Most seniors start to lose their balance and flexibility far before they lose their ability to drive. For that reason, it’s important to get a car that’s suited for senior drivers. One of the most important features of a quality senior car is that it’s easy to get in and out of. This is often the most difficult part of the whole driving experience for the elderly. Low seats or cars that don’t have sufficient handles or other support make it incredibly hard for people with limited mobility, like seniors, to maneuver.
Below are a few key features to look for when finding the best car for seniors to get into and out of, as well as some suggested models for you to review. Most important, make sure to test drive any vehicle before buying it to make sure it’s comfortable and easy for you to use.
Features to Look For
When finding a perfect senior car, there are a few features you need to find first, especially if you’re looking for one with easy maneuverability. They’re outlined below.
A Low Door Sill
A door sill is basically the little ledge underneath the doors on cars that allow you to step down from the driver’s seat to the road. When it’s lower, it’s easier to transition to the ground and less painful for arthritic elderly knees and ankles. It also provides added support for the senior when transitioning from sitting to standing.
There should be plenty of ergonomic and strategically placed handlebars inside the car. One on the door itself, one on the side of the doorway near the seat, and one security handle above the doorway will provide the most safety, support, and maneuverability for seniors trying to get in and out of the car.
Large Door Opening
Obviously, the door opening itself should also be fairly large to account for swinging their legs in and out of the car as well. Hunching over to get out of small or low door openings can be terrible for seniors’ backs and necks, so make sure it’s as tall as it is wide.
Average/Adjustable Seat Height
Possibly the most important feature is the seat height. Usually this is adjustable in any car, but make sure it’s at your unique ideal condition for easily getting into and out of the car, and driving as well. If it’s too low, it will be much harder to get out of the car. If it’s too high, it may be easy to lose your balance. Make sure to test drive and adjust the seat to whatever height works best for you.
Generally, midsize sedans are the best options for seniors because they come with all the features listed above. They’re also not too bulky to manage, but not small enough to be constricting or uncomfortable in any way. Stick with mid-size cars when shopping for cars for seniors.
Best Cars To Get In and Out Of
Based on reviews from Consumer Reports, these are the best cars for senior drivers for a variety of reasons, including how easy it is to get in and out of them.
The Chevy Impala is a large sedan that offers a ride comparable to luxury competitors. It’s very quiet inside, allowing the driver to focus on the road, and has the handles, low door sill, and large door openings a senior would need to easily get in and out of it.
The Accord from Honda is another great, roomy sedan that’s larger than most of its competitors, which is better for seniors who need that extra room to maneuver getting in and out. It also has good visibility, since it has larger windows, and the low door sill and handles that you’ll need for stability.
Subarus are known for quality and durability, so this is a great investment if you’re looking for a new car and you’re approaching your retirement years. The Subaru Forester will last you far into your older years, and still be easy to use all those years later with its large doors, great visibility, and storage capacity. This car was practically designed for the older driver.
If you’re looking for an SUV that has all of the qualities mentioned above, the Toyota Highlander is the way to go. Normally I wouldn’t suggest an SUV for an older person because they’re larger, bulkier to manage on the road, and typically require a bit of a climb to get into and out of. But the highlander’s doors are low to the ground, so they took care of that issue. It also offers many benefits of SUV’s for senior drivers like increased visibility, since it’s so high up, and extra large supportive seats.
Summary and Sources
There are many factors to consider when trying to find the best car for seniors, especially in terms of the car being easy for them to get into and out of. Hopefully, with the features outlined above and the suggested models, you can find one that works for your needs and lifestyle.
If your current vehicle just isn’t comfortable, consider using a cushion in the car seat, especially for those longer trips. Also, check out my survival guide to road trips with seniors with dementia.
Do you have any tips for making the driving experience easier for seniors? Share your insights below! Oh! If you found this article helpful, please share with your friends on social!