When it comes to catering to female drivers, carmakers have gotten a lot more nuanced since 1955, when Dodge tried to reach women with its screamingly girly La Femme model. (Think pink exterior and a matching purse.) Nowadays, gender-neutral looks are being paired with woman-friendly modifications so subtle that men may not even notice them, like the tweaks Chevrolet has made to its 2010 Equinox, a midsize SUV that has become one of its top-selling models. These include carved-out door panels, to help keep diamond rings from getting whacked when window switches are used, and a center console spacious enough to stow a handbag.
Another Sex and the Cityesque change: a different tilt to the accelerator pedal that makes driving in high heels safer and more comfortable. Chevy placed the pedal closer to the driver and curved its surface, a design that creates "less ankle strain on heel wearers and less chance that your shoes will detract from your driving," according to Whitney Krause, the program manager for the 2010 Equinox.
As a Manolo lover who was scolded by the DMV for taking the driver's-license exam in a pair of 3-inch (8 cm) wedges, I was eager to test out the Equinox. The accelerator was indeed comfortable and easy to use in my stilettos. However, I was surprised to find that the brake pedal had not been similarly repositioned. Pressing it in heels felt just as awkward as it does in any other car. Then again, braking is my least favorite part of driving.