What Women Want -- In a Car

June 22, 2010

Women like their cars small, inexpensive, foreign and hot. No, not hot in the muscular looks, twin-turbo powerplant, and growling exhaust note sense. Actually hot. They like to crank the heater up.

That's the conclusion of a pair of new surveys on women and cars.

The point isn't academic. It affects the bottom line for automakers worldwide. Ford Motor Company researchers have concluded that women are directly responsible for 45 percent of new car purchases, and have input into 80 percent. So, despite generations of juvenile taunts, automakers today want to build chick cars -- it's where the money is.

To find out just what that means, the analysts at TrueCar.com looked at the registrations of more than 13 million vehicles over the past two years. They found that just 36 percent of new cars were registered to women. But the cars registered to women show a few clear trends.
Size Matters, and They Like 'em Small

The researchers found nine models of car that were bought by women more often than men. All nine were small cars, or small SUVs. Not one was even midsize.

They weren't all cute compact cars. The list actually featured more small SUVs than anything else. As manufacturers have moved toward car-based crossover SUVs, compact SUVs have increasingly become an alternative to midsize cars. They offer cargo space when it's needed, but are still nimble and easy to drive. Women are driving this trend, buying curvaceous small SUVs like the Nissan Rogue and Hyundai Tucson more often than men.

We should note, however, that the survey only looked at the gender on the registration form. Some women may register a car in their own name when they're young and single, but register the family car in their partner's name later in life, skewing the numbers toward the sorts of cars that appeal to the young.

They Don't Like to Waste Money

Of the ten auto brands bought most often by women, just one -- Lexus – is clearly  a luxury marque.

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