Men vs women: What do they prioritise when buying a car? 

March 07, 2024 by

When you find yourself at a car-changing crossroads, you’ll likely stop and think about what it is you actually want from a vehicle. Is it safety features? Or maybe just looks? Different factors will determine which car options you find viable, such as price, specific driver aids, or even mileage. Your priorities say a lot about your life-changing moments!

As an online car-changing marketplace, we make it our business to understand these priorities, so we can better help you find the perfect vehicle. That’s why we ran a study to find out the overall preferences differences between what men and women prioritise. (Oh, and we did this across three different countries to get international insights!)

How UK drivers choose their car

Women care more about having a top safety rating

If there’s one thing everyone seems to agree on, it’s that having a spacious car boot is the highest priority when choosing a new car. Women seem to have a keener eye for this feature, with 58% of female survey respondents choosing it as a priority compared to 52% of men.

This is closely followed by the need for a car with a high driving position, with 54% of women picking this as their second-highest priority and 51% of men doing the same.

When it comes to safety, on the other hand, there’s a bigger disparity between what men and women consider to be essential. Cars with a top safety rating are an important concern for over half (52%) of women, while only over a third (38%) of men feel the same.

The importance of having space for child seats is a similarly divisive topic. 20% of women see this as a priority when selecting a car, compared to just 14% of men.

Here are the full results of question one:

Overall, the results from this first question showed us that women find all the mentioned factors more important than men do. Especially regarding car safety and spaciousness.

Men care more about having a stylish car

Many factors can play a significant role in shaping our preferences when searching for the perfect car, and it turns out men and women hold slightly different opinions on what matters most.

For more than half (57%) of women, considerations regarding prices and discounts weigh heavily in their decision-making process. Meanwhile, for 56% of men, the most popular factor is having driving aids such as parking sensors.

As for other considerations, fuel efficiency ranks slightly higher for women (49%) compared to men (47%). On the other hand, a stylish design is a far bigger priority for men. 41% of male respondents chose this as a significant factor in their buying decision, while just over a third (34%) of women did.

Here are the full results of question two:

Overall, the results from the second question showed us that women are more likely to prioritise the financial aspects of a car, while men are more concerned with whether a car has the desired tech features. Notably, men seem more concerned about looks, while women focus on performance!

The majority of people start by looking for a specific type of car

Finding the right car often requires comparing different options based on wants and needs. But did you know that how you get started on this can say a lot about your priorities? We asked respondents how they started narrowing down their search when choosing a car.

Findings show that the majority of buyers start by honing in on a particular car type, such as a hatchback or an SUV. This resonated strongly with over half of both men (59%) and women (58%), making it the most popular answer.

Following closely behind is the consideration of fuel type. This is slightly more common among men (42%) than it is for women (40%), but both genders are likely to narrow down their car-changing options by thinking about whether they want an EV, a hybrid, or another specific fuel type.

On the other hand, starting the search by narrowing down the options according to the budget or the make and model of a car isn’t as common. Men are more likely to keep the price in mind, with 35% of male respondents stating they start their research by budget, compared to 32% of women. However, women seem to know exactly which car they want, with 25% starting their car search by make and 17% looking for a specific model, compared to just 23% and 10% of men, respectively.

Here are the full results of question three:

Overall, the results from the third question showed us that the first step to finding the right car is very similar for both men and women. Both genders prefer to start their search by looking for a specific car type, followed by the fuel type, the budget, the make, and lastly, the model.

How do UK car priorities compare to other countries?

Now that we’ve had a look at what men and women in the UK find important when selecting their car, it’s time to check how these priorities compare to those of people in other countries. What does the ideal car look like in different corners of the globe?

Let’s look at how Germany and Spain answered the same questions to find out:

When deciding which car to buy, are any of the following important to you?

Answers UK (M) UK (W) DE (M) DE (W) ES (M) ES (W)
A spacious boot 52% 58% 52% 52% 49% 42%
A high driving position 51% 54% 61% 63% 46% 43%
Top safety rating 38% 52% 31% 35% 40% 53%
Space for child seat(s) 14% 20% 12% 29% 12% 14%
None of these 12% 12% 21% 13% 23% 20%

Are any of these important to you?

Answers UK (M) UK (W) DE (M) DE (W) ES (M) ES (W)
Prices and discounts 48% 57% 65% 73% 68% 66%
Driver aids 56% 55% 55% 67% 48% 46%
High miles per gallon 47% 49% 56% 68% 61% 58%
Stylish design 41% 34% 33% 27% 33% 21%
None of these 5% 12% 10% 6% 8% 8%

When choosing a car, how do you start your research?

Answers UK (M) UK (W) DE (M) DE (W) ES (M) ES (W)
A car type 59% 58% 34% 15% 33% 26%
A fuel type 42% 40% 28% 26% 35% 29%
A budget 35% 32% 18% 37% 25% 34%
A make 23% 25% 12% 10% 0% 0%
A model 10% 17% 8% 12% 6% 11%

UK vs Germany

Similar to the UK, women in Germany also care more about all the factors presented in question one than men. Especially when it comes to prioritising space for their young passengers. However, while the UK’s most essential feature is a spacious boot, Germany prefers a high driving position.

In both the UK and Germany, women lean towards practical considerations such as price and mileage efficiency, whereas men are more inclined towards stylish design. Yet, there are some nuanced differences: in the UK, men are slightly more inclined to prioritise driver aids, while in Germany, it’s women who are much more likely to do so.

While male responses in both the UK and Germany are fairly aligned, the female respondents in both countries have different preferences for how they start their car search. Most notably, women in Germany are more likely to kick off their search with a focus on budget, followed by fuel type. Meanwhile, in the UK, the majority of women start their search by looking for a specific car type.

UK vs Spain

While in the UK women tend to prioritise all factors presented in the question more than men, Spain has a more divided response. Men in Spain prefer a spacious boot and a high driving position, while women lean towards safety and space for child seats. However, similar to the UK, the biggest difference between both genders is their concern for the car’s safety rating.

In Spain, men across the board consider these factors more important than women do, contrasting with the UK, where men demonstrate a higher level of consideration for driving aids and style. Also, while the biggest split in gender in the UK comes down to prices and discounts, in Spain, the biggest split is driven by the importance of owning a stylish car.

While the most common way to start searching for a car in the UK is by type for both men and women, in Spain, men tend to kickstart the search by fuel type, while women start with a budget in mind. While searching for a specific make is the least popular way to start the search in the UK, people in Spain don’t appear to search by make at all.

In summary

Our study has helped us shed some light on what drivers find important when choosing their car. By looking at the difference in priorities between men and women, we can also better understand what they each look for, and what they tend to value the most.

It’s pretty interesting to see that, overall, women generally place a greater emphasis on wanting practical features such as safety and spaciousness. Meanwhile, men often prioritise up-to-date technology and style.

By comparing the survey results for different countries, we’ve also gained some valuable insights into how the car-changing priorities differ internationally. And although some of the conclusions are pretty much the same, it’s clear that each place has its nuances when it comes to finding the perfect car.

About the data

[1] All data used in this study was collected from a Carwow survey conducted in the UK, Germany, and Spain.

The sample sizes for each survey were as follows:

  • UK: 346 respondents (184 men, 65 women, 97 non-binary or not answered)
  • DE: 766 respondents (378 men, 78 women, 310 non-binary or not answered)
  • ES: 447 respondents (263 men, 80 women, 104 non-binary or not answered)