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.