We dole out a lot of advice on what makes a good first car, or cheap car, or any car for people under 24. But what are young people actually buying? This big list of used car registrations breaks it down for 2016, and the results are... uh, surprising.
Analysts at Edmunds have gone through Polk’s registration data to figure out which used cars the most Americans aged 18 to 24 have bought and registered so far this year, specifically thorough April, limiting the field to cars from the last 20 years (model year 1996 and newer.)
Obviously that excludes a lot of what teens are driving; cars registered to their parents, and jalopies older than they are.
Edmunds’ findings tell us kids are buying more Daewoo Lanoses than anything else, buy a significant spread, followed by a few relatively awesome potential tuner cars and a list that basically deteriorates to random Craigslist finds.
Curiously absent from this list are the Honda Civic and Accord, and Toyota Corolla and Camry, four of the seemingly most prolific people movers in the country.
If this data’s reflective of the norm—and being a relatively small sample that’s somewhat debatable—my guess would be that the “standby” Honda and Toyotas are more money than most self-funded first car buyer have to spend, but not appealing to the potential enthusiasts who save up for something with a better aftermarket like the Integra or 240SX.
But as has been pointed out in the comments, it’s not so much that these vehicles are so popular by volume, it’s that this percentage of the ones registered are apparently owned by 18-24 year olds.
“U.S. shoppers age 18-24 bought 181,906 used cars this year (through April), compared to just 27,670 new cars. In other words, America’s youngest car shoppers buy 6.5x more used cars than new cars,” Edmunds Senior Communications Manager Aaron Lewis emailed to us on Wednesday.
And a glorious crop of used cars they are.
Makes sense, since new cars cost as much as a semester at college and you can get a drivable Daewoo Lanos for less than the price of a decent television. At least, according to a cursory glance at my local Craigslist.
The Daewoos definitely aren’t the coolest cars on that list, or any list, but the Mitsubishi Eclipse-clone Eagle Talon had a few turbocharged variants and even one with AWD. The Acura Integra, RSX and Honda Prelude are all excellent-handling and swift when they’re running right. And of course the 240SX is light, two-door and rear-drive—ergo ideal for getting nice and sideways.
For those of you unfamiliar with the models listed, here’s a slightly more descriptive breakdown:
For a group that we’re constantly told is aggressively indifferent toward cars, five to arguably seven good picks out of 20 seems like a decent representation of younger people driving something with potential to not suck.
Now we just have to get the Miata on this list and our mandate will be fulfilled.