By on February 3, 2011

Like any other diverse, multiethnic state, the US of A doesn’t so much have a distinct national culture as a no-holds-barred cultural cagematch of competing values, lifestyles, and perspectives. We call it “pluralism,” although more politically-minded commentators might call it “the war for America’s soul.” Anyway, with America’s cultural divide still creating yawning chasms between the experiences of citizens in “red” states and “blue” states, it’s not enough to simply look at sales statistics for the whole country. No, to truly understand the different cultures forming America’s automotive melting pot, we must look at car sales region-by-region in hopes of identifying the constituent parts of our larger car culture. And that’s exactly what TrueCar has done, breaking out both sales and discounts for the top-performing vehicles in one West coast state (California), one East coast state (New York), one Midwestern state (Illinois), and one Southwestern state (Texas). The result: a snapshot of our diverse market for cars, and a peek at our conflicting car cultures. [Data after the jump]

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77 Comments on “The Geography Of America’s Car Obsession...”


  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I love the stats for Texas.  5 out the top 10 are full-size pick ups.  California we are not.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Call me funny, but I’m somehow not proud that pickups are so high on the list. I would be OK with it if they were used as pickups, but instead they are gas-sucking fashion statements.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Why does it matter to you that people exercise their free choice and buy pickups? Do you have to pay for them or do you just have something against choice if it isn’t your choice? I really don’t get all you busybodies who want to the arbiter of what is right for everyone else. As long as you’re not our supreme ruler it really shouldn’t matter to you what someone else drives as long as they can pay for it,

    • 0 avatar
      Apollo

      “but instead they are gas-sucking fashion statements”

      You mean trucks are exactly like sports cars and luxury sedans?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I really don’t get all you busybodies who want to the arbiter of what is right for everyone else.

      You know what I don’t get?  Supposed free-choice people who complain about people not having the right to criticize them. You want to exercise your choice?  Fine, but be prepared to be criticized.  That’s part of free speech, too: my right to call you an idiot for doing something a) boneheaded and b) that actually does affect me.

    • 0 avatar

      @MikeAR: I don’t like when people buy pickups (or SUVs) because I hate being behind them and having them block my view of the road ahead. Of course, it doesn’t much matter to me if Texans buy them, since I haven’t driven in Texas in a couple of decades. And I don’t particularly like the fact that a pickup is a threat to my own safety because
      1. they are more likely to kill me if I collide with one
      2. they are probably more likely to collide with me since they are not nearly as agile as cars

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Sounds like you probably should buy a pickup for self defense if they worry you so much.

    • 0 avatar
      zigpenguin

      The more gas we use, the more we support oil producing states like Nigeria, Venezuela, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. I don’t like supporting them, no matter what car is doing it. So, any car that uses a lot of fuel is open to criticism: pickup or sports car or whatever. I wouldn’t object to a 30mpg small pickup (which is definitely possible these days). That actually sounds useful.

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      I love the rugged self-sufficiency that is displayed when someone get’s upset that someone else points out the obvious.
       
      You can drive whatever the hell you can afford to, just keep your glorified minivan the hell out of the passing lane.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      I visited the Bay Area in 2003, and Los Angeles-San Diego in 2006. What struck me was how popular the full-size GM pickups and SUVs were in BOTH areas. If it hadn’t been for those vehicles, GM would have been out of business in the Golden State (except for rental cars).

    • 0 avatar
      Darkhorse

      I lived in Texas for 20 years and I loved it.  But I never understood that obsession with pickup trucks.  I lived in Big D and the parking lot of my company was full of big pickups used to commute to and from work and the home in the suburbs.  That’s their choice and I respect it, but I thought it made little sense.  One thing if you live on a farm or work construction, but a C programmer working in the burbs?

      I recall an old joke down there that if every pickup truck owner in Texas moved to Oklahoma it would raise the average IQ of both states!

    • 0 avatar
      cdnsfan27

      Most of the oil we import comes from Canada and Mexico and not from American hating dictatorships.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      Oil is a commodity — that means it doesn’t matter whether we buy a barrel of oil from Iran or Canada, it takes one barrel off the market and someone else in the market will buy the other barrel. The only exception of this rule is if there are market sanctions where NOBODY will buy your oil.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Oil is a commodity — that means it doesn’t matter whether we buy a barrel of oil from Iran or Canada,
      +1. Oil is a market commodity. We’ve been allegedly running out of it (and every other natural resource) since President Grinning Bucktooth delivered his “Malaise Speech”. So far, so wrong, for Malthusian Peak Resource economic illiterates.
      But regarding pickups, state motor vehicle departments already regulate vehicle size. The question becomes where to draw the line. I agree with Mr Holzman above; vehicle size effects visibility and add degrades further the driving skill of the average American.

    • 0 avatar

      MikeAR said

      >>>

      Sounds like you probably should buy a pickup for self defense if they worry you so much.

      Pickups, despite their ability to kill others, are actually quite dangerous for their drivers. Part of that is their afore-mentioned lack of ability to get out of their own way.
      Trucks in general are not fun to drive in my opinion. And driving is one of my favorite activities.

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      Let’s see the truck haters apply the same smaller-is-better carbon rule to their non-automotive purchases.
      We’ll give the truck owners a say in the size of the Prius driver’s house and how much they spend on air travel, Whole Foods, etc..

    • 0 avatar
      daviel

      Texas is doing just fine – in my town the prestige vehicle is a luxed-out 4-dr diesel pickup, not a porsche or a merc.

    • 0 avatar

      Call me funny, but I’m somehow not proud that pickups are so high on the list. I would be OK with it if they were used as pickups, but instead they are gas-sucking fashion statements.
       
      As a New Mexican who hates Texas, I can honestly say I disagree with you on this and don’t blame your state for driving full-size trucks. (I do blame you for the natural gas shortages that are leaving people without heat for their homes, but that’s another story entirely.)
       
      Looking on that list, I can’t understand why anybody would ever want to buy any of the cars or crossovers. I mean, I won’t blame a car buyer, but really, I can’t even get past the looks of the CR-V and the RAV-4 isn’t much better. Then there’s the boring milquetoast mediocre sedans which absolutely sicken me, and the Prius, and as a sustainability minor in college I can honestly say I’ve seen so many of those Godawful things that I would never even consider buying one; I would rather die in a carbon-footprint induced heat death of the planet Earth scenario than ever drive a Prius.
       
      Of the vehicles on the list, the only ones that are both “cool” and practical are the trucks. A Mustang is grossly impractical, with a worthless backseat, lots of horsepower, very cool, but not as useful as a truck and you can’t really take one fishing. Same with the Challenger/Camaro. RAV-4 and CR-V are just minivans. If you want a vehicle that has anything worth talking about it’s a truck.
       
      Granted, I personally would rather have a real body-on-frame SUV like a Cherokee XJ than a fullsize pickup, but that guzzles gas as much as a fullsize so I can’t really blame the truck guys for their air-tow-ers. And no, I don’t need the off-road capability of an SUV. But if I’m going to shell out $20K for a vehicle, it sure as shit isn’t going to be a car, and also won’t be one of these equally-bland “crossovers” we see around today, which get half the mileage of a car and are all jacked-up station wagon.
       
      (For full disclosure and full hypocrisy, I would make an exception for the Jeep Patriot. It’s a gas-guzzling pseudo SUV, but dammit, I like the Cherokee look, even if it’s a mirage.)

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      I used to own a minivan. It was big. It blocked other drivers view of the road. Probably weighed over 4,000 lbs. MPG’s were ok, but not as good as a sedan. But I never had to face the hate of the left for owning one. And they were much less to insure. Why? Well at first you would think that because they are big they protect their occupants well. You would also think that the moms and dads drove more conservatively than other drivers. But I talked to someone in the insurance biz. He told me one of the principal reasons for the safety record of both minivans and regular vans is that they are BIG and everyone can SEE them. You might miss a civic with a fart can but you won’t miss something as big as a van like oh say … a pickup truck. So if you say that fullsize pickups get into accidents more because they can’t maneuver like an earth mobile like a prev poster said I would like to see some stats first. My guess is they tend to be safer than average because of their visual size. This may be negated by people doing stupid things in foul weather and they may be stolen more causing a higher insurance premium. But more accident prone in traffic during good weather? I’m from Missouri.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      There is no proof that a more nimble vehicle is better able to avoid accidents. Maybe on the skidpad, or on threads such as this, but not in the real world.

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      The “real world” geeber? Is that the one where a higher center of gravity does not affect stability and safety (as you asserted last week?)
       
      Perhaps you can explain the dearth of large SUV’s on this list:
       
      http://www.iihs.org/ratings/default.aspx
       
      Perhaps a large vehicle is safer to eat a cheeseburger (or McRib) while driving.
       
      For the rest of us, a smaller car, with a lower center of gravity, will have a shorter braking distance and hence better active safety control. Full stop. Literally.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      cackalacka: The “real world” geeber? Is that the one where a higher center of gravity does not affect stability and safety (as you asserted last week?)

      Again, it might if you accurately read what people post before attempting to paraphrase it.  

      Let me help you by breaking down what I said:

      *I never said that a higher center of gravity doesn’t affect stability.

      *I said that there is no proof that SUVs or Explorers are inherently unsafe because they have a higher center of gravity.

      *This higher center of gravity makes their handling characteristics different, but not unsafe. For example, a Civic has a higher center of gravity than a Ferrari…is it therefore inherently unsafe? Based on your logic, it is.

      cackalacka: Perhaps you can explain the dearth of large SUV’s on this list:

      Easy. We are talking about real-world safety. That list is based on how a vehicle performs in various carefully controlled tests conducted by IIHS, along with whether the vehicle in question offers electronic stability control. It’s essentially meaningless to this particular discussion, as it ignores the driver, various road conditions and the plain old unpredictability that comes with that place called the Real World (not the show on MTV).

      Also note that several of the vehicles listed are SUVs, and have a higher center of gravity. Including, I see, the Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee…which, in the other discussion, you held were inherently dangerous.  

      cackalacka: For the rest of us, a smaller car, with a lower center of gravity, will have a shorter braking distance and hence better active safety control. Full stop. Literally.

      Only problem is that these advantages have proven to be inconsequential in the real world. It helps to understand that the real world rarely operates in the manner imagined by folks participating on an internet messageboard thread.

      For example, over 56 percent of all small car collisions are with another small car or with a stationary object. The stationary object wasn’t moving…so it should, therefore, be easy to avoid, thanks to that superior handling and braking. Except that it apparently doesn’t work out that way.

      Unless trees and light poles and bridge abutments are now randomly jumping in front of small car drivers, forcing them to have accidents.

      But wait – it would be different if an SUV or S-Class is hurtling toward you, correct? That is when that superior handling will really pay dividends. In the real world, with only seconds to react, you’ll be hit by the other vehicle before you even decide what to do, whether you are driving an Explorer or a BWM 3-Series.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Florida:
    #1 Buick Century
    #2 Toyota Avalon
    #3 Lexus something

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    Why do people in rich blue states spend so little on cars?

    I include myself; I live in CA and our family with income in the top 1% own three cars purchased used with an average current age of 13 years and an average price of $11,500.  They are all high mpg cars too.  Who buys all these new cars?!?

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      A few ideas:
      -People who buy functional and relatively inexpensive used cars that are already in the flat part of the depreciation curve wind up rich.  People who get locked into a cycle of neverending loans to pay for a rapidly depreciating asset wind up not rich.  Many of the people who I know with expensive pruchased-new cars are not only not rich, they’re in super-debt and live paycheck to paycheck.
      -Incomes in blue states only tell half the story.  Don’t they also have a higher cost of living, generally speaking?  Would this possibly leave less real disposable income to spend on cars?
      -Aren’t the blue states more prone to horrible traffic jams than the red ones?  Who cares what the car is like if it’s primarily used to crawl through traffic, as long as it’s reliable and the air works.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Higher taxes, more expensive gasoline, higher housing costs (even after the collapse) all lead to less disposable income to spend on car payments.

    • 0 avatar

      My parents certainly did quite decently. My father was the highest paid Tufts professor in his time, I believe, and my mother also taught at Tufts. Of course, they were clueless on the stock market. Anyway, they never spent much money on cars. In the early ’70s, when I attended Tufts, my father’s car was a 1968 Ford Falcon wagon he’d bought used. One day I was driving the thing around campus and bumped into an acquaintance. “Is that the Davemobile?” he says, sounding impressed. No, I said, it’s my father’s. Change of tone to incredulity: “you mean the head of the economics department drives around in that…thing!” (he practically spat out the last word)
      Judging from my own family and family friends, which, I admit, is probably taking at least some liberties, some blue staters may be less status conscious and more practical. My father ceratinly had some of Steve Lang’s perspective in him, or maybe I should say Steve takes after my father.
      It would be interesting if they had stats on the proportion of new vs used cars in each state.
      It would also be interesting to have stats on the proportion of weird niche cars registered. For example, I suspect that in Massachusetts we have more Peugeots and Citroens on the road per capita than most states.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      It would be interesting if they had stats on the proportion of new vs used cars in each state.
       
      It’d be interesting if they had stats on average vehicle age, by make and model, in each state. THAT would be interesting data. I heard once that state motor vehicle departments sell statistical abstracts of such data – but it’s proprietary and you’ve gotta pay.

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      The reasons vary but one of them is a kind of faux alternative/hippy chic.
       
      The high income person who drives a modest car but is quick to talk about their foreign travels or child attending an expensive boarding school.
      They enjoy the sucker punch effect of subtly revealing their status and thus get the same or more ego stroke as someone driving an upscale car.
      Same thing when Hollywood celebrities dress like bums….it’s like MSG to bring out the flavor of their wealth even more.

  • avatar
    Jerry Sutherland

    The same thing happens up here in Canada-those Texas sales stats could be Alberta stats-we’re all about oil and trucks here too.

  • avatar
    JJ

    But is it still true that most blue states are net payers to and most red states net recipients from government funds?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      To a degree, yes.  It’s also true that more cars (or at least, more dollar’s worth) are sold in blue states than red.
       
      This is why California standards have such weight: more of the people who buy new cars live in CARB states.  It’s also why the choruses of “Oh why does California oppress us?!” ring a little hollow: California’s citizens obviously want CARB’s emissions, or they’d vote for people to repeal them (or, more likely, hold a plebiscite or suchlike silliness).  In turn, New York and the others who subscribe to CARB also want them, or their citizens would vote otherwise, too.  And since all these states buy a lot of cars it’s pretty much whim-of-the-market that things are the way they are.
       
      Sucks how capitalism and democracy don’t always translate into “what I want”.
       
      If you don’t want CARB regs, the only real solutions are a) get California et al to vote otherwise and/or b) get the red states to buy more cars.  Neither is likely.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Is that before or after our bankrupt blue states show up in Washington with our hands out so the red states can pay for our stupidity?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      If you subtract money for federally owned land within a state, along with federal parks, and money for defense contracts and bases, blue states get more.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      That or the free ride for red states will be over.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      psarhjinian, once again you make too much sense for this discussion.

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      Of the states represented in this chart, none are receiving back in spending as much as they put in.

    • 0 avatar
      Crosley

      psarhjinian,

      Yea, I’m complaining about unelected bureaucrats in a state I don’t even live in dictating what kind of cars are sold throughout the US.  Congress should withhold highway funds unless they adopt a 50 state standard.

      CARB is a joke and the rest of the country suffers.  To say, that’s democracy, too bad, well you could say the same thing about Jim Crow.  Just because something becomes law through the democratic process, doesn’t mean it’s good policy.  If it were just contained in California, it wouldn’t be a problem, but their idiocy bleeds through to the rest of the states.

    • 0 avatar

      Approximately 38 million of the 308 million people in the United States live in California. That’s more than 10% of the population. The next most populous state, Texas, trails by around 13 million, at 24.7 million. So it’s not surprising that California has such influence on the rest of the country.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Psar since you have all the answers for everything, why don’t you move to the US and rule us benighted hicks to the south of you? Please do, you have all the answers and you are so sure of everything. Since I am, in your judgement, an idiot, I need you to tell me what to do, what I should like or not like and just pretty much everything in life. I ask myself every day just how have I made it this far without you to tell me everything I need to know.

      I don’t like much being called an idiot by a busybody, self-proclaimed genius who has all the answers for everything. You ought to take your show on the road and solve the world’s problems rather than wasting your time on a blog.

      For reference: to quote Psar from an earlier post, my right to call you an idiot for doing something a) boneheaded and b) that actually does affect me.

      Free will and choice really offends some people,

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      psarhjinian: This is why California standards have such weight: more of the people who buy new cars live in CARB states.

      No, it’s because the federal Clean Air Act allows California to set its own emissions standards, and the 1990 amendments allowed states to adopt the California standards if they wanted to do so. It has nothing to do with the number of vehicles bought by Californians, or the free market. It has to do with a specific government action exempting California from the preemption of federal statutes over state law in this particular instance, based on the serious air pollution problems in the Los Angeles basin.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I don’t like much being called an idiot by a busybody, self-proclaimed genius who has all the answers for everything. You ought to take your show on the road and solve the world’s problems rather than wasting your time on a blog.

      You seem to have no issues doing that to other people, though.  It’s a might bit hypocritical to complain about how you don’t like being talked down to, only to talk down to others who don’t share your views.

      If your going to engage in critical debate, you need to be prepared for people to attempt to deflate your position.  You cannot engage in only one side of the debate and then “take your ball and go home” when criticism comes back your way.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      CARB – no black cars, yea! ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It has nothing to do with the number of vehicles bought by Californians, or the free market. It has to do with a specific government action giving California an advantage.

      The whole rest of the country has the option to opt out of CARB standards.  That they choose not to is their democratic right.  That those states have a large amount of economic clout certainly has everything to do with the free market.

      This isn’t an advantage for California: they don’t make cars and they don’t make money off of it—they have this mandate because they have geographic issues that make pollution a health concern, and they took action to address it (and continue to do so because air quality remains an issue in many CA cities). It’s what their citizens want, though.  It’s also what the citizens of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona (not exactly a blue state) also want.

      The automakers are free to not follow CARB standards and the states’ citizen are free to not want to subscribe to CARB regulations.  Non-CARB states’ citizens are also free to buy many more and/or higher-margin cars than CARB states.

      This is all about people exercising their choice.  Sometimes that works out the way you’d like it to, sometimes it doesn’t.  But if you’re advocating a little progressivism and saying we should override what the citizens in those states want, then, well, I’d be surprised.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      psarhjinian: The whole rest of the country has the option to opt out of CARB standards.  That they choose not to is their democratic right.  That those states have a large amount of economic clout certainly has everything to do with the free market.

      Incorrect. The federal government allowing a state to preempt federal law is not the free market in action. It represents the federal government favoring one state over the others. At the time, this seemed reasonable – the Los Angeles basin had probably the nation’s most severe air pollution problem. Today, the justification is considerably weaker.

      psarhjinian: This isn’t an advantage for California: they don’t make cars and they don’t make money off of it—they have this mandate because they have geographic issues that make pollution a health concern, and they took action to address it (and continue to do so because air quality remains an issue in many CA cities).

      Again, incorrect. (Also note that, when California initially received the exemption, cars were produced in the state by GM in the Los Angeles area. The contention that no vehicles were produced in California when these exemptions were granted is inaccurate.)

      There used to be a price and performance disadvantage with California-spec cars. California cars were also restricted in their powertrain options. If more states adopt the California standards, that disadvantage disappears (or is minimized). This benefits California directly. It also makes it easier for people to move to California (although lately more middle class people have been doing the opposite), as they won’t have to have their car retro-fitted with California-approved emissions equipment in order to register it within the state.

      psarhjinian: It’s what their citizens want, though.  It’s also what the citizens of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona (not exactly a blue state) also want.

      This is only possible because of a direct action of the federal government, not the free market, which was your original contention. Which was, of course, incorrect.

      psarhjinian: This is all about people exercising their choice.  Sometimes that works out the way you’d like it to, sometimes it doesn’t.  But if you’re advocating a little progressivism and saying we should override what the citizens in those states want, then, well, I’d be surprised.

      Again, incorrect. If people could truly exercise their choice, they could buy whatever car they wanted, regardless of whether it meets the California standards or not.

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      “I don’t like much being called an idiot by a busybody, self-proclaimed genius who has all the answers for everything.”
       
      Yeah, I remember when Psar boasted about his IQ being 140 yesterday.
       
      Oh, wait a minute, that was you, MikeAR. Never mind.
       
      Look, I may not agree with everything psarhjinian has to say, but one thing I’ve noticed his posts have a pesky habit of being informative and factually correct.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Uh, your memory or something is wrong, I never said anything about my IQ anywhere. Unlike some people, I don’t pretend to be partcularly smart, mainly because I know that there is always someone smarter than me. Don’t brag if you can’t back it up and in IQ points, I can’t. As far as Psar always being right, his posts are ad hominem swipes at everyone who doesn’t agree with him and full of straw man arguements. His factually correct is rarely anything other than an assumption that everyone knows something to be true and not backed up by any sources. For example, everyone knows the free market is bad and doesn’t work. Also condescending doesn’t make friends or bring people over to your point of view.

      Before you accuse me of bragging about my IQ get your story straight. You may not like me but don’t make up things about me.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    It is interesting that the Jetta made it onto the California best seller list. I’ve seen a bunch of the new VW Corollas, but I thought they were almost all rentals. They certainly don’t look like $22,000.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    There’s some truth there about cost of living – neighborhoods of million dollar homes are dotted with Prii, Civics, Accords, and an occasional 3 series BMW.  interestingly, no one I know ever talks about cars, getting a new car, getting a nicer car, ever!  Not once have I heard any of my friends talking about getting a new car (other than a Prius, because they know I like high mileage cars).  Maybe cars just aren’t that big a deal in California anymore.

    If my cost of living was half, I would still drive the same cars, because I don’t consider spending a lot of money on a depreciating asset to be a wise choice.  So not blowing money on cars may lead to wealth…

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      Old money doesn’t flash it around much.  Most are driving fifteen year old Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Where are those million dollar homes? From my experience, a million-dollar home in the Bay Area or even Los Angeles wouldn’t rate a second look around here in Pennsylvania. Indeed, spending a million dollars on a house in California probably isn’t any smarter than spending $100,000 for a Benz here in Harrisburg. The difference being that the Benz has probably depreciated LESS than the million-dollar California house these last few years…. 

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I certainly admire people who don’t need to announce their income within $10K by their choice of shoes, watches, clothes and cars, but it is done in California. We might not be as shallow as New Yorkers, but a look at La Jolla says that this is an important market for cars as statements of wealth. There is a 2 block footprint Ferrari-Maserati dealer about 5 blocks from a Lamborghini, Bentley, Bugatti, and Rolls-Royce dealer on Progress Street. Local traffic says that these dealers don’t sell most of their cars to exporters. There are a couple Ferraris in my none-too-posh Pacific Beach neighborhood, and the parts of La Jolla I ride my bike through are thick with premium priced European cars that are new enough to be under warranty. As for old v. new money, all California money is new money for the people who coined the terms.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “Old money doesn’t flash it around much.  Most are driving fifteen year old Mercedes.”
      This ++. In Queen Anne or North Capitol Hill in Seattle, there are plenty of 5-10 year old Subarus, Toyotas, and Hondas in the driveways of homes worth well over $1m. Occasionally German cars as well, but mainly sensible & reliable Japanese cars.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Looking at Illinois the Midwester State and having grown up in the Midwest (birth 1977 till leaving at age 25 for New Mexico) I wonder what the list would look like if Oldsmobile still existed and Buick still sold LeSabres. 

  • avatar
    obbop

    Do not discount the possibility that the Official Old Coot Warning has resonated across the Web via numerous postings in various venues in regards to selecting a conveyance with at least some consideration given to its possible future usage as an abode if economic hardships overwhelm to purchaser.
    My paid-for long-bed camper shell-equipped pick-em-up will fend off abject homelessness if the economic catastrophe I believe to be a definite future possibility descends upon the land of, for and by a wealthy elite class, corporate USA and special-interest groups.
     

  • avatar
    findude

    Interesting stuff. There are a lot of micro-region oddities in the USA as well.  Think of how Subaru/Saab heavy Vermont is. Or consider the high ownership of convertibles in Oregon (I’ve heard OR has the highest number of convertibles as a percentage of registered vehicles of all 50 states). Maybe the higher percentage of foreign brands on the coasts has its origin in the fact that the coasts are closer to the foreign countries? Just a thought.

    • 0 avatar
      bill h.

      When I lived in Boston after my growing-up years in the Midwest, I always thought that smaller cars (at that time, mostly foreign) better fit the narrower, winding roads and streets there. In the winter, the FWD smaller cars had some advantage in the snow. Less space in the big cities for parking, as well as the cost of fuel was a bit higher in the NE too, as I recall.
      Whenever I’d head back to the Midwest, the car mix inevitably became larger and more American (and then, somewhat rustier).
      But nowadays, I see how things tend to homogenize more than before (trucks perhaps excepted). With Toyotas, Nissans and Hyundais made in Red States and GM/Fords made in Blue ones (or Canada/Mexico), and the CUV lines everyone seems to make, I’m not so sure the story here is as much as some commentators make it out to be.
      Of course, if folks want to use this to score Culture War points, have at it.
       

    • 0 avatar

      As a coastal resident all my life (if you count DC, where I spent two decades, as coastal) I don’t think the coasts’ being closer to foreign countries accounts for anything. I think the poularity of Japanese cars vs American has to do with perceived quality.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      It may be “chicken and egg” thing as far as the Japanese brands are concerned. Nissan (called Datsun then), Toyota and Honda (motorcycles originally) established its first US sales offices in Gardena and Torrance, California where a large number of Japanese immigrants already lived and very close to the Port of Los Angeles where the cars and bikes came off the ships. Many European companies started with sales offices in New Jersey, again near the port of entry. Oddly, Hoffman Motors in Los Angeles represented some European makes and VW of America moved to Culver City (near LA). In the 1960s there seemed to be a VW dealer in every town near LA, like there are Honda and Toyota dealers today.

  • avatar
    wallstreet

    I’m hoping to see $6+/gallon petrol soon. I will like to find out how many of those truckers will give up their toys since most of them have no business owning one to begin with.

    • 0 avatar
      AJ

      That is an ignorant thing to say, since everything YOU buy is tied to the price of fuel.

    • 0 avatar
      wallstreet

      @AJ
      I see your point & I don’t blame you for rebutting my statement. Yes, I’m aware there is a direct relationship between fuel price & inflation. I’m just sick of seeing single driver trucks everywhere here in TX during rush hours, burning more fuels, parking multiple spaces, polluting air & so on. TX is a very truck friendly state, all diesel vehicles are exempt from emission testing regardless of age.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      @wallstreet
      It is a free (well, sort of) world, my friend. If you are so overwhelmingly disturbed by some local features, you are most welcome to move over to a place that befits your tastes better, than continue spitting disgust at people that have done nothing wrong to you.

    • 0 avatar
      wallstreet

      @acubra
      It is indeed a great country with functioning free market economy. I’m simply amazed by the fact that truck drivers are willing to cut back on driving & downsizing their vehicles when fuel last hit $4/gallon. This really is not my problem because petrol will rise $4+/gallon sooner rather than later.
      I’ll stay around to witness truck connoisseurs repeat the cycle.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      It took $4 for the pickup guys to change their habits around here. They started driving little cars pulled out of the barn or borrowed from relatives. Several times I saw four cylinder sedans and hatchbacks that were obviously fresh out of the backyard. Some folks around here (south) don’t sell their old car, they just park it and forget it and – many are already living on the fine edge of income vs expenses without $4 causing headaches.
      I expect some of these folks to covet tiny pickups again when they can no longer afford to drive their big trucks. Most use their trucks at least a little, there are few gentleman truckers around here (~60K mile trucks with virgin paint in the beds). Many of them drive their trucks everywhere all the time until their money runs out and then you’ll see ’em in the family four banger again until the next paycheck.
      Whatever floats their boats.

    • 0 avatar
      wallstreet

      It’s been a month & petrol is almost $4/gallon. I’m about to witness those pickup guys living on the fine edge of income vs expenses changing their habits soon.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Well, at $3.40 around here with diesel significantly higher, I’m starting to hear the big pickup truck guys whine a little.
      ABC News interviewed a contractor who was a bit grumpy about his $100 fillups in his 4-dr F-250 4WD. I had to chuckle b/c as they were filming him he was placing a contractor size (small, portable, two hand lift) table saw into the bed. I thought to myself – dude, you need to be hooking up an 18ft tandem axle enclosed trailer to hammer home that you NEED that truck. He said some minor disparaging remark about something with better mileage not fitting his needs. Really? I’ll bet he could buy a used four cylinder Ford Ranger for days when he didn’t NEED the USS F-250 on fuel savings here soon. I’ve known many people who could build a house with an S-10 or Ford Ranger. Truthfully they didn’t have a 6K lb trailer (aka rolling shop) though. These guys carried the tools they needed for that day in their little trucks and swapped out their tool inventory as the project moved along.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Top Ten Cars in Georgia:
    1) Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptors with the police light package ‘accidentally’ left on the vehicle. Usually driven by Politicians and Public Servants.
    2) Pickup truck with the rebel flag. Many of these vehicles are driven by three generations of the same family.
    3) Any Grandpa car with 22+++ inch rims.
    4) Honda Civic with mufflers that are wider than Mick Jagger’s mouth.
    5) Full-sized Canyonero SUV with angry mom talking on cell phone.
    6) Old Volvos. These are kinda like country music. Every demographic likes them here.
    7) First generation Saturns. Nothing can kill them here. I think the sun gives those panels added durability.
    8) Pre-Y2K Ford Taurus. Sometimes three or four of them are used to make one car.
    9) 1990 – 1993 Honda Accord. See above.
    10) Chrysler minivans. In the conservative South you can still drive one and be a hottie. Unfortunately most folks don’t always remember to take out those leftover drinks during the summertime. They smell like family hell.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I’m not so sure about the traffic in the blue states being worse than red… isn’t Houston one of the most congested cities in the country?  My experience there was one of intense frustration on the freeway.  I lived in Austin for a few months on a work project and thought traffic there made L.A. look like kid’s play.  Population growth had far exceeded the capacity of the road system
    I was in San Antonio having dinner at an outdoor restaurant.  Every other car driving by seemed to be a Ferrari or Porsche 911 Turbo.  My Northern California workmate and I mentioned this to our host.  He (who was a recent transplant to the area) wrote it off as all of the expendable income.  Compared to California, there was no state income tax (figure a 10% pay increase right there), homes that cost less than 1/3rd as much (for twice the size), and a generally lower cost of living.  I suppose if one extrapolates, what’s a bit more in gasoline expenses?  All else equal, it’s a much smaller part of one’s leftover income in TX as it is out here in CA even after having to pay for private schools for your kids.
     

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    The Red/Blue diatribe is rather minimal compared to the diatribes within the US in years past.

    We had a North/South diatribe that ended up killing 600,000.
    We had an East/West diatribe between the Northwestern States, (now Midwestern), and the East Coast.
    We had a state of rebellion between New England and the rest of the US.
    We had a nullification crisis between South Carolina and the rest of the US.
    And probably a few other similar situations that don’t come to the top of my mind right now.

    So this Red/Blue thingy is rather embarrassing. It won’t ever work out completely, but within our priorities, it will most likely fall to such a low level we will all just move on.

    Having owned a few pick up trucks and loving them, and owning small fuel efficient cars and loving them, there really is no right or wrong and the best we can really do is respect one another’s market freedoms to choose what is best for each of us.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Amen.  The most useful “fact” made is that even though one may look “rich” the cost of living in some places makes low six figure incomes simply a good salary.  $600,000 for a three bedroom starter house…

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