Millennials, those born after 1980, have different priorities for buying cars than other generations. Many are laden with college debt and may even be living in their parents’ basements to save money on rent, but they still need to drive to work. Millennials are eminently practical when it comes to buying cars and are thinking of necessity rather than showing off with a pair of hot wheels. Car companies are taking notice and targeting Millennials through social media with cars that combine luxury and value. This generation may be buying cars from the same companies as their parents, but they have different buying priorities.

What Sets Millennial Car Consumers Apart?

In the 1990s, SUVs were popular among soccer moms and dads. These spacious vehicles were not always energy efficient but provided a convenient way of carrying the kids to school and sports events. Millennials as a group are tending to delay marriage and kids, partly because of financial necessity. Their taste in cars is a far cry from the conspicuous consumption of the 1980s and the family-oriented choices of the 1990s. However, millennials are not penny wise and pound foolish. They don’t necessarily go for the cheapest deals but spend a significant amount of time on the internet researching their options to ensure they find value for money. In addition, this group tends to be environmentally-conscious and avoid gas guzzlers but prefer energy-efficient vehicles to save money at the pump and reduce their carbon footprint.

Favorite Car Brands Among Millennials

Car manufacturers are responding to the demands of the younger demographic. Millennials may be in debt right now, but they represent significant purchasing power as they pay off their tuition. Acura, the luxury division of Honda, is touting its ILX sedan as the favorite luxury sub-compact car among millennial buyers. However, this model has the highest percentage of sales among millennials but not volume. Around 25% of Subaru WRX buyers are under 35. Subaru claims the reason for this car’s popularity among this demographic is the model’s combination of value, quality and brand recognition. Dodge has the highest percentage of sales among Millennials, followed by Mitsubishi and Mazda with Volkswagen in fourth place. The competition among car companies for millennial customers is fierce as a number of recent college graduates are sharing their cars with their parents or may opt to buy used vehicles to save money. However, once the millennials have a few years of work under their belts, they are likely to take the plunge and make a new car purchase.

A New Generation of Car Consumer

Millennials are not the type of consumers that can be convinced to buy a car with fancy features they are not going to use, but are thrifty and practical in their choices. They spend many of their waking hours on the internet and have the time and incentive to do hours of online research before buying a car. The fact that they may put off buying a vehicle until they get their debt under control also makes Millennials a challenging demographic for car companies. However, car companies are meeting the challenge and are succeeding in selling high-quality, low-priced vehicles to a younger demographic.