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Gimme a Sound System That'll Go 100 MPH

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No wonder the median age of actors in car commercials seems to be 19 or so. In a poll by AMP Insights, 34 percent of consumers age 18-24 said they're "extremely likely" to buy or lease a car in the next year; 26 percent said they're "somewhat likely" to do so. Many are willing to settle for a used car, with 52 percent agreeing that it's "a good option for people my age." Thirty-five percent said "you can get a nicer car for less money" that way. On the other hand, 29 percent said used cars are "risky—they don't come with warranties."

Respondents were given a list of automotive features and asked to pick the ones (up to three) they covet most. The top choice was CD player/changer (cited by 75 percent), with anti-theft protection the runner-up (52 percent) and moon/sun roof coming in third (44 percent). Meanwhile, the chart here indicates that coupes and SUVs lead other sorts of cars in the youthfulness standings. Many of the young folks confessed to being influenced by car advertising. Given a menu of factors that might get them to notice a new car, 40 percent of respondents included TV spots among their top three; 14 percent cited magazine ads. Other leading influences were "see it on the road" (65 percent), "someone you know got it" (27 percent) and "a friend was talking about it" (27 percent).

The scariest finding: When people were asked to rank features in order of importance, the top score went to speed—putting it ahead of spaciousness, brand, safety and price.