My stated reason for owning a nice car is that I love to drive it. It gives me pleasure to drive it. Yes, I could get there in an older, less nice car, but I would not enjoy it as much.
Now take that sentence and read it like this:
My stated reason for buying a steak is that I love to eat it. It gives me pleasure to eat it. Yes, I could get similar nutrients from a package of Carl Budding roast beef, but I would not enjoy it as much.
How are those statement different in any way but the scale of the item we're talking about? Where does my psychological dependence on status come into play?
Bottomline: The article isn't s telling anyone where they should spend their money or what they should or shouldn't value. It is just stating the fact that if you're going to put a high value on automobile ownership related to style, make, brand, etc, you're spending much more for that psychological thrill (for lack of better term), than is required to meet the basic need.
If that is you, it is a vice. We all have them.
Full disclosure: though I'm a personal finance geek who reads a lot about money issues, and though I've read plenty about Dave Ramsey and his principles, I've never actually read his materials or listened to him. And I probably won't, because - not to sound arrogant - I don't need to. We're in good financial shape, manage our debt well, don't overspend, and save plenty. Which isn't to say I wouldn't learn something or couldn't improve our situation. But we're doing fine and there are only so many hours in a day.
But there seems to be such an eagerness in the Ramsey crowd to impose a set of values on others - or perhaps a better way to say it is gauging other people's values - based on how they manage their money. Now, I don't think it's realistic for most people to be buying new cars every three years as the link in the original post suggests - and nobody I know does that. But so what if you buy a modestly nicer car than the absolute bare-bones option? If you can afford it and will get enjoyment out of it, why does it have to be an indicator of some psychological shortcoming?
This is going to sound counterintuitive, but sometimes I sense a real fear from the Ramsey crowd. Paying off debt is supposed to make you free and independent. But I sense a fear about deviating, even slightly, from what he advises. As if we're talking about an alcoholic having just one drink without really falling off the wagon. And maybe that's true for some people. But not everyone has been burned by debt or their own lack of discipline in managing it.
Everyone has "their thing." Everyone is entitled to spend their money how they want to.
I do agree with this article in terms of vehicles...for me, this is not a "thing" for me. I want reliable and safe.