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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What Women Want

I’ve been reading this article in KRISTV about what cars appeal most to women drivers. It was cited there that men have their eyes on cars which have attributes that appeal to the wants, needs and whims of a male person. Women, on the other hand, take into consideration all these desired attributes and add a couple more to them, some of which are incomprehensible or insignificant to the male point of view. GM vehicle line director Mary Sipes asked her team (which is composed mainly of men) to wear women’s clothes in order to make them feel what it’s like to climb aboard a beefy SUV. The exercise is aimed towards giving the men on the team a feel of what it’s like to be a woman and climb a beefy SUV. This can be very useful because nowadays automakers are no longer aiming only for the male market, but they are also reaching out to the female population. And they have enough reason to do so because we are seeing a lot of women drivers these days on the streets.

It is said in the write-up that the availability of space for the purse, the easy of entry and exit may be important to women, but there are more serious consideration which can make or break a sale. Bengt Halvorson of KRISTV provided an excellent overview of what it is women look for in a car.

What Matters Most

Safety, comfort, practicality and value are top priorities for women car buyers, experts say. Styling, design and performance are also important, but not necessarily more so than practicality.

Our all-inclusive list of vehicles with the highest percentage of female primary drivers includes some of the smallest, least expensive cars available, such as the Honda Fit, Kia Spectra and Toyota Yaris. The Fit tops our list encompassing both luxury and non-luxury vehicles, with 80.46 percent driven primarily by women.

Show Me Practicality

Women might be more inclined than men to buy smaller vehicles, but many prefer large models. Three sport utility vehicles made our list that takes into account both luxury and non-luxury vehicles: The Honda Pilot in seventh place (with 60.28 percent female primary drivers), the Mazda's CX-7 in eighth (60.19 percent), and the wagon-like Chrysler Pacifica in 10th (59.81 percent).

"Women are looking for practicality and versatility," says Alexander Edwards, automotive division president at consulting firm Strategic Vision.

Value-Minded Luxury

When looking only at luxury vehicles, it's clear that even wealthy women focus on price more than do affluent men. Many of the luxury vehicles with the highest percentage of female primary drivers are among the most affordable premium models on the market.

Among the most affordable models on our second list, which is limited to luxury or premium models, are the second-place $25,930 Audi A3, with 54.85 percent female primary drivers, and the third-ranked $24,365 Volvo S40 with 53.69 percent.

The Form Factor

The BMW Z4 is the only model to make both of our lists of vehicles with the highest percentage of female primary drivers. With 60.31 percent driven primarily by women, BMW's sleek Z4 two-seater sports car tops our luxury-only list and ranks sixth on the all-encompassing list.

It has the kind of styling women gravitate toward, says Imre Molnar, dean of Detroit's College for Creative Studies, home to one of the country's top automotive design programs. The BMW Z4 has a "complex and sophisticated compound form that's very feminine," he says, adding that some women are attracted to so-called "masculine" designs, but most gravitate toward vehicles with softer curves.

Here are the cars that made the list:

1. Honda Fit
2. Kia Spectra
3. Hyundai Elantra
4. Toyota Yaris
5. Nissan Versa
6. BMW Z4
7. Honda Pilot
8. Mazda CX-7
9. Hyundai Tiburon
10. Chrysler Pacifica

Source: KRISTV