No matter what age you are, it’s extremely important to own a car that makes everyday life easier, and driving safer, and that fits your budget. However, it’s also worth taking into consideration that some features and issues might bring more consequences as we age.
What are we talking about? Well, it’s one thing to drive a car at 30 and other to drive at 78. With that in mind, we tried to make a list of some of the best vehicles for seniors. Make sure you check it, and if you’re looking to buy a new car, feel free to consider all the things we listed below!
Considerations for Senior Drivers
You probably know already what you’re looking for in a car. But we still want to mention a couple of things and features that you could consider as you carefully weight your decision. The goal is to pick something comfy, that will provide you with a safe environment so you can fully concentrate on what’s truly important.
An environment allowing you to keep your attention on the road and surrounding traffic. As you start your search, you can use all the information below to make a checklist. It will help you itemize the features you wish for in a new or used car, for that matter.
Make sure that you score all of them in a single vehicle if you can. It might not be that easy. In fact, if you manage to get most of them, you should be more than happy with your choice.
Whatever you might be driving, you will want to get into and out of any vehicle easily. This also means picking something with wide door openings and seats just below hip level, or as close as they get. You will eventually become tired of falling into and leveraging yourself out of a sports car or a subcompact, if that’s what you’re thinking.
If you’re over 6 feet tall, you probably managed to figure that out a long time ago. The more you age, it only gets worse. On the same note, if you’re considering a pickup truck or a large SUV, you might want running boards and grab handles on all the A-pillars, so you can hoist yourself in.
For that reason, we didn’t include any large trucks or SUVs. Also, we didn’t include 2-door coupes, either. Folding yourself into a pretzel is not something to be thrilled about.
In any vehicle, you will want to see and be seen at the same time. We are highly convinced that a higher perch with tons of glass surrounding you is the best thing you can aim for. Luckily, this list is filled with crossovers providing just that.
LED exterior lighting, such as headlights with auto on-off, taillights, and daytime running lights will also come with better illumination over a wider space than any other conventional lights. These lights also shine brighter, and any other drivers could easily spot them.
We are huge fans of high-beam assist, in which the headlight system can easily engage and disengage the high-beam lights in needed scenarios. We also value an auto-dimming rearview mirror that sense when headlights are getting closer from behind.
The feature easily dims their reflection from the rearview mirror. We also fancy the idea of rain-sensing wipers that don’t require constant fidgeting as the precipitation volume changes.
C’mon, give yourself a break. Driving makes you tired no matter age. Consequently, what you really want to do is minimize how tired you are. That’s why we really vouch for a power-adjustable driver’s seat. And no, we’re not talking about the 4-way or 6-way seat. Insist on the one that adjusts fore and aft, up and down, but also reclines.
While you’re at it, you could also consider seats with power lumbar adjustments. So on the next multi-hour driving trip, you will be happy you did that. It’s also worth noting that with age, you will be more sensitive to cold and heat.
If you deal with cold winters, heated seats, and a heated steering wheel will make a lot of sense. If you reside in the Sunbelt, the same will apply to ventilated seats, which will also help cool you down in hot weather.
Adjustable steering wheel
A steering wheel with height (tilt) and telescopic adjustments is really a must. Between a completely adjustable seat and an adjustable steering wheel, you should be able to find the most comfortable driving position.
- stick to automatic transmissions – well, it probably goes without saying, but we will still mention: that an automatic transmission is a no-brainer. Even if you’re determined to select the gears yourself, plenty of nowadays automatic transmissions might provide a manual shift mode. Many even have a steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifter.
- keep controls close at hand – keeping the needed controls at your fingertips at any given age is fairly important. You don’t have to reach too for to get something you want. That’s why you need user-friendly systems, that will get what you need without a lot of effort. As much as the car can be automatic, it should be. For instance, you can turn on dual-zone automatic climate control once, especially because it’s a set-it-and-forget-it system. It will also allow you and your front-seat passenger to tailor the temperature to individual preferences.
- look for larger touchscreens – A large, and user-friendly touchscreen controlling audio, phone, and other systems is definitely preferred to a small one. An infotainment system with voice recognition is also better. Telling the system what to do is also much better than taking your hands from the wheel and eyes from the road to do it manually. And the same rule applies to your Bluetooth smartphone interface.
- go for the proximity key – We’re also big fans of proximity-key systems, which allow the doors to lock and unlock simply by walking up to the vehicle with the key fob in your pocket, purse, or anywhere on your person. These systems generally include push-button start, too. Along those lines, hands-free smart trunks and liftgates will also make your life easier. They instantly open, which is a much-needed help when your hands are full. Another perk of the proximity-key systems is that it is close to impossible to lock your keys inside. Most vehicles won’t let you.
- choose automatic climate control – we really fancy the idea of setting the ideal temperature and then letting the climate system keep that control. To be more explicit, we don’t have to keep fiddling with it as the outside temperature fluctuates. Even better than that, there’s an automatic climate system with dual controls, which divides the vehicle into right and left zones.
Some vehicles do better than others when it comes to controlling the amount of racket seeping into the cabin from the engine and nearby traffic. Noise is annoying and distracting, so it’s much better to spend time in as quiet an environment as you can. Many of the vehicle picks enlisted below excel in this department.
Lowest maintenance costs
Even if you did everything as you should and are sitting on a big pile of retirement savings, value still matters a great deal. It’s just a reality of car ownership that at one point or another, stuff goes wrong. Naturally, the purpose is to minimize upkeep costs, but everything costs, so I don’t know what to say about that! Driving a vehicle with solid fuel economy will definitely help.
That’s why we also included the combined mileage estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for all the models we picked. Beyond mileage, some models just require less maintenance than others.
Cars, trucks, and SUVs are much safer nowadays. When we say safety, we’re talking about features like antilock brakes, stability control, traction control, and rearview cameras that can be found in every car. The majority of vehicles come with minimum of six airbags, and many provide way more than that.
The government and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash test cars, and they score their safety. All of the new cars on this specific list earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick (TSP) or Top Safety Pick+ rating. Also, used cars posted the IIHS top score of Good in their crash tests, and some earned the TSP or TSP+ accolade.
- Rearview or back-up camera – government-mandated since 2018, these rearward-pointing cameras capture what’s behind us as we back up. Shifting into reverse might bring up the image on the touchscreen or some other dashboard-mounted display. In older models, the display could even be in a section of the rearview mirror. More advanced cameras could feature bending trajectory lines, too. Using a rearview camera will effectively require just a bit of practice, but it can save you from having to stretch around to physically see what’s coming from behind. The older you become, the more it will mean to you.
- parking assist- Depending on the system and availability, it has the option to parallel park or diagonally park the car on its own.
- parking sensors – Mounted on the rear or the front bumper of a car, these sensors can detect a nearby object and sound an alarm. We also refer to this feature as “park assist.”
- forward collision warning – using a camera that might have radar or not, this feature will warn you when it detects an impending front crash. Plenty of systems also include an emergency braking feature in case the driver fails to respond to those warnings.
- adaptive cruise control – as soon as the speed is set, adaptive cruise control keeps the preset speed and responds to the changing speed of the vehicle instead. It also slows your vehicle as soon as the one ahead of you slows, then speeds back up with the flow of traffic. Some systems might come to a complete stop if that’s the case.
- traffic jam assist – this one works like a low-speed adaptive cruise control feature, mostly because it’s engineered for slow-moving, stop-and-go city traffic.
- blind-spot monitoring – sensors that are mounted on the rear bumper corners can easily detect and warn of traffic approaching your flanks.
- lane-keeping assist – a forward-pointing camera will keep track of lane markings, nudging you back if you start drifting out of your own lane.
What about electric cars?
As you’re looking for your next car purchase, you might be surprised by the number of vehicles on the market featuring a certain degree of electric propulsion. Whether it’s cars, SUVs, or pickup trucks, they’re all represented in the wave of vehicles offered that are partially electrified.
3 types of electric vehicles
- Hybrid (HEV) – A gasoline-fueled engine and an electric motor work at the same time. A battery, which is charged by the gas engine and through the brake system is the power behind the electric motor. The Toyota Sienna on the new car list is an HEV.
- Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) – A gasoline-fueled engine and electric motor team up. However, the motor can power the vehicle all by itself. Generally, the electric-only range is somewhere in between 25 and 50 miles. Even if the brake system could potentially help charge the battery, a PHEV still requires charging by plugging into an electric source.
- Fully Electric (EV or BEV) – An EV sources its output from the electric motor that’s powered by a battery array. But with a PHEV, the EV must also be charged by plugging into an external electric source. The whole range of fully charged EVs depends quite a lot. For instance, the government estimates 114 miles of range for the 2023 MINI SE Hardtop, and it’s 358 miles for the 2023 Tesla Model 3 Long Range. The Volkswagen ID.4, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and Kia EV6 are EVs on the new car list, but so are the Hyundai Kona EVs on the used car list.
Which one is best for seniors: cars or SUVs?
Our picks don’t include full-size SUVs or trucks, for that matter. Taller drivers might even be happier in a bigger SUV or truck, but we still believe most older drivers would have a hard time entering and exiting the car. When it comes to midsize or small crossover SUVs, these are all rather well-suited for this kind of situation.
They also offer a higher seating position and better view than passenger cars, but they still offer low step-in heights. For these very reasons, we tend to go for midsize and smaller crossovers. Even so, we placed many 4-door cars on our list. We live in an SUV-crossover world, but many people still prefer sedans. And manufacturers keep building awesome cars.
Best cars for seniors
Here’s our own list of picks. The list is based on the best combination of features, fuel economy, safety, but also reliability for the money. We also provide the trim and its price for every pick that we believe is the best buy for seniors. But we also mentioned the base prices for the entry-level trim level, so you can get your own idea of whether or not these vehicles would fit in your budget.
2023 Toyota Camry
The best value for seniors for this car is $30,970, and the base price is $26,220. Its IIHS Rating is TSP+, and the combined fuel economy is 32 mpg. The rankings between the numbers one and two on this list are quite thin.
But we won’t complain if you want to define the Toyota Camry as one of the most midsize cars ever. It has plenty of room, it’s quiet and very easy to live with. We score it quite high for reliability and value.
The Camry offers a 4-cylinder or a V6 engine, given that it’s a hybrid that nets up to 52 combined mpg. All-wheel drive (AWD) is also available on 4-cylinder models. Ten airbags are generally standard in all grades.
The base LE trim level offers the full battery of LED exterior lighting, an 8-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, but also a Safety Sense 2.5+. The Safety Sense also includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning with steering assist, and lane-tracing assist. On top of that, it has an adaptive cruise control feature and a high-beam assist.
2023 Honda Accord
The best value for seniors is $29,610, and the base price is $27,295. The combined fuel economy is 32 mpg. The Honda Accord keeps on being one of the best midsize sedans you could ever get. It’s fairly known for its refinement, safety features, interior space, comfort, but also reliability.
And now that it’s all-new, it even boasts better tech, which also includes the ability to set temperature with voice commands. The benefit of it is that you won’t have to take your eyes off the road. The Accord has a long history of great reliability and resale value, and we totally expect that it will continue with the newest model.
2023 Subaru Legacy
The best value for seniors is $26,695 (premium), and the base price is $24,395. It also has an IIHS rating of TSP+, and the combined fuel economy is 30 mpg. The Subaru Legacy is yet another amazing choice, which is particularly true if you live in the Snowbelt.
All-wheel drive is quite standard, but it still manages 30 mpg in combined driving. It’s not just quiet, it’s library-quiet, boasts a ton of space, and has quite the reputation for solid resale values. You can even choose between two engines in the Legacy, both of which use an automatic transmission.
The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine also delivers great power and fuel economy. The optional engine which is included on all Legacy XT models is way more powerful and less fuel-efficient. When it comes to what’s best for seniors, we would definitely pass on the base model, moving up to the Premium version.
The base trim comes with steering-responsive LED headlights, high-beam assist, and automatic climate control. Oh, almost forgot, it also has a tilt-telescopic steering wheel!
2023 Hyundai Sonata
The best value for seniors is $27,775, and the base price is $25,250. When it comes to IIHS rating, it has a TSP, and it has a combined fuel economy of 32 mpg. This one is another midsize winner on our list, since the Hyundai Sonata racks up tons of points for styling, efficiency, comfort, technology, but also value.
With a cabin big enough for the EPA to classify it as a huge car, it still delivers a quiet, fuss-free experience. Besides its choice of three different 4-cylinder engines, there are Sonata HEV and PHEV versions. It also has a terrific 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Anchoring the grade lineup is also the well-equipped base SE. It also comes with LED exterior lighting, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, and an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen. It also has a standard driver aid which includes forward collision warning with auto emergency braking, lane-following, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, but also high-beam assist, and adaptive cruise control with start and stop option.
2023 Honda CR-V
The best value for seniors is $31,610, and the base price is $31,610. The IIHS rating is TSP+, and it has a combined fuel economy of 30 mpg. Honda completely redesigned the CR-V for 2023, which makes it even more senior-friendly.
More than that, Honda discontinued the base trim level, leaving the EX as the entry-level grade for 2023. There’s also a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine hitched to an automatic transmission that powers the front wheels.
AWD is completely optional on the lower trims. As for carlike driving dynamics and comfort, the CR-V has loads of space, quite a serene environment, and fuel economy that’s about average for this class. Honda also offers a hybrid version.
The IIHS named the CR-V a TSP+. As for the safety front, the CR-V offers Honda Sensing a forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning with steering assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
It also boasts adaptive cruise control, high-beam assist, and Traffic Jam Assist which is standard. Honda also equips the CR-V with LED exterior lights, heated front seats, and a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.
It also has a standard dual-zone automatic climate control, heated outboard mirrors, and a proximity key with a push-button start. Moreover, we have a 7-inch touchscreen that commands the infotainment system.
2023 Kia Telluride
The best value for seniors is $37,790, and the base price is $35,890. It has an IIHS rating of TSP+ and a combined fuel economy of 23 mpg. It’s also the biggest SUV in Kia’s arsenal, and it resides in the 3-row midsize segment.
It boasts many similar features to the Hyundai Palisade. Truth be told, it has an impressive value, providing tons of passenger and cargo room but also an incredible amount of standard content. Every grade uses a V6 engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Moreover, all-wheel drive is available. In its entry-level LX form, the Telluride comes with auto on-off headlights, LED DRLs, and heated outboard mirrors with integrated turn signals. Of course, they also inserted a tilt-telescopic steering wheel.
Other things worth mentioning are the dual-zone automatic climate control, a 12.3-inch touchscreen, navigation, and the proximity key. In the list of driver aids, there’s also forward collision warning with auto emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with steering assist, and Highway Driving Assist, which helps the driver steer and brake.
Moreover, it includes lane-departure warning, lane-following assist, lane-keeping, and rear-park assist, but also rear cross-traffic alert.
2023 Toyota Sienna
Best value for seniors is $41,445, and the base price is $36,135. It has an IIHS rating of TSP+ and a combined fuel economy of 36 mpg. This is Sienna’s third year as a hybrid-only model. We gave it very high marks for comfort, space, and the versatility it provides.
It has room for seven or even eight people, but also hauling loads of luggage, and it’s ideal for cross-country touring. It also has 10 airbags. Its fantastic hybrid propulsion system uses a very practical automatic transmission to funnel output to the front or all wheels.
The entry-level LE grade also comes with LED exterior lights, heated outboard mirrors, and of course, tri-zone automatic climate control. On the list of other standard content, there are also the tilt-telescopic steering wheel, power sliding side doors and liftgate, the 8-way power driver’s seat, and a 9-inch touchscreen.
It also boasts active driver aid with forward collision warning and auto emergency braking, lane-departure warning with steering assist, lane-tracing assist, high-beam assist, and adaptive cruise control.
2023 Nissan Murano
Its base price is $33,660, but the best value for seniors is somewhere at $37,200. It has an IIHS rating of TSP+ and a combined fuel economy of 23 mpg. Even if it’s deep into its life cycle, the Nissan Murano still remains a rather viable choice for older drivers.
As a matter of fact, when Nissan first introduced it, it was described as a vehicle for empty nesters. We really like this model for its elegant styling, quiet cabin, carlike ride, and wildly popular Zero Gravity seats with open spaces.
It has only one engine, and it’s a V6 mated to an automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available. Taken out of the box, it has a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, LED lights, an 8-inch touchscreen, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Among its driver aids are rear-park assist with rear emergency braking, forward collision warning with emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. On the standard package, there’s also a lane-departure warning and high-beam assist.
If you toss another three grand, you change it for the SV grade, which will add to the content list heated outboard mirrors, LED fog lights, and a 10-way power driver’s seat with amazing lumbar adjustments.
If you’re interested in reading other useful articles, you might want to give this one a try: 8 Things You Don’t Want to Experience During Retirement