Image: Salesman talking to woman in automobile showroom © Adam Gault, OJO Images, Getty Images

When it comes to buying or leasing a car, men can learn a lesson or two from their female counterparts.

Women, according to recent studies, are more informed and levelheaded than men in the vehicle showroom -- a place long-considered an arena for gladiatorial gamesmanship.

"Men tend to rely on what is assumed they know and what they believe they know," said Sergio Stiberman, the chief executive and founder of LeaseTrader.com.

"When women approach car shopping, they believe in the importance of asking all the necessary questions, even if they think they might know the answers," he said.

Stiberman, for one, respects the different angles his wife, Keila, takes on purchases and the depth and variety of questions. "She'll ask questions that I'm afraid to ask myself or that I have too much of an ego to ask," he said.

"We have that attitude that we should know, and if we ask, we're outing ourselves and we might not be as strong as we projected ourselves to be," he added.

Many men revel in the gamesmanship of car buying that many women just aren't interested in. "Men get all excited about going out to buy a car and talk about how they're going to one-up the salesmen and get a great deal," said Anne Fleming, the president of Women-Drivers.com, a consumer ratings site. "I've never heard or seen any comments from women like that."

Women do more research and, as a group, are considerably more pragmatic in their vehicle choices. They tend to be more concerned about safety and reliability than about horsepower and acceleration.

In the LeaseTrader analysis, 95% of women listed safety performance as their biggest concern during the shopping process, with 94% interested in the incident history of the car.

Men, on the other hand, at 83%, rated driving performance as their top issue, with engine performance at 75%.

Nearly 74% of men ranked aesthetics a major issue, at No. 3, compared with just 46% of women -- dead last among the top nine concerns -- who did.

The style differences also are evident in purchasing history. Women favor vehicles such as SUVs, small compact crossovers and four-door sedans. Men are more apt to buy a truck and certainly have more preference for sports cars than women do, according to Edmunds.com.

"Women tend to be more pragmatic and more economical in their car choices," said Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst at Edmunds.

Consider this: Last year Porsche saw a whopping 21% increase in year-over-year sales of its cars to women, albeit from a low base, Caldwell said. But of its total receipts, a commanding 71% were gleaned from sales of the four-door models Cayenne and Panamera, what some might describe as more practical cars.

Women also want confirmation of quality. Women, for example, order vehicle inspections some 67% of the time when they're buying a car compared with 55% of men, according to LeaseTrader.

The Internet has become a great equalizer for car buying, offering an abundance of information about features and pricing.

Women have long complained they were ignored or intimidated by salesmen, according to Women-Drivers.com. Nine out of 10 car sales associates are men.

Now, however, women walk into showrooms primed with scads of information about models, pricing, financing and options; most even know what the inventory position of a dealer is, according to Kelley Blue Book's market intelligence reports.

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Some 76% of women consider websites a valuable asset to the car-shopping process compared with 70% of men, KBB said. What's more, 51% of women visit a dealership's site as part of the research compared with 46% of men. And 70% of women look at inventory versus 64% of men. Women are more inclined to purchase a certified pre-owned car from a dealership than men, 29% to 18%, while men are more likely, at 32%, to buy a car from a third party, than women, 22%.

Before the Internet and its hundreds, maybe even thousands, of automobile sites about buying, leasing, ratings, pricing, cost calculating, safety, insurance, mileage and any other number of car issues, women would visit from five to seven dealerships before settling on one, said Women-Drivers.com's Fleming.

"The Internet has made shopping for a car so much easier," she said. "Women are very savvy shoppers now."

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