When people think of the cars of choice for wealthy individuals, luxury automotive brands such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Rolls-Royce come to mind. However, the reality frequently doesn’t match the perception. According to a recent study, the Ford F-150 pickup truck is the most popular car for rich Americans that earn over $200,000 per year.
Wealthy car buyers get the Ford F-150 and other mainstream models
If you didn’t have much in the way of financial constraints, what car would you buy? You might think that luxury cars would be the top choice for wealthy Americans, but that often isn’t the case.
As detailed by MoneyWise, MaritzCX, a market research firm, conducted a study on automotive buying habits based on the income bracket. It found that the Ford F-150 pickup truck was the most popular car for people in the United States that make over $200,000 per year.
Also, other studies demonstrate similar results with a preference for mainstream models for wealthy car buyers. A study conducted by Experian Automotive found that for Americans with a household income of over $250,000, “61% don’t drive luxury brands.” Instead, they mostly drive mainstream models, such as Toyotas, Fords, and Hondas — like people from lower income brackets.
Billionaires also drive mainstream vehicles
How about the billionaires? Do they splurge their money on luxury and exotic cars? Some famous ones drive mainstream cars like the “rest of us.” For example, Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and CEO of Facebook, has been sighted driving a Honda Fit subcompact hatchback. Also, Jeff Bezos, the founder and former CEO of Amazon, drove a Honda Accord long after he became a billionaire.
Additionally, legendary investor Warren Buffet has a reputation for living a simple and frugal lifestyle, including with cars. In a documentary, his daughter said, “You’ve got to understand, he keeps cars until I tell him, ‘This is getting embarrassing — time for a new car.’”
Furthermore, movie star and former pro wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, while not yet quite a billionaire, drives a Ford F-150.
Many rich drivers feel no need to show off their wealth with a luxury car
The common perception is that wealthy Americans have lavish lifestyles. However, often, this is not how it is in reality.
According to Dave Ramsey, a personal finance expert, people that built their “first level of wealth,” which he defines as a “net worth of between $1 million and $10 million,” often drive “understated” cars. Ramsey said, “It’s usually a used Camry or a nice used Honda or a nice old pickup truck of some kind.”
He went on to explain that these people feel no need to show off their wealth with a luxury car: “People that achieve that layer of wealth, that one to ten million dollars, the way they did it is, they didn’t do it for you. They’re not mad at you, but they don’t care what you think. They were not living their life to impress others.”
Ford F-150 and other trucks straddle the line between mainstream and luxury models
One thing to keep in mind about the Ford F-150 and other pickup trucks is they straddle the line between mainstream and luxury models — depending on the trim level. In the past, pickup trucks were often bare-bones workhorse vehicles. In recent years, though, pickup trucks have become more luxurious, particularly for the highest trim levels.
The base-level XL trim of the 2023 Ford F-150 is financially accessible for many truck buyers, with a starting price of $34,585 MSRP. However, the top-of-the-line F-150 Limited trim, with its wide array of luxurious amenities, starts at $84,910 MSRP. Also, when you add feature options, packages, accessories, and dealer markups, you might have to pay over $100K to get a new F-150 Limited.