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Bankrate's 2007 New Car Guide
For women mostly
Women have become major players in the auto world and they're getting more respect.
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For women mostly
What women really want -- from a car

Women may always seem to be on a quest for the perfect shoes to match a to-die-for outfit. But when it comes to car shopping, female drivers put function over flash.

Females' favorite 5
The five most important factors for women choosing a vehicle, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, are:
1. Vehicle reliability/durability.
2. Interior comfort.
3. Exterior styling.
4. Quality of workmanship.
5. Gas mileage.

"The primary thing that women look for when they're shopping for a car is the safety features," says Courtney Caldwell, editor in chief and publisher of Road & Travel Magazine. "They do a lot of shopping on safety features for a vehicle because they have concerns for their own personal safety as well as that of their family and their child."

Women also focus more on whether it's a practical choice and within their budget. "It's not necessarily what they want if money were no object," Caldwell says.

And tastes vary widely. "There's no one car that all women like,'' she says."It all boils down to lifestyle, age and income."

But their choices are resonating with the auto industry. Experts are quick to point out that women influence 85 percent of vehicle sales. So if you're a female driver, automakers are watching what you're buying.

"The one big difference between men and women is that men are a little more power-performance conscious; women are more miles-per-gallon-economic conscious," says Charlie Vogelheim, vice president of automotive development for J.D. Power and Associates.

Women tend to be more focused on who's riding in the vehicle and whether they're comfortable, while men are more focused on the utility and cargo of a vehicle, he adds.

Age factors
For women under 30, Caldwell says, two of the most popular vehicles are the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, because of their reputation for safety and affordability. Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst with Kelley Blue Book, identifies three economy cars that are popular among women:

  • Nissan Versa (base price $12,550).
  • Toyota Yaris (base price $11,150).
  • Honda Fit (base price $13,850).

Most women with families tend to gravitate toward minivans or crossover vehicles because they're practical for their lifestyles, Caldwell says. In the crossover sport utility vehicle market, here are five choices that Nerad says women tend to buy:

  • Honda CRV (base price $20,600).
  • Toyota RAV4 (base price $20,950).
  • Mitsubishi Outlander (base price $21,370).
  • Chevrolet Equinox (base price $22,865).
  • Ford Escape (base price $18,580).

As kids get older, women look at sedans or other vehicles that fit their lifestyles while boomers tend to focus on luxury vehicles, Caldwell says. In the luxury sector, two that tend to appeal to women, according to Nerad, are:

  • Lexus RX350 (base price $37,400-$38,800).
  • Infiniti FX35 (base price 37,950).
-- Posted: Aug. 2, 2007
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