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Study Finds Big Gender Gap in Car Choices

Men search for performance, women for practicality, affordability.

by on Dec.30, 2015

Women are having a bigger impact on the auto industry than ever, but have very different interests than men.

Gone are the days when men dominated the new car buying process. Women now buy – or at least influence – more than half of the vehicles sold in the U.S., according to various studies.

But there’s still a big gender gap when it comes to the vehicles men and women choose. More precisely, when they go online – as most shoppers do to research their eventual choice — women appear to be practical and direct about what they’re looking for. Men? They’re as likely as not to start fantasizing about the cars they’d like to get, whether or not those are practical choices fitting the budget.

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Men are more interest in sportier, powerful cars and trucks than woman, according to a study by data service iSeeCars.com. Women, on the whole, are looking for vehicles that are affordable.

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The number one choice for women, according to the new study: the Hyundai Tucson. In fact, 66.2% of the inquiries made about the small SUV came from women.

“Half of the top 10 cars women most prefer are models from Korean Hyundai or Kia brands,” said Jacqui Trotta, of iSeeCars.com.

The 2016 Hyundai Tucson. The SUV was the most popular choice among women shoppers.

The average vehicle in the top 10 cars women searched for came in at just $14,870. That’s less than half of what the typical new vehicle now goes for, according to industry data. The cheapest model on the list was the $10,800 Kia Rio, ranked eighth on the list. The most expensive, the Kia Sorrento, rang in at just $18,668.

As for men, the number one inquiry was for the Nissan GT-R, at $80,450. More than 99% of the inquiries for the 2-seat sports car were made by men. The most expensive care on the list? The $113,666 Bentley Continental GTC. The least expensive — and the only pick under $25,000 – was the Chevrolet Express Cargo van, at $16,433.

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On the whole, the top 10 choices made by men carried an average sticker price of $49,224. And the top four were sports cars, three others luxury vehicles. Two were heavy-duty pickups, with the Chevy van rounding out the list.

The top 10 male selections, one might note, came in more than 50% higher than the Average Transaction Price of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. this year, using data from Kelley Blue Book.

Meanwhile, not one of the male choices, according to the iSeeCar survey, was anywhere near the top 50, never mind top 10, among vehicles sold in the U.S. (Unless, that is, you roll the F-350 in with the rest of the Ford F-Series line-up, and count the Sierra 2500 along with all the various versions of the Chevrolet pickup, both light and heavy-duty.)

Nissan's 2015 GT-R Nismo was the most popular search choice among men.

How to explain the wide disparity between men and women? Men seem to exercise their imagination when they go online to check out cars. They’re engaging in flights of fantasy, as much as actually setting out looking for what they’ll ultimately buy.

Whether it is because of the gender pay gap, the added duties women often have as housewives or some other factor, women seem to be far more grounded and aware of what their needs are – and what the limits are when it comes to a monthly car budget.

The iSeeCars survey examined 54 million searches by U.S. shoppers to determine gender-based trends.

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6 Responses to “Study Finds Big Gender Gap in Car Choices”

  1. pre user says:

    yea but what are they *actually buying *

    I’ve looked at Bentley’s and Ferrari’s Porsche 9xx etc.etc,etc on line knowing I wasn’t going to buy one .

    Ofc I’m a guy with a GMC Sierra 1500 truck purchased new like the last 3 so they got that part right.

  2. Fred says:

    Women know we men spend more time in dreamland than they do when we aren’t in Problem Solving Mode. In car shopping, they’re in problem solving mode. In Christmas shopping WE are (to their disgust). Luckily they know that – it saves us from being whacked with a pocketbook when they see us oogling as we follow them around.
    We know it is BIG trouble to get serious about the Z-28 or the shopper in the red Christmas mini-dress. That’s why they call it DREAMland.

  3. This “DUH” survey confirms my predictions of the American Car Companies destination. The Big three will make large trucks and SUVs. the throw away cars will be bought by women and made by the Import brands. There is a huge surge in Classic cars right now, because most older guys see that cookie cutter crap is not for them. They want a real car, and you can’t get it in today’s rolling smartphones.

  4. GT101 says:

    There is still a love affair with automobiles and that is why men tend to be more interested in sportier, more powerful models. The fact of the matter is it is actually fun to drive a powerful, nice handling, attractive auto. Woman who have an infatuation with cars can be seen driving their drop-top car on sunny days with the top down. Many woman however view a car as an appliance in which case the least expensive, most convenient suitable model wins out over flash, power, performance or style.

    I’ve never met a woman who after a test ride/drive in a Porsche 911 ever stated she’d prefer a new refrigerator or a Prius over the 911.

  5. Vince S says:

    It should come as no surprise to anyone that men like to look at dream machines when they search for cars online. The AHA moment for me in this article is that half of the top 10 searches for women are cars from Kia and Hyundai. These brands are clearly resonating with the female car buyer and are making tremendous inroads into the markets traditionally dominated by Honda and Toyota.

  6. Brian says:

    For men, a nice car is freedom, power, and status. For women these things are not generally indicated or enjoyed through an automobile. There are, nonetheless, significant numbers of female car enthusiasts. Many of the 2-seat sports car brands have proven poor at marketing to this powerful demographic.