While the idea that Americans have a “love affair” with automobiles may have started out solely as as manufactured as the cars themselves, the fact remains that Americans are still buying a heck of a lot of cars. America was in recent years surpassed by China as the the top car-buying country in the world, but at the number two spot it still manages to purchase millions of new cars every year.
With differences in tastes and aggressively variable incomes across the United States, cars can often be as regional as barbecue or butterburgers. Given especially the vast differences in income between the states themselves, we were curious — if you were making the average income for your state, how much car could you reasonably expect to afford?
We crunched the numbers, ranking each state by its median income and then matching those incomes up with a vehicle that a person in each state making that income could afford to buy. The richest states were put at the top of our list, but we managed to find at least something for all 50 of them (plus DC).
The full list can be found further down, but first, here’s a quick top ten.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are more than a few Mercedes-Benz models gracing the top of the list. We’ll get into our list breakdown in just a moment, but first, here’s a look at how we put this list together.
Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we ranked each state based on their highest median income amounts. As this article from Nerdwallet mentions, financial experts tend to agree that a person’s total car expenses (including taxes, gas, repairs, etc.) should not exceed 20% of their monthly income. To correct for some of these miscellaneous expenses, we brought this amount down to 15% for our study, using this number to figure out the amount that a person making the average income in each state could afford to pay each month.
We multiplied the result of this by 65, which according to this Autotrader articles is the average length of a new car loan (however, shorter loans than this are recommended). This gave us a general estimate of the amount that someone with an average income in each state would pay over the course of a 65-month loan, provided that they were using a full 15% of their take-home on their car loans each month.
Finally, we increased the number we were left with for each state by 11%, which according to this Nerdwallet article is the average down payment percentage for a new car. It’s important to note here that this number was originally related only to the average down payment given for the average price of a new car ($33,000), and so might not be reflective of down payments for more expensive new cars.
Using all of this, we were able to come up with an estimate for how much a person making the average income in each state would be able to afford to pay for a vehicle.
To find the vehicles on this list, we searched the website Cars.com for new cars, sorting them by MSRP. For each state, we then chose a vehicle that was as close as we could find to the amount that a person in each state could afford to pay — deviating by no more than $1200 — which ultimately resulted in our list. We focused specifically on new vehicle options for this list, ignoring any used cars. All vehicle MSRPs were also found on Cars.com.
What kind of vehicle can your state afford? Read on to the full list to find out.
How Much Can the State Afford (Total Car Payment): $69,242.35
MSRP of Vehicle: $69,550
Vehicle Description: At the very top of our list is the Old Line State — with an average yearly income of its residents being $75,847, Maryland citizens can afford to make payments on a huge variety of vehicles. We went with the appropriately ostentatious 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450, a 7-seater SUV with a 3.0-liter V-6 engine. While perhaps not as flashy as some of the other sports cars on this list, it still manages to be swanky as hell, with the interior, in particular, looking like an early beige draft of the Batmobile.
State: District of Columbia
How Much Can the State Afford (Total Car Payment): $69,042.42
MSRP of Vehicle: $68,800–$76,550
Vehicle Description: D.C.’s average yearly salary was almost identical to Maryland’s, but we managed to find a slightly less expensive car for them in the form of the 2017 Audi A7. A very pretty car, the A7 also has a surprising amount of room on the inside, including a hatchback trunk as well as a number of other features.
How Much Can the State Afford (Total Car Payment): $67,086.94
MSRP of Vehicle: $67,050–$67,050
Vehicle Description: Hawaii’s rather expensive car for their average yearly income-maker is the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS 350d, another luxury Mercedes SUV. A slightly more affordable version of the number 1 spot on this list, the 350d has most of the benefits of the 450 but with a little less power.
How Much Can the State Afford (Total Car Payment): $66,967.35
MSRP of Vehicle: $66,900–$76,600
Vehicle Description: It’s a little unsurprising that Mercedes models would take up so many of the top spots on this list — for Alaska, we went with the 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. A uniquely-styled car with a number of features and amenities, the only downside to this car is that its two-person backseat can be a little cramped.
State: New Jersey
How Much Can the State Afford (Total Car Payment): $65,933.01
MSRP of Vehicle: $65,650–$111,350
Vehicle Description: Our New Jersey pick, the stylish and powerful 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport, has perhaps more off-road capability than the average New Jerseyite would need. But with 3 rows of seats and fuel-efficiency options, it’s not a bad choice for those traveling around the Garden State.
How Much Can the State Afford (Total Car Payment): $65,133.29
MSRP of Vehicle: $65,200–$80,850
Vehicle Description: Connecticut gets the sixth spot on our list and our fourth Mercedes-Benz pick with the 2017 Mercedes-Benz AMG C 63. With a pretty exterior and a number of high-tech features, the car has a lot to offer picky New Englanders looking for a high class morning commute.
How Much Can the State Afford (Total Car Payment): $64,477.81
MSRP of Vehicle: $64,950–$104,900
Vehicle Description: Our pick for the Bay State is the 2018 Volvo XC90 Hybrid, a midsize SUV with a number of safety features. This Volvo’s handling and classy exterior help make up for its poor gas mileage, which is otherwise a little lacking for a new car of this price.
State: New Hampshire
How Much Can the State Afford (Total Car Payment): $64,181.11
MSRP of Vehicle: $64,165–$64,165
Vehicle Description: The 2017 Lexus RC F is our pick for the average New Hampshire citizen’s salary. A solid and powerful car with a beautiful interior and dozens of amenities and features, this Lexus would feel right at home cruising through New Hampshire’s beautiful countryside or small towns.
How Much Can the State Afford (Total Car Payment): $60,491.99
MSRP of Vehicle: $60,465–$62,665
Vehicle Description: Virginia just makes the bottom of the list with an average yearly income of $66,262, but the car we’ve chosen for it — the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V — is nothing to sneeze at. With sports-car levels of power and handling in a more affordable package, this Cadillac is just the thing for people looking for luxury on a budget.
How Much Can the State Afford (Total Car Payment): $58,883.43
MSRP of Vehicle: $59,950
Vehicle Description: California comes in at the tenth spot on our list with the 2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid. With great acceleration and a number of features making up for its relative lack of flash, this Acura has a lot to offer for those looking to cruise around Californian highways without putting as big of a dent in their wallet as some of the other vehicles on our list.
You’ll find our extended list of all the states below, but there’s more to see here at Zippia.
Unsatisfied with your current job and on the hunt for a new one? Find out how to answer the interview question “Why are you looking for a new job?”.
Or are you looking for more articles like this one? Check out which states are the worst in the nation for jobs.
|Income Ranking||State||Price Of Car Avg. Income Can Afford||Example Vehicle Avg. Income Can Afford|
|1||Maryland||$69,242.35||2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450|
|2||District of Columbia||$69,042.42||2017 Audi A7|
|3||Hawaii||$67,086.94||2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS 350d|
|4||Alaska||$66,967.35||2016 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class|
|5||New Jersey||$65,933.01||2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport|
|6||Connecticut||$65,133.29||2017 Mercedes-Benz AMG C 63|
|7||Massachusetts||$64,477.81||2018 Volvo XC90 Hybrid|
|8||New Hampshire||$64,181.11||2017 Lexus RC F|
|9||Virginia||$60,491.99||2016 Cadillac ATS-V|
|10||California||$58,883.43||2016 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid|
|11||Washington||$58,544.73||2018 Jaguar F-TYPE|
|12||Colorado||$58,343.89||2016 Porsche Cayenne|
|13||Minnesota||$57,959.55||2018 BMW 540|
|14||Utah||$57,433.71||2017 Toyota Mirai|
|15||Delaware||$55,921.00||2017 Alfa Romeo 4C|
|16||New York||$55,551.26||2017 Chevrolet Corvette|
|17||North Dakota||$55,283.78||2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country|
|18||Wyoming||$54,970.65||2017 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 43|
|19||Illinois||$54,399.16||2018 Audi SQ5|
|20||Rhode Island||$53,016.08||2016 Ford F-450|
|21||Vermont||$52,027.39||2016 INFINITI QX60 Hybrid|
|22||Pennsylvania||$50,851.54||2016 Land Rover LR4|
|23||Texas||$50,806.81||2016 Lexus GX 460|
|24||Wisconsin||$50,793.12||2016 Lexus GS 350|
|25||Nebraska||$50,207.02||2017 INFINITI Q70|
|26||Iowa||$49,969.66||2017 Land Rover Discovery|
|27||Oregon||$49,432.87||2017 Volkswagen Touareg|
|28||Kansas||$49,211.94||2016 BMW 335 Gran Turismo|
|29||South Dakota||$48,400.35||2018 Mercedes-Benz SLC 300|
|30||Nevada||$47,865.38||2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid|
|31||Maine||$47,009.97||2016 Chevrolet Tahoe|
|32||Arizona||$47,008.15||2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class|
|33||Georgia||$46,781.74||2018 Volvo XC90|
|34||Michigan||$46,635.67||2017 Chevrolet SS|
|35||Ohio||$46,627.46||2017 Lexus GS 200t|
|36||Indiana||$46,131.74||2016 Audi A6|
|37||Missouri||$45,863.34||2017 INFINITI QX70|
|38||Montana||$45,197.82||2016 Cadillac XTS|
|39||Florida||$45,122.05||2016 BMW X4|
|40||Oklahoma||$44,338.76||2018 Volvo S60 Cross Country|
|41||Idaho||$44,071.28||2017 BMW 330e|
|42||North Carolina||$43,665.03||2018 Audi S3|
|43||Tennessee||$43,158.36||2017 Lexus RX 350|
|44||South Carolina||$43,124.58||2018 BMW 430 Gran Coupe|
|45||Louisiana||$41,745.15||2018 Genesis G80|
|46||New Mexico||$41,430.20||2018 Volvo XC60|
|47||Kentucky||$41,277.74||2017 Audi A5|
|48||Alabama||$40,866.92||2017 Audi Q5|
|49||West Virginia||$38,360.04||2016 BMW 328|
|50||Arkansas||$38,338.13||2016 RAM ProMaster 3500 Window Van|
|51||Mississippi||$37,058.22||2016 Volvo XC70|