Highlights:

  • White is the most popular color in 40 states, with black the most popular in the remaining 10 states
  • The dominance of grayscale colors continues to rise, moving from 77.2 percent in 2018 to 78.9 percent in 2023.
  • Gray is the big winner, up 4 percent in market share since 2018; silver is the big loser, down 3.4 percent
  • Gray, white, blue, and orange all gained substantial market share, while silver, red, black, and brown lost ground 
  • Cars in uncommon colors like beige and yellow held their value better than mainstream colors

iSeeCars’ latest car color study looks at the most popular colors from 2018 and compares them to 2023 to track how car color preferences have shifted over the past 5 years. The study confirms that, as in 2018, white, black, gray, and silver remain the most popular car colors for 2023. These four shades, often referred to as the “grayscale” colors, were found on 77.2 percent of 1- to 5-year-old used cars in 2018, and that number had increased to 78.6 percent last year, and moved up again to 78.9 percent in 2023. Within that group, gray made the biggest move, gaining 4 percent since 2018. Silver is the biggest loser, dropping 3.4 percent.

iSeeCars analyzed over 10 million 1- to 5-year-old used cars sold in 2018 and 2023. While the most popular car colors, in broad strokes, roughly stayed the same, some colors have moved up and down in popularity over this period.

“While white, black, gray, and silver remain the dominant colors, it’s interesting to see how far silver has fallen,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “Silver is now just 2 percentage points above blue, which has displaced red as the fifth most popular color.”

Most Popular Car Colors – iSeeCars Study
Rank 2023 Color Market Share 2023 Rank 2018 Market Share 2018
1 White 26.2% 2 23.3%
2 Black 21.8% 1 23.6%
3 Gray 19.2% 3 15.2%
4 Silver 11.7% 4 15.1%
5 Blue 9.7% 6 8.5%
6 Red 8.2% 5 10.6%
7 Green 1.0% 8 0.8%
8 Brown 0.8% 7 1.7%
9 Orange 0.6% 9 0.3%
10 Beige 0.4% 11 0.3%
11 Purple 0.2% 13 0.1%
12 Gold 0.2% 10 0.3%
13 Yellow 0.1% 12 0.2%
At the opposite end of popularity are shades like orange, beige, purple, gold, and yellow, which together make up about 1.5 percent of the market, but they did gain 0.2 percent points in total share compared to 2018. 

The color of money: Changes since the pandemic

How does a car’s color impact its price? As iSeeCars has explored in previous research, the most unpopular colors can be the most valuable. Consistent with many other studies tracking used car prices around the pandemic, used car prices spiked from 2018 to 2023 with a 50 percent increase overall due to the pandemic shutdowns and related supply chain issues. But breaking the prices out by individual color reveals dramatic differences in price increases for particular colors.
Change in Average Price By Car Color: 2018 vs. 2023 – iSeeCars Study
Rank Color Average Price 2023 Average Price 2018 % Price Change 2018 – 2023
1 Beige $38,001 $18,690 103.3%
2 Yellow $49,043 $26,430 85.6%
3 Green $39,911 $22,796 75.1%
4 Red $33,622 $21,417 57.0%
5 Blue $33,320 $21,449 55.3%
6 Gray $33,011 $21,520 53.4%
Overall Average $34,130 $22,685 50.4%
7 Gold $30,315 $20,206 50.0%
8 White $35,503 $23,980 48.1%
9 Black $35,491 $24,221 46.5%
10 Brown $33,012 $22,576 46.2%
11 Silver $30,786 $21,070 46.1%
12 Orange $33,623 $24,280 38.5%
13 Purple $32,180 $24,107 33.5%
Surprisingly, the color that increased the most in price between 2018 and 2023 was beige. This unexpected change can be explained by the massive shift in overall vehicle demand since the pandemic. Quotidian beige isn’t a color that inspires a lot of passion, but instead covers common daily drivers that had relatively lower prices in 2018. Beige also became a featured color on multiple limited-production trucks over the past 5 years, further contributing to its increase in value across the used car market.

In 2023, with used cars in short supply, consumers are buying whatever vehicle they can find that fits their needs and budget. That means even beige cars are now desirable, and as a percentage of what they cost 5 years ago, their prices increased the most.

Rare colors like yellow and green increased more than average. “These price bumps aren’t a reflection of color popularity, but of supply and demand,” said Brauer. “Not many people want a yellow car, but far more people want one than exist.”

“With regard to beige, we’ve seen the same story with economy cars,” said Brauer. “Cars that weren’t as desirable before the pandemic have been swept along with the price increases impacting the entire used car market. That means vehicles with relatively low prices in 2018 have, as a percentage of their previous price, gone up the most. This includes previously unremarkable beige cars, which are now much more valuable simply because they are part of today’s massively elevated used car market.”

Car color popularity by body style

The colors white and black dominate the car market, as reflected in their popularity across every major body style. However, the shift for specific body styles over the past 5 years is interesting. In 2018, these two colors were split among the eight body styles, with each one holding the lead in four categories. In 2023, only coupes remain the most popular in black, with convertibles, sedans, and SUVs switching to white as the most popular color. 
Most Popular Colors by Vehicle Type – iSeeCars Study
Body Type Most Popular Color, 2023 Most Popular Non-Grayscale Color, 2023 Most Popular Color, 2018 Most Popular Non-Grayscale Color, 2018
Convertible White Red Black Red
Coupe Black Red Black Red
Hatchback White Blue White Red
Minivan White Red White Red
Pickup White Red White Red
Sedan White Blue Black Red
SUV White Blue Black Red
Wagon White Red White Blue
“Note the switch from red to blue as the most popular non-grayscale color for hatchbacks, sedans, and SUVs,” said Brauer. “Two of those are high-volume segments, which explains why blue passed red overall as the most popular non-grayscale color.”

What are the most colorful states?

While the world is increasingly filled with non-colorful cars, this lack of color isn’t consistent across states. In the table below states are ranked by their percentage of used cars which are non-grayscale. By this metric, Alaska is the most colorful state and Hawaii is the most drab. It’s interesting to see the two non-contiguous states at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Most Colorful States and Top Colors – iSeeCars Study
Rank State % Market Share of Colorful Cars* Most Popular Car Color Most Popular Non-Grayscale Color
Color Market Share Color Market Share
1 Alaska 27.3% White 22.3% Blue 13.4%
2 West Virginia 26.9% White 23.3% Red 11.5%
3 Vermont 25.8% Black 20.6% Blue 12.1%
4 Wisconsin 25.4% Black 24.6% Blue 10.9%
5 Maine 25.3% Black 21.9% Blue 11.1%
6 Wyoming 25.0% White 27.5% Red 10.2%
7 Michigan 24.8% Black 24.1% Blue 11.0%
8 North Dakota 24.7% White 25.5% Red 11.1%
9 Nebraska 24.5% White 26.1% Red 11.3%
10 South Dakota 24.4% White 25.2% Red 10.7%
11 Pennsylvania 24.4% White 23.4% Blue 11.5%
12 Indiana 24.3% Black 23.2% Blue 10.5%
13 Ohio 24.2% Black 23.2% Blue 10.8%
14 Delaware 23.7% White 24.2% Blue 12.1%
15 Montana 23.4% White 28.5% Blue 9.7%
16 New Mexico 23.2% White 27.2% Blue 9.5%
17 Minnesota 23.1% White 24.2% Blue 10.1%
18 Iowa 23.1% White 26.3% Red 10.8%
19 Kansas 22.7% White 27.0% Blue 9.9%
20 Virginia 22.6% White 24.0% Blue 11.2%
21 New York 22.3% Black 24.3% Blue 11.2%
22 Illinois 22.1% Black 24.6% Blue 10.2%
23 Missouri 22.1% White 25.5% Blue 9.4%
24 Kentucky 22.0% White 25.9% Blue 9.3%
25 Colorado 21.9% White 26.3% Blue 10.3%
26 Maryland 21.6% White 23.5% Blue 11.3%
27 Idaho 21.6% White 29.2% Blue 9.2%
28 Washington 21.4% White 26.9% Blue 10.2%
29 Connecticut 21.2% Black 23.8% Blue 11.6%
30 Arkansas 21.2% White 28.9% Red 10.1%
Overall National Average 21.1% White 26.2% Blue 9.7%
31 Florida 21.0% White 27.4% Blue 9.7%
32 Oregon 20.9% White 26.5% Blue 9.8%
33 North Carolina 20.6% White 26.7% Blue 9.6%
34 New Hampshire 20.5% White 31.6% Blue 10.4%
35 Tennessee 20.5% White 25.9% Blue 8.9%
36 Massachusetts 20.5% Black 24.3% Blue 10.9%
37 Arizona 20.4% White 30.2% Blue 8.9%
38 Rhode Island 20.4% White 24.5% Blue 10.5%
39 South Carolina 20.3% White 26.8% Blue 9.0%
40 Texas 20.3% White 27.4% Blue 8.7%
41 Nevada 20.1% White 27.9% Blue 9.2%
42 Georgia 19.4% White 26.8% Blue 8.8%
43 Oklahoma 19.3% White 26.6% Red 8.6%
44 Alabama 19.0% White 28.3% Red 8.0%
45 New Jersey 18.9% White 25.6% Blue 10.1%
46 Utah 18.7% White 30.4% Blue 8.3%
47 Mississippi 17.6% White 29.9% Red 7.4%
48 Louisiana 17.4% White 29.0% Blue 7.5%
49 California 16.7% White 30.5% Blue 8.3%
50 Hawaii 16.3% White 28.5% Blue 8.5%
*Colorful Cars excludes black, gray, silver, and white cars.

“Maybe people in Alaska are looking for any excuse to see color during those long winter months, while people in Hawaii are the happiest to tone things down a bit in the tropics,” said Brauer. “I suspect at least some of this is driven by rental cars, with Hawaii likely having one of the highest percentage of rental vehicle fleets, and rental agencies playing it ‘safe’ when ordering car colors.” 

What are the most colorful cities?

iSeeCars also ranked the top 50 metro areas by their percentage share of colorful used cars. The Harrisburg-Lancaster-York metro area in Pennsylvania is the most diverse for car colors, while Los Angeles is the most dominated by grayscale colors. 
Most Colorful Metro Areas and Top Colors – iSeeCars Study
Rank Metro Area % Market Share of Colorful Cars* Most Popular Car Color Most Popular Non-Grayscale Color
Color Market Share Color Market Share
1 Harrisburg-Lancaster-York, PA 26.2% White 23.0% Blue 12.2%
2 Pittsburgh, PA 25.0% White 23.4% Blue 10.6%
3 Indianapolis, IN 24.6% Black 24.2% Blue 10.6%
4 Detroit, MI 24.5% Black 26.1% Blue 11.0%
5 Cleveland-Akron (Canton), OH 24.3% Black 23.8% Blue 10.8%
6 Cincinnati, OH 24.2% Black 24.5% Blue 11.0%
7 Milwaukee, WI 24.1% Black 25.8% Blue 10.7%
8 Louisville, KY 24.1% White 24.0% Red 10.5%
9 Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo, MI 23.8% Black 24.3% Blue 10.5%
10 Columbus, OH 23.4% Black 24.5% Blue 10.0%
11 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN 23.2% Black 25.0% Blue 9.8%
12 Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News,VA 23.2% White 22.9% Blue 11.0%
13 Washington, DC (Hagerstown, MD) 22.8% Black 24.0% Blue 11.3%
14 Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM 22.8% White 26.6% Blue 9.6%
15 Tampa-St Petersburg (Sarasota), FL 22.6% White 26.5% Blue 9.8%
16 St. Louis, MO 22.6% White 24.5% Red 9.8%
17 Baltimore, MD 22.5% Black 23.7% Blue 11.4%
18 Orlando-Daytona Beach, FL 22.3% White 25.8% Blue 9.7%
19 Denver, CO 22.2% White 25.7% Blue 10.3%
20 Hartford & New Haven, CT 21.9% White 24.2% Blue 11.2%
21 Greenville-Spartanburg, SC 21.9% White 26.3% Blue 9.2%
22 Philadelphia, PA 21.8% Black 24.6% Blue 10.8%
23 San Antonio, TX 21.7% White 25.8% Blue 9.2%
24 Seattle-Tacoma, WA 21.6% White 26.4% Blue 10.5%
25 Portland, OR 21.5% White 25.4% Blue 9.9%
26 Kansas City, MO 21.5% White 25.9% Red 9.5%
27 Jacksonville, FL 21.1% White 26.1% Blue 9.4%
Overall National Average 21.1% White 26.2% Blue 9.7%
28 Greensboro-Winston Salem, NC 21.1% White 27.1% Blue 9.0%
29 Nashville, TN 20.9% White 25.3% Blue 8.9%
30 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, FL 20.9% White 28.3% Blue 9.6%
31 Chicago, IL 20.8% Black 25.9% Blue 9.8%
32 Boston, MA-Manchester, NH 20.7% White 25.1% Blue 10.6%
33 Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville), NC 20.5% White 26.2% Blue 9.4%
34 Charlotte, NC 20.3% White 26.3% Blue 9.3%
35 Austin, TX 20.3% White 26.6% Blue 8.8%
36 Oklahoma City, OK 20.3% White 27.5% Red 9.5%
37 Phoenix, AZ 20.1% White 29.7% Blue 8.8%
38 Houston, TX 19.7% White 26.0% Blue 8.3%
39 Las Vegas, NV 19.7% White 28.4% Blue 8.5%
40 Atlanta, GA 19.5% White 26.4% Blue 8.6%
41 Salt Lake City, UT 19.4% White 28.8% Blue 8.4%
42 New York, NY 19.2% Black 25.9% Blue 10.1%
43 Birmingham, AL 19.1% White 27.5% Red 8.1%
44 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL 18.6% White 28.1% Blue 8.8%
45 San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA 18.4% White 29.0% Blue 9.4%
46 Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX 18.1% White 27.5% Red 8.2%
47 Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA 17.6% White 31.3% Blue 8.2%
48 Fresno-Visalia, CA 17.6% White 31.0% Red 7.8%
49 San Diego, CA 16.9% White 30.2% Blue 8.2%
50 Los Angeles, CA 16.1% White 30.0% Blue 7.9%
*Colorful Cars excludes black, gray, silver, and white cars.

“There are an awful lot of California cities at the bottom of this list,” said Brauer. “And as a resident of Southern California, I believe it! The preponderance of white, black, gray, and silver cars makes the roadways look like a 1950s TV show. It also means the – very rare – blue, red, green, or orange cars truly stand out when slogging along in stop-and-go traffic.”

Will the trend toward more grayscale cars ever stop? And will red retake the lead from blue as the most popular non-grayscale color? iSeeCars will publish its annual Most Popular Car Color Study again next year to find out.

 

Methodology

iSeeCars analyzed over 10 million 1- to 5-year-old used cars sold between January and August of 2018 and 2023. The color of each car, as well as the location of sale, was tallied to determine the most popular car color nationally, in each state, and in each metro area.

 

About iSeeCars.com

iSeeCars.com is a data-driven car search and research company that helps shoppers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, including the iSeeCars VIN Check report and Best Cars Rankings. iSeeCars has saved users over $410 million so far by applying big data analytics powered by over 25 billion (and growing) data points and using proprietary algorithms to objectively analyze, score and rank millions of new cars and used cars.