Best Cars For Elderly Passengers

The best cars for elderly passengers are easy to enter and exit, comfortable to prevent aches and pains, and easy to use.

The passengers won't be confused by complicated dials, buttons, and door handles. Minivans, including the Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey, may best fill these requirements.

In this article, we will go over what to look for when you are shopping for a vehicle for elderly passengers as well as we will list a few models to get you started on your search.

Table Of Contents [show]

    Helping old person in wheelchair into van
    Helping old person in wheelchair into van

    Choosing a Vehicle Type: Sedans vs. SUVs vs. Vans vs. Pickup Trucks

    Before choosing the vehicle types, you should understand the characteristics of the different models. The characteristics of a vehicle greatly determine its suitability for elderly passengers.

    A sedan is usually more inexpensive to purchase and more economical to drive due to fuel economy.

    The downside is that sedans are sometimes uncomfortable entering and exiting for taller people.

    Generally speaking, passenger vans are somewhat more expensive than sedans but cheaper than SUVs and trucks.

    Elderly Woman enjoying her car ride.
    Elderly Woman enjoying her car ride.

    In addition, vans are our favorite vehicles for elderly passengers due to their accessibility features.

    SUVs can also make good vehicles for elderly passengers. Crossover SUVs are particularly practical because they are easier to get in and out of than larger SUVs.

    Pickup trucks generally don't make great vehicles for elderly passengers because of their vehicle height.

    Older people can have trouble entering high vehicles, particularly in wet, muddy, or slippery conditions.

    This article will focus on the best cars for elderly passengers but will mix in a few van and crossover SUVs to round things out.

    2020 Chrysler Pacifica

    The 2020 Chrysler Pacifica wins our first choice for the best car for elderly passengers.

    Launched as an all-new model in 2017, the Pacifica has quickly won over families as the number one minivan choice.

    The Pacifica has not changed much since 2017, so if you look around, you might be able to find a nearly identical Pacifica as the 2020 model for less money.

    Notable Quote From Car And Driver Review Of 2020 Chrysler Pacifica

    "At the top of the minivan heap is the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica, which excelled in much of our testing and is competitive with its rivals in other tests."
    2018 Chrysler Pacifica
    2018 Chrysler Pacifica

    The 2020 Pacifica makes an excellent choice for a variety of reasons:

    • seating for up to 8 people
    • there is a roomy interior that can switch from passengers to cargo in seconds due to folding Stow `n Go seating… no need to manhandle heavy seats like other models.
    • power sliding door
    • strong 287-hp 3.6-liter V6 engine that gets 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway
    • excellent crash testing and features such as blindspot monitor, rear automated emergency braking, and rear parking sensors come standard
    • packed with cubbies, bins, slide-outs, etc

    Also available as a plug-in hybrid which gets 84 equivalent mpg.

    We think the Pacifica is one of the first vehicles you should test drive in your search for a vehicle for senior passengers.

    Subaru Forester

    The Subaru Forester is a compact crossover SUV that has been available in the USA since 1997.

    2020 Subaru Forester
    2020 Subaru Forester

    The Forester is the winner of many awards, including Car and Driver's 5 Best Trucks 2004, 2005, and 2006, Motor Trend's 2009 and 2014 SUV Of The Year Award, and The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy 2014 Award.

    Subaru is mostly known for its well-designed all-wheel-drive systems, which are great if you live in a state with snowy road conditions.

    The Forester was one of the first crossover SUVs, with the earlier generations being more like a car with a high stance.

    The modern Subaru Forester is a 2-row SUV with five seats.

    The cabin is even spacious enough to accommodate four 6-footers, and the doors swing open wide for easy entry and exit.

    Dodge Caravan / Voyager

    Next on our list of best cars for elderly passengers is the venerable Dodge Caravan.

    The world's first minivan, the Dodge Caravan, has been produced by Chrysler since 1984.

    The Caravan is currently in its fifth generation.

    2020 Dodge Caravan
    2020 Dodge Caravan

    The sister model Chrysler Voyager shares a lot with the Dodge Caravan and is preferable if you're looking for a new model (2018 +). However, the later models are generally thought of as higher than the Caravan.

    We don't recommend buying a new Caravan as the current models (2020) are outdated (and are being discontinued in place of the Chrysler Voyager, which will be manufactured for at least a few more years).

    Used Caravans can be had for quite cheap, and their Stow N' Go seating system is a worthy draw.

    Seating Systems

    Over the years, Chrysler has integrated various seating systems into the Dodge Caravan that make it an excellent choice for elderly passengers:

    Easy-Out Roller Seats

    In 1995, Dodge introduced a seating system marketed as Easy-Out Roller Seats.

    The Easy-Out Roller Seats simplify installing, removing, and re-positioning the rear seats without any tools.

    Once latched, the seats are latched to floor-mounted strikers.

    When unlatched, eight rollers lift each seat, allowing it to be rolled forward and back.

    Stow `N Go Seating

    In 2004, Dodge introduced a second and third-row seating system, Stow `N Go, that folded completely into underfloor compartments.

    It was exclusively available on long-wheelbase models.

    The system creates a combined volume of 12 cubic feet (340 L) when the second-row seats are up, and with both rows folded down, the vans have a flat-load floor with a maximum cargo volume of 160.7 cubic feet (4550 L).

    In 2005, the Stow `N Go system received Popular Science Magazine's "Best Of What's New" Award.

    In 2011 Chrysler re-branded the system as "Super Stow `n Go" with new pivoting head restraints and a revised folding mechanism to make operation easier.

    2022 Toyota Camry

    The Toyota Camry is a great option if you are looking for a sedan. Toyotas, perhaps, have the reputation as the most reliable cars in the world.

    2021 Toyota Camry
    2021 Toyota Camry

    Toyota makes driver assistance technology standard on all vehicles, including:

    • Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
    • Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
    • Standard adaptive cruise control

    2022 Honda Odyssey

    The Honda Odyssey has long been considered a solid choice if looking for a passenger van.

    2022 Honda Odyssey
    2022 Honda Odyssey

    The Odyssey features Magic Slide® 2nd-Row Seats slide over to allow easier access to the rear seats.

    Much like other passenger vans in its class, the Odyssey offers power sliding doors.

    Honda makes driver assistance technology standard on all trims of the Odyssey. These safety features are:

    • Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™)
    • Road Departure Mitigation System (RDM)
    • Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
    • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
    • Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS)
    • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow
    • Traffic Sign Recognition System (TSR)
    • Blind Spot Information System (BSI) with Cross Traffic Monitor
    • Auto High-Beam Headlights
    • Rear Seat Reminder (RSR)

    2022 Honda CR-V

    The Honda CR-V may make a good selection if your elderly passengers are somewhat tall.

    Because it is a mid-size crossover, its ride height is about the same as a van and a tall roofline.

    Most of the same standard safety features with the Odyssey come standard on the CR-V.

    2022 Hyundai Sonata

    Hyundai continues to raise the bar, and the Sonata is one of the best cars for elderly passengers available this year.

    Like the rest of the new vehicles on our list, the Sonata comes standard with many safety features.

    The Sonata's cabin has been praised for its spaciousness and comfortable seats.

    What To Look For In A Vehicle For Elderly Passengers

    1) Entering/Exiting The Vehicle Safely And Easily

    Safely entering and exiting the vehicle is probably the most important factor when shopping for a car for elderly passengers.

    The passengers will need to be able to enter and exit the car safely in various conditions such as rain, snow, and mud, as well as different surfaces such as wet and slippery pavement, loose gravel, sloped driveways, etc.

    Generally, the safest way for a senior to enter a car is "behind" first. They back up to the seat, sit down, then lift and swing each leg over, one at a time.

    With this in mind, we want to avoid a small car that sits low to the ground if we can help it.

    Crouching over to crawl into a small car can be painful and dangerous for a senior citizen.

    A small car is also difficult to pull yourself out of, especially if you lack upper body strength.

    On the other hand, a big truck that requires running boards to crawl up inside is undesirable.

    Small SUVs and Crossovers can be an excellent solution as their riding heights fit somewhere in the middle of a small car and a big truck.

    Will the passenger always be the same senior or different people?

    If you are transporting the same senior, you can bring them along with you and have them try to enter and exit the various vehicles.

    Or, if you can't bring them to the dealership, you can ask them what type of vehicle they find easiest to enter and exit.

    If you are moving different people or groups of seniors, you will want to take more of a one size fits all approach.

    Pick a vehicle that will be forgiving for people of all shapes and sizes and has enough room to comfortably fit all your passengers.

    Once seated, some other things to look for are:

    2) Seat Belts

    Ensure the seat belts in the front seat are not awkward to reach back and grab; they are easy to latch in and easily adjustable.

    Also, ensure that the rear belts will be easy for the passenger or caregiver to find and latch in.

    Remember, the elderly generally want to be as independent as possible, and the more they can do on their own will make it easier for you and make them feel better.

    3) Power locks and windows

    Power locks and windows make it easier for the passenger to lock/unlock the door and open or close the window independently. Also, the buttons must be easy to find.

    4) Power Seats

    Once in the vehicle and seated, power adjustable seats will make it much easier to move the seat forward or back, depending on if you have cargo or other passengers.

    5) Door Handles

    Is the door latch easy to find? It can be especially frustrating for a senior to try to find a door latch on some newer vehicles. The latch should open easily as well.

    6) Storage

    Do your passengers use wheelchairs or walkers?

    You will need a place to store them and other things, so make sure there is sufficient storage space.

    There are many vehicles on the market to choose from that can fit your needs.

    7) Visibility

    A vehicle with a large windshield and no blindspots is ideal for older people whose vision may not be as good as it once was.

    Elderly passengers feel more comfortable when they can easily see what's happening around them. For this reason, we highly recommend passenger vans due to their multitude of windows.

    Proper windshield wiper sizes are also necessary.

    8) Safety Features

    Although the elderly person will most likely not be driving the vehicle, modern safety features can lead to a less stressful, more enjoyable experience for passengers.

    Older or elderly people may have poor eyesight and/or slow reaction time. Having a vehicle equipped with the latest safety features may make it acceptable to allow an elderly person to drive despite their deteriorated physical abilities.

    Most new vehicles have included the following as either standard safety features or options in their higher trim levels.

    Lane Departure Warning/ Lane Keeping Assist

    Lane departure warnings alert the driver if the vehicle starts to drift into another lane. Lane-keeping assist works along with lane departure warning to gently bring the vehicle back into the center of the lane if it starts to drift.

    Adaptive Cruise Control

    Adaptive cruise control will decelerate a vehicle in cruise control if it gets too close to the vehicle ahead. As a result, it greatly reduces the likelihood of rear-ending the leading vehicle.

    Automatic Emergency Braking

    Automatic emergency braking is a safety feature that activates in emergencies that necessitate a quick hard breaking.

    Rear Cross-Traffic Alert/ Rear Backup Cam

    A rear cross-traffic alert is helpful when backing out of a parking spot in a crowded parking lot. As the rear of the vehicle inches out of its parking spot, it will notify the driver if any objects or people are infringing on your vehicle's path.

    Blind Spot Monitoring

    Blind spot warning systems alert the driver whenever there is a vehicle in their blind spot.

    Generally, a light will light up on the dashboard when a vehicle enters your vehicle's blind spot and will sound an alarm if you signal and begin to change lanes.

    Driver Attention Warning

    Driver attention monitoring systems work by learning the driver's normal driving tendencies.

    If the driver deviates from their normal tendencies, it may signify that the driver is tired or distracted. It will then sound an alert to refocus the driver.

    9) Convenience

    A large gas tank can also be practical as it may allow you to make fewer unnecessary stops along your journey.

    In Conclusion: The Best Cars For Elderly Passengers

    When selecting a car for elderly passengers, it is essential to put yourself in their shoes.

    Things such as large door openings, a tall roofline, and easy to function door handles can make transporting seniors more enjoyable for both the driver and the passengers.

    If senior drivers operate the vehicle, safety features such as lane departure warnings can be helpful.

    Although luxury cars generally have more desirable features for the elderly, vehicles like the Toyota Camry will perfectly suit the purpose.

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