From fiery Ferraris to hulking Hummers, the cars driven predominantly by men all have a showy streak and plenty of power under the hood.
“So many of these cars are prototypical ‘guy cars’ — it’s kind of funny,” says Imre Molnar, dean of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Mich., where he oversees one of the world’s largest transportation design programs. Putting it politely, he calls vehicles on the list bold and assertive. “But with some of these cars, you can’t help but see cliché qualities coming to the fore,” Molnar says. “They affirm the aggressive male stereotype.”
This list includes the top 10 vehicles with the highest percentage of male primary drivers based on CNW Marketing Research survey data. The Bandon, Ore.-based firm conducted tens of thousands of phone surveys during 2006 on a range of topics about car buying and ownership. The list does not account for yearly vehicle sales volumes. Rather, it measures which vehicles have the highest percentage of male drivers based on the number of respondents who said they were the primary driver of a particular model.
Our list of cars most driven by men instantly calls to mind one word: power. All but three of the cars on the list have at least one variant that puts out 400 hp or more. If nothing else, this affirms the age-old stereotype of guys’ love affair with muscular dream cars.
But there’s more than just raw horsepower at play here; most of the cars on this macho list are undeniably all about image. The sheer showiness of the cars most driven by men is further exacerbated when compared to the cars most driven by women (a subject of a future list coming soon).
According to CNW data, women aren’t as concerned with making a statement about their image when buying a luxury car. The data shows that a high percentage of well-heeled female drivers prefer cars such as the Audi A6, Lexus LA and various Volvos — cars that are speedy, fashionable and luxurious, but that have understated design and quiet sophistication. They aren’t attention-grabbers like a yellow Lamborghini or a stretched Rolls-Royce.
“This list is filled with ‘image vehicles,’” says Art Spinella, president of CNW. “Men don’t seem to be basing their decisions on practicality; their choices are pretty testosterone-based. Women are more practical.”
Molnar agrees: “Men’s identities — the way they see themselves — are often tied to their cars. Women don’t see perceived value in macho, boys’-boy qualities,” he says.
Not all of the cars on this list are marketed specifically to men. For instance, Mercedes-Benz, which has two cars on the list (the retro G-Class and new GL Class, its two biggest SUVs), isn’t rabidly trying to target either vehicle primarily to guys.
"Both these vehicles have a rugged-luxe persona that's reflected in their styling, athletic stance on the road and — particularly with the G-Class — their off-road capabilities," says Joe Richardson, spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz. “The G- and GL-Class attract those who aspire to lead a similarly adventurous and refined lifestyle, regardless of whether they happen to be men or women."
Other carmakers are more unabashedly embracing the dudes who love them back. "No other name in automotive history says ‘muscle car’ like the three letters ‘GTO,’” says Michael Albano, spokesperson for GM and Pontiac. “The distinctive, tautly stretched exterior, the aggressive lowered stance and sleek, simple form all help express the clean, athletic styling direction of Pontiac — a design formula that has attracted men to the GTO for years,” he says.
Though the statistics prove the latest iteration of the GTO was popular with men, evidently it wasn’t popular enough overall. The revived GTO, based off of GM of Australia’s Holden Monaro, was discontinued after 2006. And therein lies another trend — it’s not the only car on our list that’s gone: Volkswagen’s Phaeton has also been pulled from the U.S. market due to slow sales; and the beefy Hummer H1 — based on the U.S. military’s HUMVEE — no longer sees civilian duty as of 2007. Again, our list is not based on yearly sales volumes, but the number of respondents to the CNW survey who said they were the primary driver of a particular model.