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Young Car Buyers Favor Import Compacts

Young Car Buyers Favor Import Compacts

By Jeff Youngs, February 20, 2013
Young new-car buyers--those between 16 and 35 years old--continued to be attracted to import brands in 2012, and higher percentages of them selected compact, sporty car models, according to data collected by J.D. Power and Associates' Power Information Network(R) (PIN).

Five import brands--Acura, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Volkswagen--produced nine of the 10 models with the highest percentages of young buyers in 2012, with the Dodge Charger as the only domestic, large conventional or full-size model among the 10. It is likely that the Charger, with seating for five but retro-muscle car demeanor, and offered in variants with a host of sporty packages, attracted young families. Not only did the Charger make the list, but it also had the highest suggested retail price point ($32,767) among the 10 models with the highest percentages of young buyers, according to PIN data.

Volkswagen was one of the most popular brands among young buyers. Three of the 10 models with the highest percentages of buyers under the age of 35 were Volkswagen compact models--the Golf, GTI (based on the Golf architecture), and Jetta.

Suggested retail prices for these models ranged from $23,280 for the Jetta to $28,152 for the GTI performance model, which also was one of the three highest-ranked compact sporty car models in the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study,SM which measures what delights owners with their new vehicles.

One-half of Scion tC compact sporty car buyers were between 16 and 35 in 2012, the same as in 2011. Produced by Toyota's youth brand, the Scion tC had the lowest suggested retail price ($21,039) among the 10 models with the highest percentages of young buyers. Redesigned in 2011, this model posted higher sales in 2012 than it did in 2011.

The Mitsubishi Lancer, which includes the sporty Evolution variant, had a higher percentage of young buyers (48.6%) in 2012, compared with 2011.

Acura was the only premium brand among the 10 models with the highest percentages of young buyers. A new model--the 2013 ILX, which is built on parent firm Honda's extremely successful Civic platform--made the list this year, with 40.2% of buyers or lessees between 16 and 35. The second-generation TSX compact premium vehicle was also purchased or leased by a high percentage of young buyers. It is possible that the TSX, which is now a second-generation model, may be discontinued since Acura introduced the new ILX, which has a slightly lower MSRP of $30,115.

The Mazda 3 and Subaru Impreza rounded out the 10 models with the highest percentages of young buyers in 2012. More than one-third of the buyers or lessees of these models were between the ages of 16 and 35.

Note: Models with insufficient sample size were not included (sales of at least 1,000 units required.)

MSRP 2012
Scion tC
Compact Sporty
Mitsubishi Lancer
Compact Sporty
Volkswagen GTI
Compact Conventional
Acura ILX (new model)
Compact Prem. Convent
Mazda 3
Compact. Conventional
Subaru Impreza
Compact Conventional
Volkswagen Jetta
Compact Conventional
Volkswagen Golf*
Compact Conventional
Dodge Charger
Large Conventional
Acura TSX
Compact Prem. Convent

Source: PIN; Sample Size: At least 1,000 unit sales

*Volkswagen Golf is sold as a TDI clean diesel. The GTI is a performance variant of the Golf, although marketed as a separate model. It is powered by a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and comes with a 6-speed manual transmission.

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