What are the best cars for senior citizens like us?
This can be a little difficult to answer sometimes because as we aged a lot of us have developed different limitations and different needs.
In general, The best cars for senior citizens are:
Choosing your car doesn’t have to be confusing and it doesn’t have to be hard to find the car that is just right for you.
There are certain features that are a great advantage to senior citizens.
These include (these are direct links):
We’ll start with accessibility first because, the obvious: You have to be able to get in and out of your car. Right?
This seems too basic to mention. But, a lot of seniors seem to ignore this point because there are so many features on modern cars to grab all of our attention.
Remember in younger days when we could just slip into the drivers seat and take off? Some of us still can. Most elderly seniors, however, need a bit of navigation and adjustment to get our rear ends:
First, onto the seat.
Second, turned around so that we’re facing the right direction.
And, many older seniors citizens find it a bit difficult to squat and move sideways just to get properly on the seat.
Thanks to their height, SUVs are easier to get in and out of. Sedans tend to be a little harder because they are often so low. We’ll talk more about these two types of cars later on. These two types of cars are two of the best cars for senior citizens. Not too small. Not too big.
I drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee. This is a mid sized SUV. My bottom just slides right on to the seat. And, there is a control that actually lowers the car a couple inches to make the same entrance easy for people shorter than me (I am 6’ tall).
Also, if postponing yourself is difficult, cloth seats are going to make it even harder because the seat fabric and the fabric in your clothes hold on to each other. Non fabric seats are best for this reason.
OK. Now that you’re in the seat, lets talk about VISIBILITY.
Yes. Now that you’re in your car, all comfy and ready to go, you need to be able to see where you are going and what is all around you.
If you can't see everything easily, don't get the car. It will definitely not be a good choice for you, or, one of the best cars for senior citizens if you are shopping for a loved one.
You need to be able to see well and easily from every angle: Front, Back, and Sides.
Not only senior citizens, but all drivers of every age often forget to take this into consideration.
BEING HIGHER UP is also a great help. This one of the reasons an SUV can be one of the very best cars for senior citizens.
BIG WINDOWS are a definite plus.
BACK UP CAMERAS are a God send. These will be standard after 2022.
A BEEPING SIGNAL when someone or something is in coming into your path is a great asset for things you may not have seen coming.
Frankly, the first time my beeper signals went off I wasn't expecting them. They scared me me and I nearly peed in my pants! But, they have helped me avoid many possible misfortunes.
Consumer Reports can be a great help when looking for the best cars for senior citizens or anyone else.
According to Consumer Reports:
The Subaru Forester, Subaru Legacy, and Honda Pilot have the best visibility.
The Chevrolet Spark and Honda Clarity are cars that have the worst blind spots.
The best cars for senior citizens that are short people include the Forester, Outback, Hyundai Sonata, and Toyota Highlander.
Good. You’re in the new car you're considering. You can see where you are going and all around you.
NOW you need to be able to control the car easily and quickly.
All the best cars for senior citizens have LARGE easy to read controls and instruments (speedometer, fuel, etc…) are much easier for our aging eyes to see and read quickly. You can’t be squinting and staring at your instruments and controls while you are moving. A quick glance needs to do the job.
Touchscreens don’t always respond right away. They can be confusing and difficult for slower fingers. So, be sure to try the screen out in the showroom.
The best touchscreens have LARGE letters and high contrast displays.
Voice controls are a newer option on many vehicles and are becoming more readily available. Voice controls can be very helpful for seniors with limited dexterity.
We’re older now and frankly, more fragile. Things break more easily.
The best cars for senior citizens should have some special features that are now very easy to get in most models.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that in 2020, the Kia Forte, Hyundai Sonata, Toyota Camry, Subaru Legacy, and Acura RDX are some of the safest cars to drive.
When searching for the best cars for senior citizens, here are some of the important features to look for:
A Backup Camera
These are actually mandatory on all new cars as of May 2018. If you’re buying a used car, look for one of these inside. One with the larger screen.
These cameras come on automatically an are on the touchscreen when you place the automobile in Reverse.
A LARGE touchscreen is very important here so that you can actually see what is going on behind your car in areas the mirror does not see. The cars usually offer two sizes. Get the larger one.
Automatic Emergency Braking
This is one of the wonders of modern computers. A great feature when a person is looking for the best cars for senior citizens.
This braking feature will signal when a crash is about to happen. The brakes will slow or stop your car if you don’t react in time. This is supposed to be standard and required on all cars by 2022.
When ranking the best cars for senior citizens this is a major feature we look for because as seniors, we must admit, we are not as quick as we once were.
Don’t rely on features like this to make up for poor or sloppy driving habits. You’re still the driver and responsible for everything your vehicle does.
But, little assistance features like this can be enormously valuable to our driving home in one piece.
Blind Spot Warning
When we are talking about the best cars for senior citizens we must mention the blind spot warning audio signal.
There is a small area on each side of your car that is not visible from your mirrors, or, even from turning your head. This is especially true in an SUV.
This Blind Spot Warning is an audio signal (a strong beep) that lets you know there is a vehicle in a lane next to your car that you can not see. This is a most helpful signal that can prevent you from sideswiping the car.
Lane Departure Warning
Another great feature for us seniors. This sounds when you drift out of your lane without using a signal. As seniors, we are more prone to this.
Lane Keeping Assist
I didn’t even know this one existed. And, it’s great. Especially at night. This automatically steers the car back into it’s lane if you cross the lane markers without signaling.
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
This has saved me from a potential problem many times in the supermarket parking lot. I wouldn't recommend a car without this feature when talking about the best cars for senior citizens.
Some people, when in parking lots, just walk to and from their cars like nothing is happening around them. They pay no attention at all.
As you are well aware, we can’t always see the people easily because other cars are blocking our view.
This warning sound has it’s sensors on the rear bumper. The first part of the car to come out of the space. It will sound when people or other vehicles are approaching. Long before you can see them. I love this feature!
Adaptive Cruise Control
If you are like me, you use cruise control a lot on the highways and country roads. It’s one of my favorite features.
But, how many times have you been cruising along and slowly catching up to the driver in from of you. So you have to readjust. Often over and over again.
Adaptive cruise control maintains a constant distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you so that you don’t get too close.
Driver Attention Warning
This should be a must in the car of any seniors who takes longer trips. And, if you want one of the best cars for seniors who take longer drives, look for this option.
Everyone is prone to “driving hypnosis”. Getting a little drowsy when driving for longer periods at a single speed. Especially on straight roads.
Us senior citizens have more of a problem with the drowsiness and fatigue caused by “driving hypnosis” than younger people do.
This feature on your car monitors your driving patterns. It sounds if it detects signs of drowsiness or fatigue. We highly suggest getting this on your new car if it is available.
Adjustable pedals and steering columns can also be very helpful in getting a good fit. When trying to find the best cars for senior citizens, a comfortable driving position is very important.
These adjustable features make correct comfort much more easily possible. Make sure these adjustments are power (electric) also. You want to have fun with your car. Not a lot of extra labor. Am I right?
Also, if you get an SUV, get a power lift gate (back door). You don’t want to throw out some back part lifting a back door all the time.
With a power lift gate you just press a button to open and close. If you are in the way for some reason, the door will just go back up again until you press to close it again.
These are wonderful things!
You can see short videos on how all these things work here: "Driver Safety Quick Learnings"
Caution: These are all wonderful features that make driving easier and safer. HOWEVER: Never depend on these automated features to replace your own driving skill. They are there only to assist. They don’t always work properly, or, as we wish they did.
Your own skills are still what you should be depending on.
OK now on to everybody's favorite (besides color...), COMFORT!
This is important and not just a luxury for wealthy people.
Your driving is always best and most accurate when you can have your full attention on what you are doing. If you start thinking about your discomforts, or, you try to make adjustments to thing while driving, you are compromising your abilities. Discomfort also brings on fatigue. Fatigue is not your friend while driving.
If you want one of the best cars for senior citizens, comfort is a necessity.
Make sure you are comfortable while driving your car.
Power Seats: You definitely want to be sure you have power seats that make it possible to adjust your chair into different positions easily.
A lot of seniors will neglect this feature because it costs a bit more than manual adjustment. And, men especially figure once the seat is adjusted they will never need to move it again.
That’s not really true.
If you are taking a longer drive, or, even a long trip somewhere, you want to be able to move your seat around at regular intervals.
Because just a small movement forward or backward, a small increase or decrease in height, a small change in back incline,.… rearranges the pressure on your bottom and spine.
These small changes of position take a lot of fatigue out of driving, make you more comfortable the whole distance, more alert, and greatly reduce sore aching muscles when you finally get out.
That is why this feature is important in your search for one of the best cars for senior citizens.
I personally adjust every 30 - 60 minutes whenever I travel a long distance and it makes a HUGE difference in the way I feel.
Power seats also help with accessibility. They let you easily move the seat way back when getting in and out. And, then move closer to the steering wheel with just the touch of a button to drive.
Most power seats now have memory buttons. You can use these to set adjustments for different drivers, or, for your own favorite driving or accessing positions.
Power seats are worth every penny!
If you live in Florida or anywhere south, you won’t need these.
We live in the far north. We have a lot of cold winter. COLD winter. Heated seats are soooo wonderful here. They are more than a luxury. We feel they are a necessity for seniors living in colder climates.
They take care of you.
With heated seats, you get in your car and it’s just like sitting down in your living room. Warm and cozy. Heated seats also help keep stiffness from developing as you drive.
A heated steering wheel not only feels great to touch on those sub freezing days, it also keeps your fingers much more supple for better control.
Can you see how these options will be so important to us seniors who live in cold climates?
I call these two items a necessary luxury! Treat yourself!
When searching for the best cars for senior citizens, Cargo Space is going to be a very important consideration for you if you are hauling things around with you. Like walkers, wheel chairs, scooters, etc…
SUVs have more room than sedans and station wagons.
The only disadvantage with an SUV is the SUV has a mostly open cargo space. You can see what is in the SUV through the windows. The sedan has a closed trunk that conceals what is in it.
Getting one of the best cars for senior citizens is not like getting one for the youngsters.
As youngster we could fit into anything, easily, and make it work.
Not so now. Am I right? Like most commercial airplane seats. Some cars are just terribly uncomfortable. I have no idea what body type they were designed for, but it was not mine.
Buying your car should get the same attention as buying a pair of shoes you're going to do a lot of walking in. We need a good overall fit for comfort and stability.
In this department we all come in different shapes and sizes and we all require slightly different things for a good fit. Don't get a car that you can not be comfortable in. No matter how good the price is. No matter how good it looks. No matter how may free extras they include. Get one that fits.
If you already have your car, get it fitted to you as best as possible. Sometimes we need a little help with this because we don't even know what the possibilities are.
A very good service I found that can help you get fitted to your car in the best possible way is called CarFit.
"CarFit is an educational program sponsored by
AAA, AARP, and AOTA that offers older adults the opportunity to check
how well their personal vehicles fit them."
A CarFit check takes only about 30 minutes. They will make sure you fit your car, and, that your car is fitting you in the best possible way.
If you’d like to use the program look for an event taking place in your area and give them a call to reserve a time for yourself.
That about covers what you should be looking for when searching for the best cars for seniors.
We seniors, especially the elderly in our group, have a few more requirements in a vehicle than younger people do.
Of course, if you’re like my wife and I, your going to want one that you like the looks of also. Right? Of course! No one wants to shell out all kinds of bucks for an ugly monster that “they should get". Right?
So, when deciding on your new (or next preowned) car,
what we suggest is this:
1) Take a look at all the different cars on line.
2) Go see the ones you think look nice.
3) Sit in the ones you are thinking you might want to buy. See if they feel good and if you like being in them.
4) Talk to the salespersons and tell them all the features you would like in there AND, All the Features You Must Have.
5) If any of the features you feel are very important are not available on that car, or that model, pass on it. Go on to the next. There are lots of good choices these days. Make sure you can get the things that are most important to you.
6) Buy the one that excites you and has all the things you must have and at least some of the extras you want. Other extras you want are worth the added cost if you can afford them. Why? Because life (and driving!) is meant to be enjoyed. No matter how old we become.
Happy Travels! ~ William, Fiona, and Charlotte