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Earning over $400,000 annually is easy to dream about and difficult to obtain. For those of us in a more mainstream earnings bracket, it’s fun to fantasize about what kind of cars we would buy if we could make virtually any purchase we wish. According to statistics, if you earn over $400,000 these models might be your daily drivers

A grey 2021 Range Rover Evoque sits in front of a orange and grey brick building with two windows on a blacktop road.
2021 Range Rover Evoque | Jaguar Land Rover

What cars do rich people buy? 

The front end of Ford's F-150 truck
2021 Ford F-150 | Ford

To most, earning over $400,000 a year means you’re rich. So what kind of cars do people with this annual income actually buy? According to a recent survey reported on by Investopedia, people that earn this much money do prefer luxury vehicles. They lean toward models like the Tesla Model S or the Lexus RX350. 

Then, if you go up to the over $500,000 annual income bracket the study shows that these car buyers often opt for the Ford F-150 pickup truck. They also buy Teslas and Lexus RX350 crossovers. But then there are some Land Rover models that are also popular among those who make more than $500,000 a year. 

“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.”


Why don’t wealthy Americans make more extreme vehicle purchases? 

The studies claim that in more recent years, automobiles in the luxury segment hold less prestige than they once did. Now, nearly anyone can own a luxury vehicle if they lease, buy the base model, or shop the used market. Additionally, wealthy people typically didn’t build that wealth by spontaneously buying every cool product they ever felt drawn to. Studies show that what cars rich people buy may not slot into the category of what they are capable of affording, but below it.

These days, even those that make more than most are buying used vehicles and then driving them to the end of their expected mileage and buying another used car. The moral of the story? Just because you can buy a wildly exclusive car doesn’t necessarily mean that you should––or that you do. 

Mainstream vehicles aren’t what they used to be

A 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle Hybrid minivan in Fathom Blue parked in front of a cityscape
2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle Hybrid | Stellantis

Once upon a time, luxury cars truly offered niceties and tech that the mainstream auto segment just didn’t have. These days, mainstream vehicles are genuinely great. They offer plenty in the way of options, tech features, and creature comforts. 

But they also carry higher price tags in upper trims. The Ford F-150 may have a work truck trim, but it can also cost near $100,000 when fully optioned out. So just because those with bigger bank accounts are buying autos from the mainstream segment doesn’t necessarily mean that they are spending less. 

While luxury cars certainly do feel more luxurious than their mainstream counterparts, there isn’t really an awful lot you can get in a luxury car that cannot also be found in the top trim of a mainstream option. Sure a Toyota Corolla is never going to be a Rolls Royce. But a fully loaded Chrysler Pacifica approaches land yacht status. So when it comes to what cars rich people buy all bets are off.