Regardless of which direction the war of the sexes is leaning, one thing is certain: A gender gap still exists between women and men when it comes to buying a new car.
According to the third annual gender and car buying study by TrueCar.com, the brand with the highest percentage of retail sales to women in 2011 continues to be Mini (46.2 percent), followed by Nissan (45.7 percent), and Kia (45.6 percent) compared to 2010 when Mini (47.9 percent) came in first, followed by Kia and Honda respectively (46.8 percent and 46.0 percent). On the flip side, 13 of the top 20 brands in 2011 with the highest percentage of male buyers were either exotic or luxury brands.
While the stereotype for men and women in relationships tells us that men lead with their head and women with their hearts, the opposite can be said of their decision-making at the car dealership. According to the results, female car buyers really gravitated toward practical cars; smaller, more fuel-efficient cars while it was male buyers, who preferred either a fast, sporty vehicle or more heavy-duty vehicle, like a large truck or SUV, basing their decision more on aesthetics than substance.
So what new cars are women buying? Let's take a look!
Starting Price: $27,750
Percentage of female buyers: 57.9%
Promoted by Volvo as the "Fuel Efficient Sedan," is it any wonder that women were attracted to the well-priced S40, which retailed for about $27,750 and offered great fuel economy of 21 mpg city, 30 highway, and a combined 24 mpg? Sadly, the Volvo S40 was discontinued for the US market after the 2011 model year, but if you just gotta have this fun to drive, sport sedan we suggest you take a look at the 2012 Volvo S60 instead.
Starting Price: $23,915
Percentage of female buyers: 56.9%
The first of three Nissan vehicles in this list, the Rogue packages a flexible interior offering room for five passengers or up to 57.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity. The small crossover SUV also boasts fuel economy of 23 mpg city, 28 highway, and 25 mpg combined, making it appealing to the woman who needs to carry kids and their gear while also offering an affordable starting price and fuel budget.
Starting Price: $34,350
Percentage of female buyers: 56.4%
At $34,350, the Volkwagen EOS is the most expensive of the cars on the women's list (compared to $82,100 for the Porsche 911 Carrera at the top of the men’s list). As the only convertible among the top 10 most popular new cars purchased by women its retractable hardtop with sunroof and respectable list of standard convenience and technology features makes it worth the price. Standard features like heated leather seats, dual climate control, and a touchscreen sound system combine with fuel economy ratings of 22 city, 30 highway, and 25 mpg combined to make this four-seat coupe a fun and sporty, yet value-oriented option for women who prefer open-air driving.
Starting Price: $18,995
Percentage of female buyers: 54.6%
Volkswagen completely redesigned its Beetle for the 2012 model year to help it better appeal to male new car buyers, but that didn't keep it out of the hands of 54.6 percent of women shoppers in 2011. Even though the iconic little coupe no longer boasts a dash-mounted bud vase, the sporty four-seater does offer keyless access with push button start, an affordable starting price, and fuel economy ratings of 20 city, 29 highway, and 23 mpg combined.
Starting Price: $19,145
Percentage of female buyers: 54.0%
Another of the several compact crossover utility vehicles on this list, the Hyundai Tucson seats five, and offers up to 55.8 cubic feet of cargo room. The Tucson captured 54.0% of the female new car buyers thanks to its affordable pricing, strong five-star safety ratings, stylish looks, fuel economy ratings of 22 city/31 highway/25 mpg combined, and Hyundai's appealing10-year/100,000-mile warranty.
Starting Price: $22,295
Percentage of female buyers: 53.4%
Honda's CR-V compact utility vehicle is small, easy to drive and park, and was completely redesigned for the 2012 model year to offer stylish new looks and a functional interior that offers flexibility for driver, passengers, and cargo. Honda's Eco-assist helps drivers save fuel with just a push of a button to achieve fuel economy ratings of 23 city, 31 highway, and 26 mpg combined for the two-wheel-drive model. Women drivers also appreciate safety, and the 2012 Honda CR-V is rated as a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Starting Price: $22,650
Percentage of female buyers: 53.0%
Practical and family friendly, Toyota's RAV4 boasts the typical benefits of a crossover utility vehicle, including flexible seating and cargo capacity, higher visibility, comfortable seating and handling, and fuel economy ratings of 22 city, 28 highway, and 24 mpg combined from the two-wheel-drive model.
Starting Price: $19,990
Percentage of female buyers: 52.7%
One of three Nissan vehicles on the list, the Juke mini crossover has funky "Love it or hate it" styling and a smaller interior offering room for five and 105 cubic feet of storage or two passengers with 35.9 cubic feet of storage. Obviously smaller than the other crossovers on this list, its women buyers aren't schlepping big families, and appreciate its low starting price and fuel economy ratings of 27 city, 32 highway, and 29 mpg combined when equipped with an automatic transmission.
Starting Price: $19,295
Percentage of female buyers: 52.7%
Redesigned for the 2011 model year, the Compass reflects the rugged styling of the Grand Cherokee, but in a smaller package that's less expensive and easier to navigate in tight spaces. No, it's not intended to take you on black-diamond off-road terrain, but its optional off-road-ready four-wheel drive system can tackle most off-roading duties, all with an affordable starting price and great fuel economy ratings for its class of 23 city, 27 highway, and 24 mpg combined (for two-wheel drive).
Starting Price: $14,480
Percentage of female buyers: 52.2%
It's not luxurious or performance-focused, but it's hard to beat the bargain-basement pricing of the entry-level Nissan Versa. Nissan's smallest car is available as a hatchback or sedan, and offers a variety of options to accommodate the needs of women buyers who seek affordable, practical, fuel-efficient transportation without the costly bells and whistles found on some of the pricier cars on this list. Top it off with fuel economy ratings of 28 city, 34 highway, and 30 mpg combined, and it's easy to see why the Nissan Versa makes it onto the list as the 10th most popular new car purchased by women shoppers.