The editorial team here at autoTRADER.ca embrace our passion for the automobile all year long, but every February as Valentine’s Day approaches, we like to do something special for those we love – cars.
Our annual love and cars survey aims to discover how vehicles play into our relationships and impact our love lives.
One could be forgiven for thinking that an exotic car is appealing to potential suitors. Showing off may work for a peacock, but apparently not when it comes to attracting a long-term (human) partner. Commitment-craving Canadians want to steer clear of flashy sports cars altogether, since almost two thirds (61 per cent) of Canadians associate such cars with short-term flings. Even a modest, reliable sedan sends a better signal for long-term relationships with 65 per cent of Canadians see such drivers as stable and more likely to be commitment-friendly. But if a fling is what you’re looking for, keep sending those signals loud and clear.
Less flash, more function
This proprietary study facilitated by a reputable third party discovered that when it comes to dating, the type of vehicle you drive, and how long you’ve owned it, can actually impact how “relationship-ready” you appear to a potential date. Unsurprising with the slowing sedan sales over the last few years, nearly half of all Canadians surveyed reported finding SUV drivers to be most attractive and commitment-friendly (40 and 48 percent respectively). These findings are in line with the automotive trends we’re seeing in the industry.
2018 saw a significant year-over-year increase in new SUV listings in last year’s top 10 most searched vehicles across Canada, according to our search data.
Renowned relationship expert Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, PhD makes a living by exploring the human condition around dating and mating, so the results didn’t come as a surprise to her. “Busy daters often look for visual cues to determine whether a date is a good fit with their lifestyle, values and what they’re looking for in a relationship,” says O’Reilly. “Just as we have a tendency to associate traits with a person’s home or friends, Canadians believe they can better understand relationship intentions based on the car an individual drives – I think Canadians are on the hunt for clues that can help them equate certain ideals with certain possessions.”
I’m in love with my car
The survey also polled respondents from coast to coast about emotional ties to their cars. Much like a human relationship, more than half of car owners (51 percent) indicated they once had a car that was their “old faithful”, and wonder, even worry if they’ll find another one like “the one that got away”. Canadians love their cars so much that they admit to giving them pet names. This trend is highest among millennials at 46 percent. This affection also translates into commitment and (brand) loyalty as over half of Canadians (53 percent) have owned a single car brand for at least 10 years.
They’ve also shed some tears. Almost one in four car owners openly admitted to holding back tears when they’ve had to sell a car they loved.
“Despite the myth of hookup culture and ‘serial dating’ in the digital age, the majority of Canadians are clearly long-term romance-seekers at heart,” adds O’Reilly, pointing to the fact that the survey found the majority of Canadians (60 per cent) admit they are craving commitment. The chances of someone who owns an exotic car also having other more conservative vehicles in the garage is quite high, meaning that they should think twice about the image they want to portray when reaching for the keys before that first date.
Regional highlights from the 2019 autoTRADER.ca Love & Cars survey
Single in Halifax? Cars might be key
Atlantic Canadians are the most likely (55 percent) to associate car ownership with relationship-readiness compared to average Canadians (47 percent).
Commitment starts here
Atlantic Canadians were significantly more likely to report craving commitment versus their national counterparts (69 percent versus 60 percent).
For Quebecers, when you know, you know
Regionally, Quebecers are most “impulsive” in terms of settling for fewer dates before feeling committed, with almost one in four (23 percent) choosing less than three dates, compared with just 13 percent of Atlantic Canadians. By comparison, BC residents appeared to be most careful in treading such waters: they were most likely to seek more than 10 dates (22 percent) to feel committed.
A car named…?
Residents of Alberta were most likely out of all provincial counter-parts to say they have given a car they loved a nickname or a “pet name” at 48 percent (compared to the national average of 35 percent). They were also more likely to fight back tears when selling a car they loved compared to their fellow Canadians (27 percent versus 23 percent).
Ontarians are the most loyal
Regionally, Ontario car owners are the most likely to have stuck with a single car brand for more than 15 years compared to the national average (24 percent vs 19 percent).
Breaking up is hard to do
Albertans were most likely to experience heartache from a “vehicular break-up” (a relationship break-up that occurs inside a car) compared to the national average (27 percent versus 19 percent), followed by Ontarians and Atlantic Canadians (both 22 percent).