5. Century City, Calif., 90067
Average income: $751,000
Top car: Toyota Prius
If you think the home of Creative Artists Agency, 20th Century Fox (NWS) and MGM isn't going to have a bunch of hybrids puttering around, you haven't been paying much attention to Hollywood (or the neighborhoods near it). This Los Angeles enclave loves putting out the eco-friendly vibe, but much like its hippie neighbors to the north in Marin County, Century City's carbon footprint is somewhat wider than the Prius would suggest. The Nos. 2-4 cars bought in Century City -- the Mercedes E and C-Class (25 mpg and 26 mpg, respectively) and the BMW 328 (27 mpg) -- all get about half of the Prius' mileage while doubling its curb appeal.
4. Atherton, Calif., 94027
Average income: $768,000
Top car: Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Can you buy a car for less than $50,000 in Atherton? Yes, but if it's not the No. 2 Toyota Prius, your fellow residents may ask you to pick up the dry cleaning while you're out getting their groceries. There's a lot of Silicon Valley money in this heavily wooded town, and the top-ranked E-Class is a steal compared with the third-most-popular Porsche Panamera ($76,175), the Mercedes GL-Class ($63,445) and the Mercedes S-Class ($95,375).
3. Downtown Chicago, Ill., 60604
Average income: $782,000
Top car: Volkswagen Jetta
The Jetta was the No. 5 car in Century City, but it's No. 1 in Chicago's heart thanks largely to its compact frame, Its nearly 30 combined miles per gallon, 200-horsepower engine, keyless access, push-button start, 15.5 cubic feet of trunk space, heated front seats and 3 feet of rear legroom. Maybe it's the modesty of transplants from nearby Midwest towns, fear of blistering summers and snowy, salty winters or the realization that the city's shoulders may be broad but its parking spaces aren't, but none of the vehicles in downtown Chicago's Top 5 break $31,000. The Jetta, Honda CR-V (No. 2, $30,605), Jeep Grand Cherokee (No. 3, $30,120), Toyota Camry (No. 4, $25,535) and Toyota Camry (No. 5, $19,595) are all modestly priced by this list's standards, but are all reliable, practical choices. This ZIP code has a garage full of money to spend, but apparently keeps its fortune by spending it wisely.
2. Fisher Island, Fla., 33109
Average income: $1.5 million
Top car: Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Palm Beach is nice ... if you're slumming it. Miami's Fisher Island apparently won't let you take the ferry over with a car worth less than $50,000. There are only 500 residents on this island, and most of them seem to prefer their cars with wood accents throughout, active cruise control that practically brakes on its own, climate control and vents for every seat, a two-screen entertainment center in the front seat and its own smartphone app. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW X5 pass for frugal choices on this island at less than $60,000 apiece, but the Land Rover Range Rover Sport and Porsche Panamera that round out the island's Top 5 are only economy vehicles in the sense that the $20,000 to $30,000 difference in price between them and the S-Class is enough to buy an actual luxury car or two.
1. Manhattan, N.Y., 10274
Average income: $5.7 million
Top car: Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Sure, this segment of NYC is oozing with money, but is it necessarily a great idea to spend a whole lot of that cash on your ride? What are you going to do, park it outside a gala at the Met for five minutes until it's eventually moved or towed? Take it to a Knicks game and park it in a garage next to a carload of boisterous drunks from Hackensack? Even if you wouldn't deign to ride subways, there are town cars, limos and so many other options around town that make vehicle ownership a questionable proposition at best. The E-Class and the nearly $60,000 BMW X5 rank 1 and 2 on this ZIP code's wish list, but its affection for the Honda Accord ($23,070) and CR-V ($29,575) tell the bigger story of car ownership in this area. Owning a car of any sort here is a luxury, and if you're paying Soho loft prices just to park a car you might take out to the Hamptons or Berkshires every few months or so, it pays to aim low.
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