Chick Car? Not So Easy To Tell

woman in new car
Neil Beckerman | The Image Bank | Getty Images
woman in new car

For years people have derisively said, "oh that's a chick car" when describing a certain model supposedly favored by women.

Whenever I would hear people in the auto industry use this term, I'd think to myself, "Talk about making a broad, often incorrect generalization."

Recently a study by TrueCar.comanalyzed the registrations of new models that have been bought.

Essentially it's a look at what models men and women have bought. It found nine models where the majority of the registered owners are women:

  • Volkswagen New Beetle
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Volkswagen EOS
  • Volvo S40 Sedan
  • Honda CR-V
  • Kia Sportage
  • Toyota Rav4
  • Nissan Sentra.

At first blush, you might look at this list and say, "Those are the models ladies want."

I don't buy that conclusion, for a variety of reasons.

First, the idea that there are "chick cars" is one that designers in the industry dismiss. Are there some styling cues and features in different models that are likely to resonate more with a man or with a woman? You bet. But to make a blanket statement that there are cars geared toward ladies is way too simplistic.

Second, just because a man or a woman registers a car, does not mean they are the primary driver of the model in question. Nor does it mean they are the ones making the decision to buy the vehicle. There are tens of thousands of families with minivans, and many have the husband listed on the registration. I know, I have many friends in that boat. And many of them would rather be driving something else, but for a variety of practical reasons they own a minivan which their wives primarily drive.

Deciphering who owns or bought a particular model is still more art than science. Yes, there are studies and surveys that help the automakers get a better sense of what to build and the target audience.

But in the end, not all models are what they appear to be.


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