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Most women buy cars based on lifestyle, price and fuel economy

In a digital age when consumers can educate themselves long before they enter the showroom of a car dealership, women have become savvy shoppers who are using a variety of online resources to do their car buying research.

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Many will read the latest reviews and safety information from sites like JD Power and Consumer Reports. Women are also looking for honest to peer-to-peer reviews from bloggers like Cindi Matthews who recently reviewed the 2011 Chevy Malibu as part of the Chevrolet Girlfriend Getaway Program.

When women walk through the door of an auto dealership, they are armed with information and ready to negotiate, but what are they looking for when they shop for an automobile?

The latest in technology, as well as comfort and style, often factor into the decision making process for female car buyers. With gas prices on the rise, fuel economy is also an important consideration.

However, Christine Overstreet, executive director of Heels and Wheels, feels that most women are looking for a car that fits into their current lifestyle.

“I want a safe, comfortable vehicle that will get me where I need to be. I don’t need seven seats, but would like some cargo space, so I am looking at sedans, CUV’s and wagons … and I love heated seats!”

A woman who frequently travels in her car for business may be looking for something totally different than a mom who is transporting four children to school, sports functions and other activities.

The business traveler may look for a car that touts a technology package with gadgets such as a built-in navigation system and hands-free wireless communication. The busy mom, who has the safety and comfort of her children in mind, may research vehicles that have ease of entry/exit, adequate storage and excellent safety reviews.

In addition to research on safety, fuel economy and comfort, there is still the issue of price. Does price play a factor in the car buying decisions of women and is it the biggest motivator when it comes to writing the deal?

“In this economy, people are price conscious but it is not price alone. Value for the dollar is more important,” says Christine Overstreet. “It is price for what you get and again, this is where the Internet is playing a large part in purchases. You can see exactly what you will get for what you pay out before you even arrive at the dealership.”

Beyond the research, reviews and comparison shopping, what cars are worth a look for women? Overstreet, who created Heels & Wheels to recognize women as a ‘major force in the automotive purchase decision’, gives her opinions on her top five favorite vehicles.

Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Comes very well equipped for a great price. It’s a good size, good fuel economy, user friendly technology.

2012 Honda Civic Hybrid: Stylish design, distinctive and clean body lines, great fuel economy for the environmentally conscious driver, and easy to use technology.

Mazda5: All the capacity of a minivan and SUV but the finesse of a car (and the fuel economy of one too). Seats 6 adults comfortable but the 2nd and 3rd row can fold completely flat. Offers a manual transmission.

GMC Acadia: Since the beginning, this car was designed with women in mind. Nearly 50% of Acadia buyers are women (48% Acadia). This shows how GMC evolves to meet customer’s needs and they are more than just a traditional "truck" brand. Acadia offers good fuel economy for an 8-passenger SUV (24 hwy) as well as seating options.

Volvo c70: This one is for ladies who are looking for some fun. With the C70, women will love driving it, top up or top down. It appeals to your fun-loving adventurous side, yet remains practical with the safety features that Volvo is known for. It's definitely not just safe with good looks either, it packs a punch with its standard turbocharged T5 engine.

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Mazda Miata Glendale (not verified)    May 31, 2011 - 4:44PM

Well, I'm a woman and my main priority when buying a car is luxury, status and performance. Price and mileage not as much; I can still afford to drive whatever I want without worrying about price too much. I would rather pay more at the pump but ride in style than an economy car that is functional but boring, but that's just me and my personal preference. Everyone is different!