Last year saw a significant increase in the sales of SUVs and crossover utilities, but the next generation of car buyers may be on the verge of reversing that trend.

While many analysts believe today's youth are less interested in driving than previous generations, a new study indicates the youngest drivers already have preferences for the vehicles they say they want to buy.

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That preference leans toward, smaller cars with good fuel economy, according to the study from research firm MaritzCX (via The Detroit News).

Researchers surveyed 1,061 car buyers aged 16 to 21--part of what is becoming known as "Generation Z."

2015 Toyota Corolla L

2015 Toyota Corolla L

Out of that sample, about 41.1 percent said they wanted a compact car, 14.7 percent said they were shopping for a mid-size sedan, and 11.6 percent listed a subcompact car as their first choice.

The study found that four of the top five vehicle categories for Generation Z buyers were cars, rather than SUVs, crossovers, pickup trucks.

In terms of brands, the majority of respondents said they would consider buying Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota vehicles.

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Ford itself doesn't appear surprised by Generation Z's interest in efficient cars.

Sheryl Connelly--futurist for the Dearborn carmaker--said this generation tends to be "more frugal" than older ones, and is more focused on value.

Considering that most teenager and college-age drivers operate on a very limited budget, that perhaps isn't too surprising.

2015 Chevrolet Sonic

2015 Chevrolet Sonic

Most recent consumer research has focused on the older "Millennials"--generally considered to be aged 18 to 35--and concluded that some of them simply don't want cars at all.

That group was hit particularly hard by the recent economic recession, and has shown a preference for living in urban areas with more alternative forms of transportation--two factors that decrease car buying.

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Either way, financial considerations still appear to take precedent when young people consider buying a car.

As always, they need to be able to afford one before they can.


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