Many of us have extravagant ideas about what it means to be very rich. We imagine the wealthy leading lives that are round-the-clock orgies of privilege and excess. We envision them enjoying a daily existence that involves sipping the finest champagnes, wearing the most exclusive designer fashions and driving the most expensive luxury automobiles.
Which Vehicles Do the Richest Car Shoppers Buy?
The truth isn't always quite so grand. Though a certain fragment of America's rich indulges in flash and glamour, a large portion of our nation's wealthy has amassed tremendous resources by following a cardinal rule: Live below your means. (Warren Buffett, for example, is worth $64.5 billion, according to Forbes. He drives a base trim level 2014 Cadillac XTS, which sold new for about $45K.) While spending less than you earn may not be hugely exciting, it can bring hefty rewards if your goal is to maintain and grow your net worth.
So, with all of that in mind, which cars do the richest Americans buy? Edmunds analysts examined 2016 year-to-date new-car registration data from U.S. households with incomes in excess of $250,000. They looked at the data from two different angles, and the results are in the two lists presented below, each highlighting the most recent model year available for the cars rich people favor.
The first list looks at the 10 best-selling makes and models among car shoppers with household incomes exceeding $250,000. Led by a truck and dominated by family-friendly SUVs, this list makes it clear that most wealthy car shoppers are pragmatic in their car buying choices. Only two luxury marques make the cut: BMW and Lexus. With relatively humble models such as the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander included, this lineup features choices that would be perfectly at home in any suburban driveway.
The second list is structured to provide insight regarding the buying habits of wealthy shoppers who choose to indulge in the finer things. This list looks at the 10 models with the highest share of buyers with annual household incomes of more than $250,000. As you'd expect, this roundup is home to some of the most desirable exotics money can buy, with an average MSRP of $143,000.
While the opulent choices on our second list may be more in keeping with stereotypes we have about the rich, purchases of the swank models featured on this roster represent only 0.7 percent of the total number of vehicles registered by this income group. This suggests the wealthy are mostly a grounded and practical bunch.
Best-Selling Models With Buyers Whose Annual Household Income Exceeds $250,000
The fact that it's been the best-selling vehicle in the land for more than 35 years proves the Ford F-Series holds an appeal that cuts across all income ranges. Many trim levels, powertrains and bed sizes are available, and you can choose to make your F-Series a bare-bones workhorse or something more comfortable and elaborate.
Unlike most modern SUVs, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is up for the challenge of off-road adventures. The Grand Cherokee also dazzles in more civilized surroundings, coddling passengers with a gorgeously executed interior and a long list of available features.
The Jeep Wrangler's high placement on this list suggests the wealthy have a weakness for tackling rocky trails and steep fire roads. When it comes to off-roading, the Wrangler knows no equal. Its distinctively boxy styling and classic round headlights make a rugged statement.
The Lexus brand is all about comfort, and the RX succeeds at providing a driving experience that's comfortable in every sense of the word. Its cabin keeps road noise at bay, and ride quality is smooth and forgiving.
If it's performance you're seeking, it doesn't get much better than the BMW marque. The X5 upholds the brand's stellar reputation by providing handling that's among the best in the SUV segment. Its engine lineup is both muscular and efficient, and the X5 comes with ample luxury and a long list of amenities.
Early Ford Explorers played a huge role in getting mainstream buyers excited about purchasing SUVs. The current model continues to be a segment leader, providing loads of power, lots of cargo capacity and a broad range of useful amenities.
The sensible Toyota Highlander is a top pick if you're seeking a three-row crossover, and its presence on this list proves the wealthy are smart car shoppers. Look to the Highlander for accommodating ride quality and a well-designed cabin offering lots of useful storage features.
You expect a certain standard of competence from a vehicle bearing the Honda brand, and the Pilot doesn't disappoint. It provides strong fuel economy and a remarkably versatile cabin, and its available all-wheel drive helps it grip the road with tenacity in rain or snow.
Though the Honda CR-V is a compact SUV, it doesn't shortchange you when it comes to passenger room, and there's comfortable seating to be found in both rows. It's one of the top choices in its segment for fuel economy, and it offers a full complement of technology and safety features.
The Honda Accord has come to define the family-sedan segment, and with good reason. With its spacious interior, impressive driving dynamics and rich assortment of standard features, it delivers most of the things drivers look for when seeking high-quality family transportation.
Top 10 Vehicles With the Highest Share of Buyers With Annual Household Income Exceeding $250,000
The Jaguar XKR (2015 MSPR: $107,825) delivers V8 power matched with impeccably suave styling. Its voluptuous sheet metal is a thing of beauty, and its cabin features plush furnishings and copious feature content. 2015 was the final year of production for the XK.
If you think large luxury cars aren't sized for crisp acceleration and prime performance, the Audi S8 (2017 MSRP: $131,500) will shatter your misconceptions. This exquisitely crafted sedan bolts from a standstill with satisfying quickness, and it takes on winding roads with a nimbleness that belies its generous dimensions.
The Ferrari 458 (2015 MSRP: $298,094) melds Italian glamour with visceral driving excitement. From its sumptuous leather upholstery to its blisteringly quick acceleration, this unforgettable sports car serves as a shining example of automotive excellence.
To experience a world-class driving experience with a uniquely British flavor, turn to the Aston Martin Vanquish (2016 MSRP: $291,775). Given its sleek good looks and thrilling performance capabilities, it's easy to see why it's a top pick for those with the deepest pockets.
The Jaguar XFR's unique, charming disposition sets it apart from your typical midsize luxury sedan. Sporty and sophisticated, the XFR (2015 MSRP: $88,375) provides engaging handling, and its deluxe cabin is a ritzy and welcoming haven.
The Aston Martin Rapide (2016 MSRP: $209,825) exists to show us just how beautiful a car can be. This sedan is a masterwork both inside and out, and its handling is just as mesmerizing.
The Bentley marque is synonymous with a certain well-heeled breed of car shopper, and it's earned this distinction because of its meticulous approach to luxury. The Mulsanne (2016 MSRP: $303,700) delivers opulence that feels warm and artisanal, and its allure is sweetened with its broad array of modern amenities.
From its electric powertrain to its futuristic exterior, the Tesla Model X (2016 MSRP: $93,700) presents a completely modern take on the luxury SUV formula. With its sharp-looking cabin and generous range, the Model X provides a green driving experience that requires no sacrifice.
The Bentley Continental (2016 MRSP: $198,500) doesn't come cheap, but after spending a few minutes in its magnificently crafted cabin, you (well, the rich you) would have no problem justifying its price tag. There's ample power underfoot, and this head-turner handles itself with ease and grace on the road.
The wealthy no doubt choose the Ferrari 488 GTB (2016 MSRP: $245,400) to savor its blend of performance, comfort and control. With its herculean V8 and impeccably sculpted exterior, this mid-engine supercar seduces at every turn.