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The Cars That Are Most Popular with Women--and Why

OK. Is there such a thing as most popular with women?

Cars and women

In what some people (not us!) might term “the good old days,” cars were something that only men were supposed to know or care about. Automobile manufacturers advertised to men in commercials written by men. The assumption was that men bought the cars, men drove the cars, men by their very nature understood cars. (Women? Not so much.)
The process of shopping for and buying a car was so manly it practically screamed (well, bellowed in a very deep voice) “ladies, stay away! And while you’re at it, bake me a pie!”
If a woman even dared to venture alone into the testosterone-fueled atmosphere of a dealership showroom, she most certainly would be patronized by the plaid-suit-wearing, cigar-chewing salesman (always a man) and told “Here’s the perfect car for you, little lady--look, it even has a light-up vanity mirror so you can check your lipstick while your husband is driving you around. By the way, where is your husband? I need to explain the financing to him. Don’t worry your little head about the money part--now, what is your favorite color? I’ll see what else we have on the lot that suits a pretty gal like you!”
(We’re still shuddering.)
Let’s leave the bad old days in the past for a moment and explore how buying a car has changed for women today. Oops, the bad old days aren’t really so old, after all. It’s still likely women will run into obnoxious car salesmen who will underestimate both their intelligence and their buying power. Car salespeople are still mostly men. They quote higher prices to women and try to take advantage of what they believe is women’s lack of knowledge. Some salesmen refuse to even directly address the woman in a male and female couple, even if she is the one asking the questions. This problem is still so prevalent that some auto manufacturers have taken steps to make women feel more welcome in their showrooms. Lexus, for example, offers a training for their dealers meant to show them how to make their dealerships attractive to women. The training has helped, apparently, as Lexus sales to women have increased. But having to even hold such a training seems pretty sad to us. It’s like the dealers just can’t crack the puzzle that is women and their mysterious feminine ways. Hey, guys: here’s a hint: Just treat women like actual people!

Can we get a slightly different slant on this? I don’t want to sound like I’m pandering to women, more like treating them equal. What I said and believe is;

  1. On average, men don ‘t know much more about cars than women. Women trumpet that fact, Men rarely admit it, so it is a somewhat self-induced problem. Ethical, modern-day independent shops “get it”. They attempt to educate the customer in front of them, regardless of gender, as to the best way to attain that customer’s goals with the vehicle, even if it means the shop loses the sale due to a trade-in instead.
  2. Unethical shops do not make gender distinctions, at least to the extent of only taking advantage of women. They take advantage of everyone.
  3. I prefer a female client base because they hold us to a higher standard; they are the epitome of “trust but verify” if the shop gave incorrect information, the female client will check other sources and tell 10 girlfriends about her bad experience. If the shop is actually giving her good info and empowering her to make an informed decision, she will tell all her girlfriends.

OK, so we’ve determined that the car buying experience isn’t fun for women, but it’s not like men love haggling at the dealership, either. But obviously the automotive manufacturers have wised up and recognized the value of female customers, right? Right?
Not really. It’s an unfortunate fact that most American auto manufacturers have tended to neglect the female customer, based on the fact that men on average spend more on individual car purchases, trade in their cars more often, and buy a greater number of cars over their lifetimes. But what many of these manufacturers have failed to take into account is that women buy 52 percent of all new cars and influence 85 percent of all car-purchasing decisions.
Somebody needs to send these guys the memo: women have minds of their own, money of their own, and (gasp!) are interested in buying their own cars. Car manufacturers who have figured out this mystery have attracted a lot of female car buyers to their brands.
So what kinds of cars are popular with women? Well, it seems that women, as a general rule, are more practical and thoughtful when it comes to choosing a vehicle. They are more concerned with safety, reliability, fuel efficiency, and practicality than men.
Small SUVs and crossovers are very popular with women. The most popular car manufacturers with women include MINI, Honda, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota.
European and Japanese auto manufacturers saw an opening in the American market and started focusing on the needs of women, which is a large part of the reason that European and Japanese cars are more popular with women today than a lot of American cars.
Hybrids are more popular with female drivers than with male drivers. And although more men still buy electric cars, more women are making the switch to drive EVs. What it seems to boil down is this: women are more practical about the cars they drive. They want safety and reliability and don’t care as much about how “cool” a particular car might make them appear to others.
Here’s a list of the vehicles that are most popular with women, from data compiled by TrueCar.com:
Volvo S40
Nissan Rogue
Volkswagen Eos
Volkswagen Beetle
Hyundai Tucson
Honda CR-V
Toyota RAV4
Nissan JUKE
Jeep Compass
Nissan Versa

There is another blog opportunity here. Different but similar. Compare the men’s fav list, side-by-side. If 85% of women influence the decision, I’d expect a similar list for men. And to the point about men vs. women knowing about cars, only two cars on the list are “practical” for most people, proving that men and women are not practical on their purchase choices, but are both susceptible to “sex sells”. This is not a new phenomenon. Going back to the ‘60’s the American public, which includes all three genders, have frequently made “lemons” America’s favorite car. (Like the Pinto, Chevy Monza, Ford Taurus, and most European vehicles to name a few.)  

The vehicles listed here are popular with women, of course. Discussing the statistically popular vehicles is the point of this post. But women are individuals; they drive all kinds of vehicles. Your taste in cars is as individual as you are.

Bob Dupre is the owner of Cars of America. He has given a talk to a local nonprofit group on how many traditional car repair shops can take advantage of women customers if they don’t stand up for themselves. He has made it one of his goals to empower women to not sell themselves short when it comes to making decisions about where to service their cars. “Why would you walk into a place and say ‘I don’t know anything about cars’? But women do that,” he says.
Bob also encourages women to put a lot of thought into what cars they buy. He says, “Buy a car that fits what you do.” Domestic cars depreciate 16% a year on average, European brands 30%. Bob recommends a close-ended, not an open-ended, lease to avoid surprise unknown back-end charges. These are “things that have nothing to do with changing the oil or the tires,” he says. But they are important issues to consider as you buy, drive, and maintain whatever car works best for you.
It’s true that women are still not treated as well as men when it comes to buying and servicing cars. But what the dinosaurs are failing to recognize is that women have a lot of power because they can choose where to take their business. We recommend that women vote with their feet: if you find yourself at a dealership or an auto repair shop that treats you like a second-class citizen, walk out and find a place that understands that women are actually people. (May we suggest Cars of America?)
Cars of America would be glad to have your business. At Cars, you'll find friendly, top-notch professionals who deliver quality auto repair at affordable prices. We stand behind our repairs with a lifetime warranty. You’re welcome to stop by Cars of America in Glenview or Evanston; or visit us online at https://www.carsofamericainc.com/.


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