A car with a high seat?
November 22, 2008 5:18 AM   Subscribe

Cars that have seats like minivans?

My dad drives a 1998 Toyota Camry. The car runs well but he has trouble getting in and out of the car. He also dislikes the way he has to sit in the car (legs stretch out in front).

There's a Toyota Sienna van in the garage that he can use, and he likes the way it seats him like a normal chair would, but he won't drive it because it's too big and doesn't get good enough gas mileage.

Are there any cars on the market that have a high seat position without the compromises of Minivan/SUV size and weight?

I've looked at getting him a Toyota RAV4 or Honda CRV. However, I've seen there are new cross-over models coming out like the 2009 Toyota Venza crossover.

Are there any used or new model cars that have good, high seats?
posted by abdulf to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I seem to remember my old Volvo 240 wagon being quite high up, at least compared to more sedan-type cars. You might want to look at station wagons. The 240 used to get great gas mileage, too.

My parents' newer volvo (2002 V70) is a lot lower, though.
posted by DLWM at 5:37 AM on November 22, 2008

The Chrysler PT Cruiser sits high, but the mileage isn't that great. The Hyundai Tucson is in the same category as the smaller RAV4 and CRV. The 4 cylinder gets around 27 highway.
posted by Gungho at 5:46 AM on November 22, 2008

There's the Honda Element, but it probably gets slightly worse mpg than the minivan. And there are several cars (like the Subaru Forester, that boxy Scion, etc) that have a very upright seating position, even if the seat isn't quite as high off the ground as some SUV's and vans.
posted by Forktine at 6:01 AM on November 22, 2008

I have been wishing for the same type of seats (after having back surgery this summer). I didn't have much luck but what did help me a lot was a seat pillow. The sort of pillow that is thicker in the back and thins out. Most of them have a little cut out too, but that doesn't really make much difference. It doesn't solve the problem of having my legs stretched out, but it does make it so that my hips and thighs are on the same level and it has definitely made it more comfortable and easier to get in/out. Here is an example.
posted by sulaine at 6:34 AM on November 22, 2008

The new Subaru Outback's seats are high to begin with, and are adjustable (up, down, tilt, etc), but the mileage isn't that great - something like 20 city/27 highway.
posted by chez shoes at 6:47 AM on November 22, 2008

I have a RAV4 (a '97, but they've changed a whole lot since then so definitely check them out), and the seat height is one of the many (many) reasons why I love it. It feels like you're in something substantial, but it's small and parkable/driveable like a car and gets good mileage. No crouching into inferior seating.
posted by phunniemee at 6:53 AM on November 22, 2008

Someone asked this question on Car Talk, and their recommendation was the Honda Element.
posted by Ostara at 7:40 AM on November 22, 2008

I think I recall hearing something about the Ford 500 (and its Mercury counterpart) having higher-up seating. They do look a little bit "tall" to me, relative to some other sedans.

There's also a hybrid Ford Escape available and I think the hybrid Lincoln Mariner is a fancier version of this. Dunno about the MPG of these but they may beat a minivan in that category.

Toyota's hybrid Highlander might be a good one. I've talked to some folks who have these and they like them They had the older version, the new one looks bigger to me, so it may have the same size issue as the van. But the MPG should be pretty decent.

Not that it's any help to you now, but I've read that Honda intends to produce a hybrid versions of their whole lineup with only about a $2k price delta within the next couple of years. Not sure if that'll really happen, esp. with the economy in tank, though.
posted by altcountryman at 7:47 AM on November 22, 2008

My dad's Subaru Forester has nice, high seating for a small car.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:00 AM on November 22, 2008

You want a Mazda 5. It's got a 4 cylinder 2.3 litre engine. It gets comprimable gas mileage to a Camry. The Mazda 5 is a compact minivan. It is built off the Mazda 3 chassis, so it is slim enough to park in a compact space but long enough for 3 rows of seats (though the people in the third row must be very small). It has sliding doors so it is easy to get in and out. I've been driving one for 2 years and I would recommend it to somebody in your situation.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:11 AM on November 22, 2008

I've heard that Jaguars have high seating. I wouldn't want to drive one myself, but I know a nice old lady who bought one because it was the only car that she liked sitting in - maybe a used one would do for your dad?

Really, if you want a seating position that's comparable to a minivan, you'll have to go for a small SUV; cars simply can't match that seating because they're so much lower. The best small SUVs on the market are the Nissan Rogue, Honda CRV and Subaru Forester. They've all been recently released or redesigned, all have best-in-class safety, all are very reliable (Honda and Subaru are particularly good brands), and all are fairly efficient (the Rogue is the best, followed by the CRV, as far as I know). They're all good choices for someone who wants higher seating without the small-car-crushing, planet-destroying nature of a full-sized SUV.

The other car he might try is the Honda Fit. I haven't been in one of the new models, but it's sometimes described as a small minivan rather than a hatchback. I think that if he has a problem with a Toyota Camry, he might not like the Fit, but it's probably less stretchy than most cars and might meet his needs. If you're checking out a CRV at a Honda dealership it might be worth sitting it - it is certainly a lot more efficient (the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid on the market, as far as I know).

The other option in small cars might be the Nissan Versa. The Fit and the Versa are the two best subcompacts on the market. My family has a Versa, which we got because the interior was so cavernous compared to other small cars. I don't find the seats as strechty-outy as in most cars; it's more of an upright feeling, like you dad is looking for. I don't know what a Camry feels like, but, again, if you're at a Nissan dealership to check out a Rogue, I would say try out a Versa just to see, and your dad might be pleasantly surprised at what he can find in a small car.

The Fit and the Versa do the great service of demonstrating that small cars do not have to be joyless econo-boxes; if you load them up they are really quite advanced cars. And they're both extremely safe; probably safer than his 1998 Camry despite being smaller. So if the seats end up being to his liking in either of them, he might find that he could enjoy a small car. If not, then he can probably find what he's looking for in one of the crossovers listed above. Good luck!
posted by Dasein at 9:21 AM on November 22, 2008

When I was looking at compact cars this summer, I noticed that the new models have much higher seats than the old ones. The seat in my new Mazda 3 is higher than the seat in my mom's 2002 Camry, and I don't even have it adjusted to be as high as it can go. A compact car won't have as high a seat as a minivan or SUV, but he may find one with a seat that's higher enough than his Camry to be comfortable.
posted by capsizing at 10:01 AM on November 22, 2008

I have a PT Cruiser and an aunt who has limited use of her legs. She finds the PT much easier to get in and out of than other cars.
posted by MsElaineous at 10:29 AM on November 22, 2008

Seconding the Honda Element, they look big but the wheelbase is about the same as a small car.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:34 AM on November 22, 2008

We have a boxy Scion and it's not up high like an SUV but is sooo easy to drive because the seating is upright and there's a surprising amount of space. It's like getting into a golf cart (in a good way). Also, has a lot of head and leg room, without that "bucket seat" feel - my 6'2'' husband is far more comfortable in the Scion than he is in our Cherokee. And it gets great gas mileage.
posted by media_itoku at 12:59 PM on November 22, 2008

We have a Honda Fit and a CR-V. We are huge fans of our Fit, but for this purpose it's really not the same as the CR-V. It's very comfortable, but still low to the ground.
posted by raisingsand at 4:10 PM on November 22, 2008

I have bad knees. I used to have a little Saturn that was low to the ground. I LOVED that car, but it was murder on my knees. I now have a PT Cruiser that I inherited from my dad after he passed away. I didn't pick this car and can't say that I love it, BUT it's been a godsend for my knees. It's very easy to get into and out of. In the last few years of their lives, when they were both quite ill, it was the perfect car for my parents.
posted by marsha56 at 6:53 PM on November 22, 2008

Toyota Matrix. Quite upright seating, good on gas, smallish car (but you can still pack a lot of stuff in it.)
posted by defcom1 at 8:19 PM on November 23, 2008

Ford Focus. I have an 09 and I love it. Very high seating position for a compact car. My wife has a 94 Prizm (same as a Corolla), and it's downright painful getting my 6 foot tall 300 lb self in and out of it.
posted by AstroGuy at 10:46 PM on November 24, 2008

Seconding the PT Cruiser and Ford Focus. My PT sits nicely upright (I don't get why people want to drive in a near recumbent position) but the gas mileage is very meh. When I was shopping for a new car for my octogenarian mum (she wanted a small car) I researched the crap out of the econo-cars and settled on a corolla....until I watched her climb in and out of one. We tried the Focus and she feels upright. She still kinda struggles to get out but she struggles out of a chair (she's 84!). She loves her Focus. At least one of her friends has also purchased a Focus after driving my mom's....for the height of the driver's seat. I am thinking on buying one of those spin pad thingies (like a lazy-susan in a seat). I also remember an ad for a metal piece you can jamb into a standard slot in the door frame that can provide an older person with something to grip while heaving her/himself out of the car. Good luck.
posted by Jezebella at 10:19 AM on November 28, 2008

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