When choosing your next vehicle, color choice will often feature as an influential factor before deciding on which car to buy. Sometimes it is a personal decision.
You may choose a color that expresses your individuality, while others may prefer certain colors for specific model cars; for instance, yellow suits a Chevy Camaro but may not suit a pickup truck.
Finally, some people base their color preference on resale value because some colors are more popular than others and influence a car's sticker price.
If you are wondering where your color choice ranks in the U.S., then continue reading as we explore the most common car colors in America today.
America's Most Popular Car Colors
According to recent studies, below are the top 10 most popular car colors in America:
- White Cars: 23.9%
- Black Cars: 23.2%
- Gray Cars: 15.5%
- Silver Cars: 14.5%
- Red Cars: 10.3%
- Blue Cars: 9.0%
- Brown Cars: 1.4%
- Green Cars: 0.7%
- Beige Cars: 0.4%
- Orange Cars: 0.4%
Best-Selling Car Colors by Body Style
According to CarMax, below are the best-selling car colors by body style:
- Coupes: Black 24.6%
- Sedans: Black 21.4%
- Convertibles: Black 23.6%
- Sports Cars: Black 23.9%
- Pickup Trucks: White 23.8%
- Minivans: White 18.2%
- Station Wagons: White 16.1%
Best-Selling Cars by Color
A recent report by CarMax compiled which vehicles had the highest percentage of sales in a specific color. Below are some of the results:
- Cadillac Escalade: Black 46%
- Subaru WRX: Blue 32.5%
- Buick Encore: Brown 18.8%
- Chevrolet Malibu Limited: Gold 11%
- Honda Odyssey: Gray 32.5%
- Fiat 500L: Green 14.3%
- Hyundai Veloster: Orange 8.8%
- Mitsubishi Mirage: Purple 8.1%
- Mazda MX-5 Miata: Red 33.7%
- Chevrolet Captiva Sport: Silver 29.7%
- Ford Transit Connect: White 54.8%
- Chevy Camaro: Yellow 8.6%
A Closer Look at Popular Colors:
White is the most popular color for SUVs, crossovers, minivans, and pickup trucks, including pearl and metallic white. In fact, this has been the case for more than ten years now. White pearl and metallic white are also the most popular colors for luxury cars, and according to PPG's report, white metallic is seen on more than one-third of the luxury new cars on the road today.
PPG Auto Coating's report added, "Consumer demand and the need to accommodate autonomous driving technologies helped white remain the world's most popular automobile color. While preference for white tones fell 1% from 2019, solid and metallic shades of the color claimed 34% of the cars purchased worldwide in 2020."
While Apple may have had a helping hand in popularizing the color white with the launch of their iPhone, white cars are also one of the easiest colors to maintain.
It is anticipated that a new dimension of white stylings in the automotive market will welcome creamy shades of ivory, bone-colored tints, and ceramic effects that create a warm and more sophisticated feel.
Black retains its popularity in the automotive market thanks to its versatility and dramatic design appeal. In particular, black takes the lead as the best car color for convertibles, coupes, and sports cars, including the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, and Dodge Challenger.
"Effects and finishes that incorporate black tones allow for artistic reveals in the way color shifts, highlighting hidden undertones and adding a dramatic flair to the possibilities provided by the new pigments and finishes being developed within this color family," said Misty Yeomans, PPG color styling manager for North America.
Looking at the stats from CarMax, black cars are the top choice among CarMax buyers, with 22.25% of all sales.
Gray and Silver Cars:
The popularity of silver has taken a backseat to gray. According to PPG, silver tones have dropped from 15% of auto builds in 2019 to 12% in 2020. Owners of silver cars are tech-savvy, upbeat, and forward-thinking.
For the same period, grays rose from 10% to 12%, and it looks like the popularity of gray will continue. This is "driven by the resurgence of concrete and stone materials and the ongoing appeal of ceramic and metal tones. The gray palette will shift toward warmer hues with brown influences, while blue-inflected grays will retain their fashionability," the report said at the time.
Gray is also a favorite color because it is an easy-to-clean color, and it hides dust and dirt well. Owners of gray cars are mature with impeccable taste.
Red cars are steadily gaining popularity, and chromatic reds are growing in interest over the years. According to Yeomans at PPG, "This color will get a new push with electric vehicle start-ups due to its stand-out nature and association with sports car models.
Those who drive red cars report that the flashy color easily hides mud; however, used cars look dull after the years pass by. Drivers in favor of red cars are typically motivated, energetic, and driven, but they are also aggressive or restless.
Blue cars in North America have become more popular on compact cars, minivans, and sports cars, with blue commanding 15% of the sports car segment alone. According to the PPG report, "Blue is an optimistic, comforting color that conveys trust, dependability, confidence, healing, and hope. It's also associated with nature, cleanliness, and future-forward technology."
So, what is the future of blue as one of the best car colors? Yeomans expects the color to emerge in more vivid shades and deep-sea luxury tones and hues with a slight turquoise influence. "The emergence of the electric vehicle (EV) market also will drive growth in vibrant tones and interesting effects, such as color-shifting colors. We're also seeing blue used more extensively in trim lines, logos, and other accessorizing applications."
The Deciding Factors
The evolution of auto paint in the American automotive industry is determined by the national mood, consumer taste, the social affairs of that period, and economic issues faced by the automaker.
While these factors are still valid today, there are influential factors car buyers consider, including:
The color's effect on the car's resale value. Choosing a popular color like white, black, or silver can improve your vehicle's depreciation because your car may not hold its same market value if it isn't top of the ranks for color popularity.
The safety of the color. Yes, this is actually a factor. According to Monash University's Accident Research Centre, white cars are twelve percent less likely to get into an accident than black cars (regardless of the time of day).
Specific colors prevent car theft. According to Pro Car Mechanics, plain or neutral-colored cars are more likely to get stolen than those with bright, eye-catching paint jobs.
Certain colors look better on some body styles and models than others. For example, the Green Envy you see on a sporty Ford Mustang won't suit a Ford F150 pickup truck.
Their own personality and preferences. You may not base your next color choice for your car on statistics for safety or resale value; instead, you may base it on what is a better reflection of your personality.
Interestingly gender also plays a role in color popularity. Several studies have shown that gender plays a role in car paint color preference. For example, women prefer teal vehicles more often than men, and men will choose a yellow-colored car 34% more frequently than women.
The Future of Car Colors
According to BASF's 2021-2022 Automotive Color Trends report, some interesting colors will take center stage for the 2024-2026 model years. Experts in North America "looked to the concept of balance that strikes a chord with human steadfastness," and the color they produced is Lambent Earth.
"We found the equilibrium between the natural and the synthetic world to create calming, unwavering, and thought-provoking colors," said Paul Czornij, head of Automotive Design for the Americas, when describing the new car paint color, which is coppery, dark brown.
According to the color trend report by PPG, experts remain confidents that gray will remain a popular core color for vehicles.
During the early history of the automobile, cars were commonly referred to as horseless carriages since they followed after the horse-drawn carriage. In an effort to resemble the horse-drawn carriages, the earliest cars were all black.
Henry Ford once said: "A customer may have a car in any color he desires, so long as it's black." When the Ford Motor Company first began production of the iconic Model T, buyers only had one color choice, and that was black. Black paint was primarily used because it was the least expensive, and it dried the fastest, which encouraged higher production turnaround times and more affordable vehicles.
As the years moved on, more automotive paint colors became available, and color reflected the times. For example, during the Great Depression of the 1930s and the years following World War II, automotive colors were dull and represented the somber mood of those times.
When peace finally reigned in the 1950s, bright candy colors became a popular choice for cars and represented the lighter mood of the country and illuminated happiness. During the 1950s, two-tone color arrangements started for the first time.
The 1960s welcomed the muscle car era. While most traditional vehicles, like the family sedans and station wagons, continued to use popular colors from the 1950s, many coupes and sports cars featured less conventional colors such as blue, green, and red. Bright yellow and violet found their first mainstream automotive applications during this decade.
During America's bicentennial celebration in 1976, the most popular car colors were red, white, and blue.
The 1980s marked the rise of more traditional colors, with black and red the most popular color choices of the decade. The 1990s welcomed the growth of the sport utility vehicle (SUV) and renewed environmental consciousness, which encouraged green as the most popular color of this decade as well as aqua.
The first decade of the 21 century saw silver as a favored color, especially for SUVs, sedans, and sports cars. There was an increased interest in metallic colors, including white pearl metallic and black metallic. Metallic auto paint was first introduced in the 1930s, and it was a color only reserved for the very rich since it contained actual fish scales.