The newly licensed Steelers wide receiver wants a "sensible, well-priced sedan." So what are his best options?
On Tuesday, Steelers wide receiver and noted cycling activist JuJu Smith-Schuster announced some good news on Twitter: He can now legally drive.
Smith-Schuster, who's 20, is only just now getting his driver's license because, as he explained to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, he was a year younger than his high school classmates and spent his time at USC taking Uber rides, which were provided free by the school. But thanks to the help and instruction of teammates Le'Veon Bell and Alejandro Villanueva, JuJu—most famous for his once-stolen bike—can now transport himself around in safety and comfort (though he still has to take his road test and doesn't plan on abandoning his beloved bike).
But what whip will JuJu be driving? He told Fowler that he plans on "leas[ing] a sensible, well-priced sedan"—a far cry from the rides that NFL stars usually buy, such as Odell Beckham Jr.'s Rolls Royce Wraith (manufacturer's suggested retail price: $315,700), Von Miller's customized 2011 Chevy Camaro SS and 2015 BMW i8, or teammate Antonio Brown's Rolls Royce that he apparently stole from FDR's house in 1934. None of these cars could ever be described as sensible or well-priced. So what's JuJu to do?
Luckily for him, I'm here to help. Using a very scientific list of criteria, I'm going to narrow down the long list of cars to find something that fits Smith-Schuster's budget and also meets the demands of his life. Cars will be assessed according to these categories: price; sensibility; ability to drive in bad conditions (since he's going to need to use it while in Pittsburgh in the winter); and, given that this is a Steelers player we're talking about, both how gritty the car is and whether or not it's sneaky fast. (Bonus points awarded if the car also has a literal high motor.) With that, let's get on to the autos.
The Ford Fiesta
The Fiesta (or, as they call it in Mexico, the Ford Gronkowski) is a smaller car, which may present a problem for a football player, particularly if JuJu feels like handing out rides to the likes of Villanueva. But the most basic 2017 model will cost you a mere $14,535, and its size also makes it great for city driving (and an ideal car for catching wheel routes in). Plus, it can hit a top speed of 118 mph, giving it high marks in the "deceptive speed" category. And there are few things more gritty than a small car that still gets the job done. Great hustle, Ford Fiesta. [slaps rear bumper]
The Honda Civic
As far as "sensible" goes, it's hard to imagine topping the Civic, which is the car equivalent of your next-door neighbor who won't stop talking about how much he likes Modern Family. The Civic offers more space and better gas mileage than the Fiesta, and it's even zippier than its tiny counterpart, going 0–60 in seven seconds and hitting a top speed of 131 mph on 180 horsepower. "The Civic exemplifies automotive excellence and blends fun with efficiency and practicality," says Car And Driver. But this is basically the Banana Republic khakis of cars, and I say this as a proud Civic owner (and someone who owns zero pairs of khakis). JuJu can find something a little more exciting.
The Mazda 6
Those annoying pseudo-poetic Aaron Paul-narrated ads aside, the Mazda 6 has a lot going for it. It's more stylish than the Fiesta or Civic, and it's engineered for those who enjoy driving, as it handles better than its mid-size competitors. But weirdly, it doesn't have that much more juice than the Civic, and it'll also set you back at least $23,000. Whether this is the right car for JuJu depends on whether or not he enjoys the open road, living in sport mode, finding a new code ... great, now I'm doing the Aaron Paul thing.
The Toyota Camry
Fun fact: The average lifespan of a Camry is approximately 35 years, as every single one that has been built is still on the road today and has been resold about 15 times. Earlier, I wrote that the Civic is the Banana Republic khakis of cars; the Camry is more like those pants that Jim Harbaugh bought in bulk at Wal-Mart. But it's hard to imagine a more dependable car that will never be a star but can manage a game well; it's basically Trent Dilfer. That said, the Camry costs wide receiver money ($23,000 MSRP) for fullback production, so despite being the most sensible and probably the most blue collar car on this list, it's hard to recommend.
The Dodge Charger
I can in no way argue that the Charger is sensible. The base model pumps out 300 horsepower, or roughly twice the Fiesta's output, and if that's somehow not enough for you, you can splurge on the rear-drive Hemi V-8 model with a 485-horsepower, 6.4-liter engine and set fire to your driveway every time you pull out. But listen to me, JuJu: You only get to be an NFL player once. The average professional football career lasts just over three years. One day it's all smiles and laughs and social media hijinks, and the next you're in the unemployment line with two bad knees, a rapidly degrading brain and a freaking Toyota Camry sitting in front of your house, mocking you with its bland design and engine borrowed from a lawnmower. Embrace what you have, man. Ride the lightning. Take $28,000, go to your nearest Dodge dealership, and tell them you want the sedan that also doubles as an unlicensed fighter jet. Do it for all of us, JuJu. Forget sensible; go stupid.