Millennials still care about cars – kind of

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Much has been made, in this column and others, of Millennials’ resistance to embracing we old fogeys’ love of the automobile. The reasons advanced for this ambivalence have been manifold; the birth of the ride sharing economy (Uber, Lyft and the countless other ride-hailing services that will supposedly render car ownership obsolete), ‘helicopter’ parents who turn into personalized cab drivers as their precious children age (which accounts for the 20 per cent drop in driver’s licenses for 18-year-olds) and, of course, the connectivity culture that has seen our young conflate mobile connectivity with real-world interaction. Nonetheless, there is hope: According to a new study by, there is one thing that will get the young and distracted to forsake their iPhones and power down their iPads:


Yes, good old-fashioned, getting-sweaty-on-vinyl-seats, Lord-quadricep-don’t-cramp-on-me-now sex may yet prove the salvation of the automobile. In fact, according to, Millennials are having sex in their cars almost as frequently as the generation before them, the generation before that and, well, presumably every cohort for whom making out in the back seat has been an option. Indeed, according to the 1,000 respondents surveyed by Driving-Tests, Millennials are getting more, uhm, oral satisfaction in cars than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers did in their youth (we Baby Boomers, being traditionalists, do report more incidents of actual intercourse in our cars). Whatever the actual act, fully 84.4 per cent of Driving-Tests’ respondents report some form of sexual conduct in an automobile in the course of their lives.

And, it turns out that Millennials share other sexual predilections with their Generation X and Baby Boom predecessors. For instance, respondents in all three cohorts reported that “they’d had more sex in cars between the ages of 18 and 24 than at any other time in their lives,” presumably college dorm-room hook-ups not quite as “open” as we’ve been led to believe. That said, Baby Boomers were dramatically more promiscuous than their offspring (and their offspring’s offspring), averaging almost twice as many back seat conjugations per year between 18 and 24 compared with Millennials who only managed to get their back seat freak on about once every twelve months. We old fogeys, it should be noted, also started our back seat escapades earlier, our parents’ obviously not as free with the “as long as you’re using a condom” romps in the downstairs rumpus room.

There are, of course, other differences, one of the most distinct being the vehicles in which we’ve canoodled. Sedans are, of course, the most likely to have copulating in, mainly, one has to suspect, because we Baby Boomers have been at this copulating business for a lot longer than our progeny. However, the preference for traditional sedans is likely to change, both Gen Xers and Millennials preferring the comfort and ‘headroom’ of the modern SUV.

Another observance likely falling by the automotive wayside might be the traditional missionary position, those limber and lithe enough to practice the automotive Kama Sutra preferring any variation — facing, reverse, etc. — of the, uhm, sitting orientation. It is worth noting, however, that one important commonality remains: Regardless of practitioners’ age, the type of vehicle or brand, according to respondents, maximum, er, satisfaction is to be found in the back seat, the only other location coming close being the bed of a pickup, presumably the larger eight-foot variety, as with most things sexual, ranking higher than five-and-a-half-foot shorties.

Perhaps the most interesting finding — especially as this a column about cars — is the brands favoured for all this copulating. Ford (34.6 per cent) and General Motors (43.3 per cent), it’ll come as no surprise, are by far the most popular brands for back-seat fun, as they were long market leaders. But, I, for one, was surprised that Honda, a brand I’d always associated with boring suburbanites and geriatric retirees, ranked third with almost a quarter of respondents enjoying connubial bliss inside their Accords and Civics. Nonetheless, with few exceptions — the aforementioned Honda being marginally ahead of Toyota — the ranking of cars involved in all this carnal knowledge pretty much fell in line with sales. Which means, if you’ve been paying any attention at all to the auto industry, that Lincoln was dead last, with less than 2 per cent of Americans admitting they’d done the deed in FoMoCo’s pseudo-luxury brand.

Now, here’s the biggest surprise of the whole survey: Lincoln — yes, that same Lincoln — offered the most satisfaction in fornicabitur automobilus, one presumes because a) the brand is commonly used for limousines and b) many of its SUVs — again the most popular vehicles to make whoopee in — are nothing short of gargantuan. As the study’s authors note, “we still like a little space when things get steamy.”

Perhaps there’s even a missed marketing opportunity here for Ford’s struggling luxury brand; instead of “A Luxury SUV with uncompromising comfort,” perhaps Lincoln’s messaging for the 2018 Navigator should be “if the van’s a-rockin’ don’t come a-knockin’.” At the very least, it would be a novel take on the “space that you define” tagline that Lincoln trumpets for the big SUV’s power fold-flat second- and third-row seats.

One thing the study’s authors do sound relieved about is that, contrary to popular misconception, most of these in-car antics occur with the vehicle being stationary, most respondents preferring the safety of a parking lot or what they had previously scouted as a “remote location.” Indeed, only 37 per cent of respondents admitted mutual stimulation when the vehicle was actually moving.

That, of course, could soon change as self-driving cars become common. One of things not commonly discussed in the supposedly inevitable autonomous automobile revolution is what we’re going to do with the free time we’re going to have on our six-hour road trips to Aunt Mabel’s. I suppose we could, like, read, but if’s study has any veracity at all, we’re going to be going at it like rabbits in the back seat.

Here, then, is one fearless prediction from all this salacious data. The number one option/accessory for the upcoming age of driverless cars will be the rear/side window sunshade. We may all be getting busy in the backseat of our autonomous automobiles, but few of us want an audience.

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