I wanted to be a spy when I was a kid and last week I finally got my chance when I slid behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DB9 at 2013 Heels and Wheels. The third annual Heels and Wheels women’s automotive conference was held in Bend, Oregon where 16 women automotive journalists gathered to drive cars and talk shop.
Located at the beautiful Brasada Ranch, we spent two days talking about cars and driving them through the stunning countryside. The slick Aston Martin DB9 was the belle of the ball and it took hours for my heart rate to return to normal after giving her a go. It is, without question, the most beautiful, powerful car I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving.
It’s also the most expensive at about $150K and every last bit of it drips with luxury. If it looks like leather, it is. If it looks like metal, it is. If it looks like glass, it’s crystal, including the key which, if dropped and broken, costs $2,000 to replace. I was very careful with the key.
Along with the luxurious Aston Martin, we drove cars including the Buick Verano, Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Mazda6, Kia Cadenza and Hyundai Santa Fe which are all considerably more affordable. We also ogled the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk which is set to hit showrooms later this year. This is their off-road version of the model and it comes packed with features that make it perfect for weekend adventures and day-to-day driving.
It also manages to hit several key points that Kelley Blue Book data shows women highly value. First, it’s an SUV, one of the categories that, along with hatchbacks and minivans, is favored by women. It also combines two things that are very important for women drivers: safety and space.
Despite cars being seen as a guy thing, the buying power of women, who account for 80% of consumer purchases including cars, is becoming increasingly important to the auto industry. Women currently hold nearly 50% of vehicle registrations and every month 500,000 women are in the market to buy a new car within the next 1-3 months. Where women choose to spend their automotive dollars matters.
When it comes to features, women want connectivity and convenience. Bluetooth, leather interiors, USB ports, GPS systems and satellite radios are all high on the list. Versatility was also important with the huge trunk on the Mazda6 and the fold-flat front passenger seat on the Mitsubishi Outlander coming in as favorites.
Automobiles have changed a lot in the last 100 or so years and so has the buying power of women. As that economic power continues to increase, figuring out just what women want in a car is becoming all but essential for automakers who hope to attract their dollars.
Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole also writes for NerdApproved and GeekMom.