Can anyone recommend cars with a great deal of headroom?
February 2, 2005 7:43 PM   Subscribe

I need to buy a car in the near future. I am on the tall side (6'3") and most of this height is in my torso. Can anyone recommend cars with a great deal of headroom? [+]
posted by al_fresco to Travel & Transportation (45 answers total)
I think the VW New Beetle has tons of headroom.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 7:44 PM on February 2, 2005

The headroom thing is really a problem. In many cars, I actually have trouble seeing clearly because of either the window tinting at the top of the windshield, the mirror placement, or the actual top of the windshield obscuring my view. I went to a Toyota dealer about 4 years ago and asked to sit in all of their vehicles, and there was not one that I could sit in with my spine erect (I like to sit up straight). Sitting on a chair, my torso is 3'5" from seat to top of head.

An acquaintance recently purchased a Honda Element. Aaaahhhhh! It fits! Unfortunately, I'm on a budget and I'm not seeing many of these used yet. I'm hoping to find something in the compact to medium size range (read: not an SUV) and something that I can find used with a bank loan ($5,000-$10,000). Any tall folks with cars that fit (without having to lean the seat back like a racecar driver)?
posted by al_fresco at 7:54 PM on February 2, 2005

I am very long in the body, and I like smaller cars. The New Beetle was one of the few cars that didn't feel cramped. They're also very good cars.

I had a ride in the new Toyota Prius, which was extremely comfortable and had fantastic head and leg room. The Echo looks similar, so you might want to look at Toyotas.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:55 PM on February 2, 2005

I disagree about the VW. I've been in the new Beetle and the Pasaat and neither have enough headroom for my 6'4 self. We ended up buying a Hyundai Sonata. The Elantra didn't have enough room either. Good luck.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 7:55 PM on February 2, 2005

i've heard the mini cooper is good (i'm serious)
posted by reverendX at 7:55 PM on February 2, 2005

I don't agree with the Beetle comment, and I'm 6'-2". (Maybe the seat was poorly adjusted?) Anyway, I would look at the Scion (the curvy one), and several other econo-boxes. My current car, a Ford Aspire has much more headroom than you would imagine. Simply look at the roof line from the outside, compared to other cars.
posted by Doohickie at 7:56 PM on February 2, 2005

As much as I hate SUVs, at least for those folks who will never go off-road, you might consider them as with the higher driving position and all they also tend to have quite high interior space. I have had a similar problem, and some regular cars fit, but make sure your test drive includes a few bumps. There is nothing like bumping your head off of the roof a few times to sour you on a car. Of course sunroofs are to be avoided as they rob you of a couple of inches of headroom.
posted by caddis at 7:57 PM on February 2, 2005

There is nothing like bumping your head off of the roof a few times to sour you on a car.
No kidding. I currently drive an '85 Toyota Corolla where I have to put the seat back in at a nearly 45° angle and there's still an ugly mark on the headliner from the top of my head. I think I may have a callous…
posted by al_fresco at 8:02 PM on February 2, 2005

Oh... to clarify: I think the Beetle headroom is no good; I disagree with the first comment, agree with the second.
posted by Doohickie at 8:05 PM on February 2, 2005

I know you're looking to avoid an SUV, but if you like the Element and are on a budget, the Isuzu Trooper is a godsend for tall guys. At almost 6'5" and all torso, it's the most comfortable, roomy car (er, SUV) I've ever been in. Cheap, Japanese-built, reliable, amazing in the snow. YMMV, of course, and they're only available on the used market these days (but within your price range). The Trooper's actually got a bit more headroom than the Element -- the windshield design lets me *see traffic lights without bending down*, which is rare.

In terms of sedans, my brother who's slightly taller than I am swears by his Buick Century, which would also certainly be in your price range. It's not quite medium-sized either, though.
posted by eschatfische at 8:05 PM on February 2, 2005

The Outback has a lot of headroom.
posted by Doohickie at 8:05 PM on February 2, 2005

The isuzu trooper was the first car I bought... Loved it. Perfect for headroom. It died in Valley Forge, PA. My wife and I still mourn for it whenever we see one that looks like it. And it seems that there are a lot. Good memories. Funny how cars do that to people.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 8:15 PM on February 2, 2005

the windshield design lets me see traffic lights without bending down

Now this is a godsend. I have never owned or driven such a vehicle.
posted by caddis at 8:22 PM on February 2, 2005

I'm 6'3.5" and I, comfortably, drive an Acura CL-S. Fits beautifully.
posted by seinfeld at 8:27 PM on February 2, 2005

I have the same problem with cars and when I was buying my car I went to the local auto show so that I could get in and sit in all the cars I was interested in. I ended up buying a chevy Tracker which isn't the best car in the world but I do fit in it. I certainly look less silly in it than I did in my old 89 Hyundai Excel.
posted by octothorpe at 8:29 PM on February 2, 2005

The Audi A4 has so much headroom I hated it (I'm tall, but not so much in torso)...
posted by ParisParamus at 8:34 PM on February 2, 2005

Wow! Lots of tall MeFites! Thanks! [This is great]

I'm looking at some of the specs on websites for reference. When I sat in the ECHO a few years ago, my head still hit the roof when I sat up straight. The Toyota website gives a headroom spec for the ECHO and the Prius of 39.1" (a shame, since a new ECHO is actually right at the top end of my price range). The Element is listed at 43.3" and, surprisingly, the Scion xB has almost 3" more at 46.1", for about $4,500 more than a new ECHO. Hmmm. [reconsidering my financing options]

Isuzu Trooper owners: Economical in the long run? Fuel efficiency? Replacement parts? I know Toyotas run forever. How about the Trooper?

Thanks again!
posted by al_fresco at 8:37 PM on February 2, 2005

The Passat has more than an inch more headroom in the front seat than the A4.

You can compare headroom (and lots of other specs) of many new cars here.
posted by shoos at 8:41 PM on February 2, 2005

Whatever you decide, make sure you sit in and preferably drive the vehicle prior to purchase. For someone less than six feet who cares, but for those of us just a bit taller careful car selection matters.
posted by caddis at 8:50 PM on February 2, 2005

Good. I hate the A4, but like VWs.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:50 PM on February 2, 2005

Thanks, shoos! Awesome.

I find it interesting that vehicles have, generally, about a foot more 'hip room' than 'head room.'

Jus' sayin'.
posted by al_fresco at 8:54 PM on February 2, 2005

Whatever you decide, make sure you sit in and preferably drive the vehicle prior to purchase.
No worries here. I'm a tire-kicker, hood-looker-under, test-driver, fluid-checker.

The Corolla was a gift.
posted by al_fresco at 9:00 PM on February 2, 2005

On Troopers, my brother (who is as small as you are tall, al_fresco, so I can't comment to that) had an older model--early nineties--for a while. The car's engine ran fine. Rough ride though, since it's on a truck frame. The damn thing swayed like a palm tree in a hurricane when it went up badly paved driveways or down brick roads.
posted by cmyk at 9:16 PM on February 2, 2005

I haven't a clue about used prices, but I'd make sure you look at Volvo. I'm 6'2" and have rented these and found them comfortable. But for me, this problem with height is seldom that big a deal and I select cars more based on repair frequency and gas mileage, balanced against luxory/options. I currently drive a Camry, which is a company car. (or my Honda scooter, weather permitting).
posted by Goofyy at 9:49 PM on February 2, 2005

For small (cheap) cars, I am 6'2" as well and I have put 250 Thousand kms on my 97 Saturn and have felt quite comfortable in it.

When we purchased it I tried the Cavaliers and Neons which were extremely uncomfortable for me in all directions.
posted by vidarling at 10:07 PM on February 2, 2005

How funny, I'm almost 6'4" and I just got rid of my '94 trooper for a new Element. The Element feels like it has even more headroom for me and it's actually the first car I've ever owned that I didn't need to have the seat all the way back. It's one click away from that, but still, that's something.

And FWIW, I love my element and get 25mpg in the auto/4x4 version, whereas my Trooper was a gas hog that got 17mpg on most tankfulls. The only downside is that the roof does curve down over the windsheild so I have noticed the need to duck down to see some traffic lights. The trooper windsheild was taller.
posted by mathowie at 10:07 PM on February 2, 2005

I'm almost 6'4" and I just got rid of my '94 trooper for a new Element. The Element feels like it has even more headroom…
With this, and the previous Trooper comments, (and the 3" more headroom {and cheaper price} than the Element), the Scion xB is looking better and better. I'm seeing them used on craigslist within (or just above) my price range (gulp).

Any Scion owners (or experts) want to comment on the long-term economy of this vehicle? I want to trust it, as they are being marketed by Toyota, whom I tend to trust. Thoughts?
posted by al_fresco at 10:33 PM on February 2, 2005

Nissan Prairie. As a bonus, it's basically just a Pulsar with a modified shell, so many of the important parts are still easy to get.
posted by krisjohn at 10:39 PM on February 2, 2005

A tall friend swears that after test-driving hundreds of cars, he finally found one that felt right, and it fit so good that he bought it on the spot.

The car is Subaru Forrester. It looks like an SUV, but has most of the characteristics of a sedan (good mileage, low center of gravity, good safety ratings). Check them out.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 10:46 PM on February 2, 2005

The car is Subaru Forrester.
I see them in my price range, but the headroom is still less than 40". A good friend has one of these, and I really wanted to like it, but it's still a bit short.

Damn those genes.

Many thanks, though!

Not finding much info on the Nissan Prairie, but thanks krisjohn.
posted by al_fresco at 11:07 PM on February 2, 2005

I have a 6'6" friend who bought a Toyota Matrix because it was the only car that he fit in.
posted by kamikazegopher at 12:00 AM on February 3, 2005

I'm 5'11" and I've got a VW New Beetle, and one of the things l love about it is the headroom. (The front seats are in the middle of the car front-to-back.) I've got probably two or three inches of clearance above my head, and I've got the seat height set pretty high. Another nice thing is that the windshield is really big and isn't tinted, so the visibility in the front is great. The site shoos linked to says the GL has 41.3" of headroom and the GLS has 38.2" of headroom.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:00 AM on February 3, 2005

The Scions haven't been out long enough to really have long-term data, though I belive the important guts are the same as the Matrix, which has been around a little longer.

My husband (6'2", long torso) and I (5'10", all knees) love our xB so much - no more scrunching up, ducking, banging knees and elbows on things. As a bonus, the back seat of the xB is just as roomy, even with the front seats pretty much all the way back. And when the back seats are laid flat, there is a respectable amount of cargo space. When my 15-year-old Cherokee finally bites it, we're going back for another xB for me. It's plenty zippy for his long freeway commute, which was our only real concern going in.

Scions are also no-haggle, if you loathe buying cars like we do. We filled out the credit application on the Toyota web site on a Friday night and got a phone call over breakfast Saturday to come get one. Generally you order them and they come in a week later, but we bought the one off the lot and were home shortly after noon.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:41 AM on February 3, 2005

I'm 6"2. A friend just bought a Scion Xb (you know, the thing that looks like a mail truck), and I was amazed at the head room inside - easily over 4"'s of clearance over my head when I'm sitting up straight.

I've got a Toyota Matrix, which also has a nice bit of heeadroom for me.
posted by skwm at 6:05 AM on February 3, 2005

Lyn: the insides of the Scions are the same as the insides of the Toyota Echo, not the Matrix.
posted by skwm at 6:06 AM on February 3, 2005

I can't offer many suggestions, but I can certainly tell you what not to get (I'm 5'2" so I have no clue what's a nice car for a tall person).
Toyota Corolla, Dodge Shadow, and Toyota Tercel. All cars I've owned that my tall friends had to perform human origami to get themselves into them.

My very tall father in law loves his caddy for the headroom, and had a Century before.
My mother has a Jeep Liberty that, according to my tall husband, has "amazing headroom" in it. It also practically gets gallons to the miles, though. He also likes our new (for us) Mitsubishi gallant. (however, all cars I own have been in the neighborhood of a decade old, so with a newer one YMMV).
posted by Kellydamnit at 6:08 AM on February 3, 2005

The Toyota Matrix is the same as the Pontiac Vibe. If you can stand to drive a car called 'Vibe,' it's fairly likely that the Pontiacs will be cheaper on the used market.

And the Nissan Prairie wasn't sold under that name in the U.S. I'm not sure, but I believe it was called the Sentra wagon.

What about a minivan? During this period of SUV hegemony, there are a lot of good deals on used minivans. If headroom was your only concern, I'd be telling you to get a full-sized pickup truck. Cowboys like to drive with their hats on.
posted by box at 6:18 AM on February 3, 2005

I'm 6'4", and the best headroom I ever found was in a '97 Gillig Phantom, but they're a bit pricey. :) 0-25 in 30 seconds flat.

I was really surprised to find that the '02 Mazda Protege ES works really well. The lower trim levels may also have the lower seat angle adjustments, but that was my trick to making the whole compact car thing work. If you're more Torso than I, you may have to go with a non-sunroof equipped model.
posted by idlemind at 7:34 AM on February 3, 2005


I'm 6'4", and there are few cars that I'll fit in. Most Volvos, though? No problem.

SUVs I despise, not only because they're goddamned SUVs, but because all of them leave me looking down at the rearview mirror, and I can't possibly see traffic lights. The things are designed for midgets.

My folks used to have a Volvo (a 1990 model) that I couldn't drive without opening the sunroof. No joke. I just got my first car a couple of years, having used a motorcycle prior to that (no height problem there :), and found that a 1994 Volvo 850 was perfect. Lots and lots of room -- the seat goes way back, adjusts vertically, and I don't even have to open the sunroof when it's at its azimuth. (Damn, I can't believe I just used the word "azimuth" to describe a seat position. That is so fly.)

I have no idea if newer Volvos are any good. I come from a family that only drives decade-old cars. :)
posted by waldo at 7:35 AM on February 3, 2005

My Honda Element has gobs of headroom... I had a similar prob when trying to find a new car last year, and the Element is very roomy.
posted by StormBear at 8:48 AM on February 3, 2005

i've heard the mini cooper is good (i'm serious)

The MINI has excellent head room, but a fairly short and upright windscreen that sometimes has me (6'1") leaning forward and peering up to see traffic signals (though admittedly I recline quite a bit).
posted by jalexei at 8:56 AM on February 3, 2005

6'3", mazda 929, infiniti i30... both fit me fine, thought the leg room on the infiniti is maybe a bit snug.
posted by mdpc98 at 9:05 AM on February 3, 2005

If your open to large stuff but still anti SUV try out the new dodge full size Sprinter van. 2.7L Diesel engine so decent mileage and they are available in a short wheelbase tall roof layout. Factory available with sliding doors on both sides. A friend is 6'5" with a 30" inseam and a Sprinter is the only thing I've seen him comfortable in besides his motor coach.
posted by Mitheral at 2:32 PM on February 3, 2005

I have a 6'3" friend who loves his mini cooper to death. He tried a million SUVs and none of them fit him, tried the mini and it had more than enough space.

Also, the super-tall guy in Penn & Teller (Penn? Teller?) loves his mini, apparently.
posted by jennyjenny at 7:23 PM on February 3, 2005

Re: the Mini Cooper–I haven't sat in one yet, but judging from the specs, the headroom is listed as 38.8". The ECHO is listed at 39.1" and my head still rubbed the roof, so I'm thinking that's out.

Thanks for all of the tips everyone. I'm off to try and secure a loan to get a Scion xB. Wish me luck (and fiscal longevity!).
posted by al_fresco at 12:42 AM on February 4, 2005

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