What women really
want -- from a car
Putting safety first
Women are particularly vulnerable in rear-impact
crashes -- they often sit closer to the steering
wheel and there is bad positioning against
head restraints -- and tend to be more at
risk for neck injuries, says Russ Rader, spokesman
for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
As a result, it's important to make sure that
the vehicle has head restraints designed to
protect in a rear-impact crash and has good
ratings for rear-crash protection.
Features experts suggest women
- Air bags (including side
- Seatbelt pretensions.
- Crush zones in car.
- Antilock brakes.
- Electronic stability control systems.
The five features women are most interested in, according to the J.D. Power survey, are:
- Power lift gate/trunk/hatch.
- All-wheel drive.
- Remote engine startup.
- Bottle holders in door panels.
That compares with the 2000 survey when the most sought-after features were run-flat tires, sunroof, split fold-down rear seat, "smart" passenger air bag and rear-passenger air bags.
Features like power lift gates
and remote engine startup reflect the increased
desire for comfort, says Vogelheim.
"These cars have gotten
better equipped. You can heat up the car on
a cold day or cool down the car on a hot day
by having your air conditioner or heater jumping
Tech touches and GPS
Not too long ago, power windows and doors
were a luxury. Now there are navigation systems
and electronic features, such as hands-free
telephones and the ability to connect an iPod
to a voice-activated system, Vogelheim says.
A lot of women are gravitating to General Motors vehicles because of its OnStar system that allows them to stay connected at all times, especially if they get into an accident or get lost, says Caldwell. "A lot of women have a fear of getting lost."
OnStar and other GPS systems help simplify women's lives, especially as moms take their kids to activities in towns they have never visited, adds Pam Scholder Ellen, an associate professor of marketing at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
The J.D. Power survey found that the top technology/safety features that appeal to women include:
- Lane departure sensors and blind-spot detectors.
- Rear back up camera and sensor.
- Side curtain air bags.
- Sleep detector sensor.
- Pre-accident alert.
- Personal style.
And when they look at style, women seem to be much more interested in color than men, Nerad says. "We're seeing more imaginative and more colorful interiors returning to vehicles these days," he says. For example, blues are becoming more popular, Nerad adds, and chocolate browns have joined interior options.
While focusing on the practical, women want to look
good in what they're driving, says Ellen.
"The car defines people,'' she says.
"So if you look at someone driving that
unattractive car, that person's aware that
they're kind of judged by the car that they're