2006 HUMMER H1 AlphaEnlarge Photo
Driving a Toyota Prius hybrid, a plug-in electric car from Chevy, Nissan, or Tesla, or even a small, fuel-efficient car isn't always about green sentiments.
People buy those cars for many reasons: fondness for early-adopter gadgets, concerns over energy security, and total-cost-of-ownership money savings, as well as environmental concerns.
But it's probably safe to generalize that most drivers of those vehicles see red at the most anti-green vehicles on the road--or least a mix of sadness, pity, and contempt.
Here's our list.
2009 Hummer H2Enlarge Photo
(1) 2003-2010 HUMMER: any of 'em
On the heels of the 1991 Iraq War, General Motors bought the HUMMER brand in 1998 and used styling cues from the military Humvee H1 to create the H2 and H3 utility vehicles adapted from two different existing truck platforms.
They were heavy, not all that fast, and had atrocious outward vision for their usual duty of taking little Jason or little Jennifer to soccer games. Their gross excess even inspired artwork.
But HUMMERs were, without a doubt, the most visually aggressive, in-your-face, pedestrian-intimidating, small-car-squashing statements of utter hubris and machismo ever sold by a major carmaker.
Where we live, they have entirely--utterly, 100 percent--vanished from the road. In 30 years, they'll likely be collectors' items, just like 1959 Cadillacs today: "Look, honey, can you imagine they ever sold something as crazy as that?"
2004 Ford Excursion XLSEnlarge Photo
(2) 2000-2005 Ford Excursion
It's the largest utility vehicle sold to the general public by a major carmaker. It was so big it had to have special door mirrors with lights, just like a semi.
Built on the frame of a Ford F-250 Heavy Duty pickup truck, the nine-seat Excursion was so large, in fact, that it wouldn't fit into many conventional suburbans garages.
And it weighed 7,200 to 7,700 pounds--far above the weight limit on small rural bridges, and so heavy that the EPA didn't rate it for fuel efficiency because it exceeded their definition of passenger vehicle.
2009 Cadillac EscaladeEnlarge Photo
(3) Cadillac Escalade
It's really only a tarted-up Chevrolet Suburban.
But the Escalade, usually in gleaming black paint, laden with fist-sized lumps of chrome and preceded by piercing LED headlights, seems to embody "What the hell?" privilege more than any other current vehicle.
Like the first two, it's tall, bluff, and remarkably intimidating--which automatically makes every other driver feel threatened and resentful when it looms in the rear-view mirror, usually following too closely.
We're not convinced that Escalade drivers don't like it that way. If they have Jersey plates, we know they do.
Lamborghini Veneno, 2013 Geneva Motor ShowEnlarge Photo
(4) Italian supercars
We don't quite understand the animus toward the outrageous, showy, extroverted sports models from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and the rest.
Not only are they superb examples of extreme technology, they're also sold in very low volumes indeed.
But there are those slightly pursed-lip hypermilers who seem to regard them as original sin.
And their often entitled owners are known to misbehave in public.
1985 Buick Century, Gross Polluter, by Flickr user head36Enlarge Photo
(5) Gross polluters
They're cars from the 1980s or 1990s, belching blue smoke from their tailpipes.
And they do as much environmental damage as 100 or more modern-day Honda Civics.
Many states have programs to pay owners to get rid of them, but they're still out there.
This is one that we think few people will disagree with.
Looking across all five of these listings, we've decided we rather like the old Teddy Roosevelt saying: "Speak softly and carry a big stick."
All those HUMMER and supercar owners? Perhaps they don't know about big sticks.