And No, You Don’t Have To Be One of The Guys.
I’m not a car girl. Or at least I never thought I was. I’m not obsessed with car stats, I don’t like grease under my fingernails and the last time I tried to remove a lug nut I nearly ruined my back (not to mention my manicure).
However, I love to drive. I love discovering the new technology cars offer. I love meeting the women (and men) who are innovating the auto world and I love finding cars that make life better.
So, I’ve become a car girl. I’ve learned how to view cars differently than men and what makes them interesting (hint: it’s not all about horsepower and torque). So, I’m sharing with you the key points about cars that will make your car shopping journey not just a rewarding one, but a fun one that leads to a fabulous new ride in your driveway.
Our guide to being a car girl:
Discover Each Car’s Story
And there are a lot of great stories these days. Consider Jaguar, which, with $8 billion in investment from owner Tata Motors, rose out of the ashes of bad ownership experiences to be regarded as one of the most beautiful new car brands, competitive on price and performance. The XF embodies this new era and the F-Pace puts Jag’s performance DNA into an SUV for the first time. Alfa Romeo is another: The brand’s return to the market was led by the 4C sports car; the Giulia luxury sedan and the Stelvio SUV followed. Both are head-turners earning high grades on design and performance.
Learn the Details and Characteristics
Car are an assemblage of a gazillion little details, from design language (think aerodynamic roof lines and muscular fenders over the wheels) to safety and driving technology to cabin comforts. Then, there are nuances such as the difference between turbo and supercharge (turbo draws extra power from the exhaust system, supercharge draws extra power from the engine) and each has its benefits and compromises (turbo is more fuel efficient than supercharge). Also know the details of the car’s features and equipment, what each does and why they are good to have. From adaptive cruise (versus cruise control) to lane keep assist (versus lane departure warning), know what features are offered on a model, those that are not and why it’s good to have (or not).
The Engine: The Heart of Badass
Many cars are offered in different engine sizes and the horsepower and torque output are important numbers to know. Horsepower represents speed and torque represents pep. Combined, they are the experience you have when hitting the gas: the car gets up to speed fast, or it takes its time.
Smaller engines are great for in-town driving and fuel economy. But bigger engines are simply more fun. If you go for the thrill and power, know what it’s capable of (towing capacity, for instance) and how to make it do that. Cadillac has recently focused on performance engines, striving to get a true “wow” feeling from those every-day drives and set records on tracks. And Lexus builds a totally respectable and comfortable GS sedan with 241 horsepower, but the GS F’s 467 horsepower is built to thrill. And that little “F” badge on its rear-end sends a distinct message: I’m in this to drive.
Learn the Model Lineup and Which One Fans Are Most Excited About
Dodge Charger is a great example: This four-door muscle car is available in 9 different trim levels, starting at a hot 292 horsepower 6-cylinder and upping the power to the 700 horsepower Hellcat edition, which is sort of like driving a rocket. While the Hellcat is the one that gets all the attention, the Scat Pack has a 485 horsepower engine and the SRT 392 (also 485 horsepower) adds performance brakes and street, track or sport drive modes. These upper-end models are the source of much fandom and are not only great cars for fun driving but conversation dominators: If you drive one you’ll be talking about it a lot.
No Single Car Can Do it All; Consider a Second Car in the Driveway
Still need a Toyota Sienna or a Chevy Suburban for carpools and road trips? Consider a purely fun car for those solo drives to the manicurist or dinner out with the girls. A Nissan 370 Z or a Mazda MX-5 not only looks great in the driveway but will make your time away from the kids all the more special.
There’s Nothing Wrong with Luxury, But Know What You’re Getting For Your Money
A luxury car sends a strong message: I can afford this. But don’t take luxury for granted; luxury car features are more sophisticated and tech-focused than ever. Sure, a finely appointed interior with real leather upholstery and Alcantara suede are nice, but what other features are part of the package? Head up display? Night vision? Massaging seats? An upsized engine? And, does the manual mode work with paddle shifters or the gear shift or both?
You Don’t Have to Drive a Stick
It’s a lot of fun, though. If you want to learn, don’t be afraid to ask someone to teach you. Here’s a guide to that, and also, what you need to know to prepare. And if you don’t want to learn, that’s OK too. A lot of men don’t know how, either.
Cars Don’t Have to Define You. And That’s OK
People can get geeky about cars and their details, so it’s OK to pick your level of interest and change the subject when you (or the person you’re talking to) hit it. And, cars can get complicated; you might know more about yours than other people want to hear. Being knowledgeable and fanatical are not the same thing, whether you’re talking about cars or the finer points of the Louis Vuitton Speedy.
Which, by the way, we think is the perfect car girl handbag.