As is our nature, there is an intrinsic need to create sweeping generalizations for things that are difficult to define. Today I’m going to give you my generalizations for the three ways in which cars impact our lives and how we prioritize their attributes. To be blunt, you either want a Toy, need an Appliance, or are curious about Technology. Whichever has your priority will shape what car you seek out, but allow me to add some definition to what those terms mean in this context:

  • Toy: Engagement and Enjoyment.
  • Appliance: Reliability and Responsibility.
  • Technology: Innovation and Imagination.

I’ll reiterate this sentence, “you either want a Toy, need an Appliance, or are curious about Technology.”

In other words, you don’t need engagement or enjoyment from your car! But most people want those attributes, and if you’re an enthusiast then you will argue that you need these attributes. Congratulations, your first priority is a product that can give you the experiences that come from a Toy!

If you don’t need your vehicle to be reliable because it doesn’t have any responsibilities outside of fulfilling a craving for British Racing Green then you may want to aim for an Aston Martin Vantage for $35,000 instead of that base model Buick LaCrosse. However, if you’re curious about all the awesome features, connectivity, and new designs coming from Buick then the LaCrosse is going to be the Technology show piece you’re looking for.

Imagine you’re buying a toaster:

  • Technology, when you buy a toaster because you’re curious about the way it toasts toast!
  • Appliance, when you buy a toaster because you need your toast toasted!
  • Toy, when you buy a toaster because you want the experience of toasting toast!

In this way, any appliance can be a toy in other circumstances and even something lacking “technology” could become Technology if it does something a certain way (wanting a car purely because of the way the doors operate).

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When you look at things in this light you begin to understand how Lexus, Land Rover, and Lamborghini owners can rave about their experiences with the cars even if they are being used the same way. Imagine each one on the track, off-roading, or sitting in traffic and you’ll notice that you view each car differently.

So ask yourself what attributes you’re wanting, needing, and are interested in. Priotize them, then ask yourself whether or not the vehicle is going to satisfy the criteria and is the price worth it for a Toy, Appliance, or Technology?