These Are The Most Popular Car Brands With Millennials And Gen Z Buyers

Millennials buy heavily into American brands

2017 Chevrolet Trax
The Chevrolet Trax is one of the least expensive models the brand makes — and is an entry point for young car buyers. [Photo: Chevrolet]

Millennials are set to overtake their ancestors in the car buying market.

As we head into the 2020s, Millennials and Gen Z car buyers are a growing force in the new car market. Autolist recently published a study following the buying habits of those under age 36. Out of 1,750 current shoppers, the site surveyed which brands speak to them, as well as what they would most consider buying.

These were the top three questions in the survey:

  • Which of these (U.S.) brands speaks to your age group the most?
  • Which of these (U.S.) brands would you consider buying today?
  • What brand do you currently own?

While you may think that millennials gravitate toward the most popular-selling brands like Toyota and Honda, they were not the most popular choice. Surprisingly, American brands play well with younger buyers, with all of the Big Three represented in the top 10 brands.

2019 Honda Civic Coupe
Honda also scored well among young buyers. [Photo: Honda]

Which brands speak to young buyers?

According to the Autolist survey, these were the top 10 brands Millennials and Gen Z buyers felt spoke to them the most. Participants in the survey were allowed three choices.

  1. Chevrolet
  2. Ford
  3. Honda
  4. BMW
  5. Toyota
  6. Dodge
  7. Jeep
  8. Audi
  9. Nissan
  10. Tesla

The answers were a bit of a mixed bag, but Chevrolet ultimately came out on top. The brand does have a wide portfolio of inexpensive cars, from the tiny Spark to the Trax and — at least while they’re in stock — the Cruze. These models focus on technology, and come with Wi-Fi hotspots, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support across most of the range.

Ford also scored well, though it remains to be seen how long that will be the case as the company discontinues its smaller, cheaper cars. At this point, the Focus and Fiesta are gone in the U.S. That means buyers who are looking to get in on the entry-level models have to go with the EcoSport or stretch to the Escape.

Brands you’d expect like Honda, Toyota and Nissan also made it into the top 10. Younger buyers also lean toward Jeep and Dodge, either for the young adventurous image of the former or the cool factor of the latter, with the Charger and Challenger.

BMW, Audi and Tesla also made it onto the list, however, showing some luxury brands are speaking to younger buyers. Of course, Tesla has the technological edge going for it. BMW and Audi on the other hand, market their cars more on the lines of excitement than out-and-out luxury as, say, Lincoln does.

Toyota is a popular brand among young buyers, as several survey participants claimed they already own one and would buy another. [Photo: Toyota]

What do young buyers already own?

Millennials and Gen Z buyers also seem to show brand loyalty. The list of cars these buyers currently own largely mirrors the list of brands that speak to these generations. Chevrolet again came out on top, while Ford, Toyota, Honda and Nissan rounded out the top 5. Young buyers also would consider buying Chevrolet, Toyota, Ford, Honda and Dodge or Ram vehicles.

As you’d expect, these buyers don’t currently own hugely expensive cars. So Tesla, Mini, Alfa Romeo, Genesis and Jaguar were five brands at the bottom of this part of the survey.