Consumer Reports’ Best (and Worst) Cars for Short Drivers
We recently took a look at Consumer Reports’ best and worst list of cars for tall drivers. If you’re over 6 foot 2, it was probably an insightful read (we hope). But most people aren’t that tall. So what options are out there for shorter drivers?
If you’re of average height, the automotive world is your oyster. Sporty coupes, compact pickup trucks, low-slung roadsters — you can fit in anything. But if you’re tall or short, you could be out of luck. Pointing out that its shortest reviewer is just 5 foot 1, Consumer Reports has gone over recent models and found the best — and worst — ones for the vertically challenged. Here are the top vehicles for shorter drivers, along with 10 to avoid.
1. Best: Subaru Forester
Subaru’s lineup of affordable, reliable all-wheel drive cars has made it one of the hottest brands in America. And despite its high ride height and rugged, boxy looks, the hot-selling Forester is a great ride for shorter drivers. Thanks to its tall greenhouse and relatively thin pillars (for a modern car), it offers excellent visibility.
Worst: Porsche 718 Boxster
Unlike the Forester, Porsche’s entry-level roadster isn’t a great choice for shorter drivers. Thanks to its snug cockpit, flared fenders, and thick A-pillars, visibility is pretty poor for a convertible. And thanks to its cramped cockpit, it’s difficult to adjust the seats to a comfortable driving position.
2. Best: Lexus LS
Lexus’ flagship sedan is quiet, reliable, and loaded with the latest tech. And while there’s plenty of room inside to comfortably seat five adults, its adjustable seats and steering wheel make finding the right driving position a snap, regardless of height.
Worst: Mazda MX-5 Miata
Much like the Boxster, the Miata is a hoot to drive on the back roads. But its thick A-pillars, low seating position, and limited ability to adjust the seats make it more of a one-size kind of car. If you can’t fit, you’re just about out of luck.
3. Best: Honda Accord
With a host of safety features, good looks, and value, the Honda Accord is still one of America’s favorite midsize sedans, despite a dwindling market. Thanks to great ergonomics (especially in the redesigned 2018 model) and supportive, adjustable seats, the Accord is the perfect car for shorter drivers.
Worst: Ford Fiesta ST
The Fiesta ST is a world-class canyon-carver. And at under $25,000, it’s also one of the best performance cars for the money. But its supportive Recaro sport seats aren’t easy to adjust, which could make reaching for the clutch a tall order for shorter buyers.
4. Best: BMW 7 Series
The flagship 7 Series is a big executive sedan laden with the latest tech BMW has to offer. And while it has acres of room inside, its adjustable seats offer an excellent driving position for drivers of any height. What’s more, BMW’s gesture control system allows drivers to control the radio, HVAC, and Bluetooth functions just by moving their hands — no need to reach for a control you can’t easily get to anymore.
Worst: Toyota Tacoma
Toyota’s midsize pickup is legendary for its go-anywhere size and mechanical ruggedness. But inside, the business-like cab doesn’t offer much room for adjustment. If you can fit in there, it’s great. If you can’t, too bad.
5. Best: Lexus ES
The Lexus ES isn’t a car most people would be excited by. But it’s a quiet, well-built, and comfortable luxury sedan, and it’s perfect for drivers of all ages and body types. The driving position is excellent, and the seats are supportive and easily adjustable, making this car a perfect highway cruiser for shorter drivers.
Worst: Mitsubishi Mirage
The Mitsubishi Mirage is a no-frills, sub-$15,000 subcompact that appeals to budget-minded buyers who don’t want to buy a used car. And that’s about all we can say about it that’s good. On top of its poor visibility, awkward ergonomics, and uncomfortable driving position, it’s a tough sell for shorter drivers — or really drivers of any size.
6. Best: Acura RLX
Acura’s flagship sedan isn’t exactly popular — just 729 RLXs have been sold through August 2017. But the car is big and comfortable, making it a perfect cruiser. Thanks to good visibility and a host of active safety sensors, even shorter drivers are made completely aware of their surroundings
Worst: Chevrolet Colorado
The Chevy Colorado is one of the most competitive midsize trucks on the market, winning Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year in 2015 and 2016. But like the Toyota Tacoma, outward visibility is lacking, and a difficult to adjust seating position means shorter drivers will have a harder time behind the wheel than others.
7. Best: Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Mercedes’ luxury flagship may start at $90,000, but it’s still the sales leader when it comes to full-size executive sedans. It’s powerful and good-looking, and its bank vault silent interior is loaded with luxury the latest tech. Thanks to its safety features, easy to adjust seats, and great ergonomics, the S-Class is a perfect fit for shorter drivers.
Worst: Jeep Renegade
With its compact, city-friendly dimensions and just enough off-roading ruggedness to wear the Jeep badge, the Renegade is one of the best compact crossovers out there. But an unforgiving seating position and large blind spots leave a lot to be desired. If you’re on the shorter side, you might want to look elsewhere.
8. Best: Honda Odyssey
Despite a segment that’s a shadow of what it once was, the Honda Odyssey is still a standout family hauler. On top of having acres of room inside, its good ergonomics, adjustable seating positions, and a suite of safety sensors mean that anyone can feel comfortable driving one, regardless of height.
Worst: Jeep Wrangler
The Wrangler is a true off-roading icon. But its plastic interior, reputation for squeaks and rattles, and on-road handling can make it a handful on the street. For shorter drivers, its blind spots (even with the top off) and awkward seating position can make the Wrangler a lot to handle.
9. Best: Subaru Outback
Like the Forester, the all-wheel drive Outback’s blend of station wagon versatility with crossover ruggedness has made it irresistible to buyers in snowy climates. The Subaru’s good visibility and available EyeSight safety suite make blind spots a thing of the past for drivers of any height.
Worst: Porsche Panamera
The good news is the redesigned-for-2017 Panamera looks significantly better than the model it replaces. The bad news is with its sloping roofline, thick pillars, and upright rear seats, it’s more than a little difficult to see out of. Plus, its cramped cabin is tough to get used to, regardless of height.
10. Best: Volvo XC90
Volvo’s range-topping SUV is a beauty inside and out. And with its advanced safety features, fantastic supportive seats, and engaging ride, it’s a great place to spend time. While it has room inside to comfortably fit five larger adults (and two smaller ones in the third row), drivers and passengers of any size will feel at home in this Volvo.
Worst: Dodge Challenger
If there’s one problem that plagues each of the current crop of muscle cars, it’s visibility. With its chopped-top look and low seating position, the Challenger is a great throwback to the early ’70s heyday of the muscle car era. But it also makes visibility atrocious.