Have you ever seen a new car on the road and drawn certain conclusions about the owner’s intelligence? A Honda Accord, for example, might strike you as a smart choice; a Hummer H2, less so. If you know the history of the Bentley Continental GT, you might wonder who would drop $200 grand on a 2-door Volkswagen Phaeton. And everyone’s got an opinion about that slammed Japanese sport coupe with the huge exhaust and airplane-grade wing on the back.
Of course, these conclusions are only based on speculation. But thanks to a novel analysis of 200 AutoTrader.com classified ads by Grammarly, we finally have some hard data on driver smarts. The folks at Grammarly used their automated proofreading software to identify all the grammatical errors in those 200 ads, and they sorted the results across five different vehicle types. We’re eagerly awaiting future analyses that sort by specific make and model, but in the meantime, here’s what the Grammarly checker found, along with our handy recommendations for the smartest car in each category.
Turns out hatchback drivers made more writing mistakes than anyone else, racking up 13.9 boo-boos per 100 words in Grammarly’s sample set. Which is ironic, because we’re always trumpeting hatchbacks as intelligent alternatives to taller, thirstier crossover SUVs. Here’s a theory: Maybe hatchback drivers tend to be quick-thinking, tech-savvy folks who compose their classified ads in (ungrammatical) SMS-speak on their smartphones. Or maybe that’s a stretch. Still, given that the rest of the world overwhelmingly prefers hatchbacks, we’re not ready to concede a direct correlation in this case. Hatchbacks are smart, dang it!
How to look smart in a hatchback: Drive a Volkswagen Golf. No other compact hatchback can fit four 6-footers in such refined comfort, and there’s a lot of cargo space when you flip the rear seat backs down. Our favorite is the 4-door turbodiesel TDI. And with the new 2015 model right around the corner, you can find sweet deals right now on 2014 Golfs.
Minivan drivers, conversely, made the fewest mistakes of all in our classifieds — just 1.4 per 100 words. And you know what, that makes a lot of sense. If you buy a minivan, you’re saying “no” to SUVs, which means you’re saying “yes” to increased cargo capacity, superior passenger space, easier ingress/egress … the list goes on. In short, you’re probably someone who sweats the details and makes rational choices. No wonder you’re so good at putting a sentence together.
How to look smart in a minivan: Chrysler invented the minivan, but these days it’s all about Honda vs. Toyota. The current Toyota Sienna is certainly a good minivan, but it’s about to be updated. So at the moment, we like the Honda Odyssey a little more. The Toyota’s interior comes off as a little nicer in the higher trim levels, but the Honda is more rewarding to drive and comes with more thoughtful features that are useful to big and small families alike.
Cars With Flashy Colors
Any guesses as to how this one turned out? Yep, the flashy crowd flunked, making mistakes at roughly twice the rate of those favoring conservative colors. Drivers of yellow cars, for example, messed up 7.0 times per 100 words, whereas Team Beige came in at 3.6. So while you might not want to own that tan Camry, you can at least infer that a careful writer is behind the wheel.
How to look smart in a brightly colored car: Make sure it’s a great value. No pink Lamborghinis, in other words. You’re looking for a new car that’s inherently smart and sophisticated, regardless of what color it is. The Tesla Model S comes to mind, and if that breaks the bank, how about a Toyota Prius in Barcelona Red Metallic?
Fast 2-Door Cars
Our editors tend to be partial to these, so we were hoping for some grammatical validation. But alas! Drivers of speedy 2-doors made 8.2 errors per 100 words, whereas drivers of sensible 4-door cars made just 4.8. Hey, if you live life in the fast lane, sometimes you don’t have time to dot your i’s and cross your t’s. For example, we can’t be bothered to investigate whether the apostrophes in the preceding sentence are correct, and that’s probably because we love sports cars.
Cars With Manual Transmissions
You’ve got to be meticulous if you drive a stick, right? After all, you’re constantly thinking about what gear you should be in, what gear you’ll need for the next corner, etc. But Grammarly’s final results struck another crushing blow to our egos: Drivers with manual transmissions made 8.2 mistakes per 100 words, mirroring the performance of fast-2-door drivers, while those with automatics dropped to 4.8. We’re convinced that’s because stick-shift drivers are noble people of action who don’t bother with trivialities. Or perhaps drivers with automatics are better writers because they’ve used fewer brain cells over the years.
How to look smart in a manual-transmission car: Europeans are smart, right? What would they drive? We’re going with the current-generation MINI Cooper S. It provides an amazing mix of performance and fuel economy, and it looks better than the 2015 model that’s about to replace it. Now that’s smart money.
We’re still a little bummed that drivers of hatchbacks and manual-transmission sports cars are apparently the worst writers on the road, but wait till they get a load of our math skills.