August 1, 2006

Americans and Their Cars: Is the Romance on the Skids?

IV. Car Personality

FigureJust as positive feelings about driving have cooled a bit since 1991, so too has the special relationship that drivers have with their cars. The number of drivers who say they think of their car as “something special — more than just a way to get around” has fallen by nearly half, to 23% now from 43% in the 1991 Gallup survey.

This drop-off occurred about equally among all major sociodemographic groups of drivers — including men and women, older and younger, more and less affluent — and in all regions of the country.

At the same time, however, about three-in-ten (31%) drivers report they at least sometimes think of their car as having a personality of its own.

FigureThere are virtually no differences between men and women on this question, but there are some variances by age. Some 41% of 18-to-29 year olds say their car has a personality, while just 25% of those ages 65 and older agree.

Also, just under three-in-ten (28%) drivers say they can usually tell what a person is like from the kind of car he or she drives, a figure that is on par with drivers’ assessments in the 1991 survey. Of course, cars aren’t the only inanimate window into the personality of humans. When asked to assess whether a person’s car, home or clothing tells the most about what that person is like, respondents ranked the car a distant third — at just 7%. Home was the big winner, with 54% saying it revealed the most about its owner, while 24% said that about clothing.

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