Featured Articles

Top Ten Favorite Cars Of Retirees (AKA: Top Ten Cars To Avoid On The Road)

Posted in Buick, Cadillac, Car Branding, Car Reviews, Classic, Detroit, Expensive Cars, Favorite Cars, Ford, GM, Lincoln, Luxury Cars, Mercury, Popular Cars, Roads, Safety, Tips, Toyota, Traffic by Vito Rispo | November 5th, 2008 | 39 Responses |

With most consumers favoring smaller foreign cars and the US auto industry seemingly headed for the toilet, there is still one demographic that Detroit has a solid hold on… Retirees. Buyers over 65 are the last hope for the good old American car. In some dealerships, upwards of 85 percent of all Buick buyers are 55 and older. That’s an ominous sign for the future of American autos.

The over-65ers look at brands like Buick, Lincoln and Cadillac as status symbols. Those brands have what advertisers call the “Mind Share” in that demographic. Retirees remember a time when the only people driving those cars were celebrities and other high profile members of society; now they want in to that high-profile group of Cadillac drivers. Plus, older folks like familiarity, they know these brands, they’ve heard them their whole life.

Check out the list of the top ten cars most popular with retirees:

What’s going to happen when this generation of retirees stops driving? It’ll be bad news for US car-makers since studies have shown that younger generations (even the baby boomers that are almost ready to retire) prefer sporty, performance type vehicles as opposed to the large cloud cars on this list. So Detroit is going to have to reshape it’s image if it wants to get a piece of the future retirees. As for now, here are the best sellers with the old folks:

(Update: The models are ranked based on the percentage of buyers age 65 or older, using market research data from J.D. Power and Associates)

10. Ford Taurus

Ahh yes, the King of the American Roads. The Taurus is one Ford’s best selling models, in fact it was the best selling car in the 90s PERIOD. Ford went through some weird phase where all the cars had names starting with ‘F’. They got rid of the Taurus title and called it the “Five Hundred”, which was a moronic move considering the name recognition they had with the original name. Either way, the Taurus is back now, and old people still love it; 35% of all buyers are 65 years old or older.

9. Lincoln MKZ

Compared to the rest of the cars on this list, the Lincoln MKZ is small. I know, only on a list of retiree’s favorite cars could a 3,500 pound sedan be considered small. In actuality, it’s still a big car with lots of interior room. It’s marketed to a somewhat younger demographic, but just like the Taurus, 35% of it’s buyers are 65 or older.

8. Cadillac STS

The STS is probably the “sportiest” car on this list, although like the rest of the cars, it has a roomy interior and the blind spot/back up cameras that older people like. Retirees love the Cadillac brand, they remember it as being the ultimate car brand. 39% of all Cadillac STS buyers are over 65.

7. Toyota Avalon

The only foreign car on the top ten list is Toyota’s flagship sedan. That’s because Toyota specifically designed the Avalon to compete in this particular market of over-65ers.

A lot of auto magazines have called the Avalon a “Japanese Buick”. In 2005, Car and Driver even rated it at the top of a group of premium sedans, a niche where American cars usually dominate. Because of all that press, it’s gaining popularity with the retirees, 39% of all Avalons sold went to them.

6. Mercury Sable

The Sable is the Ford Taurus’ upscale cousin, and just like it’s always been, it’s essentially just a Taurus with a Mercury badge. Old people love it though, nearly half of all Sables sold (48.5%) have gone to people over 65.

5. Buick LaCrosse

The top five on this list is where the real favorites are; there is a substantial jump in the percentage of over 65 buyers as we go from #6 to #5 on the list: Only 48.5% of all Sables want to old folks, meanwhile, almost 64% of all Buick LaCrosse sales were to people over 65.

The LaCrosse is a roomy sedan, although it a bit smaller than it’s brother the Lucerne. It has old folk favorites like OnStar, power seat memory buttons, and radio controls on the steering wheel. We’re in the over-50% zone now, so it’s a safe bet to avoid all Buick LaCrosses you see.

4. Buick Lucerne

The Lucerne is sort of the beefier version of the Buick LaCrosse, plus is has the all-important parking assist and back-up cameras. It also has an interesting electronic system called Lane Departure Warning system that alerts the driver if the car starts to move out of its lane. Good to know. Still, with a full 67% of all Lucerne’s out there belonging to over 65ers, I’ll still steer clear of them, lane departure warning or no.

3. Mercury Grand Marquis

The Mercury Grand Marquis costs a little more than half the price of the Lincoln Town Car, and the two cars are virtually identical. I have never understood it. Same engine, nearly the same interior size. They both have a trunk large enough to hold a small herd of elephant seals. Plus, I actually like the look of the Grand Marquis better than the Town Car. Maybe when I turn 65 I’ll change my view. If you discount cops and other fleet drivers, a full 69% of all Grand Marquis drivers are over 65.

2. Cadillac DTS

The DTS is slightly larger and less sporty than the STS. It’s actually a direct competitor to the Lincoln Town car, so appeals to retirees for all the same reasons. Brand recognition, quality image, and it has a lot of electronic whiz-bangs and doodads, like the same lane-departure warnings and blind-spot alerts that many of the other top ten have.

Honestly, there is about a RCH of difference between the Caddy DTS and the STS. The STS is a bit bigger and costs a little more, but that’s where the differences end.

1. Lincoln Town Car

Who else but the Town Car, the godfather of old man cars. More than 75% of all Town Cars out there on the road today are driven by someone over 65, so keep an eye out. The Town Car is probably one of the roomiest sedans for less than $100k. It has more interior space than the flagship BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The car is just the archetypal old man car: huge interior, rear-wheel drive, floating-on-a-cloud suspension, plush seats, and a powerful engine. Great combination for the over 65ers, bad one for you and me, since grandpa can be cruising at 85 and not realize it until he plows into your Jetta. Watch out for Town Cars.

By the way, all the cars on this list get less than 20 mpg in the city, and less than 30 mpg on the highway.

Our Best Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

39 Responses

  1. Sofar says:

    Less than twenty in the city? I *owned* a cloud car, a rusted ’68 Mercury Commuter with a sheet of lexan taped over the rear window, and it got an average of 23, mostly city driving. Though granted I had the six, and a manual transmission, it’s depressing that modern cloud cars are getting the same mileage that they got in 1968.

  2. Reverend says:

    haha they all look the same

  3. Top Ten Cars To Avoid On The Road | Deliggit.com…

    \r\nPeople over 65 years old are accident prone. The good news is that you can often id…

  4. Michael says:

    It clear from the list why the big three are failing, these cars are dated and tired, even the new Lincoln appears to only be a warmed over Lincoln ls.

  5. Ed says:

    There’s a reason a lot of retired people buy these cars. It takes a life’s savings to be able to afford one.

  6. David Benfield says:

    Cadillac DTS and STS? Writer of this article doesn’t know what he’s talking about. They are completely different cars. The DTS is bigger larger, built on GM’s K platorm. It is a ride-oriented front wheel drive sedan, and what you think of as a traditional Cadillac. The STS shares the Sigma platform with the SRX crossover and slightly smaller CTS. They are all rear wheel drive and performance oriented.

  7. GradBlogger says:

    Interesting, but I wonder where these statistics come from!

  8. Michi says:

    Thanks for the post.
    I’ll keep an eye out for them.

  9. ohn Watts says:

    Wow, I am glad the Cadillac CTS is not on there.


  10. dferrand says:

    Maybe the kid who can’t grow a full beard would list cars driven by 16 -19 year olds. We old people would also like to know who to look out for.

    Car Accidents by Age in The United States 2006
    Age of Driver Number Killed in Car Crashes 2006
    Under 5 Years Old 578
    5 – 9 516
    10 – 15 1,079
    16 – 20 5,658
    21 – 24 4,701
    25 – 34 7,169
    35 – 44 6,361
    45 – 54 6,232
    55 – 64 4,178
    65 – 74 2,611
    Over Age 74 3,406
    Unknown 153
    Total Killed 42,642

  11. littlepinkfeet says:

    Really it’s not the car, it’s the hat. I always follow the LOMIH (Little Old Men In Hats) rule. Never drive behind a guy with a hat. Car, truck, whatever, if he’s wearing a hat it’s a losing proposition to be behind him or near him, as he is very often lost and subject to un-signaled turns. Even your picture show this rule in force.

  12. Grrrrrrrrr says:

    I agree..I’ve always subscribed to the LOMIH rule. It’s almost always that flat little cap, and it’s almost always just *barely* poking over the seatback. Nature equips all dangerous animals with warning signs and in this case, the flat cap is nature’s way of telling you to give the LOMIH a wide berth.

    Still, by sheer correlation, you’ll find more LOMIHs driving big old American sedans than anything else.

    I grew up in a big Jewish suburb in the northeast where the ultimate prize for making it to retirement was an early 70’s Cadillac Sedan DeVille..(which made it brand new, because I haven’t been a kid since then). By comparison that car makes every car on list list seem rather small.

  13. maddox says:

    Why would you worry about driving behind them? I worry when they’re behind me. I know I can stop in time, I’m not sure about them.

    However, drivers between ten and fifteen years old killed 1,079 people? Either I misunderstand something, or someone else does. I used to be a traffic cop about thirty years ago, and it was the ones over 85 and under 18 that were the real danger. 55-75 were usually very good, experienced drivers, although at night some would have problems.

  14. Bob says:

    Really, young people are the ones to avoid, and I’m only in my mid-40’s. I avoid a car full of young “playas” pretty much as a survival instinct. The older drivers may forget to signal, the younger ones forget that other people exist.

    I do have one exception. The old man in the basebal cap who gets in front of me. It’s like seeing the spectre of death appear, and I move quickly to get away.

  15. Rusty Howle says:

    I thought that the #1 car to watch out for would be the Highway Patrol #2 Count Police # 3 city police shows ya where my mind is

  16. Richard says:

    I used to have the same idea about people who wear hats while driving. You know, I’m in my late 50s now and guess what? NOW I WEAR A HAT when I’m driving. Why? Because leaving it on my head, where it’s designed to reside, is the path of least resistance.

    When I was younger and laughed at drivers wearing hats, I wasn’t bald, didn’t get sunburned after I got out of the car, and in fact didn’t own a hat.

    There’s a reason for everything.

  17. english speaker says:

    jesus man, learn TO SPEAK FUCKING ENGLISH. don’t you check your “work” before you post it?? and you have the audacity to use the word “moronic” in relation to something other than yourself…

  18. 67_and_brainy says:

    You forgot my Mercedes. You are right – stay away from me and my Mercedes. You young idiots cause accidents.

  19. iflyhigh says:


    You need to look at total drivers for each age bracket for those numbers to mean anything.

  20. Budda Magoo says:

    Vito Rispo is clearly full of shit.

  21. Swayze says:

    Yeah…you forgot the Buick LaSabre.

  22. Nerdzo says:

    My dad has a Taurus, and im only 12! ( he’s 47) but the other day, I was in my grandpas car, then in my dads car. then relized, My dad has a grandpa car!

  23. […] old are accident prone. The good news is that you can often identify the cars they are driving.read more | digg […]

  24. Henry says:

    These data seem invalid. We should know the kind of car is most often driven by older drivers, not the percentage of make/models owned by older drivers. In other words, it seems to me that more Buicks are driven by older drivers (with or without hats, including females), no matter what percentage of each make/model is sold to them. The largest total number of a make/model on the road seems to me to be the most significant factor.

    As someone commented, the rich old drivers who buy new Townies and DeVilles are less worrisome than the more numerous ones who have kept their cars for twenty years and driving around after having skipped their meds because they are too cheap and broke.

    I am a 62-year old motorcyclist who watches out for every car on the road. If a car is more than ten years old and has been regularly washed and waxed, it’s probably being driven by a man wearing a hat or a woman with a perm, neither of whom has changed their eyeglass prescriptions in the past year.

    By the way, I am equally leery of every 18-year old wearing a baseball cap and shades, driving a pickup truck as old as they are, and that has been accessorized to monster-truck standards.

    If I were to believe one comment, there are drivers under 5 getting killed, but I don’t trust those data, either.

  25. ddavelarsen says:

    Hmm. I’m 55, drive a Lincoln Mark VIII and a Buick LaCrosse. I like their
    “electronic whiz-bangs and doodads,” their power, and their handling. I like to drive, and I don’t lollygag around on the road. Want to be safer? Try adhering to the rules of the road. Remember those? One of them is “slower traffic keep right.” If someone pulls up behind you, basic math suggests you’re going slower – move over and get the fuck out of my way.

  26. ntopics says:

    Cadillac DTS is a sweet looking car.
    It would be a same to put a dent in that one.
    Really, its the young people that you need to
    avoid on the road, because they drive fast.

    Watch out here I come, from tony

  27. x says:

    The town car/grand marquis/crown victoria all get better than 20 mpg of city driving,and damn near 30 for the highway with 2.73 gears.

    This article has errors and sadly a lot of people could be reading it,please fix it.

  28. Qatar Cars says:

    Very interesting list. Didn’t know Buick is so famous among oldies.

  29. xor says:

    i’m only 23
    and i would LOVE merc E,S audi, bwm or even townscar.

    you can go fast in any car assuming you bought the right engine.
    but you can’t sit as confi in any car.. sound isolation, nice seats, suspension, all around luxury.

    Go old people car’s … just don’t drive them like old people
    you can always put nicer rims, black windows and a spoiler .
    S’all about the ride confort for me

    my stupid skoda company car doesn’t even have something for me to put my elbow on :(

  30. granit says:

    i cant see the statistics if anyone can help me please

  31. Steve S. says:

    Also, these are the cars I avoid parking next to in the parking lot, because their drivers like to rest their doors on the car next to them so they can pull their arthritic bodies out of the plush driver’s seat.

  32. tom kuchjnicki says:


    Right now over 20% of Americans are over 60 and in 20 years that number will be 30%. You all will be there one day so treat the older folks with a little extra patience.

    I believe the American Manufacturers have GREAT products and I would like to see at least one manufacturer design and build a true old pharts car with simple to use controls and a 90 MPH speedometer with large numbers

    Also most of those under 21 can’t afford a new call but are most vocal about what type of car should be produced.and they drive whatever beater they can afford.

    And most others spouting off about the kink of car that should be produced, can’t afford what they think we all need.

    I wear a funney little cap now and I have 50 years of driving behind me and have yet to be involved in an accident.


    • passerby says:

      I just wanted to leave a comment after reading that you never had an accident. That is just amazing. 50 years and no accident!!!

  33. John Robins says:

    I quite frequently drive my A4 and my Bentley wearing a deerstalker. None of you will get stuck behind me, because very few of you would be able to keep up.

  34. William says:

    Kudos for the older folks…most of them are still buying American!!

  35. @dferrand these are some interesting stats! what’s your source please?

  36. Facebook Tag says:

    There’s a reason a lot of retired people buy these cars. It takes a life’s savings to be able to afford one.

  37. Kevin says:

    Is it true the grand marquis & town car will be discontinued?