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What Women and Men Want Behind the Wheel

Thursday, 7 Apr 2011 | 11:36 AM ET

This one is for CNBC senior economics reporter Steve Liesman. Yesterday, when he told me that he was thinking about buying a Chevy Volt a group of CNBC producers sitting nearby started howling. The producers jumped all over Liesman saying he needs to buy a "man-mobile," meaning a gas powered SUV.

Ahh, machismo still is alive and well.

I thought of Liesman when I saw the latest study about male and female car buyers. It was done by TrueCar.comand the conclusion will not surprise you: men go for looks, women go for practicality.

See, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

B. Blue | Getty Images

Seems the sexes go for different things behind the wheel.

“The study shows that women car buyers are more cost-conscious and purchased fuel-efficient vehicles while male buyers were completely the opposite, purchasing vehicles that were either big and brawny, like a large truck, or chose a high-priced, high-performance vehicle,” said Jesse Toprak, Vice President of Industry Trends and Insights at TrueCar.com.

I find the study interesting because it re-enforces what I have long believed, even as gas prices have moved higher in the last two to three years. Yes, gas prices are a huge determining factor about the type and actual model people buy. But, once you get past that issue, people still fall into the same general buying patterns we've seen for decades. Now, keep in mind, this study does not mean all woman want a practical "mommy-mobile" and all men want a power car with tons of horsepower. Clearly, there are women who like looks and performance and there are men who want a practical, even slightly boring car.

That said, here are the findings from TrueCar.com

Top models bought in 2010 by woman:

  • Volkswagen New Beetle
  • Kia Spectra
  • Nissan Rogue

Top models bought in 2010 by men:

  • Porsche 911
  • GMC Sierra
  • Chevrolet Corvette

So where does this leave Liesman? I suspect Steve will still buy a Volt,...and just to keep the boys who are howling at CNBC happy, he'll also buy a used, gas-guzzling SUV.

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___________________________ Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.comand Follow me on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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