America's Richest Car Buyers Prefer Practicality over Flash, Says

America's Richest Car Buyers Prefer Practicality over Flash, Says

New analysis finds mainstream trucks, SUVs are the most popular vehicles among those who earn more than $250,000

SANTA MONICA, CA — August 16, 2016 — As car collectors and luxury motoring enthusiasts gather in Monterey this week to celebrate the opulence of automobiles both past and present, new analysis from reveals that when it comes to which cars the wealthiest Americans actually choose for their daily drivers, most opt for practicality over pomp.

Edmunds analysts examined 2016 new car registration data from Polk and learned that the car shopping habits of those in households that report earning more than $250,000 annually aren't all that different from those who make less. The most popular vehicle among the wealthiest Americans is the Ford F-150, which is consistent with the rest of the new-car buying public. The Honda Accord and CR-V also make the top ten on everyone's shopping list.

The key differentiator between the wealthiest buyers and the general public is their penchant for trucks and SUVs — nine of the top ten most popular vehicles in the top income bracket are trucks or SUVs, compared to six out of ten for all buyers. More than 53 percent of cars registered to the wealthiest Americans are SUVs, compared to just more than 40 percent of all buyers.

"America's wealthiest car buyers are all-in on the trend toward bigger vehicles," says Executive Director of Industry Analysis Jessica Caldwell. "And they're not just gravitating toward luxury brands -- eight of the ten most popular vehicles among these buyers are non-luxury vehicles. It suggests that affluent buyers are satisfied with the technology, utility and performance that mainstream brands have to offer."

Bestselling Cars in the U.S. (2016 YTD)*
Rank Buyers w/ Annual Income $250K+ Buyers w/ Annual Income less than $250K
1 Ford F-Series Ford F-Series
2 Jeep Grand Cherokee Chevrolet Silverado
3 Jeep Wrangler Honda Civic
4 Lexus RX Ram
5 BMW X5 Honda Accord
6 Ford Explorer Honda CR-V
7 Toyota Highlander Toyota Corolla
8 Honda Pilot Toyota Camry
9 Honda CR-V Toyota RAV4
10 Honda Accord Ford Escape
*Based on new vehicle registration from Polk, Jan-May 2016

When Edmunds analysts sorted the list to identify which vehicles had the highest share of buyers who earn more than $250,000, exotics from Jaguar, Audi, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Bentley dominated. While it fits the stereotype, purchases of these top ten vehicles represented only 0.7 percent of the total number of vehicles registered by this group, demonstrating that flash is still by far the exception and not the rule.

Top 10 Vehicles w/ Highest Share of Buyers w/ $250K+
Annual Income (2016 YTD)*
Rank Model
1 Jaguar XKR
2 Audi S8
3 Ferrari 458
4 Aston Martin Vanquish
5 Jaguar XFR
6 Aston Martin Rapide
7 Bentley Mulsanne
8 Tesla Model X
9 Bentley Continental
10 Ferrari 488 GTB
*Based on new vehicle registration from Polk, Jan-May 2016

"There will always be an interest in and market for high-end exotic vehicles, as this week's event in Monterey reminds us," Caldwell said. "But overall, most of the wealthiest Americans look for their vehicles to perform the same kind of functional tasks as everyone else does."

More insights into America's car shopping behaviors can be found in Edmunds' Industry Center at

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