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  • KBB Editors

What are the Best Car Colors to Buy?

In the world of automotive car colors, the chicken and the egg arrive simultaneously. In other words, vehicles that consumers demand heavily influence which colors the manufacturers create. So do we demand the colors we do?

There are people in the car color business who spend a great deal of time trying to predict this phenomenon and they have many theories. One such person is Robert S. Daily, color-marketing manager of DuPont Automotive, a major paint supplier to the automotive industry. For example, he believes it's our affinity for technology that lures us to silver. He writes, "Silver and gray reflect our fascination with technology, such as seen in the brushed chrome cues on laptop computer covers and other electronic devices. Secondly, silver and techno-gray seem to accentuate the angular, 'new-edge design' of the latest luxury sport vehicles." Others believe that silver relates to "feelings of superiority" and "great mental powers."Whatever the reason, silver continues to lead every car segment in popularity except for Trucks/SUVs/Minivans, which are still dominated by white. Even in that case, silver comes in a close second. All these findings are based on an annual color popularity study conducted by DuPont Automotive.

The Monetary Value of Color

So, you might ask, "Why does color matter?" Like many vehicle features, color plays a role in the residual value of your car. Put simply, today's popular color will probably make your vehicle more popular to a buyer five years from now. The "probably" factors in the cyclical nature of color popularity, but the general rule still holds true.

It also follows that less popular colors depreciate your vehicle's value. By how much, you ask? That's the tricky part. It actually can vary from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the vehicle and the color in question.

Sticking to neutral colors such as silver, white, black and gray are your safest bets. But, if you feel moved to more chromatic colors, bright yellow, orange, or purple vehicles could put you at a disadvantage when selling or trading in your vehicle.

A study by the Yankelovich Partners found 39 percent of consumers were likely to change brands if they couldn't get the color they wanted—another example of the power of color.

Top Three Overall Colors

Looking at the top overall popular colors in the U.S., for all vehicle categories, silver leads the way with white in close second, followed by black.

  • Silver - 23%

  • White - 15%

  • Black - 12%

Popular Colors for SUV/Minivans/Light Trucks

SUVs, Minivans and Light Trucks, which make up 50.9% of the new vehicle market, are unique from all other categories in that white is the preferred color for these vehicles. This has been the case for more than 10 years. Silver and black round out the top three color choices and medium/dark gray advanced 5% last year to take fifth place.

  1. White - 19.3%

  2. Silver - 18%

  3. Black - 12.4%

  4. Med. Dark Blue - 11.4%

  5. Med. Dark Gray - 7.5%

  6. Med. Red - 7.1%

  7. Med. Dark Green - 6.7%

  8. Light Brown - 5.1%

  9. Bright Red - 4.5%

  10. Gold - 1.8%

Popular Colors for Luxury

Silver is the main color of choice for Luxury vehicles, which make up 8.6% of the car market. Silver rose nearly 14% in one year's time in this category resulting in a whopping one-third of all Luxury vehicles sporting silver tones. Two variations of white made up another 30% of this category, leaving the remaining colors to round out the mix. An interesting observation is that black, which was once the premier color for luxury vehicles, has hit its lowest mark in years at 8.5%.

  1. Silver - 32.1%

  2. White Metallic - 17.7%

  3. White - 11.8%

  4. Med/Dk. Blue 8.6%

  5. Black - 8.5%

  6. Med./Dk. Gray 7.2%

  7. Med. Red - 6%

  8. Gold - 3%

  9. Med/Dk Green - 1.8%

  10. Light Brown - 1.7%

Popular Colors for Sedans, Wagons and Hatchbacks

Passenger vehicles, which include sedans, wagons and hatchbacks, make up 26.4% of the current new car market. In this category, silver accounted for about 28% increasing 3% in one year. Light brown, the sixth most popular color in 2001, jumped to third place at 11.6% in this category, just behind second place white. Med/dark gray joined the top ten colors at seventh place with 6.2% of the color choices.

  1. Silver - 28.1%

  2. White - 11.8%

  3. Light Brown - 11.6%

  4. Black - 11.2%

  5. Med Dk Blue - 9.5%

  6. Med Red - 7.6%

  7. Med. Dark Gray - 6.2%

  8. Med Dark Green - 5.3%

  9. Gold - 3.4%

  10. Dark Red - 2.6%

Popular Colors for Convertibles and Coupes

This category makes up 14.1% of the current new vehicle market. Silver, black and medium/dark blue respectively held on to the top three spots for favorite color. Medium dark gray made significant gains, jumping to sixth place with 6.7% up from tenth place.

  1. Silver - 24.6%

  2. Black - 14.3%

  3. Med Dark Blue - 12.9%

  4. White - 8.8%

  5. Bright Red - 6.9%

  6. Med. Dark Gray - 6.7%

  7. Med. Red - 5.5%

  8. Light Brown - 4.3%

  9. Gold - 4.1%

  10. Dark Red - 2.6%

Because there are always exceptions, it's good to remember that certain colors look better on specific vehicles, for instance, a little yellow convertible is much more desirable than a bright yellow minivan. In many cases, we can only speculate on the affect color will have on your bottom line. Because at the end of the day, only you can answer the question: "What's your favorite color?"

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