For Valentine's Day: 5 Cars That Say 'I Love You', 5 That Say 'I Love You Not'

February 14, 2011

When a Roman priest was beheaded some 1741 years ago, no one could've predicted that his life would eventually be celebrated with mass-produced greeting cards and Whitman's Samplers -- and yet, here we are. Like Mother's Day and Father's Day, Valentine's Day has become another occasion to spend dough on loved ones to show you really care.

But of course, it's not that simple. Because simply spending dough isn't enough -- you have to spend it on the right things. Buying the wrong color roses or the wrong brand of teddy bear can spell disaster. And as nifty and expensive as cars may be, they can send the wrong message, too.

So in the spirit of Valentine's Day, we've come up with a short list of ten cars, five of which say "I love you", and five of which say "I love you not". It's not a scientific list -- not even close -- but if someone gifts you one of these today, or if your blind date picks you up in one, it'll at least give you something to talk about over your prix fixe dinner.


  • If nothing else, the Dodge Nitro is interesting to look at. Its squared-off angles and sturdy pose imply a solid ride. And yet, there's something edgy about the Nitro, too -- a little glimmer in its eye that makes you nervous every time you turn your back. It's part James Gandolfini, part Tura Satana from Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (may she rest in peace). The Dodge Nitro says, "I totally love you, but I will maintain the court-approved distance until we can patch things up. See you at AA, Peanut."
  • The Chevrolet Impala gets a lot of ribbing from auto folks. Is it stylish? Not especially? Is it a status car? Not unless your status is "snowbird". But does it ride like a tank? You bet'cha -- just like the kind gramps loves to drive. The Chevy Impala says, "I love you almost as much as I love the early bird special at Denny's. More Sanka, Clarice!"
  • You can't argue with the Mazda Miata -- just look at that face, all full of smiles and happy eyes and smizing. The Miata (aka the MX-5) is perky, fun to drive, and best of all, it's a two-seater, so it was made for romance. The Miata is prone to bounce on sofas, screaming, "I love you! Do you love me? Because I totally 100% completely love you! Yes! I! Do!"
  • For family-oriented folks of a certain income bracket, nothing says "I love you" like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate. It's tasteful, it's reserved, it's a status symbol, and since it's leading the return of the station wagon, it's even a little edgy. The E-Class Estate says, "Yes, yes, of course I love you, dearest. Now pass the Gray Poupon. I have to pick up Beatrice and Lindsey from their Capoeira class in half an hour."
  • Born in the red-hot forges of icy Sweden (and now, China), the Volvo XC90 is a study in contrasts: safe but stylish, reserved but aggressive. It's the Dakota Fanning of cars: young but responsible, wise beyond its years. The Volvo XC90 says, "I love you. Now buckle up."


  • The BMW M3 is a little like Charlie Sheen in the original Wall Street. In fact, it's a little like Charlie Sheen, period: showy, excessive, loud. It's a great car for investment bankers and Ponzi schemers, but probably not so much for lovers. The M3 says, "I love myself, and it's hard to take time out of my busy schedule to love you, too." 
  • The Kia Soul surprised a lot of people when it launched. "Another boxy multi-purpose vehicle?", they asked. "Do we really need that?" Apparently, we do. And as with other MPV owners, Soulsters are slightly more prone to cart around their pals and stash boxes (or so we've heard) than their romantic interests. The Kia Soul  says, "I like you -- no, really, I do -- but not as much as my homies. And hamsters. Dude, it is all about the hamsters. Whoa, did that fire hydrant just TALK?"
  • The Volkswagen Jetta has such a sad story to tell. Once, it was a peppy, preppy, stylish sedan -- nothing too grand, but entertaining enough. And the public believed in its austere, reliable German roots. Then came quality issues and reinvention and frankly, the most recent iteration feels a little "bargain basement" to some of us. The Jetta says, "How can I love you when I don't love myself?"
  • The Nissan Cube is still so new, it's stuck in what we'll call its "hipster phase". It's slightly more mature than the Kia Soul, a little more aesthetically intriguing, but it's still trying to find itself. If it could, the Cube would take a break from its job at American Apparel and backpack through Europe for a few months. The Cube says, "I love you not -- at least not right now. While I'm in Prague, why don't you listen to this Joanna Newsom CD  and we'll see if you're up to snuff when I get back?"
  • If anything, the Subaru Forester has a bit too much love to pass around. Subie fans are passionate about everything, which means they don't always have emotion to spare. The Forester says, "I love my dog, my spinning class, laughter in the rain, Vibram FiveFingers running shoes, my recycle bin (made from recycled recycling bins!), and Belgian ale. If I have time after all that, then yes, I will love you, but to be honest: I don't think I can afford the commitment right now."

[with help from Marty]

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