Big & Tall People of Metafilter -- what do you drive?
August 14, 2013 7:12 AM   Subscribe

A very good friend of mine is car shopping, and to say he's getting frustrated is an understatement. He's a pretty big and tall guy, obviously wants to be able to fit comfortably in his car, is looking to buy new, and is having absolutely no luck finding a car that matches his requirements.

He's 6'4", probably 300+ lbs and together those stats appear to take most cars out of consideration. He needs headroom and legroom under the steering wheel, and sufficient shoulder room as well. He also has a list of other requirements that are pretty much non-negotiable and making this seem darn near impossible:

* fit his large frame
* be available in Canada
* be available in manual (this is the kicker)
* be "fun to drive" (he spends a lot of time looking at hp and torque numbers)
* under $25K MSRP (prefer under $23K, but for the right car he'd go higher)
* prefers hatchbacks (but will go coupe, and sedan maybe... but would prefer not)

So far, he's sat in a ton of cars, and the only ones that really fit are the Mazda CX5 and the Kia Sportage. But he's decidedly meh about both cars... they're crossovers I guess, and not as fun to drive.

Completely out of the running are Honda Civics, the Kia Forte & Soul families, Mazda 3, pretty sure every Hyundai, Nissan Cube, Toyota Matrix, every Jeep, Nissan Juke (we had high hopes for this one... but didn't fit.) And probably a bunch more, but I can't remember them all.

He currently drives a VW Golf, which oddly enough meets all the criteria. Trouble is, his lease is up, and to be honest after 3 years he kinda hates it and wants something more fun to drive. The GTI would probably be perfect (if it comes without a sunroof) but it's too expensive.

So - any recommendations from the Big & Tall contingent of MeFi? What do you guys drive? The frustration level here is getting to epic proportions, and I really need to be able to help my friend out here!

Any suggestions for cars we might not have thought of or wouldn't be obvious choices? Any out of the box thinking? First world problem I know, but I'm desperate to make this go better for him. Car dealerships and car salesman are draining the life out of us (no offence to the car salesmen of mefi!)
posted by cgg to Travel & Transportation (47 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Subaru Forester?
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:16 AM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Husbunny isn't as big or tall as your friend but he loves his Honda Fit. Plenty of headroom and leg room.

Has he tried the Nissan Cube? The Scion XB? They're boxy, but built tall.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:17 AM on August 14, 2013

I drive a Honda Fit, which is available in Canada as a standard by the looks of it and is a 5 door, so that's most of it. I find it pretty roomy and have had tall people in it with no complaints. It's no race car, but it's a buzzy little car and the Sport package makes it pretty fun to drive.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:20 AM on August 14, 2013

I'm a broken record, but the Passat TDI SE, while spendy new, might meet his needs if he bought a 2011 or 2012 off lease. Diesel, torquey, super super fun to drive.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:20 AM on August 14, 2013

A high school friend of mine who was 6'8" finally just bought a cheap used car that best fit his tastes and payed someone to break the welds on the brackets holding the driver's seat to the floor and re-weld them as far back as possible. I'd assume that may have implications for the safety mechanisms and design of the car, though.
posted by XMLicious at 7:21 AM on August 14, 2013

Not sure how it fits your other criteria, but I have heard the New Beetle fits large people.
posted by ryanrs at 7:22 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not sure I'd suggest a Subaru, nowhere near enough legroom for my 6'4" body when test drove one a couple of years back. I ended up with a VW; would getting a GTI used make enough of a difference in price?
posted by N-stoff at 7:25 AM on August 14, 2013

I have a Honda Fit, and my partner is 6'0 - I don't think he has height problems, but width-wise, we bump shoulders a lot.

He has a Hyundai Elantra, and really likes it - it's pretty room.
posted by needlegrrl at 7:26 AM on August 14, 2013

I don't have any recommendations, but I can say I don't think a Honda Fit is the car your friend is looking for. I have one, and my 6'4" dude does not find it to be a comfortable car to ride in or drive. The head room isn't so bad, it's the legroom that's the problem.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 7:27 AM on August 14, 2013

The two tallest people I know (6'5" and 6'11") drive a VW New Beetle and some 1970s two-seater corvettish sports car, respectively.
posted by olinerd at 7:30 AM on August 14, 2013

My 6'4" coworker calls his Mazda CX3 "the only car I've ever fit into with room to spare." He got a trim level with a bigger engine, and it's decent -- not sporty, but decent. I can also confirm that the GTI is fun to drive and roomy, but yeah, a bit pricy.
posted by Alterscape at 7:35 AM on August 14, 2013

My 6'6" dad always has a Honda. Now, he's almost all torso for his height, while I at 6'0" am all legs and am happier in a Hyundai.

That said, take a look at the Ford Focus. One of the original "hot hatches", available in a manual, and from what I hear, has one of the better suspensions so he can have a little fun in the corners. The souped-up ST will walk out of his price range, but the one step down version might be enough fun to be entertaining for him.
posted by skittlekicks at 7:38 AM on August 14, 2013

Came in to say VW New Beetle so I guess I'll 3rd that.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:39 AM on August 14, 2013

My husband is about your friend's size (6'4" and Viking-built, and also all torso, fwiw, as in I'm 5'8" and we have the same inseam) and we got a new Beetle earlier this year after I asked this question. It has less headroom than the older model but it still works for him and he's not lying down in the seat the way he has with other cars.
posted by immlass at 7:53 AM on August 14, 2013

I'm 6'5" and my first-generation Scion xB has plenty of headroom. I can even sit comfortably in the back seat with the front seat all the way back. It is, apparently, available in manual. It's not particularly sporty--it looks cool, but it's not the peppiest car out there. It's great for zipping around city traffic, corners well, and has great sight lines; I love it for what I use it for, but it's not the best highway vehicle.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:06 AM on August 14, 2013

Would you believe the correct answer here is the Mini Cooper? The seat adjusts all the way to the floor so there's tons of head room, it slides all the way back until almost touching the rear bench for leg room. I used to have one, (6'1") and I couldn't touch the pedals when the seat was all the way back.

So long as he doesn't have to regularly carry a passenger behind the driver's seat, it meets all the criteria.
posted by hwyengr at 8:22 AM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

My ex-husband, all 6'4'' of him, loved the Yaris hatchback we had.

Also, this is a true story, I knew a gigantic 6'4''-ish burly rugby player in Britain who swore by his Smart car.

My dad, on the other hand, also about 6'4'', has been your friend's size and was uncomfortable in mini-vans despite all the room. He's no longer the same size, but comfortably drives a Kia Sorento. He's had it for much longer than his other vehicles so far and the driver's side is really nice and roomy.
posted by mibo at 8:26 AM on August 14, 2013

A guy in my class is 6'7" and 350ish and he seems pretty comfortable in his Chrysler 300.
posted by kavasa at 8:26 AM on August 14, 2013

My husband is 6'6" and built like a linebacker. He can drive my Fit, but it's not a happy experience.

Prior to the Fit, I drove VWs for years, an he never had any issues at all with either the Jetta or the Passat.
posted by anastasiav at 8:29 AM on August 14, 2013

This is going to sound utterly crazy- Fiat 500 without the sunroof (gives you an extra 2 inches of headroom). We have the Arbath which is a little out of his price range, and BLAST to drive, but honestly, he really only needs the Turbo which would fit his budget.

We had our 6'4' friend in it the other day, and he had no problems. The seats might be a little small (but that might be the arbath sport seats, again, he should go look at the turbo instead).
posted by zara at 8:30 AM on August 14, 2013

Several years ago when we were shopping for a commuter car, the only two that we found that comfortably fit my 6'4" husband were the Mini Cooper and the new beetle. We went with the Mini Cooper. Lots of features, fun to drive...should totally check them out if you haven't.

We also have a Subaru Outback, which seems to be non-problematic.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:32 AM on August 14, 2013

I just bought a 2002 Buick Park Ave from my mother. Your friend will definitely fit in it as it is huge inside. It's got a Supercharged V6 which could definitely be fun to drive, although the Park Ave is tuned for luxury, not sport. It gets a surprising 27 mpg highway too. I believe the Pontiac Bonneville was basically the same car, but tuned more for performance. I don't know if the Bonneville was available with a standard transmission though.
posted by COD at 8:47 AM on August 14, 2013

I'm surprised he said the GTI is too expensive since I checked before I came back to answer and MSRP starts at 24 (which is right at that point but they definitely hit all the other points). Otherwise I would nth the New Beetle as amazingly roomy inside and worth checking out.
posted by brilliantine at 8:51 AM on August 14, 2013

I am 6'5" and weigh 250lbs and fit fine in the passenger seat of a Honda Fit.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:51 AM on August 14, 2013

3rd-ing the Mini Cooper.
posted by spilon at 8:54 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm 6-4 and fit quite comfortably in my 2004 Subaru Forester XT. It's not the prettiest vehicle on the road, but it's a manual and the turbo kicks ass. The newer models are even bigger (but they're more expensive, too). I'm a huge proponent of "you can't go wrong with a Subaru".
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:00 AM on August 14, 2013

Agree that a Mini Cooper is quite roomy for larger people. Penn Jillete famously drives a pink one, and he's not a small guy.
posted by dcjd at 9:02 AM on August 14, 2013

My 6'2" brother tried a ton of different cars and nothing fit him until he tried the VW Rabbit - it's fun to drive and has lots of legroom for taller drivers.
posted by blake137 at 9:03 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm 6'3" and have very long legs and I drive a VW Golf. I find this way more comfortable than many, many "larger" cars thanks to two key features: a seat that moves forward, backward, up and down (I have it all the way back and all the way down) and a steering wheel that adjusts up, down, in and out (I have it all the way up, and all the way in). By leaning the seat back a touch, it gives me a bit more shoulder/arm room and the net result is a super comfortable driving experience.
posted by artichoke_enthusiast at 9:49 AM on August 14, 2013

My 6'3 boyfriend fit very comfortably in his Mini Cooper. Now he drives a GTI, so he seems to have similar tastes in cars as your friend.
posted by inertia at 10:09 AM on August 14, 2013

My brother is 6'6", probably 240ish, and his last two cars have been from Hyundai. He swears by them.
posted by crookedgrin at 10:20 AM on August 14, 2013

I'm 6' 4" and ~210 pounds.

I drive an '07 Subaru Legacy (sedan) and it's more comfortable than any other car I've owned. I have trouble fitting comfortably in many cars (My head hits the ceiling of my wife's Jeep, for example, even if the seat is adjusted to the lowest setting).

It's a stick-shift, and loads more fun to drive than any other car I've owned.

I bought it new, at the dealership, in March 2007 (but the dealer already had several '08 models on the lot so I'm guessing that March is toward the end of Subaru's model year). I'm not sure if it's considered "off-the-lot" as the dealership company had 2 Subaru locations; I bought at the location in town A and he said he had the specific car I wanted on the lot at his "other" location in town B and had to transport it back to town A (about an hours' drive). I doubt that would have made much difference in the price. I paid $10K cash and they gave me $8K for my trade-in, so the total was $18K. I imagine newer models are more expensive, but I doubt it's gone up to more than $25K, particularly for a bare-bones model like mine. Maybe if you got the automatic, V6 turbo edition, and tricked it out with options you'd be over $25K... *shrug*
posted by tckma at 10:46 AM on August 14, 2013

Oh, I'm in the US, and those are US prices. I think our dollar and your dollar are about equal these days, but a couple of cents difference may add up to a few hundred dollars once you get to the five digit range.
posted by tckma at 10:48 AM on August 14, 2013

I'm 6'4", 320 lbs, 52" jacket, 44" waist, Norwegian/German heritage, built basically like a brick shithouse, I drive a 95 Volvo 850 wagon with manual trans. Comfortable, plenty of headroom, good leg room, good shoulder room. Your friend is always going to feel a bit like a shriner in a clown car, but some options are much better than others.
posted by stenseng at 10:51 AM on August 14, 2013

N-thing a look at the Mini Cooper. Knew a guy who was 6'8 who absolutely loved his. It looked a bit like a clown car when he got out of it, but he was always comfortable.
posted by Diagonalize at 11:27 AM on August 14, 2013

A couple of tall friends (one 6'5", one 6'10") both drive VW Touregs and say it was one of the few cars to fit them comfortably.
posted by sapere aude at 11:39 AM on August 14, 2013

Infinity G35 fits 6'4" 200lbs easily. Fun to drive (but stiff suspension). Yes comes in manual. Yes in Canada. Fits price range (used). Can be 2-door.

Other options - Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. Yes they are actually fun to drive, and will fit the price range (used). Comes in coupe.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:54 PM on August 14, 2013

6'3" here. I have a 2008 Scion xB. The xB:

* has surprisingly ample head and leg room (about 1" less than an Escalade)
* is available in Canada
* is available in manual
* is "fun to drive"
* $17,555 MSRP includes standard power windows & locks, A/C, and a 6-speaker audio system with Bluetooth & USB
* is an extremely versatile hatchback
posted by designbot at 1:32 PM on August 14, 2013

I am the opposite of tall, but I did test drive a bunch of cars last year and the Hyundai Elantra Touring was incredibly fun to drive (even has a cult following for the manual variety) and struck me as pretty roomy.
posted by MeiraV at 2:05 PM on August 14, 2013

I'm similarly sized (6'5", 320#). I drive a 2000 Chevy Blazer. Or a 1955 DeSoto. Or ride a motorcycle. I have the additional requirement of strongly preferring RWD.

The most common failing of new cars today is a plunging roofline, which means I can see about 15 feet of pavement in front of the car, and no farther forward without reclining the seat uncomfortably far. This applies to the Mini, the Accord, the Camry, and the new Beetle for sure. Subaru wrecked every single one of their cars two years ago by lowering the roof-line. Ditto the golf unless you can get one without a sunroof (good luck). Ditto Toyota's trucks.

The VW Touareg, the Mercedes M-class, and similar sporty SUVs are about all I've found that are fun to drive that fit, and most are automatic-only. I don't want to be completely negative, but keeping it under $25k pretty much eliminates all new cars that will fit and which are fun to drive. Your friend is going to have to give up on one of those three.

Personally, when my Blazer rusts out (probably only another year or two), I'm considering an early Bronco (66-73), an old IH Scout, or an old Sy-Ty for inclement weather and a motorcycle most of the year (I live in MN, so there's a month or two when a bike isn't practical). Restoring the Blazer is another option.
posted by DaveP at 2:36 PM on August 14, 2013

Also, I asked almost exactly this question a couple years ago. I'm still driving the 2000 Blazer I was looking to replace at that time. I've bought two motorcycles though. No problem with headroom on those!
posted by DaveP at 3:06 PM on August 14, 2013

6'5, 220lbs here. I have a 2012 Ford Focus hatchback, and fit quite comfortably with the seat all the way back. I can even have the seat up a click or two to accommodate adults behind me, and still feel pretty good, if a bit cramped. The Focus definitely fits your budget criteria, and the gas mileage is excellent (if I'm not in a hurry I can easily average around 40mpg on extended highway trips). It's reasonably fun to drive, though nowhere near as fun as my old '06 Mazda3 hatch, which also fit me quite comfortably.
posted by adamp88 at 7:47 PM on August 14, 2013 has a "Car Finder" feature, where you can filter all new cars for the features you want. Selecting only cars available as a hatchback/wagon/SUV with a manual transmission, and starting under $25K gives the following models.

Chevrolet: Sonic, Spark
Dodge: Caliber
FIAT 500
Ford: Fiesta, Focus
Honda: CR-Z, Fit
Hyundai: Accent, Elantra, Veloster, Tucson
Jeep: Compass, Patriot
Kia: Rio, Soul, Sportage
Mazda: MAZDA2, MAZDA3, CX-5
MINI Cooper
Mitsubishi: Eclipse, Outlander
Nissan: Cube, Juke, Versa
Scion: tC, xB, xD
Subaru: Impreza, Outback, Forester
Suzuki: SX4
Toyota: Matrix, Yaris
Volkswagen: Beetle, Golf, Jetta

You've ruled out most of these, and some are obviously too small (Chevrolet Spark, Chevrolet Sonic, MAZDA2, Ford Fiesta, Suzuki SX4, Toyota Yaris), but you might give the rest a look.
posted by epimorph at 12:26 AM on August 15, 2013

I'm 6' 4" with long legs, and I call BS on the Fiesta being too small. I've got an '07 Fiesta XR4 (aka ST) and it's the second most fun car I've ever driven (the most fun was in a '91 MX-5, but that was... problematic to drive. Problematic as in my legs rubbed against the sides of the steering wheel). Of course, there are some trade-offs. Passengers might complain about the firmness of the ride and lack of space. But if you're looking for something disgracefully fun that gets pretty decent fuel economy and is cheap to run, I can recommend a hot Fiesta without hesitation. I've driven mine half-way across Australia on 4 separate occasions and, well, it's not exactly a GT car, but you sure as hell won't get into an accident due to being lulled into complacency. The new one is good, and a little roomier again than my '07, but I wouldn't get anything but the hot version. You want that extra urge, and the go-cart ride is great.
posted by MarchHare at 6:02 AM on August 15, 2013

I know a guy who's 6'10" and about 320 lbs (very tall, very thick build, fairly flat belly) who loves driving Mini Coopers.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:32 PM on August 15, 2013

It's not mentioned if this is an issue, but our Mini Cooper has actually been sitting idle for several years for a number of reasons, but one of them is that car seats don't fit well behind a tall driver.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:46 PM on August 15, 2013

Thanks everyone for their suggestions. My friend tried sitting in pretty much about all of them! In the end though, he found himself compromising on the hatchback requirement and ended up with an Kia Optima, which is surprisingly roomy and powerful for the price.
posted by cgg at 11:10 AM on August 18, 2013

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