December 4, 2023

It’s official; white is America’s most popular car color. Paul Czornij, BASF North America design head, spoke at length about the popularity of white in America, the emotional and often mysterious connotations of color preferences, and how they influence car shoppers’ preferences.

Multiple reliable sources like BASF Color Report and a recent analysis by iSeeCars show that America’s favorite color is rather black and white where it has to do with automobiles. BASF, a Germany-based chemical company that also conducts a yearly report on automotive coatings, found that white makes up about 39% of car colors globally, with white, black, silver, and gray taking up 77% of car paint colors in North American roads.

iSeeCars arrived at its conclusion by analyzing more than 6.1 million cars on American roads to find the dominating color. The result of such a large-scale study corroborates BASF’s findings; white is America’s favorite color, taking up more than a quarter of the over six million cars examined, including SUVs. Underpinning BASF’s report, iSeeCars found that black is the next most popular color, followed by gray and silver. So, what’s the deal with white?

Related: These Were The Most Popular Car Colors In 2021

Three Cars That Look Fantastic In White

White may be the most popular car color in America, but it doesn’t mean everybody likes it. Some people actually hate it, maybe because white is the preferred choice across categories, including law enforcement vehicles, local utility vans, and public works pickups. White is the winner because it has a 25.8% share of American roads, not 100%.

That said, there’s no doubt the right shade of white on the right type of car can make a huge difference, highlighting certain design cues that would otherwise get lost with a darker color. Here are five cars that stand out in white.

The 2020 Toyota GR Supra

The Supra sports car and grand tourer have always looked good in white since the 1978 launch model. The ‘white’ tradition really stood out in the fifth-generation GR Supra garbed in a unique Toyota white paint called Absolute Zero.

The Dodge Challenger

When it comes to automotive color palettes, Dodge and its brands of Charger and Challenger are hard to beat, boasting an average of thirteen color options. We’re not so excited with the all-green Scat Pack Swinger introduced recently, but we can all agree that a white garb imbues the Dodge with a passive-aggressive presence, especially the Scat Pack and SRT models.

The Ford Mustang Mach 1

Mustangs have a history with Oxford White, but the Mach 1 and Shelby GT500 look superb in it, especially when streaked with the optional red and black racing stripes. On Mach 1, the contrasting black rear spoiler and front splitter rather pronounce the oxford white’s purity.

Why White Isn’t Perfect

We already said in the intro that color preference sometimes has emotional and mysterious connotations. But besides emotions and mystery, white paints have established disadvantages on cars. First, the fact that white is the king of the road also means they’re very common. That means people that prioritize exclusivity are likely to hate white even without knowing why exactly.

Secondly, there’s no hiding place for dirt and mud on a white car. Instead, white makes dirt more visible, making it an impractical choice for those who live and drive in wetter climates. In many cases, it may not be enough to give the white car black fenders and spoilers like the Mustang Mach 1.

Thirdly, dirt and mud splatters may be your least ‘unsightly’ concern if you have a white car. Chips and dents aren’t as pronounced in darker colors, as opposed to white. Notably, white do a better job of masking scratches and swirl marks, but defects like stone chips are a different story because they create a grey area that contrasts the white paint.

Finally, how many times have you seen a glossy white paint job? Darker colors are the preference for those looking to get a glossy finish. But despite the imperfections, Americans love their white.

Related: Check Out These Awesome Car Paint Colors

Why Americans Love Painting Their Cars White

If white is the most popular color, not just in America, but globally, it has to be that the pros outweigh the cons, right? Correct. Firstly, white cars are generally cheaper. That’s because they’re usually the standard paint, while most other colors, including Pearl White, gets offered as an option across trim levels.

Secondly, American drivers love the white color because it makes color matching easier and cheaper when, for example, you need to respray a certain area or panel. The respraying process is trickier with darker colors or even a pearlescent white finish.

Thirdly, one of the best advantages of white is how they improve a car’s resale value. That’s right. White cars are in higher demand because – Americans prefer white. Also, white may be harder to make shinier or glossy, but they certainly retain their cool ambiance over time better than darker colors. The reason is that white doesn’t absorb as much UV light but rather reflects it.

Furthermore, mud and grime may look more pronounced on white cars, but white actually ‘conceals’ dust buildup better. This makes white a more practical color choice for those who routinely drive in a hot and dry climate. Another angle to white’s ability to hide imperfections applies to coat scratches and swirl marks typically caused by improper washing and scrubbing techniques when washing the car. This type of imperfection is also less visible on a white finish compared to darker coats like black or gray.

Lastly, statistics show that white cars are less likely to be involved in an accident for the obvious reason that they are more visible to other road users than darker colors, both in daylight and nighttime driving conditions. We swear by the 1,479 hp Chiron W16 engine that some cars definitely look better in white, so much so that it feels like a mistake clothing them in any color but white.

The Bugatti Chiron with the engine we just swore by isn’t one of those (but definitely looks good in white, anyway), but a good case in point is the classic Jaguar E-Type. We’ve seen it in red, but nothing beats the lengthy hood flowing like a white wedding gown. The 2008 Mazda MX-5 Miata also looked better in white by giving it this peculiarly mousy appearance. More so, no color we’ve seen beats white on the athletic 2016 BMW 7 Series.


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