What are the favorite cars of America’s wealthiest families?
If they live in California, put the Toyota Prius hybrid on the list.
Auto-price-information company TrueCar.com compiled a list of the 10 wealthiest ZIP Codes based on Internal Revenue Service data from 1,000 or more 2011 tax returns in each locale, and then looked at the auto registrations in those communities.
“For affluent buyers who live in places where environmental concerns reign supreme, the Toyota Prius is the ultimate status symbol in eco-luxury,” said Kristen Andersson, an analyst at TrueCar.com.
The Prius was the most popular vehicle in Century City, which with an average annual income of $751,000 (as reported on the tax returns), ranked fifth on the wealthiest ZIP Code list. It was followed by the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and C-Class sedans. A more pedestrian car, the Volkswagen Jetta, ranked fifth in the community, behind the BMW 328.
The Prius also was the top car in Ross, Calif., just north of San Francisco. The community’s average annual income was $497,000, ranking it 10thon the most-wealthy list. In Ross, the Prius was followed by the Mercedes-Benz E- Class and the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class vehicles.
The Prius came in second to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class in Atherton, which ranked fourth on the list with an average income of $768,000. Various Mercedes and Porsche autos -- all selling for about double the price of the Prius -- were the other most popular cars in that community.
Far less wealthy folks have turned the hybrid into one America’s most popular passenger cars. Through the first seven months of the year, Prius sales have almost doubled to more than 143,000 compared with the same period last year. It narrowly outsells the Hyundai Sonata and Chevrolet Cruze.
The 10274 ZIP Code of Manhattan topped the list of communities, with an average annual income of $5.7 million. Apparently the super-rich are partial to Hondas over Toyotas. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class was the most popular car in that area, followed by the BMW X-5 SUV. The Honda Accord ranked third and the Honda CR-V SUV was fifth, sandwiching the BMW 328 in the fourth spot.