Small car for a tall man?
April 17, 2013 7:23 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I plan to replace our car in the next year, probably sooner rather than later. We currently drive a 2006 VW Beetle, which is a giant dome and is great for my husband, who is 6'4" with a lot of height in the torso. The new Beetles are less dome-like and still under consideration, but are there other current-model small cars that would be good for my husband's height? Bonus complication: we occasionally take my mother (77, lives in a retirement home) out; I will have to get in and out of the back.
posted by immlass to Shopping (46 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My friend's very tall father has had great success fitting into Mazdas (not sure which model).
posted by DoubleLune at 7:32 AM on April 17, 2013

My tallest friends (6' 5" and 6' 3") drive Honda Fits. Really!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 7:33 AM on April 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

My tall, long-torso'd husband likes his Prius. Just enough head room and great mileage.
posted by goggie at 7:34 AM on April 17, 2013

My sweetie is both big and tall. We drive a Renault Kangoo and it fits both him and me very well, and I'm short (as Dutch people go). He could wear a top hat in it, if he had one. Also, the windshield is high, so the roof doesn't block his view of traffic lights.

Not sure whether you'd consider that a small car, or whether you can get them where you are, but we like ours a lot.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:36 AM on April 17, 2013

I currently drive a 2004 Civic and my 6'4 husband fits -- he fits better in the 2013 Civic Sedan that I just got as a loaner.
posted by hrj at 7:37 AM on April 17, 2013

Coming in to say Honda Fit, and the Toyota Yaris - my bro-in-law is 6'4" and fits in both.
posted by MeatheadBrokeMyChair at 7:37 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding the Prius. I'm 6'2, and I fit comfortably in the front or back seats. We have a 2001 model, so I'm not sure if the internal room has changed (much) for newer models.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:37 AM on April 17, 2013

I'm only 6' 2", but the back seat of my friend's Mazda sedan kills me. On the other hand, my other friend's Prius always astounds me with its spaciousness.
posted by Rat Spatula at 7:37 AM on April 17, 2013

Was just talking to a friend the other day who is tall and large, and he said that the only small car that was comfortable for him was a Ford Focus (the old model, not sure about the new one). Didn't fit into a Venza because of the way the dash was designed, but loves his Focus.
posted by Dasein at 7:37 AM on April 17, 2013

Another vote for the Prius. My 6'7" friend drives one and is happy with the fit.
posted by BurntHombre at 7:40 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

My husband is 6' 6" and we just test drove a lot of things.... I ended up buying a Fit. He can drive it (although it's not comfortable) and he can sit in the back behind me while I drive.

If you can find one, though, check out the Nissan Cube. We test drove one (came very close to buying one, actually) and loved how roomy it was. Ugly as sin, but I know several folks who have handicapped children who own them and swear by them. Tons of space, easy in and out in the back, plus room for cargo. Not technically a "small" car, but smaller than a minivan or SUV.
posted by anastasiav at 7:47 AM on April 17, 2013

My husband is 6'9" and comfortably drove my Toyota Yaris and now enjoys driving my VW GTI so much he often steals it from me.

He's also fit well in in the Mazda 3 and a Mini.
posted by teleri025 at 7:48 AM on April 17, 2013

I'm 6'2" with a long torso, and I have about 3" of head clearance in my Scion xB. The back seats are about as easy to get in and out of as the front seats, due to the boxy design. Which many people, admittedly, can't stand.
posted by bricoleur at 8:01 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've just found out that you are in the US and that Renaults are not sold there. I had no idea.
Anyway, the Nissan Kubistar is virtually the same car as the Renault Kangoo. So that might be an option.

(I'm equally surprised to see people mentioning the Prius. I would never call that a small car.)
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:01 AM on April 17, 2013

I'm 6'5" and I do just fine in our Mazda2, although I don't think I'd want to be in the back seat myself, and I pity people that have to sit behind me when I'm up front.
posted by LionIndex at 8:01 AM on April 17, 2013

My 6'4" boyfriend loves his Kia Rio. He's never ridden in the back, but I have and find it plenty spacious, even when I sit behind him (though I'm 5'2).
posted by ChuraChura at 8:03 AM on April 17, 2013

Another vote for the Fit. I'm 6'5", and, at least on the driver's side or in the back seats, it's more comfortable than the other small cars my wife and I tested when she was looking for her car. The glove box on the passenger's side juts out, however, so it's far less comfortable as a front seat passenger than in the driver's seat.

I also agree with others that the old Ford Focus is remarkably comfortable, and I've driven Mazda 3s and xBs on several occasions and those were OK. My own car is a Volvo V70 wagon, which is ridiculously comfortable for me, but not small.

I consider the Prius to be one of the least comfortable cars I've ever been in, and I'm just amazed that anyone over 6 feet finds it comfortable. I think it's suspect that the people recommending it aren't making a personal recommendation but are recommending it on behalf of their tall friends. I've tried driving and riding in several different Prius model years, and it's always been a terrible experience.
posted by eschatfische at 8:10 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

My friend's husband is around 6'3 and loves his Honda Fit. I drive a Mazda 3 and it's quite roomy as well.
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:24 AM on April 17, 2013

My 6'4" husband likes the Focus. He also likes the Mazdas, but front seat only for him in those.

We both drove Focuses for several years and found the car easy to adjust for both of us -- he is 6'4", I am 5'2". The back seat would be a little cramped for adults on a multi-day cross-country road trip but is fine for driving around town or for five-hour drives. He carpools with a couple other people; two of them drive Focuses and he prefers Focus days over the other guys' cars (some kind of Toyota and I don't remember the other one) in case he has to sit in back.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:24 AM on April 17, 2013

Whoa, surprised by the Prius suggestions. I have a Prius and I thought to check that my 6'7" boyfriend could fit in the passenger seat during the test drive. But I forget to see if he'd like driving it. He hates it and always ends up with a sore back. He has to crouch a bit see out the windshield and he has nothing to rest his right leg on. He drives a two door VW Golf though and he loves it. It's a bit old though so I'm not sure what the latest model is like.
posted by carolr at 8:43 AM on April 17, 2013

Response by poster: (I'm equally surprised to see people mentioning the Prius. I would never call that a small car.)

IME (I've lived in the UK) American cars are all bigger than European cars. My mother drove a Ford Escort in England and it was a lot smaller than the American Escort that I drove a few years later. I live in Austin, and a lot of Texans would automatically suggest an SUV or a giant sedan for a man of my husband's size; those are the recommendations I'd like to avoid.

Also, I'm disappointed about the Renault news, because it was absolutely going on our research/test-drive list. (The Prius was on our test-drive list as a possibility because he can ride in one, but he hasn't tried driving one.)
posted by immlass at 8:45 AM on April 17, 2013

There is a whole class of cars devoted to this - cars with raised headroom in the back. In Europe, these are often known as mini MPVs.

For example, there are raised headroom versions of both the Golf (Golf Plus - but may not be available in the US) and the Focus (C-Max). The Honda Fit and the Mercedes B Class fit this model too (and in Europe cars like the Skoda Roomster, Toyota Yaris Verso).

In summary: have a look at the Ford C-Max. A well regarded car that won't be too expensive to run or buy, is designed for comfortable front and back seating and is reasonably versatile.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:49 AM on April 17, 2013

Seconding the Nissan Cube, despite it's awkward looks. I'm only 5'9", but it felt like there was gobs of headroom in the front and back seats. With the back seats still up, you could easily fit a folding wheelchair and a couple bags, I think.

Safe too. I had a friend who rolled it and came out with only bruises.
posted by Giggilituffin at 9:12 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm 6'4" and comfy as a front seat passenger in a Fiat 500.
posted by blue t-shirt at 9:12 AM on April 17, 2013

I've just found out that you are in the US and that Renaults are not sold there. I had no idea.
Anyway, the Nissan Kubistar...

Also not in the US, fyi.
posted by BurntHombre at 9:22 AM on April 17, 2013

nthing Fit :)
posted by supermedusa at 9:31 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I went looking for a car, I had it narrowed down to a Mazda 3 and a Honda Fit. I was amazed at the room in the Fit -- it feels like a much bigger car on the inside than it looks from the outside. But, I thought the Mazda was cuter and went with my heart instead of my head :).

Really, the best way is to go test drive a bunch of cars.
posted by elmay at 9:46 AM on April 17, 2013

I'm 6'4" (w / tall torso) and was shocked by how spacious the Mini Cooper was. Here's a forum discussion of people 6'2" and taller regarding driving Minis:
posted by davidvanb at 10:34 AM on April 17, 2013

Check out the Ford C-Max if you care about style, and the Nissan Cube if you do not.
posted by davejay at 10:37 AM on April 17, 2013

I have my qualms about the interior of the Fit, but it's pretty accommodating for a small car. The days of folding yourself into a Geo Metro are long gone.

The Scion xB seems to have set a trend for the mini MPV (or "small box-on-wheels") design: Nissan Cube, Kia Soul. That's more about clearance at the back for visibility and cargo, but it helps taller people in the back seats too.
posted by holgate at 11:26 AM on April 17, 2013

I found I have a ton of headroom in a Mitsubishi Lancer at 6' 1" and long in the torso. I think 6' 4" would be doable in it.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:56 AM on April 17, 2013

Another vote for the Honda Fit (I just bought one in January). Lots of headroom and very easy to navigate in and out of the back.
posted by scody at 12:21 PM on April 17, 2013

I'm really surprised so many people are recommending the Fit for tall people. I have a 2008 Fit and my 6'3 boyfriend finds it very uncomfortable. Maybe the later models are roomier?

The past two cars of his were a Mini Cooper and a VW GTI--both had plenty of head/leg room for a tall guy.
posted by inertia at 12:24 PM on April 17, 2013

My urban-driving, long-torsoed, 6'6"-tall friend really likes his Golf. Another sinilarly-sized friend has had good experiences with his Subaru.
posted by linettasky at 12:56 PM on April 17, 2013

The Nissan Versa is pretty small, is pretty useful and has some sort of familial relationship to a Renault Clio. It has a high roofline that won't be a problem for someone 6' 4". It can also be had cheap.
posted by cnc at 1:28 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I did a ctrl+f for Subaru and was surprised no one had mentioned that yet. I'm pretty tall, and have more headroom in my parents forester than any other car i've ever ridden in or driven, and even the impreza seems to be excellent in this regard. even my 1960s plymouth has less head room than basically any modern Subaru, and it's huge. I can also confirm the prius, including the newer ones fitting great.

Inversely, the most uncomfortable cars I've ever driven or ridden in were my old Toyota Tercel(which is now the Yaris, and regrettably doesn't seen amazingly better) and my partners fairly recent Nissan Sentra. The Sentra is like a bad SNL skit or something. My head seriously runs in to the roof in any reasonable driving position.

I'm 6'4" (w / tall torso) and was shocked by how spacious the Mini Cooper was.

That's because it's made by BMW. All German cars are seemingly made to fit giants. The roomiest-for-it's-size car i've ever ridden in was my friends mercedes 190e, and the modern C class seems to be about the same.

If you have the money, any German car will solve your problem here. Even the very smallest ones.

I'd also take a Fit for a serious test drive and maybe talk to some other people who own once before thinking that's the instant best solution here. They're pretty rumbly and full of echoy road noise compared to a lot of new cars, partially as a function of them basically being a van.
posted by emptythought at 2:27 PM on April 17, 2013

I'd second checking out a Mini. I'm only 5'10", but I've driven with 6'1" friends that fit quite comfortably. I have a Clubman model, and happily fit in the back seats, while the combination of the reverse-opening, extra side door unique to the Clubman and folding front seats makes shuffling people in and out of the back a breeze.
posted by BevosAngryGhost at 3:25 PM on April 17, 2013

If you have the money, any German car will solve your problem here.

I bought my Volkswagen Golf from a very tall man, and I think it has similar dimensions to VW Beatle.

But then you have to deal with a Volkswagen . . .
posted by ablazingsaddle at 3:32 PM on April 17, 2013

Another vote for the Fit. My 6'3" husband calls it the Tardis.
posted by thebrokedown at 4:40 PM on April 17, 2013

Another vote for the mini. Borrowed a friend's once and was shocked at the room. I'm 6'4"
posted by blueplasticfish at 5:03 PM on April 17, 2013

The Fit.
posted by number9dream at 6:34 PM on April 17, 2013

Another vote for the Mazda 3, husband is 6'3" or 6'4" depending on time of day. (He was not at all comfortable in my sister's Volkswagen Golf, however.)
posted by escapepod at 8:47 PM on April 17, 2013

I do not like my GF's Fit a tiny. I cannot fully extend my legs as a passenger since the firewall is about 9 inches too close. So if we're taking her car, I prefer to drive. However, thanks to the pedals being about 6 inches too close, no part of my thigh touches the seat, it's just my ass on the seat and my heel on the floor supporting all of my weight which means painful leg cramps. Unless I ball up something and put them under my legs (a scarf, some mittens, a t-shirt, etc).

I'm 6'3", mostly leg. I loved my RSX, my Mini and my current GTI.
posted by Brian Puccio at 10:17 PM on April 17, 2013

I'm 6'5" and just spent two excruciating months trying to solve this problem. A couple of things of note:
  1. It matters whether your husband is long-legged or long-torso'd. I'm long-torso'd, and am thoroughly confused by the litany of people in here driving a Fit or a Prius, because I can't fit in the front seat of those and it wasn't even close (the Prius is, conservatively, four inches too low for me).
  2. You probably know the routine for shopping for cars for tall people by features (no sunroof, so no car model in any trim except entry level), but you might not yet have tripped over what I discovered: the entry-level trim of most cars comes standard with power driver's seat, but a manual 4-way-adjustable passenger seat. That is to say, the driver's seat goes up and down, but the passenger seat does not. This potentially matters a lot if your husband is ever going to be the passenger and not the driver. I had to rule Toyota and Honda out entirely because they don't make a sedan that I can fit into both sides of
  3. The new Beetles are less dome-like, but VW's in general are the most tall-person-friendly cars on the market. I had to bail on them because their seats do bad things to my back, but across models, there's no contest
I'm in a Subaru Legacy right now, FWIW. Tons of front and back headroom, and you would have no trouble getting someone with limited mobility into the back seat. For a smaller car, the Impreza was similarly proportioned.
posted by Mayor West at 4:50 AM on April 18, 2013

I love my 2013 Chevy Spark. It has surprisingly great headroom and legroom in the front (supposedly more than the Beetle), though the legroom in the back is not too great for taller people.
posted by eunoia at 3:48 AM on April 19, 2013

Response by poster: No best answer because we tried the Beetle and my husband does fit in the new model. But thank you for all the advice and I hope it's useful for someone in the future.

As of yesterday, we're the new owners of a bright red 2013 Beetle, and my husband is very happy driving it.
posted by immlass at 8:31 AM on May 17, 2013

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