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What Do The 1% Drive? The Top 10 Cars In Wealthy ZIP Codes

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George Clooney advertising the Mercedes-Benz E-Class L in China

George Clooney advertising the Mercedes-Benz E-Class L in China

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When you think of the wealthy -- if you do -- what do imagine them driving? A Porsche 911? A Lamborghini Gallardo? An old-school Rolls-Royce? 

Eh, not so much.

Sure, six-figure supercars are the province of the uber-rich, but by and large, America's wealthy families drive fairly mainstream vehicles. That news comes from TrueCar, which rounded up the ten most popular cars in our wealthiest ZIP codes.

The company began by identifying those ZIP codes based on data from the Internal Revenue Service. At the top of the list, we find 10274 -- lower Manhattan -- with an average income of $5.7 million. That's followed by Fisher Island, Florida (33109); downtown Chicago (60604); Atherton and Century City, California (94027 and 90067); New Vernon, New Jersey (07976); Greenwich, Connecticut (06831); Palm Beach, Florida (33480); Medina, Washington (98039); and finally, Ross, California (94957), boasting an average income of $497,000 .

TrueCar then used that data to pull the most popular vehicles sold to residents of each ZIP code. The findings were occasionally surprising:

  • In the wealthiest ZIP code, the Honda Accord was the third most popular car, falling behind the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW X5. The Honda CR-V came in at #5.
  • The only top-five car approaching the six-figure range in any locale was the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The Porsche Panamera appeared in one ZIP code -- in Fischer Island's #5 spot. 
  • Of all ten ZIP codes, Chicago seemed the most down-to-Earth: the eminently affordable Volkswagen Jetta was the most popular ride there, followed by the Honda CR-V, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Camry, and Honda Civic.
  • Jeep was the only Detroit brand to make any of the top-five lists: the Wrangler was hugely popular in Greenwich, and the Grand Cherokee was a winner there, too, as well as Chigago.
  • Less surprising was the fact that the Toyota Prius took the #1 or #2 spot in all three California ZIP codes.

When all was said and done, TrueCar compiled all that data to come up with a list of the most popular cars in America's ten wealthiest ZIP codes. Interestingly, eight of the ten are priced below $40,000. The models that didn't make the list are almost as interesting as those that did:

10. BMW X5
9. Toyota Camry
8. Honda Accord
7. Honda CR-V
6. Volkswagen Jetta
5. Toyota Prius
4. Lexus RX
3. Mercedes-Benz C-Class
2. BMW 328

And the most popular car in America's wealthiest ZIP codes is the...

1. Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Does this list surprise you? Is there a brand missing that you expected to see? Did one make the list that completely confuses you? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments (14)
  1. Surprised that Audi is not in the top ten.
     
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  2. Interestingly, Audi didn't make any of the top-five lists in any of the individual markets, either. Maybe the brand is still a bit too "niche", or maybe it doesn't have the penetration it needs to become a volume competitor against "mainstream luxury" marques like BMW and Mercedes. Food for thought.
     
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  3. Not surprising at all. Audi is quite a vague brand actually. Performance? Naah, mostly front wheel drive based vehicles. Rugged? Not all that rugged compared to say Land Rover or Jeep. Premium? Again, not so much. Economy? Not really the most economical. It is kind of a jack of all trades. Doesn't excel in any one area, does a decent job of all.
     
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  4. Surprised? No. Wealthy people aren't necessarily more automotive-savvy than the general population; but one would expect that they ARE more fiscally savvy. Accord, Camry, Prius... check. I am really dismayed to see that all ten are import marques however.
     
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  5. A sign of decadence that these Americans should treat American manufactures with such contempt.
     
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  6. I was expecting to see exotic sports cars, not Accords and Camrys.
     
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  7. You do realize that registrations for wealthy family members are in a ratio of about 4:1 vs hired help? (kids don't register cars, and some cars are handed down to the hired hands)
     
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  8. I'm surprised that many wealthy folks in Lower Manhattan even have cars - Most seem to ride in the back of hired Lincolns and Mercedes S Class.

    There's an old book called "The Millionare Next-Door". I seem to recall it saying that the wealthy don't choose cars to impress people - but they do seem to buy their cars "By the Pound", therefore a general preference for big American sedans (at least at the time)
     
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  9. Not surprising really. I remember back when the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable first came out and it was considered such a daring design, one of the car magazines said it was the number one daily driver car for millionaires. Save the SL for the weekends and drive the Sable to the office or mall.
     
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  10. Really interesting "study" but as others have mentioned, wealth doesn't necessarily make one car savvy. Also, many of these folks have multiple homes and likely have other vehicles stored there and these may not fall into the 1% zip codes.
     
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  11. Interesting stuff..
     
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  12. The wealthy understand that cars depreciate rather than appreciate, therefore they select cars which will hold as much of their value as possible. It's the nouveau rich than spend their new found wealth in obvious shows of wealth, movie stars, pro athletes, pop stars, dot.commers, etc.
     
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  13. probably the cars on the list are their third car used to go to the mall and back only. it is way cheaper to have a third car for shopping than fixing the scratch somebody left on your Ferrari door in the mall parking
     
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  14. Yup - the last post says it all - the rich are finance-savvy almost without fail - that's how a lot got the wealth firstly. They KNOW how much their supercars cost them and treat them well, running very low miles, and only when they can enjoy them (certainly not doing 20,000 miles PA).
    I hate to say it, but I believe this one to be highly doubtful for most of the reasons above - second, certainly multiple homes, vehicles bought/leased by their companies frequently not titled at home addresses, etc, some of which can be deliberate obfuscation tactics for the uber-wealthy who really don't want others to know what they have.
    Sceptical in the extreme - know too many wealthy folk who still enjoy their wealth (as sensibly as possible).
     
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