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Best Vehicle for Elderly/Limited Mobility Drivers

jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
My mother has had both knees replaced, and my 80 year old father is about to have his knee replaced as well. They have a 1993 Taurus that is just too difficult for them to get in and out of.

So, what they are looking for is something that has tons of front leg room, and the seat and roof is of the correct height that entry and exit is as easy as possible. The want something a little smaller than a Gran Marquis, and the Taurus is not big enough.

My father has always owned Ford's since 1950, but he would consider a GM or Chrysler. They do not find it easy to get into my brother's 98 Gran Voyager, but I'm thinking something like a LeSabre, Impala, or perhaps a "taller" vehicle like an Escape or a PT Cruiser. I have to say they both perfer simply styled vehicles, and image is meaningless to them.

Any suggestions, as I assume this is a common issue for elderly drivers?


  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Member Posts: 1,284
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Administrator Posts: 11,148
    jsylvester, my grandmother, late 80's, has similar mobility problems. She lives with my aunt & uncle and does not drive herself, but they recently took her shopping with them when they bought a vehicle because she could not get in and out of a sedan or SUV without a lot of help. They ended up with a PT Cruiser (Turbo), and it has worked out perfectly. Though the car is tall-ish, it's low to the ground and spacious in the front.

    I have a Chrysler van, and it has a remote-operated rear liftgate feature. If they have this on the PT, that could be a bonus if they ever need to stow walkers. The back seats fold down too. Some models do come with the interior passenger entry/exit assist handles.

    Bonus: for an extra $500, they can get flames on the sides :)

    I'm sure you'll get additional opinions from those who have had experience with other vehicles.

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  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Member Posts: 1,284
    ...what about a Windstar or other mini-van? They seem to have about the right step-in height for many elderly or people with medical conditions. My wife's aunt has MS, and finds that getting in and out of a mini-van or SUV much easier than a regular car.
  • janzjanz Member Posts: 129
    are VERY comfortable and easy go get into. I'd stay away from an SUV-type, unless it's a a crossover or maybe a Forrester. Many traditional platform SUV's have a high step-up to get in.

    Besides, PT is shorter than a minivan, possibly easier to maneuever.
  • nonjth13nonjth13 Member Posts: 91
    Look At a Toyota Avalon. Lots of interior room, relatively small exterior, you sit up high which makes entry and exit easier and you get 30mpg on the highway. Mine is 2 years old and is the preferred car over the Audi for family trips. I have two bad knees which need replacement so I know how difficult some cars are to get in and out of.
  • audia8qaudia8q Member Posts: 3,138
    Gran Marquis and the LeSabre are the undisputed champs when it comes to satisfaction of senior buyers. The Town Car and Avalon also might work, but the door opening on the mercury/buick/lincoln is a bit bigger than the Avalon...The mini-van suggestion could be good also, but traditionally they dont have the front seat "stretch out" room that the full size sedans offer
  • JPhamJPham Member Posts: 148
    We just sold an 80-yo gentleman with a bad back
    an RX330 which he just loved.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    They have no trouble getting into our CRV. It's high enough they don't have to stoop to get it.
  • crkeehncrkeehn Member Posts: 513
    I'm not 80 yet, but truly appreciated my PT
    Cruiser this Spring when I was dealing with a broken ankle. The doors open widely, the seats (at least the front seats) are at chair level so they are easier to get in and out of. Interestingly enough, during one of my visits to the orthopoedic surgeon, I was waiting for my wife to pull up in her PT when another PT pulled up to the entryway and another of my doctor's patients climbed in. We had a nice chat while waiting for my wife.

    One of the people in my church has bad knees and a Toyota Matrix. While I was on crutches, she did some ferrying me about. My only complaint about the Matrix are that the seats are lower, a little more difficult to get in and out of. The doors open widely. Either would be a good choice.

    I was visiting my dad a week or so ago. He rode for the first time in my PT Cruiser. He has a very bad back, he commented on how comfortable the Cruiser was and how easy to get in and out of.
  • kinshasakinshasa Member Posts: 6
    Need suggestions for my mother-in-law. She is getting rid of a Taurus wagon. Doesn't do much driving, just around town (Las Vegas) for shopping. She didn't like the Hyundai, seats not high enough. Anyone have experience with a Nissan Maxima or Subaru Impreza? I hear the seats are height adjustable in that car.
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Member Posts: 1,284
    Don't know, but among others the entire Volkwagen lineup and Ford Focus have height adjustable seats. I can't remember if the Civic or Prtoege, do, though.
  • hansiennahansienna Member Posts: 2,312
    Most sedans are too low to the ground and most SUV's too high.
        PT Cruiser, Toyota ECHO, Toyota Prius are 3 sedans with excellent height and wide opening doors for "less-agile" people.
        The RAV-4, CR-V, and some other "Cross-Over" vehicles are next best while most minivans are also a viable choice. All of these are unfortunately a little higher and more difficult to get into and out of than the PT, ECHO, and Prius.
  • afk_xafk_x Member Posts: 393
    Is worth a look. Sits lower than just about any other SUV
  • peeetepeeete Member Posts: 136
    finding the right car for disabled seniors is a big problem. The choices are rather limited. Nonetheless, there are surprises out there.

    My mother has severely restricted mobility. Getting in an out of a car is tough, and forget about suv's or vans if you have to step up at all.

    When I visit her in Florida I rent Grand Marquis, and she loves them..besides the ease of getting and out, the seats are large so she can move around. (Plus, I love GM's) :)

    Surprisingly, she can also get into an accord, a taurus and yesterday a Civic (which totally shocked me), so I guess the realtionship of door size, seat height etc makes a difference.

    Another car to consider is an Impala (or wimpala to some lol). It is also quite big inside and a foot shorter than the GM. A basic one is pretty cheap as well.

    I still think the GM/CV is the best value and most comfortable for the $.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    I think I just need to have my parents try different vehicles and see what they are comfortable with. My parents don't drive much, and the nice thing about the PT Cruiser is it gets reasonable fuel economy, and there are low mileage used ones readily available everywhere. Also, it snows enough in Ohio that FWD may be a better choice for them since they are not the drivers they used to be.
  • audia8qaudia8q Member Posts: 3,138
    As a dealer who has alot of older buyers I fully understand your needs....
    you say they don't drive much, but yet your concerned with gas mileage....forget gas mileage and worry about comfort and your parents needs. If they are only drive occasionally the gas savings between a kia and a navigator will be minimal....also chances are if it's snowing they arent driving...so again, go for a perfect fit comfort wise....generally large, full sized domestic cars fill your needs the best.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    I overheard a conversation the other day on this very subject.

    These people tried everything they could think of.

    Of all things, they found the Pontiac Aztec to be the best for this!

    I'm sure a person could get a steal on one of these!
  • hansiennahansienna Member Posts: 2,312
    My friends are 65 years old and still quite mobile. They looked at all sedans, SUVs, minivans, pickups, cross-over vehicles, etc.
        They liked the Toyota ECHO seat height and ease of entry and exit but felt the interior looked and felt too cheap. The Toyota Prius was also nice but at their age they did not trust new technology.
        They purchased a PT Cruiser as seat height from ground and floor of the PT Cruiser felt just right as well as having wide opening doors that make it very easy to enter and exit.
        All other sedans were difficult for them to get into and out of compared to the PT Cruiser, ECHO, and Prius. The CR-V and RAV-4 were also considered. They would have purchased either the CR-V or RAV-4 had there not been PT Cruisers.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Member Posts: 1,757
    Most of the elderly people that I have taken out looking for a vehicles tend to prefer larger domestic sedans - the Crown Victoria, and most Buicks fit the bill very well.

    While SUVs may be easier to get into, a lot of older drivers do not feel comfortable driving something that is generally a lot larger than what they have been driving all along.
  • hotrodlincoln1hotrodlincoln1 Member Posts: 62
    Some people I've talked to with back or knee problems say that getting down to get in a car is problematic for them, so something a little higher like a 2wd pickup can be better for some.
  • crkeehncrkeehn Member Posts: 513
    Please come back and let us know what they decided.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    The purchase has been put on hold for now, as my father just had knee replacement surgery about 10 days ago. I would not expect anything to happen for a month or so right now.

    Based upon the miles they drive, we will probably go used car route, as depreciation expense would be pretty steep on something driven only 5-7 k miles a year.

    I have seen a lot of Gran Marquis with low miles for good prices, as well as low mileage PT Cruisers. We shall see.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Member Posts: 572
    Not entirely because of the vehicle, but partially because the dealership owners go to their church, and the Honda dealership is the closest to their house. It is a certified used car with 18,000 miles. It is my parents first non-Ford since a 63 Impala convertible, and a 76 Monte Carlo; needless to say their first foreign car. They are donating their 93 Taurus to charity.

    My mother also tested the Pontiac Vibe, Saturn VUE, and I tested a Ford Escape Limited with them. I liked the Escape much better (faster, more comfortable, better looking, and a much better price), but the CRV sits lower to the ground, and with them driving only 5-6,000 miles a year, it should work out okay. I do have to say that here in Columbus, OH, CRV's sell very quickly, and the dealerships all had very few in stock, except for the ones not prepped for delivery.
  • clarkjvclarkjv Member Posts: 1
    I am caregiver for my 90 year old parents. When I take them anywhere I have to pack a wheelchair and walker in the trunk. I am ready to buy a new sedan (no SUV -they can't step up into one) and am looking for one with lots of trunk space and backseat leg room. Any suggestions?
  • lexusguylexusguy Member Posts: 6,419
    What kind of price range are we talking here? Maybach has plenty of space, but it costs north of $300 grand.
  • slorenzenslorenzen Member Posts: 694
    across the street, retired and about the same age as your parents(90?), sold their Cadillac sedan and bought a GM mivivan(Silouette?), because it was way easier to get in and out.
  • ghuletghulet Member Posts: 2,564
    ...have you tried a small wagon, like a Pontiac Vibe or Toyota Matrix? Either that or a large sedan, maybe a Ford Crown Vic or Mercury Grand Marquis (largest trunks in the industry)? You can get any of them for ~$20k.
  • suydamsuydam Member Posts: 4,676
    I'd suggest a small minivan like the Mazda MPV. When my mother became disabled, she could easily get into a minivan (but not SUV or sedan. You can back up to them and just sit down as the seats are higher than sedans, but no step-up like SUVs. And they have lots of space for equipment such as wheelchairs. You can probably get a 1-0r 2 year old one for less than $20 grand.

    That being said, the trunk space of the Le Sabre is huge for a sedan.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
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  • jamesspotjamesspot Member Posts: 57
    New Ford Freestyle, Lexus RX330, Toyota Highlander, etc. with automatic transmissions are really nice.
    My father-in-law, age 75, had a knee replacement. He likes the ease of access in his Highlander, as it is much higher than a car, but lower than truck-based SUV's. Lots of space, decent mileage, and flip-up seats for grandchildren.
    Worst are any kind of lowered sports or performance car. I drive a BMW 330i. A partially disabled coworker struggles getting in and out when I give him rides as my seating is so low.
  • SylviaSylvia Member Posts: 1,636
    Unarchived on request
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Member Posts: 27,145
    The LeSabres that are left have bench seats and those are very comfortable. The Limited power seat for the driver has an exit button and the seat moves back to a preset position for entry and exit then a button moves it forward to a preset position for two different drives. The Lucerne and LaCrosse should have the same type of wider opening door, in my opinion, making them a replacement for LaSabre and ParkAvenue.

    2014 Malibu 2LT, 2015 Cruze 2LT,

  • falcononefalconone Member Posts: 1,726
    Believe it or not, I think a Scion b would be good for seniors. Plenty of room to stow a wheelchair (rear seats down). They don't have to crouch too much to get into the car. There is ample head room and rear seating is nice if they have elderly guests.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    How about a Mercury Montego or Ford Five Hundred? Class leading trunk space (or so the ads say) and it seems to be easy to get in and out of.
  • stockmanjoestockmanjoe Member Posts: 353
    The toyota Camry is a good old peoples car.
  • jefferygjefferyg Member Posts: 418
    I think something along the lines of a Ford Freestyle or a minivan is the best vehicle for elderly people. You don't have to climb up to get in like many SUVs and they are not so low to the ground like many sedans.

    Most minivans also offer automatic doors and rear liftgate which could prove invaluable for elderly car buyers.
    I also know several seniors who drive small pickups. Again, they like the ease of getting in and out.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Just as an FYI...

    Miata: 13" (talk about low)
    Legacy 2.5i sedan: 17.5"
    Impreza RS sedan: 20"
    Outback XT: 22"
    Tribeca: 26"

    I recommend the Outback because you don't really have to climb up, yet it's not too low either. My Forester is slightly higher, though I have not measured. Both are pretty easy to climb in and out of.

    Exception - the rear door of the Forester is too narrow, so getting in the back seat is not as easy.

    I hope someone finds this information useful.

  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014
    I read that about 2 weeks ago somewhere. (I think on GMtv) Well it was on Limited Mobility and GM got an award. ;)

  • biscuit1941biscuit1941 Member Posts: 31
    I am 6'1", 240lbs with a spinal fusion and a few other mobiity problems. I have been driving minivans and SUVs for the last ten years but would really like a sedan. The ford 500 is perfect, but I do not want to buy a ford.
    Does anyone know of another sedan that has the high seating and headroom of the ford 500? The boomers are getting older and less mobile. The manufacturers should be planning for this market
  • mirthmirth Member Posts: 1,212
    ...buy the 500? If you're worried about repairs you can just add an extended warranty (although Ford recently expanded their powertrain warranty to 5yr/60K miles with free roadside assistance).

    Honestly, I can't think of another sedan that has the same seating height advantage.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Try an Avalon, maybe? Aren't those seats at least slightly higher than normal?

  • realtallguyrealtallguy Member Posts: 1
    I'm rather tall as well (6'5") with back trouble. Do you (or anyone else) have trouble loading or unloading cargo into your car trunks or minivans? I'm looking at the ford 500 just for this reason. Thanks.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    I don't have an issue with any of my cars (Infiniti I35, Honda Civic, and Honda Odyssey) but I have had issues before with a Dodge Neon (the opening is too small) and if I'm carrying something bulky an Infiniti G35 might make it hard to stick stuff into the trunk.

    Besides the Ford 500 I would also look at the Ford Freestyle and perhaps a few minivans.
  • jnealjneal Member Posts: 247
    As a mobility limited person I have some experience with different vehicle and I would unhesitatingly recommend the Dodge Caravan or the Chrysler version of the same. Easy to enter and exit and with the sliding door plenty of room for wheechairs etc. Also plenty of room to install a lift to load wheelchairs or scooter thru the back.

    I drive a '06 Dakota but admit it is a bit high for some people. The 2nd generation Dakotas aren't quite as high so I wouldn't overlook those.
  • kronykrony Member Posts: 110
    Didn't see anyone mention the Chrysler 300...not sure if it has the same specs as the 500, but I would guess it's close.
  • realprorealpro Member Posts: 1
    I'm looking for a vehicle with the seat height of a Forester to drive elderly family members (female). The minivan foot area where they can just slide their feet out is nice but it is difficult with the seat height to get them in.

    Is there any vehicle out there without the foot well and flat floor for them to slide out in addition to the seat height.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    You may want to plan ahead and get a ramp van with a lift.

    I believe they have conversions for the Toyota Sienna and the Dodge Grand Caravan.

    The Dodge even has the Swivel seats that you can make face outward. That might make it easier for them to exit.

    I totally agree with the Forester's seats being at the perfect height, you don't climb up or sit down, you just slide in!
  • irismgirismg Member Posts: 345
    The vast majority of people who post on sites like this one seem to feel that they will never be afflicted with a physical impairment, and that the car makers should only cater to the young and healthy. I'm 46 years old and have arthritis in the knees, and it's been an education to lurk and read the comments from so many clueless people who will one day be infirm and still need transportation. They look down their noses at the people who drive Town Cars and Impalas other non-sporty vehicles, the so-called "fogey"-mobiles, and would seem to prefer older people who drive automatics just don't exist.

    What I hope they come to realize, someday soon, is that you can't stop living just because you can't work the clutch pedal anymore or sit in a low, thinly cushioned seat anymore. We have to buy what we need, not what the young males would prefer us to have, because sometimes there are just more important things in this world than having an exciting half-hour drive to work.

    Anyway, I wanted to thank Edmunds for bringing up that this is a real need for more people than a lot of "enthusiasts" would care to admit.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Administrator Posts: 11,148
    A reporter would like to talk drivers above the age of 50 who chose a vehicle because of a specific feature that made your driving experience more comfortable. Please respond to ctalati@edmunds.com with your daytime contact information along with the vehicle you chose and the feature that you really liked no later than Tuesday, June 3rd.

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  • daddysangeldaddysangel Member Posts: 14
    At this time, my dad & I are using a 2005 Chevy Equinox LT with hatchback and automatic transmission (it has been laughingly called a "tall wagon"). His rolling walker packs away behind the back seats on the reversible picnic shelf's middle level and we slide in and out the front seats fairly well with our decrepit bodies and his dizzy self.

    If all else fails; Yahoo! or Google for "best vehicles for senior citizens" for 2008 makes and models.

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