The Most Popular Cars by Generation, From Zoomers to Boomers (2024)

Are pickup trucks on their way out? Younger drivers favor small vehicles with high-tech features, which could influence how manufacturers design future cars.

Cassie Sheets
Written byCassie Sheets
Cassie Sheets
Cassie SheetsData Journalist
  • 9 years writing data-driven content

  • Lifestyle contributor to 30+ local news sites

Cassie Sheets has a background in home and garden and real estate content. At Insurify, she translates industry jargon into insights that empower insurance buyers.

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Tanveen Vohra
Edited byTanveen Vohra
Tanveen Vohra
Tanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
  • Property and casualty insurance specialist

  • 4+ years creating insurance content

Tanveen manages Insurify's data insights, annual home and auto insurance reports, and media communications. She’s regularly featured in media interviews on insurance topics.

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Published June 24, 2024 at 5:00 PM PDT

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Car preferences can say a lot about someone’s lifestyle, and each generation has a few features they favor. Older generations like spacious vehicles, while Generation Z gravitates toward fuel-efficient cars. Millennials, many of whom have school-aged kids, like a little bit of everything — technology, comfort, and affordability. The data science team at Insurify ranked each generation’s most-owned car brand and model, nationally and by state, based on more than 4.5 million car insurance applications from Insurify’s database over the past 12 months.

The data reveals an interesting shift in what drivers value in their vehicles and provides hints about what future cars might look like.

Quick Facts

  • Gen Z prefers smaller cars than prior generations. The Honda Civic is their most-owned model, driven by 5.05% of the generation.

  • Millennials, who are in their parenting years, favor the practical Honda Accord. The midsize sedan represents 3.23% of all cars millennials own.

  • The Ford F-Series pickup is the most-owned model among Generation X and baby boomers, with ownership rates of 3.16% and 3.74%, respectively.

  • The Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Toyota Corolla rank among the top 10 car models for every generation.

  • Chevrolet is among the three most popular car brands for every generation and ranks No. 1 for Gen X and millennials.

  • Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota represent the top three brands in varying orders for boomers, Gen X, and millennials, but Honda beats out Toyota for Gen Z.

  • Gen Z pays the most for car insurance, at $246 per month for full coverage in 2023, and boomers pay the least, at $134. Premiums are in line with risk rates, as younger drivers lack experience on the road and insurers often charge them more as a result.

Gen X and boomers prefer bigger vehicles, while Gen Z is more concerned with fuel economy

Some car models, like the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry, are popular across all age groups, but when broken down by generation, the 10 most-driven cars reveal a key difference in preferences.

Boomers prefer bigger cars than younger drivers, with SUVs or pickup trucks comprising five of their 10 most-driven models. Gen X isn’t far behind, with three of their top 10 cars in the same categories, but millennials’ favorites include just two pickup trucks. Gen Z’s top 10 included none.

Boomers and Gen X share the same top two vehicles: the Ford F-Series pickup and the Toyota Camry. These cars are also among Millennials’ favorite models, but only the smaller Toyota Camry remains in Gen Z’s top 10.

In 1960 — two years before the oldest baby boomers turned driving age — about 70% of Americans lived in urban areas, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. By 2020, 80% of the population were urban residents. Young drivers might prefer smaller cars because they’re easier to navigate around city streets.

Smaller cars are also more economical in congested city traffic. A new Ford F-150 pickup with a turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 engine gets about 20 combined city/highway miles per gallon, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Zoomers’ favorite car, the Honda Civic, gets 33 combined miles per gallon with a two-liter V4 engine.

“The younger generations are a lot more concerned about fuel economy,” said Mark Beneke, owner of Fresno-based car dealership Westland Auto Sales. “Baby boomers focus on reliability and comfort most. Fuel efficiency is nowhere near the top of their requirements.”

Environmental concerns may sway younger drivers toward more fuel-efficient cars. Eighty-five percent of Americans ages 1829 think they’ll need to make future sacrifices in their everyday life because of climate change, a 2023 Pew Research poll found. Only 61% of Americans aged 65 and older said the same.

Model Popularity RankingBaby BoomersGen XMillennialsGen Z
1Ford F-Series pickupFord F-Series pickupHonda AccordHonda Civic
2Toyota CamryToyota CamryNissan AltimaHonda Accord
3Toyota CorollaHonda AccordToyota CamryToyota Camry
4Honda AccordNissan AltimaHonda CivicNissan Altima
5Chevrolet SilveradoChevrolet SilveradoToyota CorollaToyota Corolla
6Nissan AltimaToyota CorollaFord F-Series pickupHyundai Elantra
7Ford EscapeHonda CivicChevrolet MalibuHyundai Sonata
8Nissan RogueHyundai ElantraHyundai ElantraChevrolet Malibu
9Chevrolet EquinoxChevrolet EquinoxHyundai SonataFord Fusion
10Honda CR-VChevrolet MalibuChevrolet SilveradoNissan Sentra

Americans of all ages embrace foreign cars

Foreign car manufacturers are popular across generations. Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, and Kia are represented in the 10 most popular brands across all age groups. Gen Z’s No. 1 car brand is Honda, but two domestic brands, Ford and Chevrolet, rank first for the other three generations.

Gen Z is also the only generation with the German manufacturer Volkswagen among its top 10. Similarly, boomers are the only age group with the German-made Mercedes-Benz among its most-driven brands.

The “Big Three” U.S. car manufacturers — Ford, General Motors (GM), and Stellantis (formerly Chrysler) — dominated the American auto industry for the first half of the 20th century. In 1963, imported cars comprised just 5% of the North American market. A decade later, imports represented 20% of North American sales.1

Japanese manufacturers, like Honda, produced more fuel-efficient compact and subcompact vehicles than the Big Three, making imports an economical option. Given that the surge in imports coincided with the 1973 oil embargo and the resulting gas price explosion, it’s easy to see why these brands found popularity.

Today, the Big Three represent just 38% of the U.S. market share, according to automotive information platform MarkLines.2

AutomakerU.S. Market Share (Jan. 2024–May 2024)
Source: MarkLines Data Center

Drivers in some states still favor domestic vehicles. U.S. manufacturers make nearly 80% of vehicles in Michigan — an unsurprising figure given that Detroit is the central hub for the Big Three automakers.

The car every generation loves more than any other

Insurify’s data science team identified the vehicles that are uniquely popular among certain age groups by comparing each generation’s ownership rate for different models against the national average for that car.

Baby boomers have the most stand-out signature vehicle. They’re 298% more likely to own the Mercedes Benz SL-Class than the average driver. The sporty two-seater might not be practical for younger drivers who need to accommodate car seats and kids, but boomers behind the wheel of this high-performance convertible are living it up during retirement.

Gen X’s love of sports utility vehicles hasn’t faded since the SUV boom of the ‘90s. The generation is 94% more likely than average to own a Hummer H2. The full-size SUV has all the features Beneke says Gen X buyers value the most: performance, style, and comfort. 

The H2’s off-roading capabilities and 7,000-pound towing capacity provide the performance Gen X is looking for, and the interior is spacious and comfortable. Love it or hate it, the tank-like Hummer H2 also has a distinctive style.

Millennials own the Kia Carnival at a 71% higher rate than any other age group. The Carnival is more stylish than most minivans, and the three-row interior, tech features, and infotainment system are attractive to millennial parents with school-aged children.

Gen Z, on the other hand, prefers a less practical car. The Toyota GR86 starts at about $30,000. The engine isn’t exceptionally powerful for a sports car, but the light coupe maintains speed and handles well on curvy roads. The folding backseat is cramped, but space is less of a concern for the Gen Z-ers who don’t have kids yet.

The most popular cars among Gen Z drivers by state

Chevrolet is Gen Z’s most-owned brand in 20 states, and it’s the second most popular brand among the age group overall. But Gen Z-ers on the East Coast prefer Honda, and West Coasters lean toward Toyota.

Affordable, fuel-efficient models like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry top Gen Z’s favorite cars and are practical in cramped East Coast cities or stop-and-go Los Angeles traffic.

Gen Z-ers in the Midwest and Southwest aren’t necessarily flocking to Chevrolet’s large and powerful Silverado. The midsize Chevrolet Malibu sedan is the eighth-most popular model among zoomers, who tend to prefer smaller cars than Boomers.

Gen Z “values the most advanced tech,” regardless of their preferred brand. Entertainment packages, backup cameras, and assisted parking are the features zoomers look for most, says Beneke.

Millennials in 33 states prefer Chevrolet

Millennials buy Chevrolets more than any other brand in 33 states — the most of any generation. They lean toward the Silverado and Malibu models, their seventh and 10th favorite vehicles.

“Millennials have a strong focus on fuel efficiency, affordability, and tech,” says Beneke. Entertainment packages and assisted parking are a plus for Millennials, but they prefer “vehicles that balance everything together.”

The Chevy Malibu balances Millennials’ most sought-after features, including driver assistance technology, entertainment and navigation systems, affordability (with a base price of $25,100), and a combined fuel economy of 31 mpg.

Millennials, like coastal Gen Z-ers, favor Toyota on the West Coast and Honda on the East Coast — brands known for their sensible, compact, fuel-efficient cars. Toyota is Millennials’ most-owned brand in seven states, and Honda is the most popular in five.

Chevrolet is Gen X’s favorite car manufacturer in 28 states

Chevrolet cars are nearly as popular among Gen X-ers as they are with millennials, with Gen X preferring the brand in 28 states. Ford is most popular in 10 states — second only to its popularity among Boomers.

Gen X prioritizes advanced safety features and gravitates toward fuel-efficient vehicles — but those aren’t their primary concerns, says Beneke. While Gen X is open to hybrid or electric vehicles (EVs), their age group “generally prefers performance, style, and comfort in their vehicles.”The popularity of crossover SUVs increased dramatically through the ‘90s and early 00s, according to the 2023 EPA Automotive Trends report. Gen X is still gravitating toward these roomier vehicles. The Chevrolet Equinox ranks as their ninth most-driven model.

Boomers love American-made brands the most in 38 states

Boomers are the only generation that prefers Ford in most states. The American brand ranks as the most-owned in 20 states. The Ford F-Series Pickup is the generation’s favorite model, and the roomy Ford Escape SUV comes in seventh.

Baby boomers look for comfortable seating, powerful motors, and luxury features in their vehicles, says Beneke.

Ford’s all-American reputation may boost its popularity with Boomers. Half of U.S. adults aged 55 and older say they’re extremely proud to be Americans, compared to just 18% of those aged 18–34, a 2023 Gallup poll found.

Expect more tech features and low-emissions cars as demographics change

As Gen Z makes up more of the car-buyer market, manufacturers will likely cater more to their tastes. Massive SUVs and pickups have fallen out of favor with Gen Z, who prize fuel efficiency. Car brands known for their heavy-duty gas-powered vehicles, like Chevrolet and Ford, recently introduced more EVs, including the Chevy Bolt and Ford F-150 Lightning.

But EVs don’t currently rank among the 10 most popular cars for any generation, showing deterrents like too few public charging stations and higher-than-average vehicle costs are still major barriers to EV adoption.

Despite the hype, self-driving cars might not be the next big thing. In an Insurify survey, 28% of Gen Z-ers said they don’t like the idea of giving control of their vehicle over to technology. Another 17% said they’d never buy one because they love driving.

That said, driver assistance technology, like lane-keeping assistance, is almost standard in new vehicles, and those systems will become more sophisticated over time.

New technology doesn’t just benefit young drivers, says Beneke. “Tech is more foreign to [Boomers], but most are willing to embrace any advanced technology features that will increase their comfort and make their driving experience easier.” Assistance features like collision sensors and emergency braking “can help prevent accidents and make driving less stressful for older drivers.”

Car manufacturers aren’t mandated to have side airbags, but nearly every brand includes them to meet federal side protection requirements because they reduce the risk of death in driver-side crashes by 37%, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Drivers could see a similar reduction in traffic fatalities as automakers introduce smarter features.


Insurify analyzed the rate of car ownership per generation by brand and by model from more than 4.5 million customer applications made in the Insurify database between Jan. 1, 2023, and Jan. 31, 2024, in the United States.

Insurify followed the Pew Research Center’s definition to categorize four generations according to their year of birth:

  • Baby boomers: 1946–1964

  • Generation X: 1965–1980

  • Millennials: 1981–1996

  • Generation Z: 1997–2012

Our data science team ranked the popular makes and models by generation, both nationally and by U.S. state. Insurify also isolated the car model with the most uniquely popular ownership per generation, based on a model having the highest rate of ownership among a generation vs. the national average for that model.Visit Insurify’s Auto Insurance Data Center to view or download more car insurance data.

Cassie Sheets
Cassie SheetsData Journalist

Cassie Sheets has more than nine years of experience creating compelling content for clients, brands, and local news sites. She started her career at Movoto Real Estate, where she transformed dry data into interesting insights for potential homebuyers. She’s since covered a wide range of topics, from pop culture news to home and garden trends.

Before joining Insurify, Cassie wrote engaging landing pages and blog posts for medical practices at MyAdvice. Now, she uses her knack for diving into the latest data and pulling out key details to empower insurance buyers.

Cassie holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. In her free time, you can find her exploring the city with her dog, trying not to fall over in yoga classes, and petting cats at the shelter.

Tanveen Vohra
Edited byTanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
Tanveen Vohra
Tanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
  • Property and casualty insurance specialist

  • 4+ years creating insurance content

Tanveen manages Insurify's data insights, annual home and auto insurance reports, and media communications. She’s regularly featured in media interviews on insurance topics.

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