12 Things Gen Z Really Wants When Buying a Car

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As the automotive industry propels forward, a notable shift is occurring with a new cohort of consumers steering the wheel: Generation Z. Defined as those born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, this demographic is not only deeply invested in automobiles but is also shaping fresh trends within the market.

A comprehensive survey conducted among 4,000 American adults spanning different generations sheds light on the key factors influencing car shopping preferences for Gen Z. This article delves into the specific aspects that Gen Z considers pivotal during the car shopping process, ranging from the impact of technology and sustainability to the importance of cost-effectiveness and brand ethics.


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54% of Gen Zers prioritize price when buying a car.

Growing up during the Great Recession, Gen Z has developed a strong emphasis on financial stability, influencing their practical approach to spending. This mindset is clearly reflected in their car purchasing habits, with 54% prioritizing price and valuing affordability over aesthetics or status. Consequently, their inclination towards budget-conscious decisions reshapes the automotive market, prompting the demand for competitively priced vehicles. Gen Z’s approach to car shopping mirrors their broader financial attitudes and priorities.

Fuel Efficiency

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42% of Gen Zers prioritize fuel efficiency when buying a car.

Gen Z prioritizes fuel efficiency when buying a car, with 42% considering it the most crucial factor, showcasing their practical financial mindset and environmental awareness. This preference is shaping the automotive market towards sustainability. Notably, Gen Z buyers lean towards cars rather than SUVs, crossovers, or pickup trucks.

Longevity and Reliability

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36% of Gen Zers prioritize longevity and reliability when buying a car.

Longevity and reliability are critical for Generation Z when purchasing a car, with 36% prioritizing these factors. This aligns with their preference for practical, trusted, and traditional car companies like Chevrolet, Ford, and Honda. Their approach to car ownership emphasizes choosing reliable brands and models, adhering to maintenance schedules, and taking good care of the vehicle.

Safety Rating

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29% of Gen Zers prioritize safety rating when buying a car.

Safety is paramount for Generation Z when purchasing a car. This generation highly values safety features such as curtain and frontal airbags, anti-lock brakes, automatic safety control, and safety alert sensors. Their preference for safety rating over other factors is significantly higher than that of other generations.


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(8% of Gen Zers prioritize comfort when buying a car.

For Generation Z, comfort is an important consideration when buying a car. They value the ease of driving and the vehicle’s comfort, focusing less on market trends and popular brands. Comfortable cars with excellent seating, ride quality, noise insulation, and user-friendly features align with Gen Z’s preferences. This emphasis on comfort reflects Gen Z’s focus on personal experience in their car-buying decisions.

The Brand/Manufacturer

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19% of Gen Zers prioritize brand when buying a car.

This suggests that while most of this generation may prioritize functionality and cost-effectiveness, a substantial minority still values the brand, possibly for its perceived reliability and performance.

Family/Friend Recommendation

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15% of Gen Zers prioritize Family/Friend recommendations when buying a car.

The influence of family and friends on purchasing decisions, particularly among Gen Z consumers, is a significant trend in today’s market. According to data, 15% of Gen Zers prioritize recommendations from family and friends when buying a car. This indicates a shift in trust from traditional advertising and celebrity endorsements to more personal and trusted sources.

The Color

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15% of Gen Zers prioritize the color when buying a car.

This preference reflects their desire for personalization and self-expression, as they seek to find a vehicle that aligns with their individual style and personality. In a generation characterized by diversity and uniqueness, the choice of color adds an extra layer of importance to their car-buying experience, allowing them to make a statement on the road that resonates with their identity.

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto

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10% of Gen Zers prioritize the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto when buying a car.

These systems enhance safety and connectivity by mirroring the smartphone’s display on the car’s infotainment system. They offer features like navigation, voice assistants, app compatibility, and a user-friendly interface. Many U.S. customers, particularly Gen Z, wouldn’t consider a new vehicle without these features, indicating their growing importance in car purchase decisions.


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9% of Gen Zers prioritize the dealership/platform when purchasing a car.

Despite being digitally savvy, 9% of Generation Z car buyers prioritize the dealership from which they buy their vehicle. They value face-to-face interactions and a positive, supportive experience at the dealership over a hard sell. This preference highlights the importance of a good customer experience in car sales, even in an increasingly digital age.

Cargo Space

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9% of Gen Zers prioritize cargo space when buying a car.

Cargo space is a significant factor for 9% of Generation Z car buyers. This preference is reflected in the growing popularity of subcompact SUVs among this demographic. These vehicles offer the desired cargo space without compromising on fuel efficiency.

Ease of Getting In And Out

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7% of Gen Zers prioritize the comfort of getting g in and out when buying a car.

Generation Z values practicality and convenience.  They also appreciate ease of use. This explains why getting in and out of the car could be essential for Gen Z car buyers.