According to a survey by Aviva insurance, traditional car ownership trends have reversed, with women driving big SUVs while men drive smaller cars.

Back in the '80s it was normal to see a family with a big three-box family saloon or hatchback (a Ford Sierra or Vauxhall Cavalier, for example) for the man of the house, while his wife had a smaller runabout, like a Fiesta.

But that's changed with the proliferation of what Aviva calls 'Fiesta dad' and 'MPV mum'. Today, the roles are often reversed so that the man goes to work in the smaller family car, while mum does the school run in something bigger.

Overall, the survey of 2,500 families has revealed a general trend in which the two cars in a household are drawing towards each other in size and price; in other words, the gap between the two cars in a family is decreasing.

Two thirds of Fiesta drivers are men these days, while the vast majority of Fiesta owners in 1981 were women.

According to Aviva, driveways in the '80s were dominated by four car combinations:
  1. Vauxhall Cavalier/Mini Metro
  2. Vauxhall Cavalier/Ford Fiesta
  3. Ford Cortina/Mini Metro
  4. Ford Escort/Vauxhall Nova
Today, however, with more women opting for bigger cars, the combination is more likely to be a small family car (Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf) with a supermini (Renault Clio, Vauxhall Corsa), or an SUV/MPV with a supermini.

In 2011, only one car in the top ten best sellers list was a saloon: the BMW 3 Series.

"As families' lives become more busy and complex, with two working parents and children to be dropped off at school, it appears multi-tasking mums need a vehicle fit for both work and family life while cost and fuel efficiency are increasingly important to dad," said Heather Smith of Aviva.

So the moral is clear: buying a Cavalier or Mini Metro was acceptable in the '80s. It's not anymore. And have Aviva in your head. Aviva!