Are you ready to go car shopping?
With more than 500 different car models on the market today, choosing the one that would be just perfect for you and your particular needs – especially if you’re a woman – can be a daunting task.
Let me see if I can help. As an automotive writer focusing on a woman’s point of view, I have a few suggestions among the 2017 cars that would be well-suited to women, from college age to empty nester.
Sorry, but I can’t come along to help you negotiate the purchase process. You’re on your own there. But at least I can give you some ideas about where to start looking.
Hyundai Elantra sedan
A young woman’s first car should be economical to buy and drive, and safe and comfortable. Being attractive and well-equipped is a bonus. The Hyundai Elantra meets all of those criteria.
There are three Elantra models, priced from $17,150 to $22,350, with eight exterior colors and two interiors with cloth seats. Even the base SE model has satellite radio/CD/MP3/USB input, folding rear seatbacks, height adjustment for both front seats, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, console storage, and a compact spare tire.
For the best fuel economy, there is the Elantra Eco ($20,650). You will look cool driving this car, but you’ll also be seen as wise and practical. EPA fuel-economy ratings are 32 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway. (Great for those holiday trips home to Mom and Dad’s, or that spring break beach trip.)
Safety features are awesome for such an entry-level car: Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross-traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist, and rearview camera with guidelines.
Mini Cooper S Convertible
The Mini Cooper Convertible may be just the thing for a young career woman, with very cute pedal-car styling, and lots of unique colors (think Volcanic Orange, Electric Blue, Caribbean Aqua).
There are also fun interiors, with Union Jack and Black Checkered details featured — 10 million combinations, according the manufacturer. The convertible has three trim levels available, with either a manual or automatic transmission, priced from $25,950-$37,100.
The top is fully automatic – it takes just 18 seconds to open, with the push of a single button. The top can also be partially opened, with rollover bars to protect occupants. A Rain Warner system even sends an alert to a paired smartphone if the top is down while parked or if rain is in the forecast while driving.
The S model ($29,600) I recently drove came in Melting Silver, with two-tone propeller spoke wheels, black lower body cladding, signature circular headlights and taillights, and hexagonal grille. The interior featured aluminum trim with a herringbone pattern, reminiscent of English tweed; adjustable mood lighting with 255 colors; and a large round display on the dash. A MINI logo was projected onto the ground beneath the driver’s side mirror.
This is a fun ride and economical to operate. EPA ratings are 23 mpg city/32 highway.
Toyota Camry XSE (family sedan)
Camry is a quiet, comfortable family car, with an agile sporty feel, and cutting-edge multimedia system, offered in seven models – including two hybrids – priced from $23,070-$30,140. There are nine exterior colors and three interiors, in cloth or leather.
The XSE ($26,310) is fancy, with leather ultra-suede seats with French stitching, ultra-suede on the doors, and sophisticated, luxurious satin chrome trim. Eighteen-inch machined-spoke wheels with gloss-black pockets, headlight bezels, and mesh grille, and a dark chrome coating on the headlights add to the sporty look and feel.
Five people can ride comfortably, and all three rear seating positions have child-seat hookups.
For your security, and that of your precious cargo, the Camry has 10 air bags and Toyota’s Star Safety System. There’s also a garage door opener, and wireless phone charging. EPA ratings are 24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway.
Chrysler Pacifica (minivan)
The all-new 2017 Pacifica is not your mother’s minivan. Five models will seat seven or eight, haul lots of equipment or supplies, and look good doing it. Prices range from $28,595-$42,495.
Second- and third-row Stow’n Go seats that fold into the floor are standard, with front-row Stow ‘n Assist, and second-row tilt-to-enter. The compartment under the second row floor can be used for storage or as a cooler, with an optional liner.
UConnect infotainment, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera are standard. Available options include power-fold third-row seat, heated and cooled front and heated second-row seats, power sliding doors (also hands-free version), and side window shades. You can also get the built-in vacuum cleaner, great for beach-trip cleanups.
With the seats folded, Pacifica has 140.5 cubic feet of cargo space; but there is still 32.3 cubic feet with all the seats up.
The Pacifica has quick acceleration when needed, and it is roomy, comfortable, and beyond well-equipped. EPA ratings are 18 mpg city, 28 highway – not bad for a large people mover.
Empty-nester hot car: Nissan Maxima (sport sedan)
Nissan calls the Maxima a “4-Door Sports Car,” and it comes with a powerful V-6 engine, continuously variable automatic transmission with manual-shift feature, “V-motion” grille, signature boomerang-style headlights, LED running lights, large chrome-tip dual tailpipes, and chrome trim from front windows to trunk.
Five models are available, priced from $32,560-$39,990. Large column-mounted shifter paddles and Drive Mode selection that can bring a satisfying roar from the engine in Sport mode are especially fun.
The Super Black SR ($37,820) with Charcoal Premium Ascot Leather seating with Alcantara inserts and blue contrast stitching is stunning with Gloss Black 19-inch wheels, featuring sculpted V spokes, a rear diffuser, and a sport spoiler.
Zero Gravity seats reduced fatigue and back pain. Interior features included Liquid Chrome diamond faceted trim, LED ambient lighting, center stack angled toward the driver, heated Ascot leather flat-bottom steering wheel (gives extra leg clearance), a manual thigh extension, two illuminated USB ports with a cubby for two phones.
Safety technology includes Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, Intelligent Cruise Control, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and reaview/around-view camera system.
The Maxima has sporty acceleration and handling, folding rear seats, and easy entry and exit. Fuel-economy ratings are decent for a car that has lots of power and is quite fun to drive: 21 mpg city/30 highway/25 combined.