You may assume that wealthy people drive expensive cars, but the truth is that many people choose reliability over luxury. It is widely reported that some of the world’s wealthiest people, such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, get behind the wheels of Honda Accords and their budget-friendly counterparts.
A 2022 Experian Automotive study found that 61% of people who earned over $250,000 did not drive luxury brands. Instead, they chose more affordable options such as Toyotas, Fords and Hondas.
At GOBankingRates, we asked financial and automotive experts from around the country to help us understand why high-end vehicles have fallen out of favor with the rich. Here are the 10 luxury cars wealthy people wouldn’t buy and why.
Jake Claver, finance expert and CEO of Syndicately, advises clients from diverse economic backgrounds in asset allocation, including automobile investments.
“Interestingly, not all luxury cars are coveted by the affluent,” he said. “For example, the Cadillac ELR, despite its premium branding, failed to capture the wealthy’s interest due to its lackluster performance and steep price for what was essentially a fancier Chevy Volt.”
Frank De Mulder, owner of Classic Car Maintenance and a 30-year veteran in the automotive industry, agreed, “The Cadillac ELR, with its avant-garde coupe design and eco-conscious plug-in hybrid powertrain, was a bold step for Cadillac. Yet, it didn’t resonate with the luxury audience it was intended for.
“The high price point, coupled with a modest electric range and performance figures that couldn’t compete with the likes of Tesla, made it a tough sell. The car became a symbol of overreach, leading to poor sales and a quick discontinuation.”
Claver also noted, “Models like the Lincoln MKT have been overlooked in favor of competitors that offer more prestige or better value, such as those from European luxury marques.”
Genesis G80 or the Volvo S90
Scott McAlpin, general manager at Airport Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Orlando, Fla., said, “Some luxury cars that wealthy individuals may not commonly purchase are niche or lesser-known brands, as well as certain models that lack the prestige or exclusivity associated with more established luxury marques.
“For example, brands like Genesis and Volvo have made significant strides in the luxury market with models like the Genesis G80 or the Volvo S90. While these cars offer high-quality features and design, they might not be as favored by the wealthy due to a perception of not having the same long-standing prestige as brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Bentley.”
Toyota Mirai or Acura NSX
McAlpin also said “some luxury models from mainstream automakers, like the Toyota Mirai or the Acura NSX, may not be as popular among the wealthy because they are not traditional luxury brands and may lack the exclusivity and status often associated with more prestigious names in the industry.”
John Lin, owner of JB Motor Works in Philadelphia, said the Bentley Mulsanne is a luxury car that wealthy people would not buy.
“Considered the flagship of Bentley, it lacks modern tech functionalities,” he said. “It’s an excellent automobile in terms of opulence and comfort, but it falls short on the technology side — something today’s wealthy consumers find vital.”
Tariro Goronga, CEO of DriveSafe Driving Schools, explained, “Because of their high prices and exclusive features, luxury cars are frequently associated with wealth and success. However, there are some luxury cars that even the wealthiest people avoid purchasing.
“The Jaguar XJ, a luxury sedan that combines style and performance, is one example. This car may not be as popular among the wealthy as other luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz or BMW because it lacks prestige and brand recognition. Furthermore, the Jaguar brand has had reliability issues in the past, making it less desirable for those who can really afford it.”
De Mulder agreed, “Despite its rich heritage, the XJ has seen a decline in popularity among wealthy buyers due to its dated design and the stiff competition from its German counterparts, which offer more advanced technology and stronger brand prestige.”
Alfa Romeo Giulia
“It’s a fascinating aspect of the luxury car market that certain models, despite their high-end status, don’t quite capture the fancy of affluent buyers,” De Mulder said. “The Alfa Romeo Giulia, for instance, is a car that ticks many boxes for enthusiasts with its seductive styling and engaging performance.
“However, it has struggled to find favor among the wealthy. This can be partly attributed to the brand’s rocky history with reliability and customer service in the U.S. market. While recent models have shown improvements, the lingering skepticism, along with a less established resale value, makes it less appealing to those who consider long-term ownership costs and convenience.”
Another luxury vehicle wealthy people often stay away from is the Maserati Ghibli.
“Its allure is tarnished by a depreciation curve steeper than the Alps and a cost of ownership that can be startling,” De Mulder said. “The Ghibli’s reliability and build quality have not consistently matched its German competitors, leading to a hesitant stance from buyers who prioritize dependability and resale value as much as performance and luxury.”
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