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Sex, lies and cars


MEASURING THE differences between men and women is, at best, an inexact science. Some make interplanetary comparisons. But Mars (men) and Venus (women) are only 100 million miles apart - give or take a cold shoulder - and that's far too short a distance. Better to explore that quintessentially American social laboratory known as ... the parking lot.

As any good automaker knows - and probably General Motors, too - car tastes vary. But that's putting it kindly. A recent survey performed for NOP World, an international marketing research firm, shows just how different they are. The highest-rated car among men? To no one's surprise, it's a Porsche 911. Other top-10 winners among men: the Maserati Spyder, the Mercedes CL and the BMW 6 Series. In other words, men like their cars fast, hot and into the six-figures.

Women, on the other hand, didn't go for any model of Porsche or Mercedes. Their top-10 list reads like notes from a Suze Orman lecture on household budgeting. It includes the Suzuki Forenza, the Pontiac Sunfire and the Kia Rio sedan. That's right, somebody dreams of a Kia. Show up at a dealership looking for any of the above and expect change back from your $20,000.

Men may diss women for being so parsimonious. Women can chide the men for overcompensating. (Incidentally, the same survey found most men expect to pay $18,800 for a car - so good luck with those Maserati negotiations.) Ultimately, what the survey reveals is the sound philosophy behind the two-car garage. There's always room for a safe, clean, efficient car next to whatever the guy is driving.

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