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What Generation Z May Be Looking For When Buying Cars

Brian Champagne

When Baby Boomers first started buying new cars, Detroit built them muscle cars. Millennials tended to go for better gas mileage. UPR Contributor Brian Champagne showed a new crossover to the next generation of car buyers to see what they’re going to want when they’re ready to buy.

Right now these Utah State University journalism students are driving vehicles averaging 11 years old.

But after they graduate, what would it take to get them to buy their first new car? How about a CX-30 like the one Mazda loaned us? It’s modern-styled, smaller than Mazda’s best-seller the CX-5, and has 186 horsepower, that only Dalton cared about.

“It’s not as boring as other cars in the segment,” said journalism student Dalton Renshaw.


MAZDA gave it an optional turbo making 250 horsepower for 2021. Still, its latest headline for the new model year was earning the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s TOP SAFETY PICK+ award for crashing into things without hurting passengers and blind spot warning, radar cruise control, and other systems that help keep you from crashing into things.


“I don’t care about automatic braking or anything,” said student Leah Criscione.

“I don’t really care as much about the features probably because I drove a ’98 for so long,” said William Bultez, another journalism student.

“I never use the cruise control because I’m always stopping and starting,” another student, Ethan Bosshardt, said.


The CX-30 can help with that, braking when the driver in front does, and speeding back up if they ever do.

“I’ve never had a car with real safety features,” said student Austin Roundy.

“They’re nice, but have I survived without them in the past five years of driving? Yes,” said journalism student Sarah Murphy.

In the early 90s, Chrysler ran ads showing the latest safety feature of the day, airbags, saving a real guy’s face. They kept K-cars selling for the next few years until everyone else had airbags too. These Generation Zers aren’t looking for that yet.

“The safety features might be more relevant in like 10 years let’s say I had a family or something like that,” student Brayden Shannon said. 

The upgrade for 2021 that got their attention? Apple Car Play and Android Auto are now standard on all models,


“I don’t really care what it sounds like per se,” Criscione said. “As long as it's easy for me to connect.


Brian Champagne grew up in the less-famous Central California but left after starting his television news career there. He worked 22 years in news for NBC, ABC, Fox, and CBS affiliates in four markets. He served as chief photographer for KTXL-TV in Sacramento, but worked in front of the camera, too.