by: Kevin Ransom | AOL Autos

    What do women want? Well, given that “gender war” tales have become such a fertile source of debate in recent years -- with whole books devoted to the topic -- the temptation to crack wise is a powerful one.

    "If I knew the answer to that, I’d still be married."

    "What do they want? Everything, near as I can tell."

    Okay, I’ll stop the riffs now, before I dig myself in any deeper. But, the truth is, the two genders are different in many, profound ways. And, generally speaking, women do tend to value certain things much more than men do, in many different realms of life.

    CNW Research has compiled some data, based on questions they posed to consumers about how much importance they placed on various features offered in cars, then sorted the replies by gender (as well as by age group). This data was collected first in 2006, and then again this year, to see how they've changed. So, we’re going to talk about that, in the context of that whole notion that Men Are From Texas, and Women Are From Neptune.

    But before we get into the specific features, we asked for some general insight into the subject from Susan Avery, who is editor-in-chief of ParentDish.com, an AOL website about parenting news and trends, and who provides some interesting female perspectives.

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    “I went on a massive car search in 2004, and I’m a single mom, and I’m an educated person, but I kept being drawn to the ‘pretty’ cars,” confesses Avery, who lives and works in New York City. “I was, like, ‘Oh, isn’t that one pretty,’ and ‘Oh, look at that pretty color.’ Color was a really big thing for me. I eventually got what I wanted, because I custom-ordered it -- a metallic-orange paint job.”

    So, it’s true, then? Even an articulate, educated, New York professional woman is attracted to the archetypical “shiny object”?

    “It’s true,” says Avery without pause. “If I could have bought a Laura Ashley car, I would have.”

    On the flip side, Rick Scheidt, executive director for product marketing at Chevrolet, points to one fact that won’t surprise any of us: Sporty, brawny, high-revving road rockets are way, way more popular with men than with women.

    “If you look at Corvette owners, it’s probably 90 percent men. But when we ask further about who influenced the decision to purchase that vehicle, about 20 percent say that the decision was made mutually between the man and his wife or girlfriend,” he notes.

    For comparison purposes, Scheidt says he expects that Chevy Cruze buyers will be about 55 percent female, maybe more.

    The cliché that still abounds, of course, is that men who buy high-priced, high-performance, phallic-shaped sports cars are trying to make a statement of a different sort.

    “Yeah, that’s a tough one to call,” says Avery. “If a guy picked me up in a Corvette, I might think, ‘What’s he trying to prove?’ But the other part of me would think that’s a sexy car -- for a man. I wouldn’t think it was a sexy car for me. Just like I would think leather seats in a man’s car were sexy, but I would never have them in my own car.

    “Which, again, just gets at the difference between what each gender thinks is sexy in car -- what’s sexy in a man’s car isn’t necessarily sexy in a woman’s car. I love my car, with its orange paint job, which I think is very sexy for me. But if a man showed up in my car, I might start making assumptions about him, and his sexuality,” she cracks.

    Then there’s that much-dissected notion that women are “more emotional” in general than men are, a stereotype that is not typically borne out when it comes to buying cars, says Scheidt

    “We actually tend to find that it’s women who are more rational in their purchases, taking into account things like price, reliability, gas mileage, comfort, etc.,” says Scheidt. “But we often see men buying high-priced sports cars with engines that are much bigger, and much more powerful, than they will ever need out on the highway. Most of us really won’t have many opportunities to tap into the full capabilities of a 500-hp engine.

    “But they get caught up in that whole sports car culture. Sometimes it’s that variation on the male psyche where the guy has to make sure that his engine is more powerful than his buddies’ engines, a masculine way of ‘keeping up with the Joneses.’”

    Scheidt says that product designers do take into account the preferences of women, based on market research, when designing certain elements into their vehicles.

    “Like, we design things to accommodate longer fingernails. We make sure that the shape of a button or control is such that what’s above the button doesn’t interfere with a longer fingernail. And we design brake pedals and gas pedals in such a way that wearing high heels is not an impediment to operating those pedals.”

    But back to the CNW data. The biggest change, from ’06 to ’10, occurred in the importance that women, versus men, placed on a rather benign feature: Cloth seating surfaces. Women ranked cloth seating as 11 percent more important this year, compared to ’06, while men ranked cloth seating as five percent less important.

    “Oh, I can see that,” says Avery. “Cloth seats are more comfy, and more homey, more like you’re sitting in your cozy living room.”

    Scheidt offers a more pragmatic reason: Cloth seats are less pricey, and “female buyers do skew a bit more toward lower-priced vehicles and options,” he says. “And since the mother generally spends more time driving kids back and forth to soccer practice or dance class, she’s probably more conscious of something like a sharp object in the child’s pants pocket cutting into (an expensive) leather seat.”

    The feature that showed the second biggest difference in terms of how it was rated in importance by women, compared to men, over the four-year-period, was bench seats, which were more popular with women in ’06, just as they are today.

    “Oh, I think I know why that is,” says Avery. “Women, who spend more time in their cars with their children, want to keep their loved ones near and dear. Plus, women don’t have an issue with sitting close together. They don’t have that ‘terror’ of sitting close that men have.”

    Scheidt added that, if a couple has a few small children, a bench seat in the rear “allows you to put three booster seats in, instead of just two.”

    Here’s a weird one: This year, women ranked cast alloy wheels as 14 percent more important today than they did in ’06. Men only ranked them as five percent more important this year than four years ago.

    “Now, why do you think that is?” says Avery, teasingly. “Come on, you can guess! It’s because it’s jewelry. It looks like jewelry on your car. It’s bling for your car!”

    So, it’s settled, then. What women really want, after all, is indeed the shiny object. (That was a joke ... I think.)

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    1 - 20 of 165 Comments
    jaylinb123 Aug 31, 2010 9:56 AM
    Oh, and I own a Chevy Tahoe with the 5.7 V8 - it does have cloth seats because it gets too darned hot in San Antonio for leather! But my other car is a Subaru SVX with leather and the wonderful H6 (that's a horizontally-opposed engine, or "boxer" engine, to all you non-mechanic guys out there, go wiki it) So THIS particular woman thinks this article is a bunch of hooey. Guys, you want to gain my respect? Talk to me like I'm a person when we talk cars! And I think minivans should be illegal in all 50 states.
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    jaylinb123 Aug 31, 2010 9:45 AM
    I am completely disgusted by thie article and in particular the comments made by Susan Avery. Thnak you so much for setting us back 20 years in mens' minds, Susan! As a woman who has always been into sports cars and mechanics, I take serious offense to a supposedly informed woman putting words in OUR mouths about what we want. I certainly don't want the "pretty paint job," and I have no respect for a woman who chooses to invest her hard-earned cash into something whose only redeeeming quality is its ability to repel onlookers. What do I want in a car, you ask? I want reliability, power, a good overall value for the money - unless I'm buying one of my toys. Then power is number one! So don't ever assume that one woman's comments comprise all of our thoughts, or you'll get beat off the line by me. Eat my dust, Susan!
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    pamwaggy Jul 19, 2010 9:05 PM
    When I met my husband he had a big Pontiac Bonneville (he was a broker) and when he dropped me home after our first date, he asked me to breakfast the next morning. He says..."I have a little sports car, would you mind if the top was down?" I was thinking HOW FUN. He drives up in a MIATA. I didn'ttell him until after we were married that a four cylinder car is NOT A SPORTS CAR. He now drives a Porsche. And he buys me Jaguars. Whew!
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    crashknight Jul 19, 2010 3:02 PM
    I just recently turned 30 and love Corvettes, this last weekend I had the distinct pleasure of buying my first Corvette a 2008 C6 in Velocity Yellow with 3950 miles. This past weekend I decided that I would go for a drive since my wife 28 was out shopping and to my surprise she had taken the Corvette and she loves the car. In my opinion, people drive what they like and can afford, in my opinion any further analysis is a waste of time.
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    tra8der Jul 19, 2010 2:30 AM
    I find this report highly offensive..this is sooooo not true..Ive been driving my granpas SSC Ultimate Aero for 2 years occasionally..I would not drive some ugly looking soccer mom-mini van for NOTHING!! EVEN IF I HAAD KIDS! I'll put a car seat in my Aero! OR JUST USE THE FOUR DOOE MASERATI QUATTROPORTE! they are both very sexy cars and will guarantee everything..thats how I met my previous housband..i dont let him drive ANNNNNYY of my cars..because he'll just showoff and go with somebody else or another woman!
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    mrobins297 Jul 19, 2010 1:11 AM
    what a moron, just like a women they think everything is about them. if the guy is like any other corvette owner he just enjoys driving it.
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    miketokwel Jul 18, 2010 10:06 PM
    My c5 electron blue vert has it all from beauty to musel and everyone of all ages and sex's love the car.
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    michilady22 Jul 18, 2010 9:02 PM
    "I wouldn't want to be picked up in Corvette." UMMMMM that is "a" corvette.
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    woodtoymaker Jul 18, 2010 8:34 PM
    We welcome all to visit and join our Classic car Group at no cost. We invite your Classic Car Comments. http://mtshastaophanclassicsgroup.shutterfly.com/ We have hundreds of great photos also.
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    woodtoymaker Jul 18, 2010 8:32 PM
    jtjrfan8: Your still a kid beside me. I have never enjoyed a car I had to pay a years wages for only to be closed up in a sardine can. That is why I love the Older ones. I'm 6'5" 275 pounds and know what you mean.
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    woodtoymaker Jul 18, 2010 8:28 PM
    camablue: I don't know where your from. I was a father, Husband and owned my own small business. I have owned Classic Cars all my 71 years since I was 20. Never has my car been more important than any human being. I am the founder of a Classic car Group and I do not know one person who puts their car before their wife, family or jobs. You made a terrible acessment of Classic Car owners.
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    jtjrfan8 Jul 18, 2010 8:21 PM
    I guess at age 46 I am too old to comment but here I go; what I want in a car is-in fact-not availablle in cars! More like in trucks, suv's, etc. I need a higher seat, I don't care who you are there is no graceful way to crawl up and out of something so low to the ground as a Corvette. It's like getting off of an exercise machine without looking clumsy as you duck, tuck and roll! Also ever try putting a loaded child seat into the back of a car v/s into a truck/SUV? The higher the seat the easier on your back-save the exertion for more pleasurable endevors-I say! Also, elderly parents often need to be transported-as do handicapped people of any age- in a real woman's vehicle so helping dad out of the seat at the chemo center is a lot more dignified for him than fetal positioning him for the exit from a low to the ground ride. It's also more fun to sit higher and see more. Yep-a woman ( not a teeny bopping girl ) wants the seats high and plenty of storage space in the third row PLUS that wonderful luggage rack on top for hauling home the family Christmas tree ( no vaccuming up needles! ) But that's just MY opinion; thanks for asking though! :) ~Jackie
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    bmabry Jul 18, 2010 8:18 PM
    Damnnnnnnnnn...... just buy AMERICAN ya'll, whether it's a compact or a Cadillac! The current economic problems here are the direct result of exporting manufacturing jobs for the last 30 years or so in the name of bigger profits. And also from the "foreign" manufacturers not paying their income taxes to the USA. They break even here and show their taxable profits in their home country and we lose tax revenue. I'm 61 and kinda proud that I have never owned a "non-American" brand auto. And never will unless GM, Ford, Chrysler, etc. go out of business.
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    woodtoymaker Jul 18, 2010 8:17 PM
    wendytravel1, I prefered my Sameri way over my over rated jeeps. And they would go places a jeep wouldn't. I liked my top better also on the Suzuki.
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    woodtoymaker Jul 18, 2010 8:13 PM
    I'm Old I guess, 71 yesterday. But I love real American made cars without all the parts sent from other countries. I own a 1964 Luxury 660 Rambler that rides as good today as it did when it was new it has 29,000 miles on the Mileometer. I also own the Studebaker's a 1955, 1950 amd a 1051 Studebaker 3/4 Ton Pickup with probabl a million miles on it seise it was a dairy Delivery truck for over 50 years and a farm truck up till I bought it three years ago. Sense I restored it two years ago I have driven it about 20,000 miles. I drive the 1950 and 51 everyday. Check us out on Oldride.com under Clubs Featured club. MT. Shasta Orphan Classics
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    wendytravel1 Jul 18, 2010 8:11 PM
    my daughter is a jeepgirl. .the new model wranglers we designed with larger drivers in mind and she would need pedal extensions to drive it .and they're hassles to put the convertible tops back on in case of rain.. what ever happened to the great little convertible suv's?? suzuki sidekicks and geo trackers!!! i found an really well maintained old geo tracker...holds the road for winter driving better than her wrangler and the top comes off with the turn of 4 handles and only weighs about 10 lbs. ,,,how great is that??super visablilty and handling better gas mileage .. ,,,and her baby jeep is fun to drive,,, but of course like alot of good ideas...they dont make them any more/ too bad once again the manufactures theyre missing a hot market...easily hybridable
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    mscpicciocchi Jul 18, 2010 8:10 PM
    I am a woman who considers driving as an art. Sports cars are the best performance cars if you know how to handle them. I do. I own a Mitzubishi 3000GT with leatherette upholstery. It looks and feels very sexy and that's the way it makes me feel, too. I also own a BMW M3. It's very *********** superior to the norm on the road and I love to drive it. Speed..it's exciting. There's nothing odd about a woman who loves to drive and I am fortunate to have that wonderful skill.
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    woodtoymaker Jul 18, 2010 8:02 PM
    I would bet I have more people come up to me and take photos of themselves as well as myself with my Studebaker than most people do with their fine high dollar cars. I even get invited to parties and events I was never invited to when I drove my high end cars. I can take my beautiful Buick Lacurne and drive it and wave at people and they never even notice. It was the same way in my corvette and BMW. But I even have people driving down the busy freeways in Californis honk, wave take my photos as well as buy me dinners, invite me to their home and even parties in my Studebaker's. I have even had highway patrol stop me to take my photo. When I had my Corvette and BMW and others they stopped me but not to take photos of my cars. Usually they would lecture me. And yes: My Studebaker will run 100 MPH.
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    woodtoymaker Jul 18, 2010 7:54 PM
    bulletinboardsn, One of the most fun cars I ever owned was a 1988 Suzuki Sumeri. I traded it in with an RV on a new RV and a V-10 Dodge Pickup. I must say even over my three Jeeps, That Sumeri never gave me a pennies trouble and I drove it everywhere.
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    saminva Jul 18, 2010 7:53 PM
    One summer saturday morning, I went for a drive in my Corvette in our local mountains. There I came upon two dejected looking high school girls, with a bottle of wild flowers, standing in front of their smoking car. They needed to call their father, a mechanic, who was two counties away. I offered a ride but pointed out that the Vette only had two seats. One got in and then the other sat on her friend's lap and fell asleep. I drove them back to a restaurant at the park entrance and gave them all of the quarters I happened to have to make phone calls with. They thanked me and gave me their flowers and we went our separate ways. I kept the flowers on my front porch for two days. comment here
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