Mich., after running back-to-back handling loops in the vehicles we were comparing for an upcoming review. As we stood in the parking lot, a Corvette Z06 slinking along in the background where a Mustang GTD had recently departed, I looked at our Honda CR-V and Kia Sportage hybrids and said, “These cars are neat.”

Byron gave a little shrug and began to say, “Well …”

I get it, Byron. Sure, a couple of efficient commuter crossovers aren’t going to turn heads or raise pulses like some of the other rare metal you’ll see out on the winding roads west of Ann Arbor, but the miles we had driven so far in our humble hybrids had put a smile on my face. The Kia bounded over those unkempt roads like a matte silver hobby horse with a steering wheel full of feedback, while the Honda smoothed out the bumps in the corners while singing a surprisingly lovely song. And there was so much more to unpack from these seemingly prosaic CUVs, as you can read about in the upcoming comparo.

With the right roads and an inquisitive mind, almost any car can be fun, or at least interesting. Sussing any certain car’s capabilities, its kinks and foibles, its design quirks or the odd surprising virtue or unique execution of a particular feature … well, that’s why we still care about the cars we don’t even own, right? Any car’s got something to show you, if you look. Even if you have to critique, or downright criticize. If you think a particular car is boring, maybe it’s just you.

I’m lucky enough in my career that I get the opportunity to talk to the people who actually made the cars I get to drive — the designers and engineers — and while I’ve shifted uneasily in my seat at some of the marketing speak, digging past that and into the nitty gritty of the machines we vroom or putter around in is always interesting. Why is such-and-such element shaped like it is, and how does the location and linkage of some seemingly small part affect how the car drives? I get answers to questions like those. Usually, though, when I have questions about a certain aspect of a car, I don’t have one of its masterminds on hand. Thankfully, there’s a near infinite amount of A/V or reading material no further away than that computer in my pocket.

And just take a look at Murilee Martin’s Junkyard Gems. Some of the cars that entered and left the world without making much of a splash at all still have stories to tell. I found myself reading off history of the Plymouth Neon to my wife. (By the way, did you know the Plymouth brand was named after twine? Does that sound boring to you?)

Even bad cars aren’t boring. The second-gen Honda Insight still takes up way more of my mental real estate than it should, and I wouldn’t kick a Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet out of my driveway. We’ve all got our own personal Edsel that we love to hate (or hate to love — either way, a combination of strong, not boring emotions). You might very well even have some great memories of some sh*tbox from your youth. I love a good sh*tbox car.

So next time you’re tempted to call a car boring, be it an Atlas, EcoSport, Cavalier or Quattroporte, use your imagination a little. Learn a little something about the car, whether that’s scrutinizing it on a good road, poking around under the hood or exploring the car online. I’m sure there’s something about the car that can make it a little more interesting the next time you drive it and etch it into your catalog of memory. You don’t have to like the car. Just remember: there are no boring cars, only boring people.

Alright, bring on the jokes in the comments.

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