Hooniverse Asks: What car Intended to Attract a Younger Audience was Actually Bought by Younger People?

Do you remember Scion? Yeah, I know it hasn’t been all that long. Hell, the body isn’t even cold. That sub-brand was introduced by Toyota in 2003 after the company found that the average age of Toyota’s clientele was creeping well into AARP territory. Scion was intended to be a hip brand, offering relatively cheap cars that would resonate with Millennials and hence draw them into the Toyota family for a life-long relationship.
Of course we all know what happened: the oldster Toyota buyers gravitated to Scion’s products because they offered Toyota quality in a cheaper package, and the old folks liked the idea of being hip too. That resulted in a loss of higher-revenue Toyota sales, and a failed attempt to make the marque cool with the kids. Scion died a timely death last year because eventually they weren’t hip for even old people to buy.
Okay, so Scion failed in its mission to secure the young person’s vote of approval, but can we blame them too much? I mean, if young people are anything it’s fickle. That makes impressing them—or more importantly becoming endorsed by them—an elusive goal. In fact, what we want to know today is whether you think any car maker has been successful in capturing that youthful lightning in a bottle. Has any car or brand intended for a younger market actually succeeded in attracting it?
Hat tip to Sjalabais for kindly suggesting today’s Hooniverse Asks topic!
Image: Walmart

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

56 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What car Intended to Attract a Younger Audience was Actually Bought by Younger People?”

  1. Maymar Avatar

    But the Scion TC was all like KAKOW! Do you mean to tell me those valuable 18-25 year olds didn’t respond to it that much?
    I was going to ask what generation since the Boomers have had young people who could afford new cars (making the original Mustang the correct answer), but around here, the Toyobaru twins do okay, and are very much owned by generally younger guys.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/625c6f7b6232da3224597a663e49a6151608dbd81887f0ba828293f1d8520661.jpg I agree that the original Mustang was intended for younger people and very much succeeded in its mission.

      1. cap'n fast Avatar
        cap’n fast

        agree. considering that the original mission was to clear out the glut of falcon parts sitting in the warehouse, it did indeed work out well.

        1. outback_ute Avatar

          Hardly, they were selling over 400k when the Mustang project was started. Or was Ford’s stock control that bad?

          1. Hubba Avatar

            The Falcon sold a little less than expected from the beginning.
            Compared to the Corvair Monza, the Falcon quickly became the dowdy spinster aunt’s car.

          2. Vairship Avatar

            Plus they had all those empty Edsel production lines to fill…

          3. outback_ute Avatar

            Selling a million in the first 2 years, those must have been some expectations for a new segment! I’d be interested to read more about this if you know of anything.
            Dowdy spinsters car aka McNamara-mobile. Given they had the Sprint and things like the rally program, I wonder how much of the image thing is because all the excitement was transferred to the Mustang? Not all of course given how little the base Falcon was a driver’s car, with the eleventy turns of steering lock, basic suspension setup and fairly feeble base engine/2sp trans.

    2. Biggus Dickus Avatar
      Biggus Dickus

      Toyobaru only does well with people that like underpowered go karts with a nice body style.

      1. Maymar Avatar

        Get the fuck outta here with that underpowered bullshit. Maybe it’s a good idea to have less excessively powered RWD options for young people to learn on without taking out crowds of people when they do something stupid? Shit, I got to practice handing RWD on a decrepit Chevy Chevette that at times couldn’t make it to highway speed, if we want to talk about legitimately underpowered. Unless you want us to think you’re just that amazing of a driver that you’re legitimately qualified to call a car that puts down sub-15-second 1/4 mile times underpowered, and in which case, what are you looking for? Blowjob? Slow clap? Not gonna get it.
        Also, for the record, I merely observed that in my geographic area, the Toyobarus seem to sell respectably (for a tiny car) and seem to have predominately younger drivers. What the fuck else are you going to get in that price range for a new sports car? Don’t fucking say Mustang, Mustangs are fat (and great as they might be, V6 Mustang screams blue collar mid-life crisis), Miata (which is more expensive and you lose credibility if you don’t think it’s underpowered as well), or 370Z (if you can find one that doesn’t have a bunch of option packages on it, and is probably more than someone who hasn’t had to handle much more than a driver’s ed Corolla should be driving).

        1. Biggus Dickus Avatar
          Biggus Dickus

          That would explain the 30% drop in sales for 2016 from the previous year for the FR-S and the 86 combined and the 20% annual drop in BRZ’s.

          1. Maymar Avatar

            What sports/sporty car doesn’t show a major dropoff in year 2/3 of production?

          2. Biggus Dickus Avatar
            Biggus Dickus

            Not double digit, and they have no plans for the turbo it should have come with out the gate.

          3. Maymar Avatar

            370Z posted a 22% decline in ’10 and a 28% decline in ’11, Genesis coupe dropped 37% in ’12 and 32% in ’15, ND Miata had double-digit declines its entire life (peaking at 28% in ’09), Mustang had a 20% decrease in ’16 (and the S197s were dropping pretty significantly from ’07-’09).

  2. nanoop Avatar

    Weren’t most underpowered European hatchbacks designed to become older than nine years, so they would be affordable for teenagers?

    1. crank_case Avatar

      Yeah, but the Polo breadvan is only cool now in a post modern retro-cool sorta way, when it was 9, it was less hip than a pensioner with a fractured pelvis. The crazy thing is the average American parent would probably be aghast at setting their offspring loose in one of these biscuit tins and to get something insurable you need lots of metal around you, where by contrast, in some european countries decide that larger capacity engines (and we’re talking like a 2 litre in a Volvo or something) are riskier BECAUSE REASONS.. then wonder why so many kids die in mangled hatchback, or that they’re broke from injury claims.
      Insurance has always stood between the average teenagers ambitions and what they can own, so in the UK (but not Ireland sadly), Citroen offered the Saxo VTS, which was definitely not underpowered for its weight and definitely a credible small hot hatch for the time and nearly as good as the 205 GTi with free insurance. Enough to get you over the initial hump and to cheaper insurance next year if you didn’t land it in a hedgerow. Needless to say, they sold loads, displacing the Vauxhall Nova as the mobile Drum and Bass sound system platform of choice.
      For me personally, pickings were slimmer, and used cars were quite pricey at the time, but it was the height of the celtic tiger and credit was cheap, so I opted for Fiat Punto 1.2 Sporting. Only 80bhp (may have been a bit of a fib to reduce its insurance group as it felt like a little more), but it had sportier suspension (to be honest, just harsh without major handling improvement) a six speed manual gearbox to pretend you were Schumacher, a six disc CD changer and that yoof accessory of choice a big annoy everyone subwoofer in the boot to bang out the Chemical Brothers on. Not the greatest car in the world, but it was a lot of fun at the time.

      1. nanoop Avatar

        Oh, I didn’t consider the Polo as cool when it was 9yo, nor do I today – it served just as an illustration of the Golf and Polo fleet surrounding me in my formative years. It’s rare today, though.
        Then, a friend had a 10+yo leCar/R5, which the parents replaced unsolicited-ly with an airbags wielding Mondeo as soon as the neighbors’ daughter died in a Golf 2, (the regular Saturday night accident with the local flavor of oak alleys in the picture). I have never enjoyed being in a Fiat Panda in the 90ies.
        German insurances have excellent statistics, which basically say: get a 5yo wagon with no more than 100hp, and you won’t be broke nor broken. That was my first car, at age 32. Hatchbacks are only insurable if new, and driver being over 30.

      2. cap'n fast Avatar
        cap’n fast

        just found from the insurance people that the new metric for insurable vehicles is based on vehicle weight/mass and personal credit numbers rather than actual operator skills and history. an unnamed insurer used to insure the driver and not the vehicle and they lost their butts as a result. no one does it that way anymore.
        in as much as heavy vehicles do more damage they get to pay more. and those with an inability to pay more get to pay more. one is left to wonder if credit score reflects an attitude of everything else in life and what not. if a person can afford an i-phone that means that they can rear end you while texting regardless of credit score.
        i still don’t understand that thing with the credit score or the vehicle weight having a great affect on the costs for my insurance.
        my pickup is 7000lbs empty zero fuel weight. when i was hit last time it gave me a gentle nudge and totaled the RX-300 the texting driver was using for a mobile phone booth. my insurer did not pay for that, hers did. but i have to pay more because my truck is 3.5tons empty weight?!??

        1. nanoop Avatar

          I am not an insurance statistician, but aside from risk (tied to driver and vehicle type) maybe the potential damage for more probable scenarios (he hit you and only you; you’d hit him and shove him out on the crossroads…) plays a role.
          Also, private insurance companies are businesses, this plays a role, too, probably.

          1. maryk9289@gmail.com Avatar

            I have a 2013 Scion TC & I love that it has automatic transmission on the right and manual on the left side which is awesome and keeps me on the road in the winter because Arkansas does not use rocksalt here and the salesman said the TC is a corolla body with a Camry engine! I love my tc and am sorry they won’t be making them anymore! Mine is almost paid off! As for insurance, it’s the biggest legal ripoff! But gotta have it no one needs to be on the road without it, and that is what makes your premium go up– you’re paying for the ignorant morons driving around without insurance that hit folks then you have to sue your own insurance company to get your car fixed and pay your medical bills THEN YOUR RATES/PREMIUM GO UP! IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD INSURANCE– YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS DRIVING! Been there done that, hit by uninsured drivers 3 times!!!

          2. crank_case Avatar

            Insurance is legally mandatory in Ireland and most Euro countries, it’s not optional.

        2. crank_case Avatar

          At least there is some consistency though, hard to asses the skills of a driver. No claims may just mean you’ve been lucky so far, doesn’t mean you’re a careful driver. More mass = more likely to cause injury if hitting another vehicle. Personal injury far outweighs vehicle repair costs. Credit score would be reasonable indicator of someones risk taking behaviour. By contrast in Ireland, they seem to totally make it up as they go along, and the rules shift for no reason. Engine capacity (regardless of output or how pedestrian the vehicle) can up your premium. Two of the main insurers refuse point blank to insure any car over 15 years old, not increased premium, which would be understandable, just won’t quote, even though the vehicle will have passed a mandatory roadworthiness test every year. Quotes vary wildly between insurers, and sometimes even from the same insurer. Minor modifications often raise premiums to ridiculous levels. There’s no logic to any of it.

    1. JayP Avatar

      I see plenty of Boomers in these.
      Same fate as the Scion boxcars… cheap, tall make it east to get in-out.
      But the Soul is a better looking package.

      1. Hillman_Hunter Avatar

        Anecdotal evidence tells me the Soul is nearly exclusively driven by middle-aged women, then handed down years later to their teenage daughters. It’s a great car that I don’t think any young person wants to be seen in.

        1. nanoop Avatar

          Local evidence is listing the e-Soul and the Leaf as secondary car under the SUV. Alternatively, You have a Soul/Polo/Fiesta combusting internally under the Tesla.
          Both variations support your evidence, case closed!

      2. ptschett Avatar

        I have a Boomer coworker who drives a Soul for his winter car.
        His summer car is a ’09ish Challenger R/T Classic in B5 blue with a supercharger and extensive mods, though.

    2. Citric Avatar

      According to a Kia saleswoman I met once, exactly two groups of people are interested in Souls: Teenage girls and retirees. Nobody else looks at them.

    3. Manxman Avatar

      Well over 50, I have a Scion XD and a Kia Soul. Go figure.

      1. Alff Avatar

        You are young at heart… as am I.

    1. Clawbrant Avatar

      My grandmother owned five of those

      1. Sjalabais Avatar


    2. Joey DaVive Avatar
      Joey DaVive

      When introduced, this image was on a large high-traffic billboard. It was promptly vandalized.

    3. Tank Avatar

      Yep, most kids who’s parents could afford a new car back when I was in high school got one of these

  3. P161911 Avatar

    Don’t see too many people over 50 in a Civic Si, or pretty much any hot FWD car.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      Does 185 HP constitute a “hot” FWD car? Because I’m definitely over 50.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        No, 185HP is not that hot anymore. I think it has to be over 200HP now (based on Civic Si and VW GTI). Also, this does not apply to 4 door sedans, only coupes or hatchbacks (2 door or 4/5 door).

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          That would be an interesting Ask, too. In my mind, three digits are still good to go. Wouldn’t buy anything less powerful than what I own right now though, so 130 hp is the bare minimum.

          1. Maymar Avatar

            I have exactly 100hp, and one of the lightest new vehicles available. It’s definitely not hot – tepid is probably pushing it.

    2. crank_case Avatar

      I guess hot/warm hatches are generally a younger folks thing because you’re usually only in a position to have one car. When you’re older and own a house, it’s easier to keep multiple cars, so you don’t need a do-it-all car so much. When I have a Miata, I don’t need my regular car to be fun so much, I’d like a bit of poke and fun in my hatchback, but it’s no longer the main thing.

  4. telkinsjr Avatar

    I live in Southwest Fl, god’s waiting room blah blah blah, and see a lot of younger people in the Veloster (anecdotal evidence though).

  5. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    Who cares. As long as they stay off my lawn.

  6. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    Okay, so I never saw all that many of these back in the day, but I *never* saw anybody with crowsfeet or male pattern baldness driving one.

    1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

      Or a credit score over 12.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        That applies to all 3rd tier Japanese brands. Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Daihatsu.

    2. 0A5599 Avatar

      I don’t think Red Bull hired brand representatives over 50. I might have seen two non-Red Bull ones on the streets.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

        I knew two young ladies who bought X-90s. Neither of them was what you’d call “car-savvy.” One of them had to be informed how 4WD works. After the sale.

    3. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      That’s because wisdom of some/any sort comes with age.

  7. mad_science Avatar

    Were first gen CRVs and RAV4s marketed to young people? Those were probably the only “youth” cars I ever saw young people (girls, in the above case) driving as remotely new.
    Other than that, maybe compact hatchbacks? I think of something like an RSX/Integra, tC, etc as a young dude’s car, but less so for a 40-something?

  8. Schigleymischke Avatar

    “The average new car buyer is now 51.7 years old and earns about $80,000 per year, while the average age of the population is 36.8 years old and the median income is roughly $50,000, Szakaly said.”
    That was 2015, but I doubt it has changed much. Marketers are always desperate to appeal to those with the least money. This is the logic that lead to the cancellation of two of my grandparents’ favorite TV shows, “Murder, She Wrote” and “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”

  9. cap'n fast Avatar
    cap’n fast

    for me, the scion tc was a good enough car with the price of a very good car with the power of a not so good car and the economy of operation of a lower average good car. the local dealer here in denver managed to get his/her hands on a TRD tc supercharged. went out the door fast. could not get any more of them. stupid.
    went with a jetta tdi cup car. it was interesting.

  10. salguod Avatar

    The initial Scion lineup seemed to be a hit. Funky and affordable with lots of accessories to customize it. Seemed to be doing what they wanted, too. Then the second generation got hit with the Toyota stick. Bland but affordable and reliable. The kids went elsewhere.
    My answer is the Factory Five 818. The Factory Five lineup before was nostalgia for guys over 50 (Cobra coupes and roadsters) and the 6 figure build GTM. The 818 kit starts under $10K, has modern styling and mid engine WRX power. Anecdotally on the forums it seems to be attracting a younger audience. (Plus it’s an excuse to post another picture of ours.)

    1. Vairship Avatar

      I never quite understood the problem with the “looks young, sells well to the elderly” Scions. Isn’t that a great marketing strategy in markets with an aging population (Europe/US/Japan/China)?
      Let’s start Hooniverse motors and sell (first gen) Scion XBs (for older-but-wanna-look-young) and Buick Roadmasters (for older-and-just-want-to-be-comfortable). It’s the biggest growth market, and it’s where the money is!

      1. crank_case Avatar

        That’s pretty much exactly what happens in Japan too. Kei cars are supposed to be for young urban dwellers, but are chiefly bought by older folks in rural areas.

  11. James Harris Avatar
    James Harris

    Scion! OH what a feeling! I remember back in 2003 seeing the Scion :xB in a magazine for the very first time. In the magazine it was still in the concept phase, not yet on the market. I also remember sitting there taking the time to read all about this “little beauty” geared at capturing the millennials. I was already captivated and I was about to turn thirty eight. I remember coming home -excited- and asking my (very gifted) teenage son had he heard of the new vehicle by Toyota called the Scion :xB? He had and at sixteen he thought nothing of it!
    Fast forward. 2006. That year’s model xB was a killer look for me. It was as if I had found a replacement for my wife (please don’t tell her this :O) She wasn’t buying it. SHE HATES THE LITTLE BEAUTY!
    SO, I still I’ve not gotten (me) my ’06 Black Cherry Pearl Scion xB. 2008 comes in and they start to change the style-the look. It took me a long time to get used to this new look because I was so head-over-hills for my ’06 Black Cherry Pearl Scion xB (w/5-speed manual transmission); I was addicted.
    As of today, 9 April 2017, I am STILL! not an owner of a Scion xB. How ironic. What a shame! BUT I’M HERE TO TELL YOU THIS: THIS IS MY YEAR! I WILL GET ME A SCION xB BEFORE THIS YEAR IS OVER!