You can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. Shoes aren’t like most clothes; most of us only own a few pairs, and we tend to wear the same ones or the same type every day. Clothes change by occasion, and they don’t necessarily have to be functional. Shoes, on the other hand, reflect who we are and what we do every day. They speak to our priorities, how we balance form and function, what we do for a living and as often as not what we make doing it.

Cars are a lot like that. Unless you’re Jay Leno, odds are pretty good you don’t have a different car for every day of the week (or year, as the case may be). That means you end up choosing a ride based on a lot of factors, most of which probably don’t have much to do with personal preference. Sure, a lot of us would love to walk around in Italian loafers — but when you need cheap steel-toed boots, that’s what you end up with.

So, what do cars say about the people who buy them? What’s the difference between a stiletto and a work boot, apart from the combination of leather and steel? Part of it is personal preference — but most of it is just a matter of what fits best. For this article, we’re going to look at different types of vehicles and the people who drive them.

Body Styles

Coupe (two-door sedan):

2014 - 2015 Honda Civic Si Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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Probably somebody without kids. Either that, or it’s the second car in a two-car household. A two-door car tells the world "This show is about me; other people might be involved from time to time, but they can crawl in the back seat." If a person owns a coupe, and only a coupe, it’s a pretty sure bet that she’s the independent type who doesn’t go out of her way to get attached. Think James Dean, or The Mechanic from Two-Lane Blacktop. Examples could include the two-door versions of anything from a Honda Civic to Koeniggsegg Agera.

Convertible:

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Living life and loving it. There’s no good reason to own a convertible unless your goal is to get out of that metal coffin and into the world. Examples include the Audi TT, Mercedes-Benz SL and any number of supercars like the Lamborghini Reventon or McLaren 650S.

Crossover SUV:

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Crossovers are either the new station wagon or minivans in drag, depending on how you look at it. This person probably has kids, but he’s still got his own life in spite of it. Or, he likes to think he does. As mainstream as crossovers are now, it’s hard to pin a label on owner personality types; but front-wheel-drive crossover buyers are usually in it more for the every-day aspects. All-wheel-drive buyers like to be prepared for anything, even if it isn’t the every-day. Examples: Mazda CX-5, GMC Terrain and Porsche Macan.

Economy Car (Non-Hybrid):

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Either a hand-me-down or just a practical purchase. These kinds of people are either very proud of their pragmatism and sense of social responsibility, or they park as far away from the club entrance as possible. Examples include the Volkswagen Golf, Honda Fit and Mazda3.

Hybrid:

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Used to be the domain of eco-warriors and smug non-polluters, but they’ve gotten so common it’s hard to put a label on buyers. Generally speaking, hybrid buyers tend to take a longer and more considered view of life, and aren’t given to sudden, impulsive decisions. They don’t always need the money they save buying a hybrid — but they like they fact that they’re saving something, including the environment. Examples include everyday rides like the Toyota Prius, but these days also include a number of supercars like the Porsche 918 and McLaren P1.

Electrics:

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Militantly forward-thinking and progressive, both ideologically and politically. If you drive a Tesla, you’d probably vote Elizabeth Warren 2016. American electric car drivers tend to be younger, male, highly educated, highly paid, and working in very technical fields. Right now, the Tesla S is the best known, but the Chevrolet Volt electric isn’t far behind.

Luxury Car:

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These kinds of people usually have somewhere they’d rather be aside from in the car; but it’s important that they make an impression when they get there.
Examples include upmarket cars like the Cadillac CTS, up to the BMW M6 and Bentley Continental GT.

Pickup Truck:

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These drivers are hard-working members of the ever-practical middle-class. Or, at least, they want you to think they are. If your truck has more interior room than it does bed space, or can’t carry at least half its own weight in the bed, you’re probably running for governor of Oklahoma. Here in the States, examples include the typical assortment of Chevrolet Colorados, Toyota Tacomas and Ford F-150s.

Sedan:

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Sedan buyers are willing to accept some compromise if it means getting 90 percent of their criteria. Sedans could be anything from a Honda Accord to a BMW 7 Series.

Sports Car:

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Probably a second or third car, especially if it’s new. New sports cars have a reputation for being mid-life-crisis rides, because older people are usually the only ones who can afford them. But anyone apart from the most hopelessly vanilla accountant can love an older sports car. In this category you’ve got the Ford Mustang, Subaru BRZ, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger.

Supercar:

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Brand-new cars are almost the sole provenance of tend-seeking trust-fund brats with lots of money and little sense of relative value. But those people tend to get rid of them pretty quickly when the latest model comes out. Second and third owners are often aspirational, upper-middle-class types who have earned their money rather than inherited it. Upmarket examples include the Bugatti Veyron and Pagani Huayra, though the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 would probably qualify too.

SUV (truck based):

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Usually, middle-aged people with kids who wouldn’t be caught dead in a station wagon. Not often the most practical people, but usually more interesting to be around than those who drive crossovers. In this category you’ll find everyday fare like the Toyota Land Cruiser and Chevrolet Tahoe, as well as upmarket offerings like the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport.

Wagons:

2014 Acura TSX Sport Wagon High Resolution Exterior
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The polar opposite of a trend-seeker. For now, anyway. Many cars offered as four-door sedans have station-wagon variants, including the Acura TSX, BMW 3 Series, and Cadillac CTS.

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