When you’re young, fun takes priority over function. Once age sets in, function gets the nod.
That's the finding of a nationwide survey by TRU, a Northbrook, Ill.-based subsidiary of Research International USA, which specializes in the buying behavior and trends of two of the nation's most sought-after age groups by those with products to sell: teens and 20-somethings.
In its latest survey, TRU asked youth what new vehicle they most want to buy — with one stipulation: To keep the kids from simply inking “Lamborghini” on the dotted line and returning to their iPods, their desired car had to be one they could buy if they’d socked away enough money on their own or if their parents opened the checkbook.
Teens picked the sporty Ford Mustang first, while the 20-somethings went with the practical Honda Civic.
"Mustang pops up as No. 1 among teens because it's a lot of fun and the parents usually pay the insurance and hand the kids their gasoline credit card," said TRU spokesman Rob Callender. “Civic pops up among the older 20-somethings because they pay for their own insurance and gas, so function takes priority.”
Among teens, the most desired cars in order of preference were the Mustang, Civic (to customize), Honda Accord, Volkswagen Beetle, Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, Chevy Impala, Ford Focus, Ford F-150 pickup, Jeep Wrangler, Chevy Silverado pickup, VW Jetta and Nissan Maxima.
Among 20-somethings, the Beetle, Wrangler and Focus were missing.
"Beetle is only popular among teen girls, not teen guys or any 20-something, regardless of gender," Callender said.
Also noticeable in their absence were any full-size SUVs, such as the Cadillac Escalade, which only two years ago was the most sought-after SUV by youth who wanted to make a statement.
"Escalade lost its cachet when gas prices rose," Callender said, noting that only one SUV was listed be either age group, and that was the compact Wrangler.
Though teens aspire to own a Mustang, that doesn't mean one will end up in their driveway.
"Teens may aspire to the Mustang, but the parents often buy the Civic,” Callender said. “With 20-somethings, the budget holds the veto power over what they buy, but with teens, parents hold the veto power."