What Drivers Are Buying in Our Richest Neighborhoods
BOSTON ( MainStreet) Call it Drivestyles of the Rich and Famous.
Car-shopping site Edmunds.com recently analyzed buying patterns in the nation's costliest ZIP codes and found America's richest consumers like Jeeps, Mercedes-Benzes and Teslas more than Rolls-Royces or Lamborghinis.
"They're not buying exotic cars, they're not buying Ferraris, they're not buying the most-expensive cars available," Edmunds Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell says. "They're buying cars that fit their needs rather than just showing off their wealth."
Caldwell, who compiled Edmunds' list by looking at all new-car registrations filed between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, said America's ultra-rich seem to favor cars that match the areas they live in.
For instance, Californians who live in Silicon Valley's poshest enclaves like the cutting-edge Tesla Model S electric car. But buyers in Manhattan's ritziest neighborhoods prefer Jeep and Mercedes sport utility vehicles that Caldwell theorizes can handle New York City potholes with ease.
"Rich drivers seem to like cars that are cool but practical for the region that they live in," she says. "They don't always seem to go for the top brand, or even for the most-expensive model within a brand like Mercedes."
Click below to check out which cars drivers in America's five costliest ZIP codes have been buying the most this year.
Edmunds generated the list by looking at Polk car-registration data covering communities at the top of Forbes magazine's latest annual America's Most Expensive ZIP Codes rankings. Car prices refer to manufacturer's suggested retail prices for each vehicle's base 2014 version.
Fifth-costliest U.S. ZIP code: Sagaponack, N.Y. (11962)
Favorite car: Jeep Wrangler
A big brawny Jeep seems better suited to the Himalayas than the Hamptons, but residents in this exclusive beachfront community near Long island's tip bought more Wranglers during 2013's first eight months than any other model.
Caldwell says the $22,395 Wrangler isn't the most expensive vehicle out there, but is perfectly suited for driving on the sand near Sagaponack, whose current or former residents have ranged from comedian Jimmy Fallon to late author Truman Capote.
"I think the Wrangler really symbolizes off-road capabilities, and the fact that you can take the top off of the car makes it even more fun to drive in the summertime," she says.
Fourth-costliest U.S. ZIP code: Belvedere, Calif. (94920)
Favorite car: Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Caldwell believes the E-Class from Mercedes-Benz takes top honors in this super-rich San Francisco community because the midsized vehicle is better suited to the Bay Area's tough traffic and parking than the larger flagship Mercedes S-Class.
"You're still comfortable and you still have a Mercedes when you're driving an E-Class, but you don't have to deal with driving or parking [the bigger] S-Class," she says.