• Sep 24, 2009
2009 Nissan Cube Krom - Click above for high-res image gallery

Apparently, those with graying temples are attracted to cars that automakers had originally intended for younger audiences. This trend was most recently noticed with Honda Element and Scion xB, which featured heavily youth-slanted marketing schemes but were often purchased by those with a bit more experience under their belts.

By now, it's clear that trend is here to stay. According to USA Today, each automaker that offers a box-it-came-in mobile here in the United States – a list that includes the Honda Element, Kia Soul, Nissan Cube and Scion xB – reports that the average buyer is over the age of 40 and brings home over $60,000 per year.

Not surprisingly, it's not just the looks of these cars that attracts older buyers. Experts from AutoPacific and Edmunds suggest that the practical nature of such a design and its low price are key components of the genre's success. Just as long as somebody is buying them, we're pretty confident the boxy-but-cheap segment is here to stay.


[Source: USA Today]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 53 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      These things are basically the sub-20k station wagons of the 21st Century.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not so much that they think these vehicles are cool and want to look young again. It's that they are old enough that they no longer care what it looks like, they are buying it because it's practical.

        If you asked them, they might tell you they think it's ugly. But they don't have to impress anyone anymore. They've been married for 20 years and haven't impressed anyone in at least that long, so they aren't worried about impressing anyone now. I should know, I fall in that group and I'd consider buying one, for the exact reasons I stated.
        • 5 Years Ago
        uhh, humunculus, you are talking out of your butt again. that's not polite to do in public dude.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't know about all that psycho babble but I do know a few seniors. This applies to more women than men but generally they want a small, cheap car that's easy to get in and out of and that sits up high so they can see the road easier. They also want to be able to easily load and unload their stuff since they don't bend over the way they used to. Put all that together and you get the Cube. Or the xB.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not too hard to figure out, you see it everyday
        And those that were the farthest out have gone the other way
        You see them on the freeway, It don't look like a lot of fun
        But don't you try to fight it; "An idea who's time has come."

        Don't tell me that I'm crazy
        Don't tell me I'm nowhere
        Take it from me
        It's hip to be square

        or is it that its good for those old hips to be in an elevated seat in a square? nah, that doesnt sound as good.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't think many of you understand the mentality of older folks.
        Sure there are some who are comfortable with older things, but there are a lot who feel anxiety about being over the hill and not part of what's new and fresh so they embrace more extreme and youth-oriented things.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Like your parents when your friends came over in high school its trying to hard to be cool, that's why the younger crowd doesn't like it. Why automakers don't get that yet is beyond me.

      The older crowd (read old hippies here) like them because they are cheap, "youthful" & very useful for hauling things but cheap on gas.

      My 24 year old brother was car shopping and wouldn't touch the Xb because it "looked stupid" and ended up with a tc but my 57 year old father thought it was a great car and almost bought one.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This whole graying appeal could explain why the Cube is not attracting lots of votes yet at http://www.internetcarandtruckoftheyear.com. If you're a fan, head over there and vote. If you're not a fan, vote too!
      • 5 Years Ago
      The average age of 40 isn't TOO bad as far as that thing goes. I think most people would be surprised by the average age of new car buyers. As was pointed out, younger buyers often lack income and credit to get a lot of new cars at current prices and want to get a cooler car for their money by buying USED. I actually like the CUBE and if I wasn't into sports cars, I'd have considered it when I was in college. I absolutely can't stand the element and the original Scion xB just seemed cheap. The current one is just blah. I saw some 20-something people drooling over the Kia Soul at the auto show last year and I just didn't get it. I'd take a Cube over that thing any day. Of course, maybe it's because I'm 36.

      As far as Mini Cooper buyers, I googled a JD Powers article that stated Mini Cooper buyers are 10 years younger than the average Prius buyer, which is 57 years old. That makes the average Mini Cooper buyer 47. I've seen quite a few Gen-X (possibly Gen Y) Mini drivers at autocrosses, but an event like that is going to skew younger anyway.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I guess it's good somebody is buying the Cube -- young people don't want a car that fugly!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      They're really urban cars not so much youth-mobiles. These cars just make total sense for the urban market.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's not surprising, who buys PT Cruisers and Chevy HHR's? old people. The Kia Soul and Scion are similar and the Element is a tad larger.

      Most offer an upright seating position, lots of functionality and a low price. Who does that appeal to? People on fixed retirement incomes.

      Now if Buick came out with a version of the Kia Soul they sell a billion.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder how many advanced marketing degrees they had to cram into a room to come up with the idea that older reasonably successful people might actually be attracted to value and practicality rather than advertising campaigns.
      • 5 Years Ago
      us funky oldsters like funky toys
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm an "older buyer" and I think it's ugly. Very ugly.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What interesting is that Scion and Kia in particular amassed a whole catalog of certified "aftermarket" parts for these vehicles - touting their vast customizibility to the Gen-Y crowd, who tends to prefer that kind of thing. Scion hires a bunch of hipster Brooklyn kids to man the booths at auto shows, the bring a hip hop DJ - essentially whatever they can do to give this thing an urban, young image.

      But somewhere something went wrong. If these figures are correct, I'd be curious to see what kind of numbers they are getting for their aftermarket parts. This would probably be a pretty good indication if these over 40 folks are buying for their kids or for themselves. In the kids hands, i'd expect to see higher numbers of aftermarket sales where the 40+ crowd is probably not going to care much about adding that giant wing to the back of their xB.

      There are some things that not even marketing can overcome: these vehicles might look funky, but fundamentally, they're cheap, reliable, and spacious for their size. A perfect urban grocery getter. I think the failure to really grab the youth market is because they were trying way too hard to be cool and to get inside the Gen-Y mind. But the one thing about Gen-Y is that, growing up in an era of hyper-saturated advertising, they have great B.S. detectors. If something even has the scent of patronization, they'll go elsewhere, in this case mostly to the classics for the youth market: VW, Honda, Toyota, MINI. In fact, I'd say MINI is the best example of a brand that's done very well with the youth by having a very hip marketing campaign that doesn't insult the Gen-Y sensibilities. They're sort of like the Apple of the automotive industry right now, in terms of marketing, and as Microsoft learns over and over and over, you can't out-cool Apple (or Mini).


        • 5 Years Ago
        Scion is Toyota's Saturn.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I disagree that MINI does well with Gen-Y. Most owners of Minis I know, or that I see driving them, are at least Gen X or older. For one thing they are relatively expensive for young buyers, even as used vehicles.

        I would be curious to see the demographics for Mini. I would wager it is similar to the Box cars for the same reasons you outlined above.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Brian - Scion is Toyota's Saturn."

        With a reliability rating to match. Oh wait, Scion WISHES it had Saturn's reliability rating.
        • 5 Years Ago
        We bought my mom an xA (she thought the Corolla was too bland, and the Fit and Civic rode too harshly) and she wanted the LED interior lights, leather steering wheel, and alarm system as her accessories. She thought the lighting was really cool.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Point well taken, Epyx. But I'm not so much talking about actual sales as I am brand identity. I'd be curious to see MINI's numbers too. I'm going to guess its mostly late Gen-Xers in their Mid-30's. In my highly un-scientific experience, Gen-Y still thinks MINI is hip even if they can't actually afford one because they look to the Gen-X folks as the cooler older brother, whereas anything having to do with Boomers has the taint of parental overwatch about it. BMW corporate has smartly positioned MINI to be the gateway drug, if you will, for BMW. It's early yet to comment on Cube and Soul, but I think Scion as a brand is heading for extinction - especially with the popularity of the Yaris.
      • 5 Years Ago
      To the people with kids who buy em, they're small, reliable, reasonable quality and low cost vans.

      Who cares if they're kinda slow and don't handle great when you're trundling to Wholefoods with 2 kids in the back.

      Also, I can see someone like my father (who at seventy is getting a bit creaky and also has a bad back) getting one, because they are really easy to get in and out of.


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