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What color makes a car look expensive?

What color makes a car look expensive?

When choosing the color for a new car, many factors come into play. The color can affect how luxurious, sporty, or flashy a car appears. For those looking to get the most expensive look, the color choice matters.

What Colors Make a Car Look Expensive?

Certain colors are widely considered to give cars a more upscale, luxurious look. Here are some of the top colors that make a car look pricier and more exclusive:

  • Black – A black car immediately looks elegant, luxurious and expensive. The color black has an air of sophistication and exclusivity that conveys wealth.
  • White – Crisp, clean white also signals luxury for a vehicle. White cars look modern and fresh, giving off an air of prosperity.
  • Silver – From a sleek silver gray to a brilliant metallic, silver paint jobs lend a contemporary, high-end feel.
  • Dark Red – Deep reds like burgundy or maroon give off vibes of luxury and status. These rich tones stand out while still looking classy.
  • Navy Blue – This deep, regal blue looks especially upscale on expensive vehicle models. It’s a color associated with wealth and sophistication.

So when aiming for making a car look like one of the priciest on the lot, blacks, whites, silvers, dark reds, and navy blues are solid color choices.

What Makes These Colors Appear More Costly?

There are a few key reasons why the aforementioned colors make cars look like they cost more money:

  • Luxury associations – Black, white, silver, red and blue are often seen on high-end vehicles from brands like Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, etc. The association with luxury models gives these colors an expensive look.
  • Sleekness – Darker, neutral colors like black, gray and navy blue minimize lines and contours. This sleekness makes cars appear neatly designed and precisely crafted.
  • Metallic paint – Special metallic, pearlized, or chroma colors add extra dimension. The glittering metallic flakes result in a rich, lustrous sheen that screams expensive.
  • Customization – More exclusive colors signify greater customization options, which are expected on pricier automobiles.
  • Dirt resistance – Light colors like white stay cleaner. A spotless white car implies care and maintenance, attributes of a high-end vehicle.

These symbolic color associations trigger perceptions of luxury and expense in the mind’s eye.

Most Affordable Car Colors

On the flip side, there are certain colors that make cars look more affordable and basic. Here are some paint colors that don’t add extra expensive flair:

  • Beige – While a neutral, beige is strongly associated with generic fleet cars, taxis and rentals rather than luxury vehicles.
  • Brown – Earthy brown tones remind people more of dependability than wealth. Brown cars appear more rugged and utilitarian.
  • Green – Forest greens and olive greens don’t carry luxury symbolism for cars. Green cars look more economical.
  • Orange – Vibrant oranges and other loud, bright colors look sporty and youthful but not upscale.
  • Yellow – Cheery yellow cars may appear fun and playful, but not elite or expensive.

These colors don’t have associations with exclusivity or status for cars, so they won’t make vehicles appear to have a higher price tag.

Most Popular Car Colors

Beyond perceptions of cost, consumers choose car colors based on personal preference. Here are the top 10 most popular car colors, according to Axalta’s 2022 Global Automotive Color Popularity Report:

Rank Color Percentage of Vehicles
1 White 35%
2 Black 19%
3 Gray 15%
4 Silver 12%
5 Red 7%
6 Blue 6%
7 Brown/Beige 2%
8 Green 1%
9 Yellow/Gold 1%
10 Others 2%

The top three colors of white, black and gray accounted for nearly 70% of global cars produced. White was the most common color, though black and silver also ranked high. This aligns with colors perceived as luxurious being among the most popular shades.

How Color Affects Resale Value

A car’s color also impacts its resale value. Bold, vibrant colors may appeal initially but limit resale potential. Neutral colors have better resale value. Here are Kelley Blue Book’s top colors based on projected resale value:

  1. Silver
  2. White
  3. Gray
  4. Black
  5. Red
  6. Blue
  7. Beige

Once again, black, silver, white and gray lead the list. This indicates that luxurious-looking colors not only make the car look more expensive but also help it better retain value down the road.

How a Car’s Make and Model Affects Color Perceptions

A car’s brand and model plays a key role in how expensive a color appears. For upscale vehicles, the aforementioned colors reinforce luxury. But for budget-friendly brands, black and white can look cheap and basic rather than luxurious. Context matters.

Here are some model-specific guidelines on expensive-looking colors:

  • Luxury SUVs – Black, white and slate gray
  • Luxury sedans – Deep blue, black, silver
  • Sporty coupes – Bright red, cyan, lime green
  • Off-road trucks – Glossy black, matte gray, navy blue
  • City cars – Shiny white, bright blue, pearlescent pink

While certain colors consistently look expensive, the make and style of the car influence perceptions. The vehicle itself sets expectations on price range and desirable colors.

Avoiding the Cheap Car Look

Some colors should be avoided to prevent a car from looking like an inexpensive base model. Here are tips to steer clear of the budget car look:

  • Avoid flat, basic hues – Metallic or pearlescent paint adds depth and interest over flat colors.
  • Skip neon brights – Loud oranges, yellows and greens look sporty but cheap. Deep, complex colors are classier.
  • No brown – Brown immediately brings to mind dated, rusty trucks rather than elite status symbols.
  • No yellow – It’s extremely rare to see an expensive car in yellow, which looks youthful rather than luxurious.
  • Customize – More exclusive colors can distinguish a car from basic options straight from the factory.

Following these guidelines helps avoid the dreaded cheap car look, whether buying new or used.


When aiming for the most expensive car look, go for black, white, silver, gray, deep red or navy blue. These colors have strong luxury associations that make cars look pricier. Avoid flat, neon or brown tones that cheapen the look. Consider the vehicle make and model, as the right expensive color depends on context. Follow these tips to make any car look like it cost a fortune!