most common car driven by millionaires

Which Cars and Trucks Do Wealthy Americans Drive?

Market research firm MaritzCX found some surprising results when surveying the car-buying habits of the wealthy.   Namely: Those earning more than $200,000 a year prefer driving the Ford F-150 pickup truck over the Audi R8 V10 Plus Coupe or the Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 Spyder—the top two luxury models named in the 2017 Robb Report, a magazine catering to the ultra-wealthy

Key Takeaways

  • A recent study shows that while the wealthy appreciate luxury, including luxury cars, a significant number of them also like to drive decidedly non-luxurious trucks, jeeps, and Land Rovers.
  • The wealthy might collect high-end, exclusive automobiles, but many of those are for show or for occasional use; day-to-day cars, while still pricey, tend toward the practical, rather than the remarkable.
  • Some wealthy people prefer comparatively modest cars because they see cars like appliances, rather than true status symbols; others might be newly wealthy and not comfortable with high-end cars.
  • In some cases, the wealthy might purchase a comparatively modestly-priced car and then soup it up with so-called deluxe trim packages—luxury extras to make the car stand out.

Top Vehicles Owned by the Rich

Other mainstream vehicles favored by the wealthy include the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Jeep Wrangler, the Honda Civic and the Honda Pilot—the most expensive model of the group, with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) starting at $30,595. But price figures can deceive because most wealthy buyers of modestly priced vehicles opt for deluxe trim packages, which can spike costs considerably. Case in point: The Ford F-150’s starting MSRP of $26,700 jumps to nearly $60,000 when outfitted with luxury extras.

The $400K Switch

The MaritzCX study found another interesting data point: Individuals earning more than $400,000 a year tend to favor luxury vehicles, such as the Lexus RX350 and the Tesla Model S.   But when annual incomes rise above $500,000, the F-150 reclaims its number one spot, followed by two Land Rover models, the BMW X5 and the Lexus RX 350.

The Ford F-150 pickup truck, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Jeep Wrangler, the Honda Civic, the Honda Pilot and several Land Rover models are among the most highly-favored mainstream vehicles owned by the super-rich.

Behind the Move to Modest

Wealthy individuals desire less expensive cars, for a number of reasons. According to Robert Ross, automotive editor for Robb Report, some rich folks tend to view vehicles more like appliances than status symbols. While they may have a Rolls-Royce in their garages, they rely on their Ford F-150s for towing their expensive Airstream travel trailers.  

Others appreciate how mainstream vehicles now have many of the same technological features that luxury vehicles have, for a much lower price tag. After all, even the ultra-wealthy like to save a buck. Finally, those who have recently come into wealth, such as Silicon Valley CEOs, prefer driving the cars they owned before striking it rich.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to the vehicle-buying habits of the wealthy, luxury autos may not hold the same status and prestige as they did in years past. Furthermore, some studies show that many rich people prefer buying secondhand cars with cash, then driving them until they wear out.

The top vehicles owned by the wealthy today are less about prestige and more about towing capacity.

What Types of Cars Do Millionaires Drive?

If you live in America, it’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of keeping up with the Joneses. After all, the American dream is to buy a nice house for your family and buy a nice car to transport them around. But have you ever wondered if millionaires tend to think the same way? Sure, they all probably have houses and families, but what kinds of cars do they drive?

America’s wealthiest people are more frugal than you think

TrueCar did a study back in 2012 where they identified the ten most affluent zip codes around the nation according to the IRS’s data and then found the most popular cars that were sold in each zip code. The wealthiest zip code they found was lower Manhattan (10274), which has an average annual income of $5.7 million. In that zip code, the Mercedes E-Class was the most popular car, followed by the BMW X5 and the Honda Accord.

According to the Car Connection, among all of the 10 zip codes, downtown Chicago seemed to be the most down-to-earth as the most popular cars sold there Volkswagen Jetta, the Honda CR-V, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and of course, the Honda Civic. And as far as the wealthy zip codes in California, the Toyota Prius was the top pick.

2019 Toyota Prius Limited | Toyota

Even billionaires are pretty sensible

As we can see, millionaires are quite pragmatic when it comes to choosing car, and why not? They didn’t become millionaires by going into massive amounts of debt just to impress other people. In fact, if you go higher up in the income ladder, there are billionaires like Warren Buffet, who drives a 2014 Cadillac XTS, which retailed for about $23,000 when it was new. And, according to Business Insider, Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft who has a net worth of over $50 Billion, drives a 2009 Ford Fusion Hybrid, which was worth $19,500 when it was new.

If they are so wealthy, why do they drive such mainstream cars?

Don’t get us wrong, there are many millionaire celebrities and sports figures that drive fancy, flashy cars and customized vehicles. But for the majority of America’s wealthiest people, the popular trend is to go with a mainstream car. According to Dave Ramsey, about 61 percent of America’s wealthiest people actually drive Hondas, Toyota, and Fords. Why? Because they understand that they don’t need anyone else’s approval or admiration for the set of wheels that they roll around in on a daily basis.

The 2009 Acura TSX | STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images

It’s all about common sense

The studies that have already been done, along with the reports of what certain “rich people” drive tells us that one thing is for sure: Drive whatever makes you feel comfortable. Even Mark Zuckerberg drives an Acura TSX but considering his wardrobe, it’s safe to say that he doesn’t care as much about the flashier things in life. And while you don’t need to be a millionaire, or a billionaire, to drive a fancy luxury car, it can pay more, in the long run, to be frugal and sensible. Just ask Jeff Bezos, he drives a Honda Accord.

You would think that America's wealthiest people would drive the flashiest and fanciest cars. That could be true for some, but not all. ]]>