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Best Vehicles for Shorter Drivers



  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    Were pretty well known for being the WORST-handling SUV, I think in the history of the world.
  • Did you have one, Lancer? I loved mine, just wore it out is all. I also came across another poster that was fond of his as well. No SUV is meant for drag racing, after all. Comparatively speaking, my 1988 Ford Bronco II Eddie Bauer was a fine vehicle...very reliable and got me everywhere I needed to go, no matter what the weather said. And it was pretty solid, too. I had no handling problems with it, and I'm finding the same with the Blazer, 'cept I wish it turned a little tighter. Just takes a little gettin' used to, I guess.
  • mtngalmtngal Posts: 1,911
    A friend of mine loves her Bronco, and it's still going strong. As you say, don't drive an SUV like a race car. I rarely drive my Wrangler over 65 and never over 70. It does great at slower speeds.
  • barb67barb67 Posts: 1
    From a new member and first time poster:I Have been driving a Chrysler Fifth Avenue since 1993(90,000 miles). (Yes, I am an old broad and I like leather, too) Vision great but am sitting too close to the air bag for safety. Now it's New Car ($25,000+)time but when I sit in any of the new wagons or SUVs, the head restraint is almost over my head blocking my vision. Also,if there are head restraints on the rear seats, my rear view is blocked also. Can these be removed(rear)or modified (drivers seat?)
    Different subject: Is there a site to compare average repair costs on makes and models and warranties? (Getting old and close to retirement.)Thanks, will appreciate any thoughts you have.
  • hk2lahk2la Posts: 53
    I'm 5-2 and have been driving an Accord for over 10 years. I think I'll get the Lexus ES next; the seat belt fit better than the GS300 (of course, there's the price difference, too). I just got used to all the glass in a regular sedan--could see everywhere. Test drove the Lexus Sportcross and the blind spot view was completely blocked!
  • suzzannsuzzann Posts: 56
    This topic showed a post from January 16. What happened to it?
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    Any change that occurs in these discussions will change the date at the top. It does not have to necessarily be a message, but could also be due to changes in the Title, Helpful Links, Additional Resources, and other areas. Sorry for the confusion. ;-)

    Hatchbacks / Station Wagons / Women's Auto Center Boards
  • lois9lois9 Posts: 1
    I need a car or SUV type to transport Mom, Dad and a wheel chair under $35k. Passenger type cars are too low for elderly to get in & out. My Montero is too high even with a stool. Need large back seat entry with angled hand grips. Older folks can not reach overhead easily.
    I like a back end tall enough to stand up the wheelchair.2002 honda crv was close but noisy & the dealer said I could NOT add hand grips to help with entry. Sub.Outback is close wheelchair has to be laid down & I would like to sit higher. Any suggestions?
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    Okay, my first thought: it sounds to me like you could use a minivan. Many of them have those side hand grips, easy middle row passenger entry; and with the 3rd row seats removed, there'd be plenty of space for a wheel chair (standing up).

    If your totally opposed to a minivan, then I'd suggest looking at some of the new crossovers suvs on the market such as the Buick Rendezvous or Toyota Highlander. Both of these do have pretty low ground clearance (6.9 inches) for suvs, and a decent amount of cargo space. Someone else may have another suggestion.

    While you're waiting for more feedback, you should try using Edmunds' Advanced vehicle search for other ideas. Good luck and please keep us posted on what you decide. ;-)

    Hatchbacks / Station Wagons / Women's Auto Center Boards
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    Starting next week, we're going to start the process of moving discussions in the Women's Auto Center over to other more active message boards.

    This discussion will soon be moved over to our Smart Shopper Message Board. We look forward to continuing this subject over there. Happy motoring!

    Hatchbacks / Station Wagons / Women's Auto Center Boards
  • suzzannsuzzann Posts: 56
    Having a board dedicated to women was nice, I'm going to miss it.
  • mtngalmtngal Posts: 1,911
    But it should still be OK since we'll still be talking about cars for us "height challenged" ladies...
  • Look at a Windstar. It'll have all the room you need, plus power adjustable pedals--moving you further away from the stearing wheel.

    In a sedan, the Taurus and Crown Victoria offer power adjustable pedals. These are designed just for shorter people to keep them from having to sit right up on the wheel to reach the pedals.
  • mikeintnmikeintn Posts: 39
    My wife is 5' tall and loves her Chrysler Town and Country MiniVan. The seats work well for her and she is able to see the road well.

    She drives the van because she is the ultimate mom, driving carpool, taking kids to practices, church, etc. The van was a necessity. We drove all of them on the market and the TC was the winner for her needs. We've had it for two years and it has been great.

    I try to get her to drive my Acura MDX but she always wants to drive her "mama van". So I guess it depends on your needs.

    Good luck,

  • You are right. We bought a Chysler van last year and we love it like you wife loves hers. I think the Chrysler vans offer adjustable pedals new for 2002. Something to consider when your previous generation 2000 is up for replacement!
  • Have any 5'0" to 5'1" people tried the 2002 Camry? What did you think of that one? I haven't heard it mentioned yet.
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    My wife is 5' 3" and I am 6'. We have a 4-cyl Honda Accord EX with a power adjustable seat. I lower it all the way, she raises it all the way, and we both are very comfortable driving the car.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306 5'1" @ 107 lbs. She recently purchased a Chevrolet Impala and is quite comfortable with it. Her previous vehicle was a 1991 Mercury Tracer.
  • vkwheelsvkwheels Posts: 218
    I test drove the Matrix in which you sit a little higher than normal but not as high as a SUV type of car. It might be easier for an elderly person to get in & out off. Don't know if a wheelchair would fit, but it is a very roomy car, with a nice smooth ride. I tested the XR, which is the middle model.
  • risa5risa5 Posts: 23
    I'm 5'0" and I drive an Elantra GT now; however, I can say from experience that a Dodge Caravan and the other Chrysler minivans are very good for petite women. My parents owned one for many years and I usually got driving duty. You get an excellent view of the road from all sides. Ours didn't have the adjustable pedals, but I still had no problems reaching the pedals. The worst vehicles for petite women have got to be those tall SUVs. My brother has a Dodge Durango and, even with footboards, it's really awkward to get in and out.
  • suzzannsuzzann Posts: 56
    I'm happy with mine.
  • mtngalmtngal Posts: 1,911
    I have a Wrangler with 30" wheels (it's taller than many) and have no problems getting in unless I'm wearing a tight skirt. Since I don't own a dress or skirt that fits me at the moment, I don't worry about that!

    My elderly mother, who probably couldn't get in my Wrangler, had no problems with a Blazer we rented. I didn't have any trouble driving it either.
  • eeeleeel Posts: 57
    My wife is 5 feet 1 inches tall. She picked a Chrysler Concorde and loves it. We've had it for almost 2 years now. Can't get much bigger than that. Her other car is an Eagle Vision.
  • I am 5'2 and have found that Hondas are a better fit than most because of their lower dash. I have a 2004 Accord right now and it's a perfect fit for me and my 6'6 husband.
  • mtngalmtngal Posts: 1,911
    Hondas do seem to work well for petite people. My husband and I both liked our test drive of the Honda Element, and I didn't have a problem when we test drove the insight a couple of years ago.

    I do find that I'm too close to the steering wheel with my Tacoma, but at least I can see over the dash.

    I recently test drove the new Ford F150 and loved the adjustable pedals. It is now on my list of possible (though might not be practical) replacements for the Tacoma.
  • The Element was VERY high on our shopping list. Actually, the day we bought the Accord we had gone with the intention of buying a Element. Didn't like the power of the 4WD automatic though compared to the 5-speed 03 Accord I was trading so we ended up with the 04 Accord automatic. The Element was very comfortable for both of us and was one of the very few cars we have ever been in that he could comfortable fit in the back seat of with extra leg room.
  • just published the following new article that many of you who visit this discussion may find interesting: Top 10 Vehicles for Shorter Drivers. Please feel free to use this area to post your thoughts on the vehicles that are mentioned in this article or to make your own suggestions.

    Smart Shoppers / FWI Message Boards
  • slorenzenslorenzen Posts: 694
    Ex-V6 for my very petite wife(4'11", 90 lbs, wears a size 2?). We tested the Camry and Mazda6 as well, but overall the Accord was best. We found the seat bottom in cloth is 1-1.5" longer than the leather-equipped car, so we ended up with the EX.

    BTW: the Mazda was by FAR the most fun to drive, but she got a backache after 45 minutes....sigh...
  • How are CR-V's for short people. I'm 5'2 and still trying to decide if I should get a 2002 CR-V or the Toyota Scion which really does have great sightlines as I've been in it but not test driven it yet..which I will be doing today. Does anyone know of any friends or family members who are in that height range and what are their opinions?

    Edmunds suggests the Mazda 3 which is a great car but I don't think it will work for me. I couldn't get positioned well enough to see over the back and the Corolla is HORRIBLE in this area.
  • mtngalmtngal Posts: 1,911
    I test drove the Mazda 3 hatchback last week. It was definitely a fun vehicle to drive but I did have some problems getting comfortable. I've just been diagnosed with an arthritic back and I didn't think that it had enough lower back support for me, so it is out.

    My other half and I looked at the Subies today (I didn't drive - not sure I should have with the meds I'm taking at the moment) but I rode in both the Outback and the Forester. Both those vehicles have much better back support and either would be fine. We did prefer the Forester over the particular Outback we test drove.

    We also drove the Wrangler Unlimited last week and I found it very comfortable, easy to drive, though not as much fun as a regular Wrangler.

    I sat in a Murano and didn't even bother taking it for a test drive. I couldn't see over the dash much (granted, I didn't raise the seat up). It just seemed to have too much around me for comfort.

    We are also considering replacing the seats in our 2000 Tacoma. I have no problems driving it but the seats are horrible!
  • catlovercatlover Posts: 3
    Hi All,

    I'm just getting warmed up for a new car shopping trip. I'm petite also (5 foot), and always have found both Honda and Acura cars to be great to drive and for visibility. I have memories (sad ones) of learning, early on, that the Ford Mustang was NOT a car I could comfortably drive. Anyone know whether they've corrected that in recent years? (You can tell I am not normally a follower of the automotive news, eh? :-))

    I am having a real hard time convincing myself there's a great car out there for me -- existing car still is wonderful, maybe that's part of it.
  • mtngalmtngal Posts: 1,911
    I can relate to your Mustang experiences - I bought one and sold it only months later because I had so many problems driving it. The new ones are more like the first Mustangs and I thought they might be better, but I still sat too low in one (I didn't drive it - your experience might be different than mine). I was also very disappointed when I couldn't see enough to drive a camaro.

    I really liked the Ford F150 pickup with the adjustable seat and petals. I drove that without any problems - maybe one day I'll buy another full sized pickup - I really do like them best and have only had problems with one model of Ford many years ago.

    I'm having trouble getting excited about any car that doesn't have AWD/4x4. I like Honda's Element in spite of it's looks. I'm going to be looking at the Unlimited again in August at Camp Jeep. Perhaps the reason it didn't grab me had more to do with my mood and the particular salesman I was talking to.

    If you find something that captures your interest, let me know - I'm now in a position (finally!) to buy something.
  • pearl1pearl1 Posts: 1
    I am 5'0 and am beginning my driving lessons shortly. However, I am concerned that I might have to over-stretch to floor clutch/brake pedals. What is the most appropriate car for me to learn in and indeed to eventually buy? I am considering the new minis.
  • mtngalmtngal Posts: 1,911
    Are you going to be learning on a vehicle with a clutch? Most professional driving instructors have vehicles that are automatic and don't have a clutch. While I'm a big believer of learning to drive a clutch at some point, if you are just starting to drive, start with an automatic. A clutch is now an unnecessary distraction and would make learning in the beginning much harder. The reason I ask is that it makes a big difference. I'm only 5'1" tall and have rarely had a problem reaching the brake pedal on any vehicle. The same is not true with a clutch.

    My biggest problem is when I sit low in a vehicle that has a long hood. I've always preferred vehicles that have higher seating. A number of years ago I had a chance to buy a great looking Camero but I couldn't tell where the front of the vehicle was - it seemed like there were acres of hood in front of me.

    I would recommend starting off with something that is automatic. I haven't driven the Mini Cooper, so I don't know what it is like, but I would be concerned about how low it sits. I test drove a Toyota Echo when they first came out and liked it (my husband didn't like it at all). I felt I had good visibility all around and it didn't feel too big. It doesn't have much power and I have no clue whether it comes in an auto or not, but you might look at one as a first car (they aren't expensive).

    I sort of like the RAV4 - you sit fairly high in them, they aren't too small and they seem to be pretty comfortable.

    I test drove the Prius and didn't find that too low (I can't believe I just suggested 3 Toyotas - I have a Tacoma and dislike it very much!). You might want to look at the Subaru line - I had no problems driving any of them. If you want a pickup, any of the compact pickups would be easy to drive (I bet you can tell I prefer trucks and SUVs, can't you?).

    Good luck with it!
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    Whether you are short or small or big and tall or some combination of the total, YOU must drive the car for a few miles BEFORE purchasing the car. Don't listen to what your friend says, your mentor says, whoever. YOU are going to be the one driving the car.

    When you have test driven a number of cars, you will know which cars you are comfortable and which ones are not.
  • mtngalmtngal Posts: 1,911
    If you have an opportunity, try to go to an auto show. I try to go to the LA Auto Show in January and look at all the new (and current) cars. I've found it helpful to sit in all of them that interest me. Sometimes I'll see one that I hadn't thought of/heard of and add it to my list of possibilities. It won't take the place of a test drive, but would allow you to eliminate some that don't meet your expectations. And it's fun to look at things I know I can't afford, like a Porche or a Hummer or (fill in the blank).
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    And if the model is fairly common, call your local car rental agency and take the car out for a weekend "test drive". As you can get many cars these days for under $25 per fday on weekends, it gives you a real chance to drive 500+ miles on a model that you are interested in.
  • mcdawggmcdawgg Posts: 1,696
    With any manual transmission, you'll have to sit closer to the steering wheel to fully depress the clutch. The same vehicle with an automatic would allow you to sit around 2 inches further from the airbag. Make sure you can sit at least 10 inches (the more, the better) from the airbag.
  • azguyazguy Posts: 23
    Thanks for posting the best for shorties list. I am a guy with disabilites and am 5'4". My wife has an '04 Camry LE/Special Edition and I have an '03 Accord LX V6. Both have power seats which are great for folks w/orthopedic problems and/or are smaller in stature.

    I can't understand why Edmunds didn't list the Camry as good for shorter people as its driver seat is higher than the Accords when both power seats are all the way up. Also, the Camry is easier to steer, but I love my Accord, too. They are both nice and high.
  • I'm 5' and in 1985 had an extended put on my Honda CRX clutch. It seemed to work, but for years, it just didn't feel right. the ratio of extension to the floor vs. gas and brake was awkward. (Just my experience). Love the fact that manufacturers now make tracks that get much closer, seats that raise and lower, and tilted steering wheels.


    For reference, local folks I trust told me to go to places that specialize in adapting vehicles for "special needs." This way, you're assured greater safety peace of mind because many of those shops have more rigid standards.
  • Outside of the cost issue, what do you folks think of the GTI vs. the Mini Cooper.


    I've heard such mixed things about the VW reliability, electrical "issues" and poor service that I'm considering a Mini Cooper with a higher price tag but a little less power (??) and either longer wait time or difficult search (as I'm looking for an automatic transmission).


    For you sports/race enthusiasts, I KNOW ... these cars were meant to be driven as std. transmissions, but my particular needs are small car length, lots of cargo (don't care about back seats). I loved my 85 honda CRX re: hatch space, but now looking for something bigger than a miata.


    Votes? Ideas? thoughts? Other suggestions?

    My rental is running out, so any words appreciated!
  • I don't believe Mini Cooper makes an auto transmission!
  • z71billz71bill Posts: 1,986
    I see a lot of vertically challenged people driving F-250 Super duty crew cab long bed pick up trucks. Being a little on the short side myself never stopped me from driving any vehicle. Got my DL when I was 14 years old and I was not even 5 feet tall - my first car - a 1964 Oldsmobile Jetstar 88. Since the seat did not have height adjustment I sat on a pillow.


    Today when I buy a car I always get a model that has power seats / or at least a height adjustment feature. Unless you are under 4 feet tall it should not be that big of a deal.
  • diane3diane3 Posts: 1
    I'm a 5'0" woman. I love many features about my PT Cruiser; but, sadly, I don't recommend it for shorter drivers. 1) since the headrest is too far forward for comfort on longer trips, I need a seatback cushion to avoid backaches. 2) the rear visability is not great. My previous vehicle was a Ford Windstar with a very comfortable driver's seat for long trips. Unfortunately, the doors were so huge that I often banged them into the rearview mirrors of vehicles beside me in parking lots.
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    Sure they do! CVT steptronic for the regular Cooper, and 6-speed steptronic for the S.
  • ezshift5ezshift5 West coastPosts: 858
    ..power seat......

    l. The seat goes UP and forward..this provides the requisite 10 inches airbag - driver space.

    2. The seat goes WAY UP. Clearance to headliner is about 2 1/2 inches
  • i'm 5' tall. no problem reaching any pedals or with visibility since i can jack up the seat, make the seat closer to the pedals, and adjust my steering wheel down so its not in the way. my hatchback also has a lower back cushion built into the seat, which i can inflate or deflate.
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    You must have relatively long legs for your height, because often if you're short and you have to jack up the seat, your lower legs end up sort of dangling and you can't rest your heel on the floor when pushing the gas pedal.
  • mdaffronmdaffron Posts: 4,421
    The Mazda3 in "s" trim comes with lumbar support in the driver's seat.

  • I'm just over 4'10" and have a passion for driving performance sport cars, but having difficulty finding a car that is comfortable for my size. I currently drive a Miata, and do not want another (I have to sit on a pillow to see over steering wheel). So far, I've tested 2005 Honda S2000, 2001 Mercedes SLK convertable, 2001 Boxster, and 2003 BMW Z3 (I don't like Z4 body change). Can anyone advise if there is a sporty, fun to drive convertable that is better suited to my size? My budget is $30k-ish.
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