The cars that women love

Consumer Reports' auto survey shows where the road forks by gender

Published: August 07, 2015 11:00 AM
Tesla Model S

What do women want? Safe, reliable, and fuel-efficient transportation. Men, on the other hand, want power. While those desires might seem clichéd, they're real, according to our latest owner satisfaction survey, which included data on more than 1 million vehicles.

In the survey, we asked car owners whether they would buy the same vehicle if they had to do it all over again. Many women said they’d go for another Subaru Forester, Toyota Highlander, or Toyota Prius. Men were more likely to list sporty cars like the Chevrolet Corvette and various Porsche models. The one car that got high marks from men and women is the Tesla Model S.

This is the first year we’ve separated the results of our annual auto survey by gender. (Conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, the survey is limited to the three most recent model years.)

So what else do women like? Hybrids are more popular with female drivers than with male drivers. Other than the Tesla, the only hybrid to make the men’s favorites list was the Honda Accord Hybrid. But it’s not all about fuel economy. The Chevrolet Silverado and Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks got high marks from women. In the luxury category, women said they would be happy to buy certain models of Mercedes-Benz or Lexus again.

The most interesting—but not surprising—owner satisfaction finding was that women know what’s good. Whether it’s a luxury car, an SUV, a pickup truck, or a wagon, the list of women’s favorites is comprised almost entirely of vehicles that earned top scores from Consumer Reports. The same can’t be said about the guys’ choices.

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Most loved overall

Tesla Model S

Price: $76,200 to $106,200

Testers’ notes: It’s our highest-rated car ever; both men and women agreed. You get smooth power and a luxurious, high-tech interior with this innovative electric vehicle. And you can drive 180 to 225 miles on a charge.

Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Most loved luxury car

Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan (V6)

Price: $53,575 to $102,675

Testers’ notes: The ultimate high-end car, it’s also one of our top-scoring vehicles overall. You get both pampering and performance.

Runner-up: Lexus ES (gas and hybrid)

Most loved family car

Toyota Prius

Price: $25,025 to $30,830

Testers’ notes: Excellent fuel economy, solid reliability, and a spacious interior make the Prius easy to fall in love with.

Runners-up: Volkswagen Passat TDI, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion

Photo: Shawn Michienzi

Most loved small SUV

Subaru Forester (nonturbo)

Price: $23,045 to $33,945

Testers’ notes: It’s reliable, roomy, and has an unusually spacious rear seat. The Forester’s other virtues include excellent visibility and intuitive controls.

Runner-up: Jeep Cherokee

Most loved midsized SUV

Toyota Highlander (V6)

Price: $30,050 to $51,125

Testers’ notes: A perennial top-scorer among midsized SUVs, the Highlander offers a roomy, family-friendly interior and rock-solid reliability.

Runners-up: Lexus RX and Lexus GX

Most loved minivan/wagon

Subaru Outback (6-cylinder)

Price: $25,745 to $33,845

Testers’ notes: With all-wheel drive and a surprisingly roomy interior, the Outback offers carlike handling and SUV utility.

Runners-up: Toyota Prius V, Toyota Sienna (FWD), and Honda Odyssey




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