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What Cars Do Doctors Drive? (Unravelling Their Vehicle Choices)

What Cars Do Doctors Drive? (Unravelling Their Vehicle Choices)

Updated on: December 3, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

It’s common for people to assume that doctors, with their higher-than-average incomes, would naturally be drawn to luxury and high-performance vehicles.

However, do doctors truly gravitate towards extravagant cars? Contrary to popular belief, the reality may be quite different from what most people imagine.

Doctors generally tend to drive more reliable and sensible vehicles, compared to high-end luxury cars. According to a 2021 survey conducted by Medscape.com, Toyota emerged as the most popular car make among doctors, with 18% of surveyed physicians driving a Toyota-brand vehicle.

Honda followed closely behind Toyota, with 14% of doctors choosing this brand. BMW ranked third in terms of popularity.

These findings indicate that doctors, despite their financial prowess, tend to prioritise practicality and reliability when selecting a vehicle over flashy, high-end options.

This trend challenges the stereotypical assumption that a doctor must drive an expensive car to legitimise their professional standing.

Rather, it appears that many doctors opt for reliable, functional, and efficient vehicles, showcasing a preference for substance over style.

The Most Popular Car For Doctors

In the 2021 medscape.com survey of 12,000 U.S. doctors, Toyota emerged as the most popular car make among doctors, with 18% of them owning a Toyota-brand car.

Toyota’s dominance in this specific market might be attributed to its reputation for reliability, fuel efficiency, and affordability, key factors that most doctors might take into consideration.

Ranking second in popularity is Honda, with 14% of doctors choosing this brand.

Similar to Toyota, Honda is well known for its dependability and impressive fuel economy.

Moreover, the company offers a wide range of vehicles to suit various needs, from compact sedans like the Honda Civic to versatile crossovers such as the Honda CR-V.

A close third in preference among doctors is BMW.

Known for its luxury and performance, BMW cars offer advanced technological features, driving dynamics, and premium interiors – factors that might entice some physicians to pick the German brand over others.

Popular models within the BMW range include the 3 Series and 5 Series.

The Medscape survey also highlighted Subaru, Lexus, Mercedes and Ford as other popular choices among doctors, tying for the fourth position.

Other Popular Car Brands Among Doctors

While Toyota is the most popular car brand among doctors, with 18% of physicians driving one, Honda isn’t far behind with 14% of doctors choosing their cars.

These practical car brands offer reliability, fuel efficiency, and long-term value, making them a logical choice for busy professionals like doctors.

Some popular models from these brands include:

  • Toyota Camry
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Honda Accord
  • Honda CR-V

I’ve actually personally got a Honda CR-V and absolutely love it!

I got it second-hand from my grandparents and as it comes up to nearly 20 years old, it’s certainly standing testament to the reliability of Japanese cars.

While certainly wouldn’t turn any heads driving down the road, it’s incredibly reliable and gets me from A to B.

Luxury Brands

For those doctors who prefer a touch of luxury, there is a notable preference for brands like BMW, Lexus, Mercedes and Audi.

Although not as popular as Toyota or Honda, these luxury cars still attract a significant number of doctors who appreciate their high-quality features, performance, and elegant design.

Other luxury car brands that may appeal to doctors include:

  • Porsche
  • Tesla
  • Jaguar

After graduating from medical school and starting work as a doctor, a lot of my friends from university immediately went out and bought flashy new cars.

I think it’s fair to say they succumbed to the novelty of having a steady paycheck with good money, so plumped for a luxury car that they may not have otherwise chosen.

Factors Influencing Doctors’ Car Choices

Having now seen what car doctors actually choose to drive, I thought it might be interesting to consider the factors that go into this decision.

Factors Influencing Doctors’ Car Choices Pixel Infographic

Salary

A doctor’s income undoubtedly plays a significant role in their vehicle choice.

Higher-income doctors may opt for more luxurious or performance-oriented vehicles like BMWs or Teslas, while those with more modest incomes might choose reliable and budget-friendly options like Toyotas or Hondas.

Junior doctors really don’t start out on that great money, so it’s only when you start to become a more senior doctor that you can get paid the big bucks.

Functionality

The practicality of a car is important to consider. Doctors often require spacious and comfortable vehicles to accommodate their work requirements.

This may include ample storage for medical equipment, ease of entry and exit for both drivers and passengers and fuel efficiency for long commutes or on-call shifts.

I love the size of my car because it makes it so easy to throw bags in the bag without having to play Tetris with the boot space.

As a doctor, you might find yourself going from hospital to hospital or travelling from GP practices to patients’ homes, so it’s essential to be able to easily store appropriate clothes and the like in your car.

Reliability

Doctors focus on reliability when selecting their vehicles, as being on time for their patients is crucial.

Brands like Toyota and Honda are popular choices because they are known for their durability, low maintenance costs, and consistent performance.

If you’re busy with work, studying or life in general, the last thing you want to be worrying about is car maintenance.

On the whole, doctors tend to be very busy people so I think it’s fair to say they want something that will just work.

Perception

The perception of a vehicle plays an important role in a doctor’s car choice that shouldn’t be overlooked.

A doctor might choose a car that reflects their professional image or aligns with their personal values.

For instance, environmentally conscious doctors may choose electric cars like Tesla, while those looking to convey success and prestige might opt for high-end luxury models like BMW or Audi.

Doctors with a bit more of an ego will undoubtedly choose the flashier models (think plastic surgeons), while other more humble physicians may be more than content with their 10-year-old Ford Focus.

Personal Preferences

Ultimately, personal preferences drive doctors’ car choices.

Factors such as design, overall performance, safety features, and personal experiences with a specific brand or model can influence their decision.

Ultimately, it’s each doctor’s individual taste and requirements that will determine their ideal vehicle.

The Doctor Car Myth

The Doctor Car Myth is a commonly held belief that doctors are expected to drive expensive and luxurious cars in order to convey an image of success and professionalism.

This belief has led to the perception that a doctor’s choice of car is directly related to their skills and competence as a medical professional.

While it may have some historical roots, this stereotype is largely unfounded in modern times.

Doctors, like anyone else, have diverse tastes and preferences when it comes to their choice of vehicle.

As we’ve seen, the statistics indicate that doctors are not overwhelmingly choosing luxury vehicles but are, in fact, often opting for practical and reliable vehicles.

A BMW parked in central London

The perpetuation of the Doctor Car Myth can have negative implications for physicians. Some may feel pressured to project an image of wealth and success by driving a high-end car.

This, in turn, may lead to their decision-making being influenced by the need to maintain this facade rather than purely by their personal preferences or financial situation.

A secondary factor to consider when debunking the Doctor Car Myth is the widespread misconception that doctors are among the highest earners in society.

While physicians tend to earn higher salaries than the national average, many face significant student loan debt and expenses related to maintaining their medical practices.

As a result, a doctor’s choice of vehicle may be more reflective of their financial reality than an attempt to fit in with societal expectations.

Dismissing stereotypes such as the Doctor Car Myth paves the way for a more accurate understanding of the medical profession and the individuals within it.

Environmentally Friendly Cars Among Doctors

Doctors, being highly educated professionals, are often conscious of environmental concerns and the impact their choices have on the environment.

As a result, they may choose to drive environmentally-friendly vehicles, such as hybrid and electric cars.

Hybrid Vehicles

A significant number of doctors choose to drive hybrid vehicles, which make use of both a petrol or diesel engine and an electric motor to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

Hybrid cars offer a balance between conventional fuel-powered vehicles and fully electric cars, providing convenience and environmental benefits.

The Toyota Prius is a popular hybrid choice among doctors, and the prevalence of Toyota as a preferred brand among physicians further highlights this trend.

Electric Vehicles

With the shift towards cleaner energy and emission-free vehicles, more doctors are opting for electric cars in their personal and professional lives.

These vehicles run solely on electric power, with no combustion engine, significantly reducing their carbon footprint.

Although currently less common than hybrid vehicles among doctors, electric cars are gaining popularity due to their environmental benefits and advancements in charging infrastructure.

Tesla is a leading electric car brand often favoured by doctors for its sleek design, innovative features and commitment to sustainability.

What Cars Do Medical Students Drive?

Medical students, like other university students, have a range of vehicle preferences depending on their budget, personal tastes, and practical needs.

While there is no definitive answer to which cars medical students drive, it’s typically more likely for them to choose practical and affordable vehicles compared to the luxury cars that experienced doctors might prefer.

Opting for fuel-efficient and reliable cars is commonplace among medical students, considering their tight schedules and limited budgets.

Brands like Toyota and Honda have a reputation for both reliability and cost-effectiveness, making them popular choices for students seeking a balance between price and performance.

Additionally, compact or mid-size sedans from these car manufacturers provide the added benefit of easy parking and manoeuvrability in urban areas near hospitals and medical schools.

Safety features are also a priority for medical students who spend countless hours commuting to and from educational institutions, clinical rotations, and extracurricular activities.

In summary, although there are no specific car models associated with medical students, it’s safe to say that their vehicle choices are generally more modest than those of their future doctor colleagues.

Can Doctors Afford Luxury Cars?

Doctors, with their high income, tend to have the financial ability to afford luxury cars.

However, their choice of vehicle depends on their priorities, net worth, and personal preferences.

Although many doctors prefer reliable, practical cars that can accommodate their busy lifestyles, some might be interested in luxury vehicles for their style, comfort, and status symbol it provides.

Doctors who have a higher net worth might be more inclined to purchase expensive luxury cars such as Lamborghini or Rolls Royce.

These vehicles can cost several hundred thousand pounds, so the affordability largely depends on the doctor’s individual financial situation and priorities.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that not all doctors invest in such high-end luxury cars.

When it comes to luxury car options, Lexus RX, a luxury crossover SUV by Toyota Motor Corporation, is a popular choice due to its mid-size, style, comfort, and new technology updates.

For doctors who want to drive a luxury car without breaking the bank, there are several brands and models that offer luxurious features for less than £50,000. Some examples include Tesla Model 3 and BMW 4 Series.

These cars provide a taste of luxury without the extravagant price tag attached to them.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, the belief that doctors exclusively drive expensive luxury cars is a misconception.

Surveys and statistics indicate that doctors often prioritise practicality, reliability, and fuel efficiency when selecting their vehicles.

While some doctors do opt for luxury brands, personal preferences, income, functionality, reliability, and environmental consciousness are all significant factors influencing their car choices.

Ultimately, doctors’ vehicle choices are as varied as their individual personalities and preferences.

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.