What Women Want

Female buyers chose these 10 rides over all the others in 2011.

By Jessica Choksey

Men have been trying to decipher what women want since Adam gave Eve that apple. Maybe he handed her a Macintosh but she wanted a Winesap. We’ve always relished the joys of keeping them guessing.

That is true for everything except our cars. We want what we want in our vehicles, especially since they cost so much. Why be disappointed?

To that end, we’ve compiled a list of cars women buy the most. This way, if you’re hinting to a loved one that you’re ready for a new car, you can just hand him this list and be done with it. It’s also a little cheat sheet for carmakers, which no doubt pay close attention to such things and try to replicate them when building future models.

Our list is proof-positive that we gals make car-buying decisions based on things like practicality, reliability, and a reputation for build quality. It’s comprised of several cars you will expect, a few newcomers, and one we consider a bit of surprise. So, with good old women’s intuition leading the way, here are the top ten 2011 vehicle models that women bought (source: J.D. Power and Associates):

1. Toyota Camry

This chart topper, known as “Old Faithful,” has a following that’s up there with U2 and Springsteen. But here’s the crazy part… there’s nothing remarkable about this car. It’s one of those “sum of the parts is greater than the whole” situations. Bottom line, the Camry delivers a very comfortable, very reliable form of transportation. And that’s what women want. The five-seat Camry and its extra large trunk give them every bit of day-to-day happiness a car could afford.

And speaking of “afford,” the Camry is plenty economical. EPA figures are 22 city / 33 hwy, while its price range falls between $20,500 and $30,000. The 2012 model will produce even better fuel economy at 25 city / 35 hwy and about 40 hwy for the hybrid model. Two words: Camry Rules.

2. Honda CR-V

The CR-V drives like a car, and is as affordable as a car, but offers the form and function of a small SUV. It’s this blending of two worlds that gives this kind of vehicle the designation of “crossover,” and the CR-V crosses car and utility better than any other out there.

Aside from an excellent interior layout, lots of cargo room, and good safety features, the CR-V comes equipped with all-wheel drive, ideal for the rain-slicked roads. Beyond that, it grants car-like fuel economy at 21 city / 28 highway. Pricing starts in the low 20s and can climb to around $30,500. A completely redone 2012 version will debut late December.

3. Honda Civic

Next on the list is another Honda. The Civic is, and always has been, a crowd-pleaser of epic proportions. First off, the Civic appears smaller than it actually is. Climb inside and it feels like a whole different animal. The front seat offers as much forward room as some full-size cars, so it’s comfy for long trips. Besides its generous packaging, it’s fun-to-drive, well put-together, and cute, with a sort of Prius-like profile (assuming you like the Prius’ looks).

The five-seat Honda Civic is efficient with EPA figures of 26 city / 34 highway. And it has a sensible $16,000 base price tag.

4. Honda Accord

Rounding out the holy trinity of Hondas is the very well known, very bullet proof Accord. Almost every person on earth has heard of the Accord. Tribal people of central Uganda have heard of the Accord. Well, maybe not. But year-after-year, for more than two-and-a half decades, the five-seat Accord has been a best seller. It is built to last, and easy to drive. And it offers just the right amount of comfort and features without going overboard. And if Honda has a clue… they will never, ever, ever change the Accord’s proven formula. Everyone remember the “New Coke” debacle?

Fuel economy for the Accord is not stellar, at 19 city / 29 highway. We wish that city number were higher, especially since its competitor, Camry, is more of a gas sipper. Pricing starts at about $22,000 and tops out at a somewhat hefty $32,000.

5. Chevrolet Equinox

Chevy sneaks into the top five with its very smart and capable Equinox. Like the Honda CR-V, this small five-seat crossover is graced with bold styling and excellent packaging. And with class-leading fuel economy, it’s a more economical alternative to the big, honking traditional SUV. The Equinox offers amped up interior space, comfort, and a really attractive cabin.

Optional highlights include a cutting-edge navigation system and a surround sound stereo. But if you’re looking for a third-row, no luck. You’ll have to turn to Toyota or Hyundai for that. Still, Chevy’s Equinox offers a lot at about $23,500 for the base model, to about $37,000 for a fully loaded ride.

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