The Top Ten Cars for Women
has been one of the most popular articles here on About.com Cars
for as long as I can remember. No, it's not a list that highlights visor mirrors and places to stick your purse. Women tend to be more practical when it comes to buying cars (just as men tend to be more practical when it comes to buying shoes), and the Ten Best Cars for Women is a guide to practical buying.
In the interests of equal time, I decided to publish this list. For guys, it's not about what we need, but what we want. Are these cars practical? Some of 'em. Sensible? Maybe. But they're cool -- and that's what counts.
While there are no doubt plenty of women who are Corvette owners, the 'Vette always has been, and always will be, a guy's car. Not only is it the symbol of the male mid-life crisis, but its wide body and over-the-top V8 engine make it an ode to excess that the male members of our species are hard-wired to appreciate. And then there's the Corvette's inherent patriotic appeal -- and the fact that Chevy has improved the chassis to the point that the newest 'Vettes are serious track cars, makes it all that much more rewarding to thumb one's nose at Porsche owners.
Guys are not known for our taste in furnishings -- witness such brilliant creations as the wagon-wheel coffee table. So while the Sebring's plethora of interior materials, all joined together in one disharmonious bowling-shirt-like whole, may cause women to retch, it's just the sort of more-is-better décor that guys like me love. The Sebring isn't great to drive, but it's wonderful to sit in.
For years, the station wagons were the mommymobiles of choice -- but the Magnum shows us that wagons can be manly, too. With engine choices starting at 190 horsepower and going all the way up to the 340 hp and 425 hp Hemi V8s, plus big wheels and magnificently menacing styling, the Dodge Magnum practically drips testosterone. Each time I drive one, I look underneath for a pair of
well, you know. I haven't found them, but I'm sure they're under there somewhere.
510 horsepower now, 600 horsepower coming in 2008. 'Nuff said.
The stereotype says that men are supposed to know all about cars, but the truth is that many of us don't. That's where the Honda Accord comes in. To the world, it says, "This person is beyond all this go-faster nonsense! He wants sensible, reliable transportation for himself and the family." To us, it says, "Just enjoy the V6 and the leather, and I'll keep you out of the repair shop. Your wife never has to know that you don't understand a thing your mechanic is talking about!"
The S2000 is the Mazda Miata for guys. Not to knock on the Miata -- I mean, let's face it, in terms of pure driver appeal it's one of the best cars on the market. But why have 166 horsepower when you can have 237? Why have a 6,700 RPM redline when you can have an 8,000 RPM redline? Why have manual operation for the absurdly light top when you can have power? The S2000 is like a Miata with extra cheese and extra bacon. Do you need it? Nah. Is it good for you? Probably not. Are you gonna get it? Hell yeah!
There are plenty of rear-wheel-drive sport-luxury sedans on the market, but it's the G35's 350Z DNA (see below) that gives it its guy appeal. The G35's 306 horsepower makes cornering with finesse a little tricky -- it takes a light foot when exiting corners to avoid incurring the traction control system's wrath -- but this car jets away from the traffic lights like nobody's business. And the rear-wheel-drive layout may rob rear-seat and trunk space -- but, hey, that's why they invented the two-car family.
Gadgets and guys just naturally go together -- do you think it's a coincidence that they both start with the letter G? The LS has long been the showcase for Lexus' latest and greatest, with gadgets like radar cruise control that automatically keeps a set distance from the car in front, push-button starting, and even a self-parking feature. For those who can afford to have someone else drive them, the LS460 even offers an extended-wheelbase model with optional reclining rear seats (complete with electric massage) and dual-screen video system. Add chips and a Godfather DVD and it's the ultimate rolling living room!
My dearly-departed Uncle Ben was one of the manliest men I know -- not in a body-builder-Marine sense, but in a women-love-me-and-men-want-to-be-me sense. He discovered Nissan Z-cars in the mid 80s, and after he bought his first one (a 300ZX) he never bought another type of car. All Zs, past and present, have a few things in common: They look cool, they go fast, and they rarely break. They have flashy exteriors and business-class interiors that always suited my Unc just fine. Besides, among car guys, there's just something about a Z that commands respect.
Thinking of all the people I know who really love to drive, I'd say the number of women is at least equal to the number of men. So what is it that gives the GTI -- one of the most fun-to-drive cars on the market for two decades running -- such a strong guy appeal? Beats me, but while women seem to be drawn to the sensible Jetta, the GTI just feels like a guy thing. The 4-door is especially appealing to men like me who have families; the two-door
is the GTI for purists.