Thursday, January 11, 2018

What Cars Do Doctors Drive?

Surprise! What your doctor likely drives.
When I picture for you the image of a doctor driving carefree along the sunny California coast or along the boulevards of Beverly Hills, what kind of car do you see in your mind? A Porsche Carrera GTS? A Bentley Continental GT? Maybe even a Ferrari 488 GTB? Well, the latest Medscape Physician Lifestyle and Happiness report has the answer for that.

In a survey of over 15,000 doctors, some of the questions were related to the wheels they own. If you thought that physicians usually drive some exotic European import to work, you'd be mostly wrong. According to the responses, the most popular make of cars among doctors is a Toyota, with 21%. The second most common car driven by doctors is a Honda with 16%. As you can see, many doctors are quite practical and frugal in the types of vehicles they own.

But then you get to the next three: BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes. Now these are the more stereotypical cars that one would expect physicians who make six figures are more likely to possess. However each of these brands holds less than ten percent market share among doctors. The rest of the top ten are Ford, Subaru, Chevrolet, Acura, and Audi.

No longer your typical doctor's car. Sad.
What are the least favorite cars among physicians? Bringing up the bottom are Lincoln, Kia, and Cadillac, each with about 1% ownership with doctors. Then they are followed by Dodge and Volvo. I find it sad that storied nameplates like Lincoln and Cadillac, once the epitome of wealth and success, are now irrelevant among the monied set.

Even though nearly all physicians make six figure incomes, does the medical specialty influence the type of cars they drive? I mean, any doctor could theoretically afford a Mercedes if they wanted one. In reality the specialty you practice does make a difference. Toyota is owned  by more primary medical doctors than specialists 23% to 20%. Honda also has more PMD's in their corner 18% to 16%.

But once you look at the luxury imports, the reverse happens. Far more specialists than PMD's own BMW, 11% to 6%. Same with Lexus 9%-7% and Mercedes 9%-7%. Is it more evidence that PMD's don't make enough money in this country compared to the specialists? Is it an indictment of our healthcare system that prizes costly interventions over preventive care? You be the judge.

It would have been interesting if the survey broke down the types of cars owned by the age of the physician. The report notes that over 50% of the respondents are under the age of 50. In fact, nearly one fifth of the respondents say they are in the 28-34 year old age bracket. That's extremely young, practically fresh out of residency. They will be the ones most likely to still be driving the old Honda and Toyota they had in college while they are trying to set up a practice and pay off student loans.

So next time you see a Mercedes GT-R roaring down the street, know that it is unlikely to be driven by a physician. The driver is more likely to be a Wall Street titan or business mogul than a doctor. We sacrificed years of our lives to go through medical school. Practicality and delayed gratification are in our blood. It would be uncharacteristic for doctors to blow their money on such exotic rides. Unless you're a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills.


  1. Many surgeons I worked with had a "hospital" car they drove to the charity hospital where we worked. A VW Beetle was a better fit in the bad neighborhood and much less likely to be vandalized. The El Dorado was kept at home in Lake Forest for country club runs.

  2. Nurses buy a more expensive car than most doctors....😁

  3. I am a doctor's wife and drive a lifted Jeep that I recently got after trading in my FJ (very regretful decision). My doctor husband, who is a specialist, drives a Toyota FJ. Our kids drive the following: Honda Accord, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Camry and an Acura TL. Our family typically sticks with Toyota's and Honda's. And I have to add that a lifted Jeep is a gas guzzling death trap. Especially if I go faster than 50mph while there is a breeze out side. It is a cruising vehicle best driven under 40mph. It isn't a traveler or a speedster. I wish I could get my FJ back, even with it's blind spots.I had 80,000 plus miles on it and traded it in for almost what i bought it for brand new. Toyota's definitely hold their value

  4. When I worked in Iowa the most common vehicle in the doctors lot was an Audi. Here in Arkansas it’s a decked out pickup truck. Lots of Chevrolet, GMC, and Ford trucks. I own an LTZ Texas Edition Chevy Silverado.

  5. When I was back in the Midwest to visit my parents, their neighbor across the street was a neurosurgeon who worked at the local hospital. He didn't live in a fancy mansion or drive exotic cars. His house was just another typical suburban dwelling with a brick facade and three car garage. His vehicle was a very nicely decked out Ford pickup, big enough to tow his boat to the lake on weekends. Nothing out of the ordinary for that part of the country.

  6. Great research mate. Though for many in my country it really doesn't matter what car the doctor drives unless he's late to visit a patient. ;)

  7. Don't know many doctors who drive Honda Civics unless they're fresh out of residency and working on their first BMW.

  8. So funny to read this. I am a doctor and always lean towards frugality in vehicles. For years, I drove a Honda Civic! While, my front desk receptionist drove a Jaguar.