Monday, August 8, 2011

Cars for people who have lots of money, but don't want to show it off

Jeep Grand Cherokee
Ever see a mansion with a car in the driveway that appears to be several tax brackets lower? While some millionaires want to buy a Ferrari, others want to remain in a cloak of anonymity. In many wealthy circles (I can only speculate!) it is a faux pas to drive a flashy car. There are several cars that well-to-doers often buy that allow them to drive comfortably, but without the extra flash. Click through to see the list.

Jeep Grand Cherokee
This picture perfectly illustrates my point. Jeeps look great in every household - rich, poor, country, city - all while carrying a certain sense of modesty. When well-equipped with all the creature comforts, the Grand Cherokee edges into the $40-50k+ range, but onlookers would never know the difference between it and the base model.

Audi A4
Historically, Audis have been less flashy than their Mercedes and BMW counterparts. This statement holds true for the A4, A5, A6, A7, and A8 (compared to C, CLK, E, CLS, S, and 3-sedan, 3-coupe, 5, 5 GT, and 7). From a distance, Audis can easily be mistaken for VW Jettas or Passats, whereas a Mercedes and BMW are bold and instantly recognizable.

Toyota Camry XLE
This isn't just any Toyota Camry - it's the XLE, the top-of-the-line model which fetches $30-35k after adding all the premium options. The obvious question is: why would anyone buy the Camry XLE instead of the slightly more expensive Lexus ES, which is equally as bland and boring? The answer is: because a Camry blends into the wild more than a flashy Lexus. There is no car more humble than a Camry...yes, even a $35k one.

Toyota Prius
The Toyota Prius is the most popular and instantly recognizable hybrid in the world. Prius drivers are either hated or loved, depending on who you talk to. The Prius, and hybrids in general, are seen as the antithesis to the luxury car, although people often fail to remember that hybrids are usually quite expensive. The Prius starts at $23k (and easily gets into the $30k range). Hybrids based on conventional cars are also more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts, such as the Escalade, Altima, Camry, Civic, Focus, Fusion, Highlander, etc. The only visual clue differentiating these cars is the Hybrid logo and tamed engine noise.

Ford F-150
The Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado are 2 of the best selling vehicles in the US, largely due to their utility on a farm or construction site. However, this unassuming, ubiquitous pickup is another favorite for the "humble wealthy". While the base F-150 starts in the low $20ks, Ford offers a range of models all the way up to the King Ranch, Platinum, Lariat Limited, and range-topping Harley Davidson edition that push well into the $40-50k range. When fully-loaded the F-150 interior is nothing short of luxurious, and the exterior is ruggedly stylish yet has the ability to stay incognito.

Chrysler Town & Country
I was shocked when I saw how much the Town & Country costs - prices start at $30k and go well into the $40ks for the fully-loaded Limited model. Chrysler's minivans are often viewed as the class leaders, but age very poorly in looks and quality (to be fair, minivans in general age poorly due to the rough-and-tumble lifestyle of their young passengers!). Other minivans, especially the Sienna and Odyssey, are priced similarly. These premium minivans are for the traditional wealthy American family. The Mercedes R-Class is too expensive and flashy, so the luxurious yet ubiquitous Town & Country is the next best option.

Nissan Maxima
The Maxima has always puzzled me. For awhile, I didn't understand why anyone would pay $30k+ for a sedan with absolutely zero style or brand cachet. But now I get it: Maxima buyers are people with ample money who want a roomy, fast car without the flashiness of an Infiniti G or M. The front and rear ends are ugly and the sides look like a Lexus ES (yawn), but the car is hella (!) fast.

Subaru Outback
For the number of Subarus you see in the Northeast, I was surprised to see how expensive they were. The range-topping Outback Limited model starts at $31k. From a social standpoint Outbacks are not cool (sorry!), but very popular because of their all-wheel-drive, high ground clearance, and ample space. An Outback would look good enough to park in front of a mansion, but would not attract any attention from nosy neighbors.


  1. Yesterday I saw someone driving a Bentley, and all I could think about was, "look at me, look at me, I'm rich!" Who cares! This was an interesting topic and well put -- for people who are wealthy and don't want to flaunt it (I should ever have that problem), these choices are excellent. They can also have their Ferrari in their climate-controlled garage for weekend jaunts.

  2. @ Peggy: Personally, I'm more like the Bentley driver...I'd prefer my sports car front and center where everyone can see it!

  3. What no Volvo? given their pricing and their reputation as being dowdy it's the ultimate non-bling.