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With the increasing capabilities of vehicular communications technology, VANETs (Vehicular Ad-Hoc Networks) have witnessed a significant development. Key to the establishment of value-added services and applications is the design and development of routing protocols. This article studies the effects that mobility, road topology and network applications have on the performance evaluation of VANET routing protocols. Specifically, we evaluate the performance of three known and highly established VANET routing protocols by employing realistic mobility from a large-scale urban topology and imposing network load via an exemplary VANET-based, traffic query, application. We compare the results against results obtained by following the simplistic evaluation approaches often available in the literature. We argue that results stemming from such a realistic evaluation approach, increase the possibility of identifying problems as well as implications in the design of routing protocols that need to be considered and addressed for achieving optimal performance.