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What Car Is Really the Top Pick for Millionaires According to Thomas Stanley

Many people believe millionaires drive the most expensive, high-end vehicles on the market. However, those with big bank accounts are more likely to drive an affordable Ford rather than an expensive Mercedes or Lexus, according to Thomas J. Stanley, a wealth researcher and author of The Millionaire Next Door.

Asset Builder examined the late author’s line of millionaire-minded books. It points out that most wealthy people aren’t throwing away money on vehicles. When looking at the list of cars most millionaires drive, only three in the top 10 are considered a luxury brand. Those frugal millionaires are more likely to drive the vehicles that us common folk buy the most:

  1. Toyota
  2. Honda
  3. Ford
  4. BMW
  5. Chevrolet
  6. Lexus
  7. Nissan
  8. Subaru
  9. Dodge
  10. Mercedes 

The author researched many of the conservative lifestyles of the affluent and found data to suggest many millionaires don’t live in the lap of luxury. Instead, the majority of them (65%) drive moderately priced vehicles and live in homes worth less than $1 million.

Favorite vehicles

It’s been more than 20 years since Stanley and his writing partner, William Danko, began writing their cost-conscious books. In 1996, the Ford brand was the most popular vehicle for the rich. A decade later, Toyota took the top spot. More recently, Showbiz Cheatsheet compiled a list of cars driven by those earning more than $200,000 per year. Here are the top three:

3. Honda Pilot

Among other things, the Pilot is famous for the 1989 Honda appearing in the popular reality TV show, Pawn Stars, from 2009 to 2019. The exterior seems like an average, consumer crossover SUV. But, as the trim levels rise, the options are both star-worthy and affordable.

The Honda Pilot lineup ranges from the least expensive LX ($32,450) to the pricier Elite ALW STD ($48,020 base price). The more expensive model includes a panoramic roof, heated steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers, wireless phone charger, premium 590-watt audio system with 10 speakers, mobile hotspot capability (with AT&T data plan), and first and second-row heated captain’s chairs.

Car shoppers are commonly — and sometimes comically — preoccupied with a crossover’s number of cup holders. If you need these in your SUV, you’ll find illuminated front- and second-row beverage holders in the Elite model.

2. Jeep Grand Cherokee

While the Cherokee brand offers many options and models, the Trailhawk is “off-roading fit for royalty.” This may contribute, at least in part, to the Grand Cherokee’s popularity. As Stanley points out, millionaires who remain wealthy typically won’t spend tens of thousands of dollars on lavish vehicles and luxury vacations. In the case of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, with a base price of $32,195, it’s certainly affordable.

1. Ford F-150

Many truck fans may be surprised to see the Ford F-150 land the top spot. But it’s been the best selling vehicle in America for an astounding 36 years, according to Business Insider. Although trucks are huge sellers, they’re also a big investment. With all their capabilities — hauling, increased passenger capacity, high-torque, towing, and more — even millionaires purchase trucks these days.