If Women Designed Cars


Peugeot 405 Photo: (cc) Donny Baguz/Flickr, license from Creative Commons 2.0

I just bought a new car. I was going to go buy another Prius, which I’ve been quite happy with over the past eight years, but they…moved the armrest! In its place now is a metal cup holder. I had visions of hitting my elbow (the not-so-funny bone) over and over again and deeply regretting my choice. And so I test-drove as many cars as I could handle during my summer vacation when I was off from work.

About five cars in, I started to get depressed. I’d used all the right tools to search for safety and reliability, but the only way to get a feel for a car is to drive it. And I was determined to get another hybrid. (After getting 45 miles per gallon on a regular basis, looking at a sticker that says 15 MPG or even 20 is just sickening—so unnecessary.) And here is the thing: I like to drive. I drive a lot. Utility isn’t the only thing I want in a car. I want to enjoy the drive and be comfortable five hours into a road trip. All the cars my teenage daughter’s boyfriend (who’s a car nut) told me to buy reeked of “boy fantasy,” not girl fantasy. I test-drove a BMW just for him. It was OK; I could see why he liked it—the “pickup” was amazing. But I felt claustrophobic! And 0 to 60, I don’t want to be James Bond. Although I do enjoy a good sexy ride and the romance of cars.

My favorite car of all time was a manual Sorrento Green Peugeot 405 mi16. It had the most comfortable seats you can ever imagine and was so freaking fun to drive. I still regret selling it.

In the end, I settled. I gave up a little piece of my soul. Or maybe a better way of putting it is that I bought a grown-up car, and with it, I let go of everything that goes with “fantasy” cars—the dreams of youth, a sense of fun and adventure. (Well, I didn’t give them up, just set them aside for a bit.)

Sure, I could have gotten a Tesla. But honestly, with the type of driving I do and all my kids, it’s too risky. I cannot add finding a charging station and waiting for a charge to my list of things to do at this point in my life. And that leads me to the title of this blog post.

If women designed cars, I believe we would combine a lot more practicality with heaps more romance and sex. The idea that women aren’t like men in our love of cars is just plain outdated and old-fashioned. In fact, I probably could use another garage, because right now I’m storing my daughter’s black 1973 Volkswagen Beetle convertible.

After I bought my new grown-up Toyota Avalon Hybrid (40 mpg), my daughter and I were discussing how we would design a car if we could. So if there are any car designers reading this, please pay attention and let me know because I will buy it if you create it.

My new Avalon is super comfortable and has a “floaty” ride, and I will keep it for now. And maybe I will learn to love it. But here is my daughter and my dream automobile list:

1.    Design a car that passes the “purse” test. Every single car I drove failed this one. I carry a big purse, a backpack, or, on weekends, a basket. It has to stay close to the front seat because with keyless ignitions that’s where the KEY to the car is these days. Invariably, whoever is in the front seat gets stuck with it at their feet—so freaking annoying.

2.    Armrests. These are key! Comfortable, moveable, and made for short-armed people.

3.    A small car with four-wheel drive. I live on a mountain. I worry about the Avalon in snow, which is why I still have a truck. I don’t want to get an SUV.  Is it possible to get safety and strength without size (just like a woman)?

4.    Trash receptacles! In the front for moms and in the back for kids. Seriously, the trash that builds up in cars is disgusting… and I have never seen any carmaker truly acknowledge this in their designs.

5.    A refrigerator section in the trunk or back. Or even a built-in cooler. The most “hauling” we do on a regular basis is food shopping. But we have to manage our day around getting home to put the groceries away. Can’t make that extra stop because if we do, the popsicles will melt! I know, this is the big dream, but I don’t know why someone hasn’t figured it out already.

6.    Make it BEAUTIFUL. Seriously, every car made these days looks…generic. Dare to be different and FUN. Cars that I enjoy the look of: an old Citroen, a vintage Chevy truck, the old Ford Falcon. Peugeot, please come back to America!

At the end of the day, we do all our research and want the safety and reliability, but what really sells cars is emotion. Love. Desire. Great design. For women, too.


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7 Responses to If Women Designed Cars

  1. Paula Sarathy September 24, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    A place for maps! Lift-up rear seats for storage for that stuff you are told to carry in an emergency: flashlight, first-aid kit, small tool-kit. What about those reusable grocery bags? It’s all too much to fit in to the glove compartment.

    The only storage in my SUV besides side pockets that maps fall out of, is under the hauling area. Meaning I would have to unload all my luggage just to get a flashlight out. Oftentimes, I don’t have passengers in the rear seat but even if I did, it would be much easier to have someone scoot their bottom over than to spend half an hour unloading my stuff and then having to load it back again.

    Speaking of which, use more of that dashboard for a second glove compartment for storage for trips — notebooks, snacks, etc.

    And how about a roll out drawer under the seats? for umbrellas, etc? They keep getting snagged on stuff under the seat now.


  2. Molly September 24, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    another want is seat belt that doesn’t strangle short legged people and visor that covers the middle of the window for people driving with the sun on their right.

  3. Alice Green September 24, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Why are all the cars now made so that you can’t see out the back window?? I don’t care if you have a camera that shows the area behind the car — when you back up you still need to be able to see both ways out the back window!! I always park so that I can drive straight forward out of the parking space, so I can see where I’m going. Backing up out of a parking space causes more accidents than anything I know and it would be so nice to have rear windows that we could see out of when we back up!!

  4. maria (farm country kitchen) September 24, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    Oh yes Ladies! Oh Yes!

  5. Granann September 25, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    Ditto the purse place. How about headrests that don’t force your chin to your chest and multi way adjustable passenger seats like the driver’s and interior colors besides black that don’t show dirt.

  6. Kristen October 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Paula… I just bought a Buick Encore that seems to be designed just for you! TONS of little storage nooks including TWO glove compartments and a drawer under the front passenger seat! : )

  7. Steve January 15, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

    Reading this article and then the comments has really shaken me.

    The reason you can’t see out of cars these days is because women DEMANDED safer vehicles, so now the roof of the car MUST be able to support the weight of the vehicle in the event of a rollover. The structure that holds the roof must be larger. Get it?

    The reason cars are so expensive now too is women have DEMANDED more toys & tech and safety.

    Your 2 door Yaris weighs 3000 Pounds because it has 20 air bags and needs to withstand being hit by a train.

    It doesn’t get 40 mpg because it’s so heavy and someone taught you people that having a teeny tiny engine means “Fuel efficiency.” Ever wonder why a Corvette is capable of 25MPG with a 400+ horsepower V8? That’s called Power to Weight Ratio.

    Want lots of room?
    Get a bigger car.

    Want lots of toys and a stupid fridge in the trunk?
    Save up and buy a Mercedes.

    I have a K2500 Suburban, I can ferry you, your family, your dog, and your living room around while getting 15mph. I also have a 2 door Civic that gets 40+ MPG.

    You will never have a car that “Does it ALL.” Unless you want a real SUV or Truck.

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