8 Great Cars for The Career Professional
For those who need to look presentable without looking irresponsible.
I have a few friends who, for some reason, decided that doing donuts in a parking lot and ranting about cars on the Internet wasn’t a great career path. To each their own, I guess.
They did however get some very responsible jobs such as financial planner, insurance agent and account executive. Recently, a friend who was employed in one such career field asked me what new car they should buy.
After telling me their general price range, I threw out the usual suspects; Mustang GT, Dodge Charger R/T 392, Honda Civic Type R.
A no-go. After all, they have to show up to client meetings and occasionally drive them around without squealing tires or throwing the car sideways like a juvenile delinquent. They were asking me where they could get a well tailored suit… and I suggested a leather jacket.
So then I tossed out the other usual suspects; Audi A4, BMW 330i, Mercedes C-Class.
Nope. Again, a no-go. Why? I’m told that certain brands, especially the German ones, are “too flashy” and that driving a luxury sedan branded with those badges sometimes gives off the impression that you’re a little too fat and happy or otherwise irresponsible with your own money… let alone someone else’s.
Okay, so they don’t want a suit, either. That leaves a pair of clean chinos and a sensible button down; something that’s nice enough to make you seem professional, but not flashy enough to make you seem like some irresponsible, carefree playboy.
That’s tough. Because honestly, in and around the $50,000 range, all the cars I just listed are the ones I would buy for myself.
But I’m not an account executive. I’m an irony-spewing hipster car critic with “bad job interview tattoos”.
So I gave it some more thought, and if I needed to look low-key humble while giving off the impression of professionalism, here’s what cars would be on my call sheet.
Kia Stinger GT
Starting at $44,995
Nothing says completely humble and sensible like a car with a Kia badge. No one will ever accuse you of “just paying for a badge.”
However, the Stinger GT really isn’t that humble or sensible with its twin-turbo engine producing 365 horsepower and brembo performance brakes. Which is perfect, because life is too short not to have fun in between all those client meetings.
It’s also quite nice on the inside with it’s black leather trim and clean, simple dash layout. It’s luxurious and sporty without being any kind of a show off.
The G70 actually has the exact same power plant options as the Kia Stinger, however it offers even greater levels of luxury. Both its interior materials, as well as exterior fit, finish and presentation put it a cut above its competition at the same price point.
As a matter of fact, the Genesis brand ranked high on the list of J.D. Power’s survey of overall initial quality in 2018 and actually won the North American Car of the Year in 2019. So your clients should be perfectly comfortable while commending your sensible choice of buying an upscale Hyundai.
Acura TLX A-Spec
Starting at $37,490
I really, really didn’t like the new Acura TLX. I thought it was a lumbering mass of “just some car” with nothing discernibly interesting, exciting or luxurious about it. And I thought it was slightly overpriced. However, that means it’s absolutely perfect for your needs of being low-key and sternly professional looking.
Let’s be honest, there’s a reason you didn’t choose to be in an unstable profession like stand-up comedian or bee keeper. Would they be more interesting? Maybe. But you like things that are fairly sensible. And that’s why 290 horsepower and styling which is an indecisive mix of vague hints at sportiness and luxury is just perfect for you.
You like golf, right? Well this car is basically the golf shirt of cars. It’s functional, and makes you look like a total square while somehow still being professional.
Starting at $48,490
You could call the Arteon an Audi A7 on a budget and you’d be right. Both cars have remarkably similar sweeping rooflines and dimensions. Both have similar styling cues such as the exhaust exits integrated into the rear bumper. Both come with AWD. Both are very handsome
Yes, the interior in the A7 is more luxurious and the option list of gadgets is far more impressive… and it has almost 70 more horsepower. However, nobody will think you’re a snob for buying the VW over the Audi. You’ll also save somewhere in the neighbourhood of $40,000 when you opt for the Arteon over the A7. A wise cost-saving initiative you can brag to your clients about.
Lexus ES 350
Starting at $45,100
It’s easy to toss in Lexus with the likes of BMW and Mercedes as the brand provides similar levels of performance and luxury at around the same price points. However, Lexus maintains its image as a more sensible choice than those brands, and its badge certainly doesn’t give off the same impression of extravagance.
The ES is particularly restrained in its styling. Unlike the TLX, it’s not trying to look “sporty” in any way. Other than its LSD-trip inspired grill and chrome trim from the trends of yesteryear, there’s nothing shouty or obnoxious about it.
It also has a 302 horsepower 3.5-litre engine under the hood. So you know, talk softly, carry a big stick.
Starting at $42,400
Good god, this car is so effortlessly handsome and cool. Imagine being so cool and confident, you never needed to brag about your meager accomplishments or muse about your mundane experiences to your group of friends. The Volvo S60 is the person who shows up to a party of strangers and wins everyone over with a wink and a smile.
Like the Lexus, the Volvo isn’t flashy in any way, but is respectable in its simple, elegant and mature design language.
It’s also available in AWD and with 295-lb.-ft of torque if you’d ever like to tell a snow storm exactly where it can stick it.
Starting at $34,545
“What am I, Tony Soprano?” I hear you ask. To which I say, “Hey, update your references, buddy. This is Walter White’s car.”
The Chrysler 300 is probably best known as the “luxury Dodge Charger”, which is a good thing if you like horsepower. While not nearly as cowboy boots-esque in its overall presentation as the Charger, the 300 still offers both the 3.6-litre Pentastar V-6 producing 300 horsepower and 5.7-litre Hemi V-8 producing 363 horsepower.
If I need to explain why any of that is appealing, then this probably isn’t the car for you.
Starting at $39,398
It’s kind of strange that a Cadillac sedan has moved in our collective imaginations from the pinnacle of elitism to a more sensible, even blue-collar choice.
While the Escalade may still conjure images of rap videos and the CT6 makes you imagine what it would be like to take a road trip with Joe Pesci, the CT5 feels more at home with the likes of the Lexus ES and Volvo S60. It’s restained, yet impressive. It’s confident, but professional.
It’s not overly expensive. It’s not overly dramatic. It’s not some giant gas-guzzler that runs on melted polar ice-caps.
It’s a nice sedan with a 2.0-litre engine. It’ll do 9 L/100km.
It is perhaps a little more shouty than some of its competition by merit of the fact that it wears a Cadillac badge, but people never assume you bought a Cadillac simply because of the badge. Is it a status symbol? Sure. But not a pretentious or thoughtless one.
The badge still holds the promise that the product is worth every penny—whether or not that’s been true of every Cadillac in the past is debatable, but it certainly seems true of this new sedan, especially at its price point.
At the very least, your older clients will be very pleased with your choice of vehicle.