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Rainbow Connection: Ten Coolest Factory Colors

By Manuel Carrillo III | May 28, 2020

Remember when earthen avocado- and potty brown-painted cars were all the rage in the 1970s, only to be detested by the 1990s? In the time it took bellbottoms to morph into sagging corduroys, American consumers learned an important lesson about not buying into fads.

Consequently, if you look at the current crop of popular car colors today, you'll notice a lot of neutral tones: silver, white and black. Many people who buy new cars like to keep their vehicles around for a while. As a result, consumers nowadays choose colors that will wear well through the annals of time, thus immunizing their machines against evolving tastes.

But the problem with today's "play it safe" colors, is that they're boring. Sure, silver, black and white are timeless, and there are plenty of cars that look cool in those conserative hues. Standing on their own, however, those colors are about as cool as a four-hour seminar discussing whether Obi-Wan failed Anakin.

What about flashy hues like "take my license" red, and "I'm pretending I'm driving a Lamborghini" yellow? Flashy, they might be - but cool they are not. Red simply tells everyone you're in a midlife crisis. Yellow screams end-of-life fashion ambivalence, in that you know you look ridiculous, but you're too old to care.

So what does one do when neither popular nor flashy colors are cool? Turn to chemistry. Technological advancement in tinted clear coats and base-coat pigments isn't necessarily a reinvention of the color wheel, but science is certainly putting an interesting spin on the visible spectrum.

Here are ten colors that will grab eyeballs and command respect without making you look like you're trying too hard.


Quantum Gray: 2020 Audi S4

The 2020 Audi S4 in Quantum Gray

Somehow, Audi found a way to make one of the most boring colors interesting. When you think of the color gray, maybe you conjure up a depressing overcast day or the color of aged hair. However, none of those thoughts crosses your mind when you grab an eyeful of Quantum Gray.

The chalky hue is reminiscent of German racing silver, but rawer in presentation to achieve an edgier look. Without a shiny clear coat to finish off the appearance, the color would probably look akin to the milky industrial waste of CNC-machining. But in its fully finished glory along the S4's flanks, Quantum Gray is a sight to behold.

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Matrix Gray Metallic: 2020 Corvette Ceramic

The 2020 Corvette in Ceramic Matrix Gray Metallic

To my eyes, there is no color on this list more narcotic than Ceramic Matrix Gray Metallic on the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. I first laid eyes on this hue late last year at the LA Auto Show, and I knew that if I ever were to buy a C8, it would be in this color.

On a computer screen, Ceramic Matrix Gray Metallic is rather underwhelming in that it appears to be a faded gray with a blue tint. In person, though, the color stops you in your tracks. Like Audi's Quantum Gray, Ceramic Matrix Gray Metallic is also chalky in appearance, but that homage to the writing implement does wonders with adding depth to the hue.

The eighth-generation, mid-engine Corvette should be at dealerships by the time you read this, so make sure you see for yourself how this color elevates the all-new Corvette's road presence.

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Long Beach Blue Metallic: 2020 BMW M240i

The 2020 BMW M240i in Long Beach Blue Metallic

BMW's Long Beach Blue Metallic is a terrific example of restrained flash. It's as though the color gets out of bed as a bright blue, but then as soon as it's ready to walk out the door, it cloaks itself in a muted, industrial tint in order to keep the paparazzi away.

This is the type of color perfect for the professional who wants to show off their party side, but at the same time, they want the world to know they mean business.

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Valencia Red Pearl: 2020 Acura MDX PMC Edition

The 2020 Acura MDX PMC Edition in Valencia Red Pearl

Valencia Red Pearl is one of the striking hues you can order on your new Acura NSX supercar. You can also get the eye-watering shade on limited, hand-built editions of the Acura TLX midsize sedan, as well as the MDX midsize crossover SUV.

Valencia Red Pearl is one of the deepest, silkiest-looking reds you can find anywhere in the auto market. Much more refined-looking than a Fire Engine or Candy Apple Red, Honda's luxury brand uses nanotechnology to achieve a color the marque calls, "The highest quality, most vibrant paint Acura offers on a production car."

The 2020 Acura MDX PMC Edition is priced at $63,745*, while the TLX PMC Edition commands $50,945*. Those prices are bargains when you consider that Valencia Red Pearl on the NSX is a $6,000 option, which boosts the exotic's asking price to $165,495*.

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Antigua Blue: 2020 Audi e-tron

The 2020 Audi e-tron in Antigua Blue

Here's another color where zeroes and ones don't do the real-life hue justice. The first time I saw an Antigua Blue e-tron was in a San Francisco driveway. I ended up staring at the car for so long, I began to worry that I looked suspicious to onlookers.

Audi’s Antigua Blue almost verges on being too flashy. Almost. In the context of the all-electric e-tron, the color looks smart, and should age well.

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Go Mango: 2020 Dodge Challenger

The 2020 Dodge Challenger in Go Mango

Go Mango and the modern-day Dodge Challenger pair as well as horsepower and burnouts. One of the more entertaining aspects of the first muscle-car heyday of the 1960s was the eye-popping paint those early machines wore.

Now that we're in the second-coming of the muscle-car heyday, those bright hues are back. Would Go Mango be too loud on a crossover? Yes, but on a legendary muscle car like the Challenger, the mad paint goes well with the Dodge coupe's deranged disposition. That seems like something that will never go out of style, and if your 14-year-old has a problem with that, they can walk to school.

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Grabber Blue: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E in Grabber Blue

Grabber Blue is a legendary Ford Mustang color from the 1960s, but on the all-electric Mustang Mach-E crossover, the hue takes on a new meaning.

Grabber Blue is striking no matter where you see it, but when worn on a larger crossover body, I think we're now seeing Grabber Blue in its best element yet.

I wasn't sure about the Mach-E design when I first saw it in photos online, but after seeing the Mach-E in Grabber Blue under the glaring lights of the LA Auto show, I'm convinced this is one stylish e-machine.

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British Racing Green IV Metallic: 2020 MINI Cooper

The 2020 MINI Cooper in British Racing Green IV Metallic

British Racing Green will never go out of style. If you think a British Racing Green MINI Cooper is cliche, you're mistaken. I think the people of Great Britain would refer to such a MINI as "proper."

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Hakone Green: 2020 Toyota 86

The 2020 Toyota 86 in Hakone Green

It seems as though the road-feel freaks at Toyota took British racing green, deep-fried it in teenage angst, and out came Hakone Green. Toyota's moody shade is similar in spirit to Acura's Valencia Red Pearl, in that the green absconds with darkness when not directly lit, but glows with dramatic luminosity when exposed to light.

That translates to more dramatic-looking body surfacing, for what's probably the most handsome 86 I've seen since the sports car went on sale in 2013.

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Glowing Yellow: 2020 Hyundai Sonata

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata in Glowing Yellow

If you select Glowing Yellow on the Hyundai Sonata online configurator, you'll be treated to an uninspiring mustard hue. Admittedly, the color loses some of its potential under overcast skies, as well. As you expect, there’s a substantial “but” around the corner.

In sunshine, Glowing Yellow is anything but uninspiring. Instead, the hue is a sophisticated show-stopper that makes the Sonata look like a premium ride.

Hyundai's all-new Sonata is a daring leap in midsize sedan design, and Glowing Yellow is just as daring. So as a result, the color pairs well with the car's liberal lines. The crazy hue is available as a $300 option, but only on the Sonata's SEL Plus trim, which will starts at $28,605*.

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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.