Women and men have contrasting tastes in many things, cars included. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, that men tend to value performance and style before practicality and comfort. And with intuitive maternal instincts, it’s not terribly surprising that women prefer safety, reliability, and comfort.
Last year, automotive search engine and research site iSeeCars published a study based on its analysis of 54 million car sales and over 500,000 consumer inquiries of cars for sale from its site over a 2.75-year period. This analysis found 10 cars for which more than 60 percent of prospective buyers were women (complete list below).
“Female drivers are most concerned about safety and reliability,” said Jill Trotta, Director of the Automotive Group at RepairPal, which helps drivers find reliable auto shops. “Women like the utilitarian type of vehicles that make transporting kids and all their gear easy and comfortable,” said Trotta. “Hyundai/Kia recognize this and they are making sure their vehicles fill this need.”
“Practicality, value, and style closely follow but, unlike their male counterparts who are more likely to place a high priority on the ‘cool’ factor of horsepower and styling, women want to feel safe in their vehicle. They are most often transporting children and loved ones.”
Incredibly, exactly half of the top 10 cars women drivers want, according to the iSeeCars study, are Korean brands, with the Hyundai Tucson at number 1 while no less than four Kia models are featured.
“For women, seating comfort, visibility, and safety are top considerations,” said automotive expert, analyst, journalist and author Lauren Fix, ‘The Car Coach’. “No matter how long you own a vehicle, it doesn’t get more comfortable. There are other important factors, but these three are at the top.”
Whereas the average price on the Top 10 Cars Women Want list is just $14,870, the average price of cars on iSeeCars’ equivalent list for men (which is topped by the Nissan GT-R, BMW M3 and Porsche Cayman) is a whopping $49,224.
“Women tend to be budget minded,” noted Fix. “Women already own 62 percent of the cars on the road and have 95-percent veto power on automotive decisions.”
“Women are more likely to drive the minivan, small SUV [and] 4-door vehicles,” said Trotta. “These vehicles are offered [at] a value price, are easy on gas and provide room for passengers and gear.”
Asked which features they would focus on if designing a vehicle specifically for women drivers, both experts interviewed listed seating comfort, state-of-the-art safety features, and user-friendly audio systems.
“Plenty of storage and easy installation for child safety seats,” Fix added. “Extras should be heated and cooled seats [and] heated steering wheels.”
“Radar Cruise control, lane departure [warning], and collision avoidance are all systems I’d include,” Trotta continued. “Distracted driving is a thing when you have passengers in the vehicle, so adding extra layers of protection is so critical.”
With help from our female automotive experts, Gear Heads took a look at the vehicles on iSeeCars’ list of the Top 10 Cars Women Want.
What Are The Best Cars For Women?
#01. HYUNDAI TUCSON (avg. price: $16,722; inquiries by women: 66.2%)
Considering it’s checking so many of the “best cars for women” boxes outlined above, it’s not entirely surprising that this affordable compact crossover SUV from Hyundai, which gets more handsome with every generation, tops iSeeCars’ list.
“[The Tucson] is highly rated for safety and reliability,” said Trotta. “It’s nicely styled, with a good amount of amenities [and] has a good amount of cargo room.”
#02. NISSAN VERSA (avg. price: $12,144; inquires by women: 64.0%)
This Nissan hatchback mini MPV is a tried-and-trusted global vehicle marketed overseas as the Note. “The Versa is a small easy to park vehicle,” said Trotta. “It is very utilitarian and basic. This is a good first vehicle.”
If its new e-Power hybrid variant, which has been outselling the Toyota Prius in Japan, arrives stateside, the Versa could become even more attractive to efficiency-seeking women drivers.
#03. VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE (avg. price: $18,179; inquiries by women 63.9%)
Perhaps the most charismatic car on this list, this compact 3-door Volkswagen lends practicality to its distinctive retro styling with a generous rear hatch.
The back seats will accommodate adults comfortably only for short trips, but the easy-to-operate, touch-screen infotainment system is just what our experts ordered. “Too much fun to drive,” said Fix. “Not family-friendly, but a great, safe, reliable German ride.”
#04. KIA FORTE (avg. price: $13,730; inquiries by women: 62.8%)
Available as a sedan or hatchback, the Kia Forte belies its budget pricing with elegant lines and traditionally higher-end options including a 201 hp turbocharged mill, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, plus reassuring driver-assistance technologies.
“The Forte is a value priced vehicle, but it offers features and amenities that just aren’t offered in many vehicles of this price point,” said Trotta. “It’s also nicely styled.”
#05. FORD FIESTA (avg. price: $13,237; inquiries by women: 62.8%)
An enduring global supermini (since 1976, but only sold stateside since 2010), the Ford Fiesta expanded somewhat for its seventh generation. Offered as a sedan or four-door hatchback, it’s comfortable up front, tech-laden, and surprisingly peppy to drive.
“The Fiesta falls into the subcompact utilitarian category,” said Trotta. “It has a good safety rating and, despite its small size, has interior room and good trunk space.”
#06. KIA SORENTO (avg. price: $18,668; inquiries by women: 62.0%)
For its third generation, this family-friendly mid-size crossover (available as a 5- or 7-seater) reappeared longer, yet lower, to facilitate both increased practicality and improved handling.
In keeping with Kia’s bang-for-your-buck reputation, the 2017 Sorento added available Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus safety-enhancing automatic emergency braking and adaptive headlights. “[An] SUV with technology, safety, usability and a long warranty,” noted Fix.
#07. JEEP PATRIOT (avg. price: $15,615; inquiries by women: 61.4%)
While Patriot production ceased last December, brand new models can still be found at Jeep dealerships while stocks deplete. A practical and unusually affordable SUV with an easy-to-clean cabin, its adventurous aura is enhanced with
A practical and unusually affordable SUV with an easy-to-clean cabin, its adventurous aura is enhanced with genuine off-road ability (including available four-wheel drive) hard to find in a family ride. “Great for on and off-road use [and] fun to drive,” said Fix.
#08. MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER (avg. price: $15,173; inquiries by women: 60.9%)
“The Outlander is the one vehicle on this list that offers an optional V6 engine,” Trotta explained. “Small SUV’s offer some space and this particular model offers lots of bells and whistles.”
A three-row mid-size crossover that can carry the entire family in comfort, the 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander added available all-wheel-drive on the base model, updated safety features, and state-of-the-art smartphone integration.
#09. KIA RIO (avg. price: $10,800; inquiries by women: 60.8%)
This stalwart subcompact, produced over four generations since 2000, offers better-than-average rear-seat room for the kids, one of the more powerful engines in its segment, and welcome design refinement in both its sedan and hatchback versions.
And the Rio looks to be only improving. “Fuel-efficient, safe and long warranty, the 2018 model is even better in every way,” said Fix.
#10. KIA SOUL (avg. price $14,431; inquiries by women: 60.6%)
The boxy Soul offers much to women drivers, including outstanding cargo room, spacious seats, and an ultra-low MSRP. Equal parts hatchback, wagon, and SUV, it’s in a quirky class of one since the Nissan Cube and Scion xB were discontinued. “[It’s] cute, has good safety ratings and great marketing,” said Trotta. “Like its brothers and sisters, this vehicle offers a lot of car for the money.”
While men and women certainly differ in their tastes both automotively and generally, women have the definite advantage here. Not because these vehicles are necessarily better or more reliable, but simply because they’re cheaper. While men seem to prefer setting the bar high in terms of their ideal ride, women tend towards more practical vehicles that they’re significantly more likely to obtain.