What cars are big on the inside?
January 2, 2007 8:39 PM   Subscribe

Searching for cars by interior space?

Any tips on searching for/sorting cars by interior space? I need maximum leg, head and hip room, and really don't care about styling. The only thing I won't buy is some monster like a Suburban, I really need to get about 25mpg.

I looked at sites like Edmunds, which list the interior specs, but I can't search the specs.
posted by Marky to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I looked around a little at the NHTSA site (you know the CAFE standards (fuel economy) people? I think you might find the information you need there, but I couldn't find exactly what you want. I seem to remember all cars within a class somewhere in there on a big table with many parameters, perhaps including what you're looking for. Not a complete answer, but somewhere you might look.
posted by Doohickie at 9:57 PM on January 2, 2007

I'm 6'3", and just went through this, was looking for a mid-size or small SUV. Unfortunately, you really have to go and sit in the car to get the best idea, It took me about 3 trips to different lots (comparing RAV4, CR-V, Forester, Jeep Liberty, 4Runner, Pilot and more). I ended up getting a Jeep Liberty - I wasn't so excited about it being a domestic car, but the headroom is amazing, and legroom is really good (no more indentations on my shin while driving). Even cars that look huge from the outside can be damned cramped inside - the XTerra is the worst, imho.
posted by kokogiak at 10:02 PM on January 2, 2007

I need maximum leg, head and hip room
I really need to get about 25mpg

Scion xB. 46" of headroom, 50+" legroom. 30-35 MPG.

The only downside is the somewhat anemic engine, particularly if coupled to an automatic transmission in an area where high speeds are the norm (consider getting onto I-5 in California, where your 0-to-80 time is important for merging into the slow lane).

There do exist aftermarket superchargers for these, which solves that problem fairly readily.

A search like this might help, in that it brings up a lot of summaries including front headroom measurements... but it doesn't really let you filter the results so much.
posted by toxic at 10:42 PM on January 2, 2007

There was a non scientific non statistical but finite and fully non funded study done by Click and Clack on NPR. They asked the rather big boned staff member (whose nam I forget) which car he felt most comfortable in. The new Beetle offered more head and front seat legroom than many 'larger' cars.
posted by Gungho at 4:29 AM on January 3, 2007

mini cooper. seriously. ask dirk nowitzki.
posted by fumbducker at 5:57 AM on January 3, 2007

Try the Honda Element, a very lovable small SUV that's all about a roomy interior. We're very happy with it.
posted by Lizzle at 6:34 AM on January 3, 2007

I know its not a site to sort the cars, but I definitely recommend the Scion xB. My Father is 6' 6" and puts the driver seat all of the way back. He can then get in the car and sit comfortably behind himself. I have never seen this in ANY car let alone one in this class. My family of 5 tall people can all fit in the car comfortably. Although I have heard that they are discontinuing production on that model.
posted by coolin86 at 7:06 AM on January 3, 2007

This site lets you choose a vehicle style and then lets you search by various interior specs. You can also compare specs on multiple vehicles.
posted by brownbeards at 7:07 AM on January 3, 2007

I had a similar issue before I bought my current car. I needed a certain amount of cargo space to travel with, and I wasn't willing to let go of that. Since I was lucky enough to have a car at the time that met my needs, I used the old car's specs as a base.

It helped me narrow out cars that were too small or too big, and although there was no way to search cars based on that, searching and checking the specs helped me out a great deal.

Oddly enough, I went with the Toyota Yaris hatchback. I think there's some sort of spatial distortion on that car. Seriously, it looks freakishly tiny outside, but has tons of room inside. So don't automatically discount the teeny looking cars, they can surprise you.
posted by teleri025 at 9:46 AM on January 3, 2007

My dad and brother are both 6'3", my mother is large in the other direction, and I'm 5'7" plus some extra sideways. The only way that you're going to know if the car is going to be big enough for you is to actually get in the car. In our family, the cars we all drive have to be big enough for everyone because we borrow each other's all the time.
My dad drives a Subaru Forrester. Lots of head and leg room, but it can be a bit cramped if you have long legs in the backseat. It's a good size, but has a massive trunk space if you put the backseat down.
My mother drives a Chevy Equinox. Massive amounts of headroom and legroom in all seats. However, it's bordering on freakishly large SUV territory. However, you can cram a lot of people in it, but the seats are a bitch and tend to get in the way if you need to fill it with stuff.
I drive a Honda Civic. It's a 2 door. The backseat is fine for long-legged people, as long as they don't sit behind me (I have the driver's seat pretty far back). The trunk is decent for a small car, but it's suitable if you only drive around yourself or one other person. Headroom is a lot shorter than in the Forrester and A LOT shorter than the Equinox.
My brother drives 2 Chevy trucks. One of them is the smaller "pickup" type and the other is a full size. The full size has a bench seat which is a bitch to adjust, but has a decent amount of leg and head room. The pickup is much smaller, but has bucket seats, which lead for more adjusting, but not if you're shorter than the primary driver. (When I take it, the seat doesn't come up far enough and I have to hang on the steering wheel in order to see over the front of the damn thing.)

(IMHO, the Forrester would probably be pretty decent. I don't know the MPG off the top of my head, but my dad says it's pretty decent for an SUV-ish type vehicle.)
posted by sperose at 12:04 PM on January 3, 2007

I just got a 1996 Lexus ES300 which seems to be the ticket for my 6'3" brother. While we're loyal Subaru fans, he always complained that they were "built for midgets." Hondas are a little better, but the luxury sedan seems to really give up the leg space, both front and back seat.
posted by messylissa at 1:06 AM on January 4, 2007

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