Most Popular Vehicles by ZIP Code
Are you keeping up with the Joneses based on what resides in your driveway?
2010 Toyota Prius
For most Americans, the adage "you are what you eat" could easily be replaced these days with "you are what you drive." Our cars have become an extension of our personality — or the one we're hoping to project to the world. Sporty and sassy, says the MINI Cooper; practical and spacious, screams the Honda Odyssey minivan; strong and intimidating, exudes the Ford F-150. Just as cars can reflect their owners' personalities, they can also reflect the local culture in a particular ZIP code. What are the most popular cars by ZIP code — and what does that say about the city and its population? Read on.
80304, Boulder, Colo. — Subaru Outback
The Outback tops the charts for five of Boulder's 16 ZIP codes, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue's statistics on registered vehicles. The median income here is about $80,000 (versus the annual nationwide median of about $50,000), but dwellers of this mountain town aren't as flashy as, say, their fellow Coloradans in Aspen, where Toyota SUVs such as the Land Cruiser dominate. "The Outback has all of the safety that an SUV doesn't have and all the utility that the Camry does have," says Denver marketing professor Darrin Duber-Smith. Plus, it's much cooler than a minivan — a fact not lost on Boulder's physically active residents. The image it reflects, according to Duber-Smith, is "kind of like Pilates mom instead of soccer mom."
10583, Scarsdale, N.Y. — BMW 328xi Sports Wagon
The 328xi is the best-priced wagon in BMW's lineup, and in the affluent New York suburb of Scarsdale it's the go-to car for families. The 328xi has the cachet of a BMW and the capacity to carpool a crew of kids, without the sticker shock of an SUV. It's a 5-seater, gets 25 mpg on the highway and has all-wheel drive — considered a necessity for handling winter driving conditions in these parts. Most of the BMWs in Westchester County, where Scarsdale is located, come out of Ray Catena BMW in White Plains. Of those, most drive off the lot to Scarsdale. However, customers aren't willing to commit to a purchase: 85 percent are leased, which frees them up to shop for a new car in three years' time.
89052, Henderson, Nev. — Toyota Camry
"You drive around our town, and there's not a car over three years old," says Rick Glenn, marketing director of Henderson's Findlay Toyota, one of the top Toyota dealerships in the nation. But despite the fact that it's just seven miles from the Las Vegas strip, that's the extent of Henderson's penchant for new and flashy. Contrary to what you might assume, the most popular vehicle here isn't the Cadillac Escalade — it's the Camry. "A lot of people moved here because the cost of living in California was too high," Glenn says. "They have normal jobs and they buy Toyotas and Hondas because they're safe and dependable." Findlay sold 7,347 new and used Toyotas last year — the vast majority of them Camrys.
85306, Glendale, Ariz. — Ford F-150
Glendale is 12 miles from downtown Phoenix — on the proverbial other side of the tracks from upscale Scottsdale. "We're in the west side of the valley, where there are a lot of farm people and ranchers," says Neil Schrock, general sales manager of top-selling Sanderson Ford. "We do have some very affluent people, but the majority [of residents here] are the regular moms and pops." What do Arizona's moms and pops drive these days? The Ford F-150 — a practical ride with some bells and whistles. "It's a real dual-purpose vehicle," Schrock says. "Once in a while you want to haul landscaping equipment, but you've still got something nice to go out in at night."
90404, Santa Monica, Calif. — Toyota Prius
It's the top-selling car in Japan, and you can't drive a block without seeing at least one in Santa Monica, where environmentally conscious drivers include celebrities and celebrity wannabes alike. Yet a drive past Toyota of Santa Monica rarely produces a Prius sighting — the dealership usually has a waiting list, particularly when gas prices are high. Santa Monicans are so devoted to the Prius that there are still early generation models on the road. (Toyota began selling them in the United States in 2001.) The possibility of 55 mpg and the bragging rights that come with it — along with the free car-pool-lane pass — are significant in a city where traffic is the main topic of conversation.