Women just as confident as men about buying cars

10/25: MoneyWatch

The old stereotype of women being fearful and at a disadvantage going into a car dealership seems less true than ever. 

A new poll commissioned  by auto website Edmunds.com shows that more than 65 percent of both men and women feel confident when shopping and negotiating for a car.

Some differences did show up in age groups, however. When asked if women are equal to or better  than men at car shopping, 64 percent of millennial women and 54 percent of millennial men said yes. With baby boomers, the female response was similar, but men dropped to 48 percent in the affirmative.

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“The world where millennials grew up was very different than that of older generations,” said Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analytics at Edmunds. “For many, both parents worked and financial decisions were made equally, which is reflected in their different attitudes toward gender roles in car shopping.”

Are women in fact as good as men at car shopping? Neither Edmunds nor anyone else appears to have gathered broad empirical data. But in a small survey of 2,500 people by the leasing site Swaplease.com, women reported having negotiated lower monthly lease payments on mainstream brands. 

On sedans like the Toyota Corolla and Camry, the advantage was a whopping 17 percent less than men. For midsize SUVS like Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Equinox, women still had an advantage, but only by 3 percent. However, women reported 7 percent higher payments on luxury vehicles.

The luxury differential was not explained. The study sponsors ventured that, in general, women do more research and are better prepared for car price negotiations than men.

In the Edmunds survey of 3,000 adults ages 18 to 65 who had recently bought a car, or intended to in the next few months, these additional points emerged:

  • Millennial men have more faith in women shoppers not only than baby boomers (old enough to be their grandparents) but also generation-X males (roughly their parents’ age). Asked if women were as good or better car shoppers, 74 percent of women and 59 percent of men said yes -- a 15 percentage point gap. With generation-X women and men, the affirmative response came from 79 percent of women and 52 percent of men. That 27 percentage point difference is nearly twice as large as that among millennials.
  • Women feel slightly better after their car purchase. Eighty percent of female respondents said they felt assured they made the right choice, compared with 75 percent of men.
  • Despite being equally confident about the shopping process, women are less satisfied with it than men. Some 67 percent of all women said they wish there was a faster, more efficient way to buy cars, compared to 57 percent of all men.