Rich Americans Choose These Car Brands — Here’s Why

By Kim Franke-Folstad · April 15, 2024 · 8 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Rich Americans Choose These Car Brands — Here’s Why

When you think about the cars wealthy Americans choose to drive (or choose to have someone drive for them), you probably imagine customized Bentleys, Rolls Royces, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis. And in some cases, you’d be right. Those luxury car brands — along with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi — are popular with the rich and very rich in the U.S. and worldwide.

But they aren’t the car brands of choice for all high-income consumers. Some of the wealthiest people in the U.S. are driving vehicles from manufacturers that might surprise you, including Fords, Toyotas, and Hondas.

Read on for a look at the surprising car brands that rich Americans are buying and why.

What Is a Luxury or “Rich People” Car Brand?

Brands that are popular with wealthier car buyers typically have a reputation for superior performance, craftsmanship, high-quality materials (inside and out), and advanced technology. They also may have extra amenities to make them more comfortable and attractive, and to provide a better driving experience.

Luxury car brands also generally offer a higher level of customer perks, such as extended warranties, complementary maintenance, roadside assistance, and concierge services.

Of course, cars from more prestigious brands have higher price tags. New cars range from $40,000 to more than $100,000 — and over $500,000 for a higher-end brand like Rolls-Royce. Before you settle on any particular brand or model, you’ll want to determine how much you should spend on a car.

💡 Quick Tip: When you have questions about what you can and can’t afford, a money tracker app can show you the answer. With no guilt trip or hourly fee.

Check your score with SoFi

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*

Examples of Popular Luxury Car Brands

Several long-standing carmakers — and a few newer brands — are known to appeal to high-earning drivers:

•   Acura A division of Honda, Acura made the first true Japanese luxury car sold in America. Like Genesis below, Acura is known for offering buyers more bang for their buck.

•   Audi The German car manufacturer began gaining popularity stateside in the 1970s, and grabbed even more fans in 1980 when it unveiled the innovative Quattro, an all-wheel-drive sport coupe.

•   BMW Another German company, BMW sold 362,244 vehicles in 2023, setting a new annual record for the brand in the U.S. BMW is the best-selling luxury auto worldwide.

•   Cadillac Cadillac is America’s most prestigious domestic luxury automaker. Owned by General Motors, the brand has long been a favorite of older drivers. Models that appeal to younger buyers include its Escalade SUV and CTS sport sedan.

•   Genesis Genesis is a newer car brand (launched in 2009) that built its reputation by offering luxury at a competitive price. Its parent company is the Korean automaker Hyundai.

•   Land Rover The Land Rover brand, which began in England but now is owned by the Indian automaker Tata Motors, sells only SUVs. Its iconic Range Rover debuted in America in 1989.

•   Lexus Owned by the Japanese automaker Toyota, the carmaker was named the most reliable of all car brands in 2023 and 2024 by J.D. Power Associates. Lexus is known for its upscale designs, comfortable cabins, and a smooth, quiet ride.

•   Mercedes-Benz The German company, which has been making cars for more than 100 years, is known for its loyal fan base, attention to detail, and focus on customer service and comfort.

•   Tesla Tesla Motors is an American car brand that makes vehicles that run on electricity.

What Car Brands Are Rich Americans Choosing?

Luxury brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus are among the most popular with wealthy American car shoppers who are looking for reliability, prestige, extra amenities, comfort, and top customer service. And Teslas, which range in price from about $43,000 to well over $100,000, remain among the top-selling electric vehicles in the U.S.

But the line between luxury and mainstream brands is blurring, according to the car-shopping website Edmunds. Carmakers like Ford, Volkswagen, and Mazda are adding more upgraded models to their lineups, while high-end makers are offering smaller and more affordable cars.

And then there’s a much-publicized report from Experian Automotive, which found more than 60% of Americans who earn $250,000 or more aren’t sticking strictly to luxury brands. When Experian crunched the numbers in their huge database to see what wealthier folks choose to drive, it turned out there were three Honda models, a Toyota, and a Volkswagen on their Top 10 list.

Rich and famous car buyers also tend to like their pickup trucks. And though the Tesla Cybertruck is the new celeb must-have, you might also see photos of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Lady Gaga driving their Ford F150s, Sean Penn gassing up his Nissan Titan, or Ben Affleck in his Dodge Ram 2500.

Recommended: Car Value vs Truck Value

Pros and Cons of Luxury Car Brands

There are many reasons why people long to drive a luxury car — from the prestige to the performance to the high-end amenities and potential add-ons. But there are pros and cons to buying the kind of cars rich people often own:


•   High-end brands are generally known for their reliability and advanced technology.

•   Because luxury cars can quickly depreciate in value, used models can be found at bargain prices — especially if you’re buying a high-mileage car.

•   Luxury car brands often offer a more comprehensive warranty and other customer perks.


•   The cost of a high-end car can get in the way of important financial goals or keep you from enjoying things you care about, like good food and wine.

•   Luxury models tend to depreciate in value much faster than mainstream cars.

•   A luxury car can cost more to insure, and when the warranty runs out, it will likely cost more to repair.

Recommended: Should I Buy a New or Used Car?

Popular Alternatives to Rich Car Brands

While you’re saving up for a car, and before deciding which car brand you hope to purchase, take time to prioritize what you want from your ride. You may find you can get what you’re looking for without paying luxury prices. For example…

•   Safety First According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2024’s safest cars include models from Kia, Honda, Mazda, Toyota, Nissan, and Subaru.

•   Luxe Interior U.S. News & World Report named Volvo, Chevrolet, Ford, Hyundai, GMC, Kia, Jeep, and Honda among the car brands with the nicest interiors in 2023.

•   Designer Chassis The Toyota Prius, Honda Accord, Hyundai Santa Cruz, Kia Soul and EV6, Jeep Wrangler, Mazda 3, and Ram 1500 all made U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best looking cars of 2023.

•   Most Reliable When Consumer Reports road-tested and ranked 34 car brands this year, the top 10 included Subaru (#2), Honda (#4), Mini (#6), Kia (#7), Mazda (#8), Toyota (#9), and Hyundai (#10).

•   Biggest Bang for Your Buck Honda and Kia had the most models on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the “2024 Best Cars for the Money.”

💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.

Tips for Choosing a Car Brand

If you’re set on buying a luxury car, or if you’re still trying to decide which brand or model is right for you, here are a few things to consider:

•   Does the luxury car brand you’re looking at offer something you can’t get from a mainstream carmaker? It can help to test-drive cars from a few different brands to compare the features that are most important to you. You might end up confirming your decision to go with the luxury brand. Or you may find a mainstream model that offers high-end comfort and performance but at a more competitive price.

•   Do you plan to hold onto the car for a while, or will you sell it in a few years? Some luxury brands and models tend to lose value more quickly than others. (Here’s how to spot a good car-value estimate.) So you may want to research your top picks before you sign on the dealer’s dotted line and drive your new car off the lot.

•   Could you be satisfied with a used car from your favorite luxury brand? Because luxury brands tend to depreciate faster, you may be able to find a used model that’s much more affordable than buying new.

•   Can you afford it? Before you fall in love with that pricey BMW or Benz, you may want to take a look at another “b” word: your budget. Using a free budget app can help you figure out how much you can spend on your down payment, monthly car payment, and auto insurance costs, and if those costs will mesh with your other expenses and financial goals.

The Takeaway

Purchasing a luxury car is mostly an emotional decision: You buy one because you want it, not because you need it to get around.

If you’re rich, and you can afford to pay for the perks and prestige of an upscale brand, you may not give the cost a second thought. But even some wealthier car buyers are choosing mainstream brands, perhaps because they’ve found a model they want or they don’t care about the extras or the label.

How can SoFi help? Just as with any major purchase, it’s a good idea to do some research before you buy your next car. SoFi Relay can help you track your spending, monitor your credit, build a budget, and more. Once you run the numbers and know where you stand, you can feel more confident about your purchase, no matter what car you decide to buy.

See exactly how your money comes and goes at a glance.


Which car brand is driven most by millionaires?

Though wealthy consumers are known for buying luxury car brands like Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, or Porsche, you might also find them driving mainstream brands such as Honda, Toyota, and Ford.

What is the most common car for rich people?

BMW is the best-selling luxury carmaker in the world.

What percentage of millionaires choose to buy used cars rather than new cars?

In their 2010 book The Millionaire Next Door, authors Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko state that nearly 37% of the millionaires they surveyed reported buying used cars. But in some cases, a millionaire’s “used car” may be one of several vehicles the driver owns, or even part of a collection of classic or vintage autos.

Photo credit: iStock/mevans

SoFi Relay offers users the ability to connect both SoFi accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc.’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. Based on your consent SoFi will also automatically provide some financial data received from the credit bureau for your visibility, without the need of you connecting additional accounts. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score is a VantageScore® based on TransUnion® (the “Processing Agent”) data.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store
SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender