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Were you this rude before you bought that ute or did it happen afterwards? The cars we're treated best in, bullied in and the ones that bring out the worst in us. From the Ford Ranger Raptor and Isuzu D-Max to the Kia Picanto and Nissan X-Trail | Opinion

Are you a Ford Ranger Raptor driver?

Everybody's heard the saying: you are what you eat. And it’s true. But what’s even truer is: you are what you drive. This goes for not only the way you act behind the wheel, but also how other drivers treat you. 

Trust me we’re motoring journalists, and we drive hundreds of cars a year from tiny hatchbacks to giant utes. There are times we test drive several cars in a day. It’s not unusual for us to start the day driving a Bentley Bentayga and finish in a Suzuki Swift. Not only do we get a good insight into what makes a car good to drive and live with, but for a short time we almost morph into the owner of that car.

The flip side is everybody else on the road thinks it’s really our own car - that we chose to buy a bright red Porsche with a giant wing on the back. And so we know how the owners of all cars are really treated, too.

So, after a survey of the CarsGuide office here it is: our list of the cars we're treated best in, bullied in and the cars which bring out the worst in us. 

Before we begin, however, can we point out that while this story is intended to be a humorous insight into road behaviour, driving aggressively or with intimidation is not just illegal, it’s dangerous and potentially deadly.

Before losing your cool in the traffic, ask yourself if you’d behave that rudely and aggressively in the supermarket just pushing your shopping trolley with children, babies and the elderly around. If the answer is no, then the same should go for the road. 

The cars that bring out the worst in us

Let’s start with the cars that bring out the worst in us. Yep, there’s something about these suits of high-tensile steel armour we call cars that turn very reasonable people into raging beasts that need to calm down.

Ford Ranger Raptor

We have to admit that when we hoist ourselves into the cabin of a Raptor some type of primal mist descends.

Topping our list is the Ford Ranger Raptor. Named after one of the most vicious and deadly reptiles that was even widely hated by other dinosaurs for being such an arse, the Raptor is a Ranger ute that looks like its done time and spent most of it in the excises yard lifting weights. It's a monster with its jacked up suspension, high powered engine and colourful graphics scheme you’d see on nine-year old’s winter pyjamas.

Yep, if you thought that utes could be the biggest bullies on the road and you’d probably be right, then the Raptor may well be the worst offender.

We have to admit that when we hoist ourselves into the cabin of a Raptor some type of primal mist descends. The driver of one will absolutely not give you a wave when you let them in.

The thing is this Baja-inspired Ranger is damned fun to drive and a super capable beast off road, it’s just a shame its reputation is muddied by suburban wannabe Hoonigans.

Dodge Ram 1500 and 2500

More of a postcode than a ute the Ram is six metres long but don’t let that get in the way of trying to fit in an average Australian car space.

Not far behind the Raptor for cars that can bring out a less-than zen-like side to us is the Dodge Ram. More of a postcode than a ute the Ram is six metres long but don’t let that get in the way of trying to fit in an average Australian car space which measures 5.4 in length.

Yep, this isn’t just a ute to pull your jet ski, this is a truck that’ll tow up to 4.5 tonnes in the 1500 version with its 5.7-litre V8 hemi or eight tonnes in the 2500 boasting 6.7-litres of inline turbo diesel six-cylinder making 1152Nm. Mmmm, rolling coal.

Sure, the owners of these cars treat us like they don’t know we’re there (probably because these things are so big they can't see us), but we too fall for the appeal of these giant toys. Even the gentlest human to drive the earth and CarsGuide journalist - Byron Mathioudakis - was taken by the beauty in this beast.

Hyundai i30N

Quite possibly one of the best Hyundais ever made the i30N is what happens when you take your parents' hatchback and turn it into a race car - but when I say ‘you’ I mean the manufacturer, and I mean done properly.

Quick, sharp handling and mean looking, the i30N makes us seek out twisty roads but if you happen to be out there sightseeing with your caravan in the same place at the same time then just pull over and let us pass other wise the crackling downshifts will ruin the serenity for you.

Audi RS3

Kind of like an i30N but next level, both in performance and price, and the owner profile is the same only perhaps with a bit more money to throw at this baby incredible hulk. Everybody who drives an RS3 does so like they’re running late for a job interview. 

The RS3 also suffers from small dog syndrome where due to its tiny size but big-bark five-cylinder turbo petrol engine there appears a need to constantly prove itself in a way that you’d never see an Audi RS6 owner drive.

Still, I love this car more than soup and if you know me then you know how much of a soup monster I am, and yes this car also turns me into a bit of a monster too. 

The cars we get bullied in

Kia Picanto

The Kia Picanto is so tiny at 3.6m end-to-end that driving one involves a Jack Russell style of tenacity to ensure the rest of the traffic doesn’t push you around too much.

The CarsGuide office agrees on three things when it comes to the Kia Picanto: it’s fun to drive, it’s great value; and even a short trip in it as Deputy Editor James Cleary says will be all the proof you need that road-going bullying is alive and well in Australia. 

The car is so tiny at 3.6m end-to-end that driving one involves a Jack Russell style of tenacity to ensure the rest of the traffic doesn’t push you around too much. That won’t stop the bullying though and I have been honked at by impatient drivers behind me while I'm waiting to turn at an intersection - the same junction I use every day but never get harassed at when I’m in a ute or large SUV.

Fiat 500e

The 500e electric version is probably the best car from this company in the past decade, yet only the people who have driven one will know that.

The ridicule that often comes with driving a Fiat 500 is real, but the 500e electric version is probably the best car from this company in the past decade, yet only the people who have driven one will know that. Everybody else seems to see them as some kind of clown car containing drivers who are more concerned about cuteness and style than driving and spatial awareness. 

How wrong they are, this is a car for those with skin as thick as a hippo’s and the confidence level of a 21-year-old law student. One CarsGuide team member recalls being laughed at in a rose-gold coloured one, but to be fair this is a car that plays Italian music through an external speaker to warn pedestrians of its approach.

Porsche Cayman GT4 RS

The car doesn’t have to be small and affordable to be a target for bullies, we’ve also found the same goes for anything that’s maybe a bit pricey and flamboyant.

Last year I had a goal-unlocked moment when I tested the incredible Porsche Cayman GT4 RS only to be treated worse that I’ve even been in any car by other drivers - verbally abused, spat at and honked for driving over speed bumps too slowly, and that was just on the school run from other parents.

You can probably add other luxury sports cars to this list as well. I’ve experienced similar jealous-bullying behaviours in the BMW Z4 and Audi TT.

The cars we’re treated best in

Isuzu D-Max

It’s maybe the Isuzu D-Max with its more working class hero appeal that is the most respected car among other motorists.

Ute drivers, you don’t know how good you have it. If there’s any car that’s treated the best on the road it's utes - perhaps it’s the menacing look of the sporty variants like the Nissan Navara Warrior, the Toyota HiLux Rogue and Ford Ranger Wildtrak.

But it’s maybe the Isuzu D-Max with its more working class hero appeal that is the most respected car among other motorists.

Yup, you could run up the inside lane that ends and barge rudely into traffic and you’ll be welcomed in better than an ambulance with its sirens screaming.

Perhaps it's because the D-Max is like dad fashion but for cars that we’re so willing to accept and forgive its drivers' doing things they’d never get away with in a BMW Z4.

Nissan X-Trail

The Nissan X-Trail is another vehicle that is exempt from adhering to normal road etiquette and yet one we’re so willing to forgive.

The Nissan X-Trail is another vehicle that is exempt from adhering to normal road etiquette and yet one we’re so willing to forgive. The same goes for the Mitsubishi Outlander and Hyundai Santa Fe or Kia Sorento.

Actually, the CarsGuide office agrees that most larger SUVs are treated well by other drivers, but the catch is it can’t be too expensive or flashy.

Perhaps these garden-variety bigger family SUVs suggest you’re a pragmatic parent with kids, who’s already made four school lunches, changed two nappies and is on their fourth coffee of the day, that tells other drivers to back off.

Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang is the car version of Bruce Springsteen and who doesn’t love the boss?

Then there are the cars that people love and treat like rock stars among us. The Ford Mustang is the car version of Bruce Springsteen and who doesn’t love the boss? The key here is it can’t be too luxurious but kind of attainable. 

The exception to this rule is if the car is so ridiculously special and expensive that it’s like seeing a living, breathing unicorn galloping down the street in peak hour. We’re talking about something like an Aston Martin Vantage.

Classics and collector cars

Pretty much all of us here at CarsGuide have something older and special we like to drive when we’re not testing new cars from hot rodded 1950s American Fords and cool 1960s Mercs to Alfa Romeos and newer Mazda MX-5s.

The final category of cars that get treated best are classics. Pretty much all of us here at CarsGuide have something older and special we like to drive when we’re not testing new cars from hot rodded 1950s American Fords and cool 1960s Mercs to Alfa Romeos and newer Mazda MX-5s.

It seems that when you drive a car like this - one that isn’t always easy or reliable and suggests the owner might know their way around a motor vehicle is respected by all.  

Before we go there's an important catch to all of this as our Deputy News Editor John "The Sitution" Law pointed out. A Kia Picanto in his trendy urban suburb is seen as a considerate and clever choice, while big SUVs are viewed as opulent and excessive. Now this really makes things complicated...  

Richard Berry
Senior Journalist
Richard had wanted to be an astrophysicist since he was a small child. He was so determined that he made it through two years of a physics degree, despite zero mathematical ability. Unable to build a laser in an exam and failing to solve the theoretical challenge of keeping a satellite in orbit, his professor noted the success Richard was enjoying in the drama and writing courses he had been doing on the side. Even though Richard couldn’t see how a degree in story-telling and pretending would ever get him a job, he completed one anyway. Richard has since been a best-selling author and a journalist for 20 years, writing about science, music, finance, cars, TV, art, film, cars, theatre, architecture, food, and cars. He also really likes cars, and has owned an HQ ute, Citroen 2CV, XW Falcon, CV8 Monaro and currently, a 1951 Ford Tudor. A husband and dad, Richard’s hobbies also include astronomy.
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