For those who assume that Americans with median incomes well into the double digits mostly drive $80,000 cars, the fact is otherwise. If anything, the rich drive the same cars most people do.
24/7 Wall St. asked auto trends research firm TrueCar to find the best-selling cars and light trucks that America’s rich drive. TrueCar analyzed industry sales data from the 10 wealthiest U.S. ZIP codes by median income, according to the IRS, including neighborhoods in New York City, Greenwich, Conn. and the gated community of Fishers Island, Fla. Based on the 20 top-selling cars from TrueCar’s report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the eight cheap cars the richest Americans drive.
Most rich Americans drive affordable cars. The average price of eight of the cars among the top 10 was less than $40,000. 24/7 Wall St. excluded the two most expensive cars because they are considered luxury models, but by the standard of high-end cars, they cost very little.
One model that made the top 10 is the Mercedes E-Class, which has an average price paid of $48,362. Since Mercedes has a number of models that sell for more than $100,000, the E-Class barely makes the middle of the car company’s model line based on price. The second luxury car among the top 10 is the BMW X5 SUV, which has an average price paid of $56,050. The X5 M, the high performance model, costs more than $102,000 fully loaded.
The tastes of the wealthy do not vary much from the average car owner. Five of the cars rich Americans buy are made by either Toyota (NYSE:TM) or Honda (NYSE:HMC). These two brands have consistently done well among American buyers and have taken market share from U.S. manufacturers for years. They continue to offer high quality, relatively low prices and efficient engines that get good gas mileage. Toyota and Honda cars are at the top of quality surveys.
Not a single American car made the list. Even a look beyond the top eight sellers to the top 20 shows that German and Japanese models dominate. The only two American models on the wider list are the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Wrangler. As further evidence of the frugality of the wealthy car owner, the Grand Cherokee has an average price of $26,158. The Wrangler’s is just $22,510.
This article originally appeared on 24/7 Wall St. on August 3, 2012.