Automotive Study and Award Series Methodology


When designing the study and the new automotive award series, our research and insight team used ‘what matters to women’ as the way to organize our approach.

Our 2020 Women’s Choice Award for Best Automobiles were classified into nine popular car types measured under three overarching fields: overall, safety and reliability.

To be considered for the 2020 automotive awards, a car must be available for purchase in the US at the time of award. We based our awards on features and performance of base trim models. In some factors, the availability of certain options was also considered. If a model did not have major design changes, and 2020 data was not available, we used 2019 data as a substitute.

Awards were divided into price ranges of Under $20,000, $20,000 to $50,000, and $50,000 to $80,000. We did not consider any model with a base MSRP greater than $80,000. We no longer award trucks since that purchasing decision is not likely to be based on the same criteria as cars.


In the survey, women stated that when it comes to purchasing a family car, value, safety, reliability, convenience and comfort were the most important considerations. The overall award was determined by creating a composite score based on these top considerations weighed according to results of this survey, and adjusted for the model’s relative base price.

Safety: Cars with good or acceptable front crash prevention results are awarded points. Additional points are awarded for cars that had selected safety features as standard or optional equipment, such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and blind spot detection, among others.

Comfort: Cars are given a composite score that measures relative interior space by adding the standardized scores of the following measures:

Seating capacity
Cargo capacity
Front head room
Front leg room
Front hip room
Front shoulder room
Rear head room
Rear leg room
Rear hip room
Rear shoulder room

Convenience: Cars are awarded for selected convenience and entertainment features that come standard, such as climate control, cruise control, digital connectivity and hands-free entry, among others.

Fuel Economy: Cars that had higher fuel economy, as determined by the EPA and Consumer Reports for combined city and highway mileage, earned a higher ranking.

Reliability: Composite score are determined by measuring important criteria such projected reliability, and standard warranty.


Women were provided an extensive list of safety features and were asked to rank those features that they considered to be most important. Among the features are adaptive headlights, rear view cameras, forward collision warning, and rear cross traffic detection. Cars with these features as standard equipment were awarded more points than those on which it was optional equipment. Additionally, cars with good or acceptable IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) front crash prevention results and cars that have better than average braking and collision avoidance performance were awarded additional points.

The safety score was then adjusted by the base price, and the award was given to the car in each category with the highest adjusted score.


No one wants the hassle of an unreliable car, and women are no exception. An unnecessary or unplanned trip to the dealer or repair shop is an inconvenience everyone wants to avoid.

To rate cars for their reliability we started with the projected reliability scores provided by Consumer Reports. Using these ratings, we calculated the vehicle’s standard deviation from the average rating. We also looked at the vehicle’s standard warranty. The average is about 4 years and 50,000 miles, so we gave points for those that had longer warranties and deducted for those with shorter ones.

The reliability score was then adjusted by the base price, and the award was given to the car in each category with the highest adjusted score.