Top 10 Cars Favored by Gen Y

Jason Siu
by Jason Siu

How do you get Generation Y interested in cars? To answer that question perhaps the best move is to take a look at what cars they do already like.

Thanks to new stats provided by J.D. Power and Associates we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 cars with the highest percentage of buyers aged of 16 to 35 in 2012. And if there is one common theme, it’s that Generation Y isn’t big on domestics, with just one vehicle from the Big 3 making the list.

Kicking off the top 10 list is the Acura TSX, where 34.3 percent of its buyers were between the ages of 16 to 35. The entry-level sedan offers luxury amenities at a budget price, while providing owners with the reliability and comfort that Acura is known for. The Acura TSX had an average MSRP (the average price across all trim levels) of $32,251 last year.

The lone domestic that made it onto the list is the Dodge Charger, with an average MSRP at $32,767, which is also the highest MSRP of all the vehicles in the top 10. Surprisingly, the American automaker’s sedan had 34.7 percent of its buyers from 16 to 35 and is also the only real large vehicle on the list.

The Volkswagen Golf is next on the list with 34.7 percent of its buyers under 35. With an average price of $25,481 last year, the Golf provides budget performance in a compact, hatch. It’s not the most powerful car on the list, but it’s undoubtedly one of the more fun ones.

Another compact conventional sedan on the list is the Volkswagen Jetta where last year, 35.2 percent of its buyers were between 16 to 35. With it’s spacious interior, solid fuel economy and the cache of being a German car it’s priced right with an average MSRP of $23,280 last year.

The Subaru Impreza offers plenty of performance with an average price tag of $23,622 and it’s no surprise that 37.4 of its buyers were young. Surprisingly however, the 2012 model year saw a steep drop in its younger demographic compared to 2011. The year before, the Impreza saw 44.5 percent of its buyers between the age of 16 to 35.

Mazda’s fun compact sedan is next on the list, benefiting from 40.2 percent of its buyers being in the young market. With an average price of $21,128, it’s the second cheapest car on the top 10 while offering sporty handling and respectable performance under the hood. Its stylish good looks is certainly a hit with the younger crowd as well.

The all-new Acura ILX may not have been a huge seller on the market, but it has definitely attracted the younger crowd. Priced even cheaper than the TSX, the ILX has an average MSRP of $30,115 and 40.2 percent of its buyers last year were 16 to 35.

The performance-oriented Volkswagen GTI comes in third place, with 44.5 percent of its buyers between 16 to 35. Powered by a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine, the GTI is a fun, hot hatch with an average price of $28,152. The Volkswagen GTI also stayed steady compared to 2011, when 45.3 percent of its buyers were 16 to 35.

The Mitsubishi Lancer lands in second place with 48.6 percent of its buyers in the younger demographic. Priced from an average MSRP of $24,377 last year, the Lancer is a compact sporty sedan offering decent functionality while maintaining a sporty drive. Of course, the Evolution model is the performance model that everyone craves.

Topping the list is the Scion tC, which also sports the lowest average MSRP on the list. Priced at $21,039, Scion’s other sporty coupe is a huge hit with the younger crowd. 50.2 percent of its buyers last year were between the age of 16 to 35, dropping a mere 0.4 percent compared to 2011. The Japanese automaker has done a brilliant job targeting younger buyers, and it’s no real surprise the tC has such a large majority of younger owners.

Jason Siu
Jason Siu

Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.

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  • Anon123 Anon123 on May 01, 2013

    Screw cars, I want reliable and useful public transit. It is annoying sitting in traffic for 60+ min every Frikin' day.

  • Jan Snider Jan Snider on Apr 25, 2014

    My youngest daughter is a Gen Y kid. She just got her first new car ever ( I was not going to co-sign for Her a car, period). She chose a '14 Corolla Le ECO. She has driven Nissan Sentra, Honda Accord and Honda del Sol, even a Toyota Camry Hybrid. She likes the style of the vehicle and the simple to use controls. This car feels taught on the highway yet light in the city. She did NOT vote for Obama, does NOT watch Fox News and DOES NOT have any tattoos. I did not help her make this decision. The Toyota sold itself, the other makes had similar equipment but it was all optional. She likes the idea of saving the planet, waste not want not. She got her payment where she wanted it, after an afternoon of talking to the dealer. Don't count the Gen "Y" kids out yet. As a boomer, I am glad they are taking the reins.