Edmunds Answers

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  • avatar karjunkie 10/12/08 11:13 am PST

    Great question and tough to answer given that good seating position for short people has little to do with the size of the car. Airbags are a particular concern. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety consider 10 inches to be a safe distance from the air bag. If you're sitting closer than ten inches to your car's airbag, you should have an on-off switch installed. Alternatively, you can have pedal extenders installed on your vehicle. Other concerns include the ability to reach controls, visibility and seat belt positioning and comfort. Edmunds.com has addressed this issue rather well. Here is an excerpt that should help guide you. Good Luck!

    1. Scion xA: Although it offers few frills on the inside, a tall cabin design and great sightlines make this inexpensive five-door hatchback worth a look.

    2. Mazda 3: Available as a sedan or five-door hatchback, the Mazda 3 offers good visibility and a standard tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Upgrade to the higher-line "s" model and you'll get a height-adjustable driver seat.

    3. Volkswagen Golf, GTI and Jetta: Built on the same platform, these VWs are easy to see out of and almost anyone can find a comfortable driving position in them. Seat-height adjustment and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel are standard.

    4. Mini Cooper: We've never been wild about its funky manual seat adjusters, but there's no denying that the pint-sized Cooper's cockpit is well proportioned for smaller drivers. A height-adjustable driver seat is standard, and visibility doesn't get much better than this.

    5. Subaru Forester: If you really want an SUV, the Forester is just about the perfect size — it's tall enough to give you a nice view of the road but not so tall that you'll have difficulty getting in and out. A height-adjustable driver seat is standard. Around back, the Forester's liftgate is lightweight and a sturdy grab handle makes it easy to close.

    6. Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx: Although roomy enough to accommodate people of all sizes, this sedan and wagon team is a good bet for shorter drivers — adjustable pedals and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel are optional on all models.

    7. Honda Accord: The current generation of this well-rounded family car goes a long way toward keeping its occupants happy. Visibility is excellent in the sedan, thanks to a relatively low cowl. Besides that, seat-height adjustment and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel are standard from the LX model on up.

    8. Volkswagen Passat: This premium family sedan has a cozier cockpit than the Accord or Malibu and features an exceptionally wide range of both seat-height adjustment and telescoping-wheel adjustment.

    9. Toyota Sienna: The Sienna isn't the only minivan that offers a good view of the road, but it's the only one that comes standard with a telescoping steering wheel.

    10. BMW 3 Series: Got a little more to spend on a car that fits you just right? Well, it would be hard to go wrong with the 3 Series. The sight lines are good, the seats are supportive and there's a multitude of ways to adjust both the seats and steering wheel.

    Source: Edmunds.com

Answers

  • karjunkie 10/12/08 11:13 am PST

    Great question and tough to answer given that good seating position for short people has little to do with the size of the car. Airbags are a particular concern. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety consider 10 inches to be a safe distance from the air bag. If you're sitting closer than ten inches to your car's airbag, you should have an on-off switch installed. Alternatively, you can have pedal extenders installed on your vehicle. Other concerns include the ability to reach controls, visibility and seat belt positioning and comfort. Edmunds.com has addressed this issue rather well. Here is an excerpt that should help guide you. Good Luck!

    1. Scion xA: Although it offers few frills on the inside, a tall cabin design and great sightlines make this inexpensive five-door hatchback worth a look.

    2. Mazda 3: Available as a sedan or five-door hatchback, the Mazda 3 offers good visibility and a standard tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Upgrade to the higher-line "s" model and you'll get a height-adjustable driver seat.

    3. Volkswagen Golf, GTI and Jetta: Built on the same platform, these VWs are easy to see out of and almost anyone can find a comfortable driving position in them. Seat-height adjustment and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel are standard.

    4. Mini Cooper: We've never been wild about its funky manual seat adjusters, but there's no denying that the pint-sized Cooper's cockpit is well proportioned for smaller drivers. A height-adjustable driver seat is standard, and visibility doesn't get much better than this.

    5. Subaru Forester: If you really want an SUV, the Forester is just about the perfect size — it's tall enough to give you a nice view of the road but not so tall that you'll have difficulty getting in and out. A height-adjustable driver seat is standard. Around back, the Forester's liftgate is lightweight and a sturdy grab handle makes it easy to close.

    6. Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx: Although roomy enough to accommodate people of all sizes, this sedan and wagon team is a good bet for shorter drivers — adjustable pedals and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel are optional on all models.

    7. Honda Accord: The current generation of this well-rounded family car goes a long way toward keeping its occupants happy. Visibility is excellent in the sedan, thanks to a relatively low cowl. Besides that, seat-height adjustment and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel are standard from the LX model on up.

    8. Volkswagen Passat: This premium family sedan has a cozier cockpit than the Accord or Malibu and features an exceptionally wide range of both seat-height adjustment and telescoping-wheel adjustment.

    9. Toyota Sienna: The Sienna isn't the only minivan that offers a good view of the road, but it's the only one that comes standard with a telescoping steering wheel.

    10. BMW 3 Series: Got a little more to spend on a car that fits you just right? Well, it would be hard to go wrong with the 3 Series. The sight lines are good, the seats are supportive and there's a multitude of ways to adjust both the seats and steering wheel.

    Source: Edmunds.com

  • dasko 12/25/08 4:50 am PST

    I am going to have to agree the previous answer in a sense. The Malibu Maxx is by far the best choice. I am also of below average height and I have found this car has a lot of features that make it the best option for shorter drivers. Unlike most cars on the market, it has power adjustable pedals so you do not have sit too close to the steering wheel. 


    It also likely has a better height adjustment in the seat than your civic so you may no longer need a cushion. 

    The 3.5L V6 also does almost 30mpg on the highway and the hatchback makes backing up easy. 

    Source: cars.com

  • dhowell1 02/02/10 2:02 pm PST

    I disagree with the assessment of the Mini Cooper being a good car for short people. I have a 2004 Cooper S. My wife is 4' 10". I added a 2 1/2 inch clutch pedal extension so she can fully engage the clutch and even with that, she is no more than 5 inches from the driverside airbag.
    The Mini Cooper is a great fit for anyone over 5' 2" and under 6' 4".

  • silkysueb 02/19/11 8:07 am PST

    The absolute best car EVER is the PT Cruiser with the 6-way Power Driver's seat. I'm 4'8" tall and I can drive it without sitting on a pillow!

  • reba_fan22 04/25/11 1:50 pm PST

    A Kia Rondo is perfect. I have had the exact same problems as u. I drove a 2000 ford Focus & had a seat cushion, it sliped & when test driving i couldn't see out of most windows due to the slant of them or the dome effect they had. plus lots of cars seats didn't raise or not enough. also in some I was in the wheel to see or the wheel was to far up & wouldn't adjust. In the kia rondo the steering wheel moves, the seat raises alot & there is lots of windows. your blind spots will be limited. I have owned a 2009 kia rondo since just b4 christmas & i love it. its small & easy 2 drive but sooo roomy on the inside. it even has mps & usb hook up.

  • bubblejewels 05/23/12 9:32 am PST

    I am also having a problem with seat adjustment and comfort. I am 5'2". I just traded in my 2003 PT Cruiser with 177,000 miles. I loved that car. I could adjust the seat to any position and was very comfortable and I felt like the visibility was very good because it lifted me just a bit higher than your average care. But comfort was key. The only drawback with the PT was that there are some terrible blind spots. I'm now driving a 2009 Honda Civic. Test driving is just not enough to be able to tell if you're going to be able to live with a car for several years. Although I love the car and how it handles, it's fuel economy and the dash display, I am not able to get comfortable in the seat after driving it for a week. The seat puts pressure on the back of my thigh and is causing me quite a bit of discomfort and sometimes pain. I feel much too close to the steering wheel and I feel very claustrophobic. If I recline the seat, my arms are too short and I feel like it's pulling on my neck and shoulders. The seats also feel like they have an unnatural curve to the back. I think I'm going back to the dealer to see if there's anything they can do for me. I hope I'm not married to this Civic for and length of time.

  • imtheheppest 12/17/12 8:14 pm PST

    Even though I know this is an old question, I still want to post my answer, for anyone else, like myself, who found this forum posting via Google. I am VERY happy that the Golf was on the first comment. I just recently got in a wreck in my little 2001 Golf GLS that I had and I loved it. Other than the minor mechanical problems I had, (I was the 3rd owner and the previous 2 owners had not taken care of it, unfortunately) it was a wonderful, perfect car for me being that I am 4'8". Although, I did have to sit really close to the steering wheel. An alternative to a cushion or anything is to buy a cheap booster seat at Wal-Mart. I got a cute pink cheetah print one there for like, $12-15. It's kind of embarassing at first, but hey..I gotta drive! :P And it is more study and comfortable than a cushion. But, even so..I still highly recommend the Golf :)

  • Stever@Edmunds 12/17/12 8:21 pm PST

    Thanks for the update - the booster sounds better than a Manhattan phonebook for sure. :-)

  • stlgal4good 01/13/13 11:02 pm PST

    Does anyone own a 2012 or 2013 Honda Accord Coupe and is short (5ft. or under)? Is this comfortable? Are the headrests okay or are they uncomfortable?


    My 2001 Honda Coupe was totalled and I would like to buy another but am finding the new cars to have slanted headrests in some cars not comfotable where they hit me.

    If anyone could help me...I'd sure appreciate it.


  • sherrie59 08/15/13 11:43 am PST

    When I came across this article, I thought I wrote this because I went through the same thing. I am 4ft. 11 ins. and drove a Volvo for many years then I got a Honda Civic, which I felt claustofobic originally as I was literally hitched up to the steering wheel to reach my pedals despite using 2 cushions to boost me to see over the steering wheel. Because of my height problem, if I should put on a pound in weight, the steering brushes against my body which makes it more difficult to steer because the steering does not turn freely. Twice, the bracelet caught in the buttons on my blouse and broke my braceley. Despite this, I have been very hesitant in changing cars because I was not sure if I could find a proper fit..

    About 3 months ago, I saw a lady of Indian descent who was slightly shorter than I am exiting a Honda CRV at the shopping mall one day. I went up to her and asked her about driving that vehicle and she had such glowing reports that I set about looking for one - including that it has height adjustment seats, telescopic steering and good mileage. When I saw the CRV of choice, I went and sat behind the wheel....and it felt comfortable, spacious, pedals were in easy reach and it had a lot of room between myself and the steering wheel similarly to when I had my Volvo....and it feels good and I am happy I was able to make the upgrading of my 16 Y-O Civic which I loved so much.

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