If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, how can they come together to buy a car? With some men preferring sports bars to intimate restaurants, while their partners opt for "chick flicks" over "Die Another Day," it isn't difficult to see how men and women can be orbiting in different directions when it comes to car selection.
"Men and women look at cars in totally different ways," says John Davis, host and executive producer of MotorWeek, the award-winning PBS weekly automotive magazine show. "Women tend to consider the practical aspects of a car, while men are inclined to think of a vehicle as an extension of their personalities."
When women shop for cars they look at things such as maneuverability and step-in height, how sharp the door edges are and the texture of the seat fabric. "Women want to know how convenient a door will be for loading groceries or kids, and how easy it is to get into the back seat and quell a riot," says Davis. Even small details such as whether a driver can operate small control buttons with long fingernails are an issue for many women consumers.
Men, on the other hand, want to know how a car will drive, what options are available and how well a vehicle's image reflects their own. Theirs is a more emotional, gut-level decision.
So how can people with such different perspectives come together to make a purchase that pleases both? Davis suggests some ways for couples to successfully navigate the car-buying process.
First, have a good idea of what you both want before you go in to talk to a dealer. Take time to discuss what's important to each of you and decide together what features are necessary and fit your price range. If you have a local auto show, visit it and try out all the prospects to narrow your search.
Let the salesperson sell you. Ask a lot of questions. "They should work to sell you," says Davis.
If there is any disagreement, excuse yourselves to talk privately. One person may not recognize the risk of a higher price, or may really want the extended warranty. These are topics that may not come up until you are working with the salesperson. Davis advises couples: "Don't discuss it in public; go home and work it out."
Anything they give you to sign, make sure the numbers add up. This is where couples can help each other. In many cases, women are the ones who read the small print, while men tend to dwell on big picture items like warranties and service requirements.
Be patient. Make sure you have talked over any concerns and that all of your questions have been answered. Allow time for both of you to test drive the vehicle. Davis recommends visiting dealers during the week, when salespeople are less busy and can give you their full attention.
If couples discuss their preferences in advance, take the time to gather all the necessary information, and make the decision together, the odds are pretty good that everybody will be happy on the drive home.
For more information, watch MotorWeek on your local PBS station or The Speed Channel, or go to pbs.org/motorweek. The weekly automotive magazine covers all aspects of the automotive industry and offers consumers unbiased, cutting-edge news and features. MotorWeek is nationally underwritten by eBay Motors and Pep Boys.