What does a woman want when she shops for a car? More than cup holders (though she wants them as well). Commissioned by Cosmopolitan, a survey examines the automotive attitudes of women age 18-34 who own a car or expect to buy one in the next six months. Pop-culture stereotype still treats enthusiasm for cars as a guy thing. It shouldn’t, as women in this age bracket express plenty of involvement with their cars. The 26 percent who said their vehicle is “just a mode of transportation” were greatly exceeded by the sum of those calling it “an expression of my personal style” (36 percent), “freedom” (20 percent), “an extension of my home/apartment” (13 percent) or “the ultimate escape from my life” (5 percent). Nearly half characterized their own driving style as either “fun” (35 percent) or “aggressive” (14 percent), with the rest of the vote split among “defensive” (22 percent), “practical” (14 percent), “stressed” (8 percent) and “relaxed” (7 percent). This degree of emotional involvement has implications for respondents’ next purchase. Fifty-three percent said they love their current car and will stick with the same make; 34 percent intend to upgrade to a fancier model of the same brand. Forty-two percent feel loyalty to certain automotive brands because of their parents’ preferences—a finding that should give pause to marketers contemplating an ad campaign of the not-your-father’s-Oldsmobile ilk. Despite all these predispositions, young women do not rush into a purchase. For 48 percent, the car-buying process takes one to three months. Seventeen percent take four to nine months, and 8 percent take 10 months or longer. (No wonder so many feel the salespeople are rushing them.) For 73 percent, price is the crucial factor in their final purchase decision. Asked to cite the five features most important to them in picking a car, nearly all the respondents (96 percent) listed air conditioning. Also scoring well were power windows and locks (87 percent), sound system (78 percent), power adjustable seats (48 percent), CD changer (46 percent), sunroof (41 percent) and good cup holders (39 percent).
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