Tuesday, December 7, 2021

17 new and used cars short people will love

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This artical is first shown on marketwatch

As someone who stood in the front row of every adult group picture for decades, this writer knows a little something about the best cars for short people.

The fact that every vehicle out there doesn’t fit shouldn’t offend, because it’s not discrimination but averages. On the other hand, at the opposite end of the height curve sit drivers an inch, two, or more, including over 6 feet. They face an entirely different set of challenges.

No, the issue is, carmakers tailor vehicles based on height averages. The more our height deviates from those averages, the greater the number of issues we encounter.

Let’s face it — drivers come in all sizes. Carmakers strive to accommodate as much of the size spectrum as possible. However, it’s simply impossible to cover all the possibilities. Over the years, automakers learned several tricks to broaden the height range. Consequently, more cars became inclusive of drivers on both ends of the height bell curve. We’ve listed some of those tricks below in the section on features.

Features short people need and will love

As vehicles have grown more sophisticated, carmakers increased the levels of comfort and convenience. Conveniences many of us now take for granted, like key fobs, have done much to make our lives easier. Beyond that, they also help us overcome some of our height challenges.

When putting together our picks of cars for short people, we assembled a list of features we find helpful in overcoming height limitations. With this goal, we selected vehicles in which you can find the ideal driving position while taking full advantage of all aspects of a car, truck, or SUV.

Finding the ideal driving position

Finding the ideal driving position requires blending seat height, distance from the steering wheel, and distance from the pedals to the point you drive effectively and comfortably. The more the features of the vehicle operate together to attain this goal, the better.

Achieving that ideal driving position, though, isn’t only a matter of comfort, but of safety. Sitting too close to the steering wheel can put you in harm’s way during airbag deployment. A deploying airbag works like a controlled explosion. As it exits the steering wheel, it moves with around 2,000 pounds of force.

One reason why young children get relegated to second-row seats is to move them away from the front airbags. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends sitting with at least 10 inches between your breastbone and the airbag.

Optimizing your vehicle’s functionality

Getting the most from your vehicle means more than optimizing comfort and effectiveness behind the wheel. You want to enter and exit with as little hassle as possible. Maybe you need to help place a child in a safety seat. Doing so becomes tougher in a full-size truck or SUV without running boards. Opening and closing a car’s trunk or an SUV’s rear liftgate need not require a step stool. Nor should the safety belt cut across your neck.

Our sought-after features list addresses both key goals. We believe you will find it helpful in your quest for your ideal car.

What are car features for short drivers?
  • Excellent visibility: It’s not enough for a vehicle to offer a big greenhouse (window surfaces). You want to sit high enough to see out of all that glass. When you do see out, you can use a head-up display to keep everything in the eye’s view.

  • Easy to enter and exit: Some vehicles will be easier to get into and out of than others. This ease of ingress and egress is based on low step-in, a large door opening, and seat height.

  • Adjustable driver’s seat: The more adjustments a seat offers, the more likely you will achieve that ideal driving position. Adjustments can be made for height, distance from the steering wheel, and seat-back recline.

  • Tilt and telescoping steering wheel: Providing adjustments for height and reach, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel may be operated manually or powered.

  • Power-adjustable pedals: Finding the ideal driving position often becomes a compromise. Even with fully adjustable seats and steering wheel, it’s a compromise because your feet still must reach the pedals. This hard-to-find feature addresses that issue. If you cannot find a vehicle with this feature, aftermarket pedal extenders can be obtained for purchase.

  • Steering wheel system controls: Many cars, trucks, and SUVs offer steering-wheel-mounted controls for the audio and cruise control systems, as well as for some driver-aid controls, smartphone features, and the driver information display. Read our story on using paddle shifters, also mounted to steering wheels.

  • Power rear liftgate or trunk lid: Reaching up to close a trunk lid or a rear liftgate is more challenging for those on the lower end of the height spectrum. Consequently, many vehicles today offer power versions that operate with the press of a button on the vehicle or key fob. Several vehicles even offer hands-free versions that open by swiping a foot under the rear bumper, or open when stepping close to the trunk.

  • Vehicle lowering: Many vehicles with an automatic air suspension offer a feature for lowering and raising the car by one or more inches for easier access.

  • Running boards and grab handles: Offering a step to help you hoist yourself into a taller vehicle, running boards can be fixed or power deployable. Grab handles on the A-pillars or inside the top of the door opening often accompany running boards.

You might like: Your guide to buying a convertible car

The list of the best new and used cars for short people

Most of our picks don’t offer all of our sought-after features. Instead, each brings multiple ones.

We put a big emphasis on seating height. Most drivers appreciate the higher seating position of crossovers and SUVs. From our experience, shorter drivers fall within that majority. So, you will find the bulk of our picks listed to be crossovers and SUVs.

Note: Pricing does not include destination charges.

The best new cars for short people

1. 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe

Best value for short people: $29,000 (SEL)

Base price: $27,200 | Expert rating: 4.7

IIHS rating: Top Safety Pick+

Combined fuel economy: 25 mpg

We ranked the Hyundai
HYMTF,
-1.17%

Santa Fe as Kelley Blue Book’s 2-Row Midsize SUV Best Buy for 2021 because it offers something for everyone. We like it a lot. The thrust comes from a 4-cylinder engine married to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Right out of the box, the base grade provides auto on-off LED headlights, an 8-inch touchscreen, and a comprehensive list of driver aids. Wireless Apple
AAPL,
+0.98%

CarPlay and wireless Android Auto are also standard.

Among our recommended features on the base grade are raised seating and a manually adjusted driver’s seat with height adjustment. A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls is also included. However, simply moving up to the SEL ($29,000) grade adds an 8-way power driver’s seat. Likewise stepping up through the other grades offers a hands-free power-adjustable rear liftgate.

2. 2022 Honda CR-V

Best value for short people: $32,009 (EX-L + Utility Package)

Base price: $25,750 | Expert rating: 4.7

IIHS rating: Top Safety Pick

Combined fuel economy: 30 mpg

Not liking the Honda
HMC,
+0.03%

CR-V is nearly impossible. We include it on many of our “Best” lists simply because it checks all the boxes it should. Big inside, a zippy powertrain, solid safety tech, and impressive reliability work as attractive traits for drivers of any height. The CR-V’s go comes from a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Among its standard features are automatic climate control, auto on-off headlights, and several driver aids, including adaptive cruise control and high-beam assist.

From our list of recommended features included on the Honda are a high seating position, a large greenhouse, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls, and a manually adjusted driver’s seat with height adjustment. With the EX-L trim, you get a 12-way power driver’s seat. Running boards are part of the Utility Package ($1,159). A hands-free power liftgate is standard on the Touring grade. 

3. 2021 Nissan Rogue

Best value for short people: $27,740 (SV)

Base price: $26,050 | Expert rating: 4.5

IIHS rating: Top Safety Pick+

Combined fuel economy: 30 mpg

Redesigned for 2021, the Nissan
NSANY,
+0.88%

Rogue impresses us with its exterior styling, quiet interior, and a solid array of standard driver aids. The Rogue is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to an automatic transmission. Standard content includes LED exterior lighting, Zero Gravity low-fatigue seats, and remote keyless entry. Also standard are an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Popping another $1,690 for the SV grade adds loads of extra goodies like satellite radio capability, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and a surround-view camera.

Standard features on our recommended list include an elevated ride height, good visibility, and a 6-way manually adjusted driver’s seat with height adjustment. Also included are grab handles and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls. To pick up the 8-way power driver’s seat, you need to make that step up to the SV trim ($27,740). The SV also includes the Nissan semiautonomous driving system ProPilot Assist. Top trim levels include a hands-free power liftgate. 

Also see: 18 of the best new and used cars for seniors

4. 2022 Toyota Camry

Best value for short people: $25,295 (LE)

Base price: $25,295 | Expert rating: 4.6

IIHS rating: Top Safety Pick+

Combined fuel economy: 32 mpg

There are lots of reasons the Toyota
TM,
+0.81%

Camry is the bestselling midsize sedan. The Camry has been on many “Best” lists and this one is no different. That it makes sense for this list is just one of them. We appreciate its solid resale value, comfy ride, impressive fuel economy, and available AWD. In its base LE guise, it’s powered by a 4-cylinder engine married to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment includes dual-zone automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, 10 airbags, a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The Camry boasts a tidy array of standard driver aids, too.

In its base trim, our recommended features include low step-in, good visibility, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls, and an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. Although moving up through the other grades will add loads of additional goodies, spending more money won’t bring you more of our recommended features.

5. 2021 Mazda CX-30

Best value for short people: $28,700 (Premium)

Base price: $22,050 | Expert rating: 4.6

IIHS rating: Top Safety Pick+

Combined fuel economy: 28 mpg

We could have easily inserted the Mazda3 in this space, but went for the Mazda CX-30 instead. First because of its slightly (1.5-inch) higher ride height. Second, we like the extra interior space the CX-30 offers. Mazda
MZDAY,
+1.09%

bills itself as a sporty brand and that’s exactly what it is. We appreciate the handling, steering, and peppy 4-cylinder engine. Standard on the base grade are LED exterior lighting, rain-sensing wipers, and an 8.8-inch touchscreen. Also included are a Wi-Fi hot spot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

From our list of recommended features are an elevated seating position, good visibility, a low step-in, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls. It also features a manually adjustable driver’s seat with height adjustment. Moving up to the Premium grade ($28,700) adds an 8-way power driver’s seat, a power liftgate, and lots of other goodies like navigation and a head-up display. 

6. 2022 Kia Soul

Best value for short people: $21,490 (S)

Base price: $19,190 | Expert rating: 4.5

IIHS rating: Top Safety Pick

Combined fuel economy: 30 mpg

The Kia Soul is a tidy package but provides loads of interior space. We like its funky shape, which provides a big glass area. Likewise, we appreciate its affordable pricing and terrific powertrain warranty. The Soul’s go comes from a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine via an automatic transmission. The base LX grade includes auto-on-off headlights, remote keyless entry, and an 8-inch touchscreen. Also standard are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, you must pony up an extra $900 for an option package of driver aids.

Included in the base price is a manually adjustable driver’s seat with height adjustment, a low step-in, and an elevated seating position. A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls is also standard. However, moving up one level to the Soul S ($21,490) adds an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. Moreover, it adds other goodies like the driver aids in the above option package.

7. 2022 Chevrolet Equinox

Best value for short people: $27,435 (LS + Side Steps + LS Convenience Package)

Base price: $25,800 | Expert rating: 4.3

IIHS rating: Top Safety Pick

Combined fuel economy: 28 mpg

Generally, the Chevy Equinox is a fine, all-around crossover. It features a competitive price, lots of user-friendly technology, and a comfy cabin. Powered by a peppy turbo 4-cylinder, it performs energetically. As priced here, it provides auto on-off LED headlights, full power accessories, heated outboard mirrors, a 7-inch color touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. It also includes a suite of driver aids.

Among our recommended features, the base trim provides solid visibility, a raised seating position, and front grab handles. Also included: a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls. Options include side-mounted assist steps ($850) and an 8-way power driver’s seat in the Convenience Package ($785).

The higher up you move in trim levels, you get the option for a power programmable and hands-free liftgate, surround-vision camera, and automatic parking assist that can steer your vehicle into a parking spot. 

8. 2022 Subaru Outback

Best value for short people: $30,545 (Premium + Hands-Free Power Lift Gate option package)

Base price: $28,070 | Expert rating: 4.6

IIHS rating: Top Safety Pick+

Combined fuel economy: 26 mpg

Because it’s more than a wagon but not quite an SUV, the Subaru
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Outback defies being pigeonholed. Although we believe the Outback is a solid pick for this list, we’d pony up the extra $1,075 for the Premium grade. We like Outback’s standard all-wheel drive (AWD), a rich group of standard driver aids, and impressive fuel economy. Granted, the 8.7-inch ground clearance makes its step-in higher than a regular passenger car, but it does come with grab handles. Other standard features include automatic climate control, LED headlights, remote keyless entry, a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

From our recommended list the base grade includes an elevated ride height, solid visibility, a manually adjusted driver’s seat with height adjustment, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls. Opting for the Premium trim ($29,145) adds a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. Tacking on the option package with the hands-free power liftgate will set you back another $1,400. 

9. 2021 Chrysler Pacifica

Best value for short people: $35,820 (Touring)

Base price: $35,820 | Expert rating: 4.5

IIHS rating: Good

Combined fuel economy: 22 mpg

A fine mix of high-end comfort and versatility, the Chrysler Pacifica is impressive as family transport or a weekend job-jar workhorse. With its clever seating system, it can take a family of eight to the movies, as well as, haul a full sheet of plywood. Available in all-wheel drive, it sources power from a V6 mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Standard fare includes LED exterior lights (auto on-off headlights, taillights, and fog lights), rain-sensing wipers, a 10.1-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. A full suite of driver aids also comes standard.

The base Pacifica includes several of our recommended features like a low door sill, power sliding side doors, a power liftgate, an 8-way power driver’s seat, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls.

Other available features on upper trims and options include hands-free power doors and a hands-free power liftgate. 

10. 2022 Volkswagen Taos

Best value for short people: $28,140 (SE + Convenience package)

Base price: $22,995 | Expert rating: 4.0

IIHS rating: N/A

Combined fuel economy: 31 mpg

Think of the all-new VW
VWAGY,
+1.68%

Taos as a Tiguan mini-me. Volkswagen basically downsized the Tiguan and as a result, the Taos is its smallest crossover. We are impressed with its zippy turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, comfortable ride, and carlike handling. In its base guise, it comes with auto on-off headlights, keyless entry with push-button start, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Every Taos touchscreen responds to touch the same way a tablet does, allowing you to pinch and swipe.

From our recommended list are an elevated ride height, good visibility, a manually adjustable driver’s seat with height adjustment, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls. You must step up to the SE ($27,245) grade to score an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. Then add the Convenience package ($895) for the semiautonomous driving system and rain-sensing wipers. 

11. 2022 Ram 1500

Best value for short people: $40,845 (Big Horn + Equipment Group 1 + Running Boards)

Base price: $33,225 | Expert rating: 4.5

IIHS rating: Top Safety Pick

Combined fuel economy: 26 mpg

The Ram 1500 is one of the top-selling pickup trucks in America. It’s highly capable, reliable, and offers a lot of appeal for shorter drivers. The price here is for the base Tradesman. Yes, it’s more of a work truck. However, it does have a reasonable amount of standard convenience and connectivity features. Still, we recommend stepping up to the Big Horn ($38,060) trim (known as the Lone Star trim in Texas).

The Tradesman does come with some of our recommended features. They include a high seating height, excellent visibility, and grab handles. A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls is also standard. You can then add side steps for $695. Moving up to the Big Horn ($38,800) doesn’t in itself help much because it doesn’t increase our recommended features. However, adding its Level 1 Equipment Group ($1,300) does. It includes an 8-way power driver’s seat and power-adjustable pedals. You can add wheel-to-wheel running boards for another $745. As you move up the trim levels, you can add a power tailgate and an air suspension allowing the driver to raise and lower the vehicle. 

12. 2022 Lincoln Corsair

Best value for short people: $40,825 (Reserve)

Base price: $36,105 | Expert rating: 3.3

IIHS rating: Top Safety Pick

Combined fuel economy: 25 mpg

A prime example of Lincoln’s commitment to quality and luxury, the Corsair is the brand’s smallest crossover. Corsair sources its power from a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine matched with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include auto on-off LED headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, and heated front seats. Also included are an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Its suite of standard driver aids is included in the standard Co-Pilot360 package.

Among our recommended features are a high driving position, excellent visibility, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls. Also standard on the base grade is a power rear liftgate. Moving up to the Reserve ($40,825) trim adds a power-adjustable steering wheel and a voice-activated navigation system. Moving up to the Grand Touring ($50,330) grade, which is a plug-in hybrid, includes the Air Glide Adaptive Suspension. It allows drivers to lower the vehicle’s height for easier entry and exit.

Also on MarketWatch: Buying a home in a hot location may not be as safe a long-term bet as you think

The best used cars for short people

1. 2019-2021 Subaru Forester

Price range: $27,000-$31,000 | Expert rating: 4.4

IIHS rating: Top Safety Pick+

Combined fuel economy: 29 mpg

Subaru did a total Forester redesign for 2019. Every Forester comes with AWD, yet it still gets an estimated 29 mpg in combined driving. Moreover, we like Forester for its interior room, smooth ride, and affordable price. We’d recommend sticking with the Limited grade. It comes with steering-responsive auto on-off LED headlights, an 8-inch touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, and keyless entry with push-button start.

Don’t miss: Here’s a buying opportunity for smart used-car shoppers

Among our recommended features are an elevated seating position, solid visibility, a power liftgate, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls, and a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.

2. 2015-2017 Honda Accord

Price range: $20,000-$30,000 | Expert rating: 4.6

IIHS rating: Top Safety Pick (2015) Top Safety Pick+ (2016 & 2017)

Combined fuel economy: 26 mpg

How can you go wrong with the Honda Accord? We like it because of its room, quiet ride, and dependability. Even four or five years ago, the Accord was a technology leader. Because of their additional content, we recommend looking at the EX or EX-L when shopping in this model-year range.

The above price range represents those trim levels. At the EX level, you’ll find a keyless entry with a push-button start, dual-zone auto climate control, a power sunroof, a 7.7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Honda was offering its Honda Sensing group of driver aids as an option during this period. We suggest looking for that as well.

Among our recommended features include low step-in, good visibility, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls, and an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. 

3. 2018-2020 Honda Fit

Price range: $17,000-$24,000 | Expert rating: 4.6

IIHS rating: Good

Combined fuel economy: 33 mpg

Small on the outside but huge inside, the Honda Fit offers lots of passenger and cargo space. Easy on fuel and a joy to drive, it is the ideal small car. Sadly, 2020 was the last year Honda sold it in the U.S.

We would suggest sticking with the upper trim levels like the EX and EX-L. Both are pretty well equipped with auto on-off headlights, high-beam assist, keyless entry with push-button start, and a few driver aids.

For our purposes here, we appreciate the low step-in, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls, and the manually adjustable driver’s seat with height adjustment. 

4. 2017-2020 GMC Yukon

Base Price: $40,000-$67,000 | Expert rating: 4.3

IIHS rating: N/A

Combined fuel economy: 18 mpg

A kissing cousin to the Chevy Tahoe, the hulking GMC Yukon may seem like an odd choice for shorter folks. Not so fast. It offers several of our recommended features, making it a solid pick for this list. We like it for its roomy interior, strong powertrain lineup, and impressive towing capability. It also comes as the long-wheelbase Yukon XL, and a 5.3-liter V-8 engine provides the thrust. Among its standard equipment are a rearview camera, remote start, tri-zone automatic climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen, Wi-Fi hot spot, five USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There are several available driver aids.

Among our recommended features the base Yukon includes a high seating position, side assist steps, an 8-way power driver’s seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls, and overhead front grab handles. Available on upper trims or as options are retractable running boards, power-adjustable pedals, and the Air Ride Adaptive Suspension with driver-selectable ride height. Yep, you can lower the ride height for lower step-in. 

5. 2018-2019 Audi SQ5

Price range: $41,000-$45,000 | Expert rating: 4.7

IIHS rating: Top Safety Pick (2018), Good (2019)

Combined fuel economy: 21 mpg

We chose this model-year spread because Audi redesigned the SQ5 for 2018. Used SQ5 models tend to average around $5,000 more than the Q5. A performance version of the Q5, the SQ5 may seem like another odd pick for this list, but there is a good reason. The SQ5 qualifies for a Sport Package with Audi’s Air Adaptive Suspension. Not only does it ensure a better ride, but the driver can also lower the height for lower step-in. The price spread is for models with the Sport Package.

Even in its base trim, the SQ5 is well equipped. It includes LED exterior lighting, a tri-zone auto climate control, a slide-recline-split 40/20/40 rear seat, a 7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Among our recommended features it provides an elevated ride height, good visibility, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with system controls, and a height-adjustable power driver’s seat. In addition, another feature shorter drivers will appreciate is a height-adjustable center armrest that also slides fore and aft.

Read next: Supply-chain disruptions cause some people to hoard again — but they’re looking beyond toilet paper

FAQ

Are cars more dangerous for short people?

Operating a car can be more dangerous for a shorter driver if your seat isn’t adequately adjusted. If you drive too close to the steering wheel, you risk taking a significant impact from an airbag if you get into an accident. To avoid this, ensure that you properly adjust your seat to be a safe distance from the wheel.

Are there car booster seats for short drivers?

If you are on the shorter end of the height curve, visibility can be a problem. However, using seat cushions and booster seats will help raise you a few inches, allowing better visibility of the road.

Are there car pedal extenders for short drivers?

Yes. If you struggle to reach the gas and brake pedal, you can shop various credible websites to purchase a pedal extender that best suits your needs.

This story originally ran on KBB.com

This artical is first shown on marketwatchAuthor on date 2021-11-04 08:05:00
MarketWatch is a website that provides financial information, business news, analysis, and stock market data. Along with The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, it is a subsidiary of Dow Jones & Company, a property of News Corp.

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