Where We're Going, We Don't Need Roads

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(Full image available at

I just caught this from yesterday’s Insty feed — America’s “unofficial” favorite cars, state-by-state:

If you were to take a list of the most popular cars in each state in the U.S., it’d be a pretty monotonous list. A bunch of Ford F-150s, some Chevy Silverado and Ram pickups, the odd Honda Accord or Toyota Camry here or there.

But we were curious: What car was the most distinctive in each state? What model of car did, say, California buy far more often than any other state in the Union? We turned to auto analyst Tom Libby of IHS Automotive to help us crunch the numbers. First, Libby pulled data about the make and model of every car sold in the U.S., and calculated the popularity of each by percentage using registration data. Then, he did the same at the state level, and compared each state to the national average.

“I compared the share for each model in, for instance, Alabama with the share of the same of model in the United States and came up with a ratio,” says Libby. “Then I basically ranked those ratios within each state. It’s an interesting methodology—you’re basically able to compare the individual demand of a model in a state with the individual demand at the national level, and see what ways is each state unique from the nation.”

Colorado’s secret love is the Nissan Xterra — which comes as no surprise to yours truly. The Xterra is a genuine off-road truck in a state where we actually take our trucks off-road.

You’ll also see more Wranglers here than just about anywhere else, including many lovingly maintained (if outrageously scraped and mud-splattered!) CJs from the olden times when Jeep was still an AMC brand.

One of the first things I did after Melissa and I decided to buy Casa Verde way up on Monument Hill was to pick up an old ’97 Wrangler TJ, on the theory that somebody was going to have to be able to go out and buy milk for the baby in any weather. A good thing, too, because 2006-07 was the Winter of the Four Blizzards, the first of which almost proved too much for that TJ and the (seemingly) ridiculous tires I put on it.

A second child and the need for more seating and cargo space meant I had to get rid of the TJ a few years ago, and trade it in for something slightly more practical — but still just as off-readable.

But I do miss that Wrangler sometimes, and understand the joy every local Wrangler and Xterra owner feels when they see the off-road less taken and say, “Why not!”