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paddygarcia Reader
6/15/21 7:08 p.m.

My MIL has some difficulty getting around. My wife and in-laws have been successfully using a family member's PT Cruiser to take her around - the seats are high but not too high and the door is big enough for a person to stand outside and help her in and out.

Family member is moving away and so is the car. I've been asked to find another one, but they're all at the 'rode hard and put away wet' stage of the market. And they weren't that great to begin with. This makes it easier to find at a non-stupid price but I can't stand the thought of trawling through a bunch of crappy cars and the expected % of matching owners just to find a not-too-bad cruiser that hopefully won't explode.

It's not a forever car so we could put maybe $10k in, with the hope of getting a good portion back in later years (hopefully many, but...). What else should I be looking for that's not too tall, not too low, with big doors and maybe even a good reputation for cars that older folks find easy to get in and out of?

mr2s2000elise UberDork
6/15/21 7:12 p.m.

Crv/rav4 - perfect for old people 

paddygarcia Reader
6/15/21 7:28 p.m.

The rav4 at least is too tall.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
6/15/21 7:49 p.m.
paddygarcia said:

The rav4 at least is too tall.

Really?  You think its too tall or you've tested it?  

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
6/15/21 7:52 p.m.

Scion xB if you can find a low mileage one. Maybe a Kia Soul.

Rons HalfDork
6/15/21 8:00 p.m.

Is MIL the driver? If not would a mini van with ramp work? 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
6/15/21 8:07 p.m.

I went through this extensively in 2012 with my M-I-L.  She had plans to buy a new car and this was going to be the first car purchase without her husband, since had passed.

They had had two Town and Country minivans.  She like the first, probably a '97 and super loaded with leather and all.  She hatted the second T&C.  This '06 was lower spec and had cloth rather than leather.  Her long standing maneuver was to get get one cheek on the seat on then slide over to get the other cheek on.  This worked with the leather.  The cloth was like velcro and it was a fight for her to slide on the seat.

She had ridden in her daughter's Ford Edge and figured that was what she wanted.  I was with her and we shopped everything in the new car market.  My logic was that any new car would be fine for her.  She's unlikely to own it out of warranty anyway.  All our shopping was focused on ease of entry.  Some examples never even got driven.  At the Mazda dealer we sampled the new CX5.  To be "sporty" the front seats have side bolsters.  Those were right out.  

Sample of CX5 front seats and those bottom cushion bolsters are rigid...


The two finalists were CRV and the new 2013 Ford Escape.  I think the CRV was a little better but she let the deciding factor be, "my husband never bought a Honda but we've had a lot of Fords over the years."  Like I said, there was going to be no bad choice so it was Ford Escape.  She thought she wanted a Ford Edge but like the slightly lower and slightly smaller new Escape.  She's liked it so much that in 2018 she sold the 2013 Escape for another.  

Ford Escape seats are very flat and what bolstering appears to be there on the bottom cushion is really very soft.  

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
6/15/21 8:09 p.m.

Other good choices are:

Nissan Cube, huge front door

Scion xB, especially the Ge2 version

KIa Soul

Early Nissan Versa, these are taller than they seem

nocones UberDork
6/15/21 8:27 p.m.

2011+ Subaru Outback would fit this requirement.  

For cheap and reliable (provided you take care of the airbag recalls) a Pontiac Vibe is a good option also.  

If it's passenger/rear seat access that is wanted a Mazda5/Ford Transit Connect/NV200 would be excellent options with sliding rear doors.  

Otherwise generic car based small CUV is your droid.  

paddygarcia Reader
6/15/21 8:28 p.m.
John Welsh said:
paddygarcia said:

The rav4 at least is too tall.

Really?  You think its too tall or you've tested it?  

The last one I drove was a 2010, and the height of the seat was higher than MIL can climb. Are newer ones lower?

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
6/15/21 8:29 p.m.

My old Saturn Vue had an exceptional seat height for the elderly.  Another thing that was great about this car was what I'll call "leg lift height for exit."  

In the Vue, when exiting, someone with no leg strength could just slide they leg toward the door and the leg would slide right out of the door.  

Sample picture of Saturn Vue: 

It's not that easy to recommend a Saturn Vue, mechanically but if I was to recommend it one it would only be a 2006 or 2007 with 4 cyl engine and fwd only (not awd.)  In those years the auto trans is better than the previous years.  They offer a manual trans in those years too which is good.  


More so, I just wanted to point out to be sure to not only test the ease of entry but also test the ease of exit.  Some cars really require a high leg lift over a door sill to get out of the car.  

paddygarcia Reader
6/15/21 8:35 p.m.

Good input here, thank you. 

MIL doesn't drive anymore, so it's really just for local use as a passenger. A van with a ramp may feel like overkill now but she uses a chair a lot and doesn't seem to be getting stronger so that's permanent IMO.

She also doesn't have strength to climb, so it's important that the seat is low enough to sit into from outside and stand from when getting out. We give a lot of help so the door size is key, too.

We'll check out a few of these.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
6/15/21 8:49 p.m.

Toyota Sienna offers a factory option called the Auto Access Seat.  (300 lb limit)


There are aftermarket versions for other minivans too.

ProDarwin MegaDork
6/15/21 8:50 p.m.

I wish H point was a published number.

Honestly, most car based CUVs have seat hights that require one to climb.  I'm 6ft and my Soul seat is high enough (in the lowest position) that I drop out of it when stepping out of the car.  Most other CUVs are higher.  My father really struggled to get into an Outback (2015ish) when he was older.

I would guess you want a car that is around 57-60" high.  A friend has a V60 Cross Country, which comes in around 58" high and that looks like it might be about right.  Depends how tall the MIL is also.

How high is the seat in a Fit?

eastsideTim PowerDork
6/15/21 8:52 p.m.

Honda Fit(any generation) and Mazda5 are both pretty good in the realm of not having to bend down too far, and not having to climb up into.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
6/15/21 8:54 p.m.

If you have a CarMax availabe to you, I think an afternoon spent there could be beneficial.  Not so much for the buying but the ability to sit in a lot of makes and models all in one place. 

stanger_mussle UberDork
6/15/21 9:14 p.m.

I gotta throw in the Ford Transit Connect. It's got a pretty good seating position and has excellent front visibility. It's also easy to drive and park. The 2015-2018 years are what I would look at with the 2.5L DuraTec.

dxman92 Dork
6/15/21 9:39 p.m.

Honda Fit or Nissan Versa Note.

67LS1 New Reader
6/16/21 12:21 a.m.

I don't buy new or lease but a friend sent his daughter to college in New Hampshire and she needed a car. Got a brand new Honda CRV for about $1500 down and $99/month for an ultra low mileage 4 year lease.

Pretty hard to beat that.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/16/21 7:58 a.m.

I will add a vote for the xB.  Not only is the seat height perfect, the windshield is nearly perpendicular, meaning the A pillar is so far forward.  It makes it feel like a barn door, and exit/entry is remarkably easy.  Another bonus is that the seats almost hang over the door sill, so there is no "stepover."

which is more than I can say for mom's Acadia.  My one complaint about her (otherwise very impressive) Acadia is the fat door sill/rocker panel which means a bit of a crawl-in.

RevRico UltimaDork
6/16/21 8:05 a.m.

My mom's 13 Elantra is doing a fine job for her.

When my dad was still alive after that cut off his leg, our 99 Forester was almost perfect but those are really hard to find in good shape now.

I berkeleying hate to recommend an FCA product because in my experience if they don't rust away to nothing in 5 years, the electronics will never work, but mid 00s Grand Cherokee was another good one with a fake leg. 

Not low enough to drop into, not high enough to need to climb really.

maschinenbau UltraDork
6/16/21 8:39 a.m.

I see so many old folks in Kia Souls. They are the new PT Cruiser.

Saron81 HalfDork
6/16/21 8:52 a.m.

The Flex seems like a 4/3 scale version of what you want. Big doors, and a good step in height for sure.  I also like the suggestion of Transit Connect, and would ad the Escape as a consideration. My FIL is a big guy with mobility issues, and this is what he drives. 

Dirtydog (Forum Supporter)
Dirtydog (Forum Supporter) Dork
6/16/21 9:00 a.m.

How about the consummate elder-mobile?  The Lincoln Town Car, Mercury Grand Marquis or Ford Crown Vic.

paddygarcia Reader
6/16/21 9:43 a.m.

I'd love an excuse to buy a P71, maybe worth a shot. The flat seats may be extremely helpful as MIL lacks the strength and agility to scoot much over bolsters, and the cop-spec vinyl should be good and slippery.

Fit, xB and Soul will also get a look. Flex, too - those doors have been noticed, but the seat height may be trick. Basically, if there's a step involved the vehicle needs to include a roof-mounted gantry.

Hmm. Cranes.

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