The Colorful Highway

By Chelle Cordero

September 4, 2013 5 min read

More than half of new cars in the U.S. are black, silver, white or gray. According to the Power Information Network last year, almost one-quarter of new cars on the roads were silver. Silver represents machinery and power and seems suited for the newer technologically endowed designs.

The next most popular color was black. "It's the car enthusiast's color," says Christopher Webb, creative designer of color and trim at General Motors. Many car manufacturers offer several choices of black, which allows more chances to personalize this sophisticated color. The color of your new black car may be jet black, kettle black, very black, corduroy black, tuxedo tie black or crystal galaxite black (just to name a few).

The third in popularity, white, has fallen in the last two years; in 2012 it was the most popular new car color, according to a report from DuPont. Once again, though, white is not necessarily just white. Lexus offers a range of Pearl Whites. Beige is comes in after white in popularity. Depending on the manufacturer, cars come in a variety of finishes, including pearl-ized, metal flecks and a rainbow-spectrum of underlying hues.

Five and six decades ago, our parents (or grandparents) chose solid, vibrant solid colors like red, blue and yellow. Basically, red cars were red, etc. Today's popular colors may seem more conservative, but the finishes and more personalized colors are anything but dull. While they may have traded places with each other, the top four colors have remained the same for several years now.

Certain automotive manufacturers have assigned iconic colors to particular vehicles. The Volkswagen Beetle is available in yellow rush and toffee brown metallic. The Ford Escape is offered in a light blue, and the Nissan 370Z comes in exclusive colors, such as black cherry and midnight blue.

In informal surveys, many car owners have stated that the more neutral the car color, the less maintenance seems required. Beige and gray hide more dents and scratches; blacks and whites show them off. Depending on the finish and maintenance, vibrant colors like red or green can fade under hot, blistering sunlight. Black and white cars are considered to be more lasting, and they do not appear outdated from year to year. Washing and waxing your car routinely will help preserve the look and the resale value, no matter what color it is.

Psychologists have often equated the car someone drives with the personality of the driver and how they want to be viewed. Some of the more common associations: red muscle cars that are daring, black sedans that ooze power, dark green means well-balanced, gray is practical, white is fastidious and silver is cool and elegant. A common misconception is that red cars get more attention and more speeding tickets, but it really depends on the shade of red and the car -- red-orange sports car drivers do tend to speed by personality and do tend to get ticketed more often.

Older baby boomers are retiring and still living very active lives. Our highways will reflect more and more vehicles that older consumers like. Car-based crossovers are gaining in popularity. The Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger are also favorites among boomers; financial family obligations ease and youthful excitement is yearned for among this population. Boomers represent more than half the car buying market, and CNW Marketing Research says the most popular cars driven by boomers are Jaguar, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Mercury, Cadillac, Acura, Toyota, Audi, Lexus, Porsche, Buick and Chrysler.

According to, the 10 most researched cars by potential buyers this past July are the Honda Accord, CRV and Civic, the Ford Escape, the Mazda CX5 and Mazda 3, the Toyota Rav4, the Acura MDX, the Subaru Forrester and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The most popular colors researched with these cars by potential car buyers are, in varying shades, white and red, followed closely by silver and gray. Manufacturers do try to produce cars with the most popular colors, but the colors offered are often limited. Although customers may have specific color preferences based on personality, age and gender, most car buyers do not special order vehicles and are relegated to buying what is available on the lot.

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