Top 10 Geriatric Vehicles
Cars like the Mercury Grand Marquis and Buick Roadmaster are quintessential examples of “old-person transportation,” if we may make a blatantly ageist statement.
Potentially offensive remarks aside, these large, rear-wheel-drive sedans were a favorite of the grandparent set; it’s hard to believe they didn’t come from the factory with wrap-around sunglasses, AAA stickers and boxes of tissues on their parcel shelves.
Even though these smooth-riding, body-on-frame cars are gone and their breed just about extinct, there are still quite a few current-production vehicles with plenty of elderly appeal. In our opinion, here’s a list of the 10 Most Geriatric Cars and Trucks on the Market Today.
It’s small, economical and more reliable than a cobble stone; Toyota’s Corolla brings a lot of virtues to the table. But in spite of these plusses, and a total redesign for the 2014 model year, this compact car is still pretty freakin’ boring. A scowling grille does little to liven it up. Thanks to its trim dimensions and affordable pricing it’s also popular with older folks. In most efficient form it delivers an eye-opening 35 MPG combined.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Toyota Corolla Review
Toyota’s Camry is a lot like a Corolla that’s been inflated by about 25 percent. It’s thrifty, attractively priced, dependable and dull. Sure, it’s a nice midsize four-door with a spacious cabin but there’s absolutely no razzmatazz, no sex appeal to be found anywhere, which is regrettably the same story with competitors like the Chevrolet Malibu and Subaru Legacy. In a lot of ways this is the granny panties of the sedan segment, just ask Uncle Eustace and Aunt Beatrice. They LOVE theirs.
Ok, if an off-white Camry isn’t geriatric enough Lexus will happily sell you an even fancier derivative of this mass-market sedan and charge you a lot more for the privilege. The ES350 may share its bones with the larger Avalon sedan, but don’t forget, that car is based off the Camry.
SEE ALSO: 2013 Lexus ES350 Review
An entry-level model ES is about 13 grand richer than the most basic Toyota Camry. As such, it features a 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out 268 hp. A six-speed automatic transmission is the only gearbox available. Power is routed to the front wheels for maximum stability and surefooted performance at much-less-than-speed-limit velocities. This Lexus even features lifetime turn-signal bulbs so they can be left blinking for hundreds of miles at a stretch. And just like its Toyota siblings there’s also a hybrid version of the car, but that’s for socialists!
That’s enough picking on Toyota for the time being. Now Mercedes-Benz is locked in our gray-haired reticle. Nothing says “you’ve made it” – but not quite to the top – like an E-Class. It’s the perfect vehicle for middle managers and older drivers.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E350 Wagon Review
In its most benign — and affordable — form it features a torquey and super economical 2.1-liter diesel engine. The E250 BlueTEC model is powered by a technology-laden four-cylinder that brandishes 195 hp with 369 lb-ft of torque. It’s matched to a seven-speed automatic transmission. This is a sizable, stately car but it’s neither overly large nor vulgarly garish. Appropriately it’s tuned for comfort rather than performance, serenity instead of sportiness. In a lot of ways it’s the traditional rear-wheel-drive sedan Cadillac and Lincoln used to hang their hats on. Appropriately it even comes with an AARP membership application in the glove box.
It’s round for a reason! The Teknique FWD gives customers a smooth, confident ride both indoors and out. Front-wheel drive ensures ample traction on varying surfaces while an optional reclining seat ups the comfort factor.
In the absence of a proper flagship model the MKS is Lincoln’s defacto range-topper. This big-boned four-door disappoints on so many levels we’ve lost count, but that’s not surprising since it’s little more than a poorly disguised Ford Taurus, though to be fair it’s not quite as awful. Oh, it’s plenty bad, but it’s somehow a whisker less revolting than its Blue Oval brother.
SEE ALSO: 2013 Lincoln MKZ Review
Lincoln is desperately trying to shed its geriatric image and products like the MKZ sedan and new MKC crossover might have a chance at pushing their average buyer’s age down to something younger than dead. But with front-wheel-drive, dowdy styling and well-aged “brand cachet” the MKS has unshakable elder appeal. Fortunately it’s not called the Continental, that’d be an insult to the beautiful vehicles that wore that name in decades past.
Another potential winner for elderly folks is the Lincoln MKT. Half car, half crossover, all awkward, this three-row vehicle has head-turning looks, styling that makes you say “da fuq?!”
SEE ALSO: 2015 Lincoln MKC Review
Keeping things safe, most buyers probably opt for the base V6 and front-wheel drive to avoid any cardiac issues that may arise from the optional EcoBoost engine’s twin-turbocharged torque. And since the MKT is from a brand named after a president many of its buyers probably voted for this vehicle is practically guaranteed to attract grandparents.
Unlike Lincoln, Buick has actually managed to revitalize itself a bit in recent years. Dodging the bankruptcy bullet certainly helped improve its prospects.
Products like the Regal and Verano offer decently sporty dynamics and *GASP* available manual transmissions. These cars have helped the Tri-Shield shed some of its geriatric feel. Unfortunately there’s still room for improvement because vehicles like the Enclave three-row crossover are fairly dreary.
SEE ALSO: 2013 Buick Enclave Review
In fact all of GM’s lambda family-haulers are dated. The Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia are also long in the tooth, with low-budget interiors and sub-par performance. Older folks don’t seem to mind, this big Buick Enclave is perfect for trips to Jazzercise class and weekday jaunts to the Easy Spirit outlet store.
What?! How can a Rolls-Royce be on this list, especially their mega-buck flagship model? Well, the Phantom sedan embodies everything older drivers appreciate, on paper if not in practice since it’s totally unaffordable, especially for folks living on fixed incomes.
This car is HUGE, obscenely cushy and styled like the parlour of a stately British manor home. Regrettably with a base price north of 400 large only elders with a full pension, maxed-out social security benefits and a reverse mortgage to draw from can afford one of these mega-buck behemoths, but still, it’s the thought that counts.
Remember the Buick Lucerne? In case you don’t it was one of blandest, the most generically styled vehicles ever produced. It looked like an eroded bar of soap with wheels. Thanks to stealth styling and a large interior this sedan was a popular choice for elderly motorists.
SEE ALSO: 2013 Buick LaCrosse Review
Today the Lucerne is a distant memory, but the Tri-Shield’s LaCrosse four-door is still a fine senior schlepper. It’s got comfortable seats for creaky hips, lots of soft materials inside and a smooth ride. In spite of its geriatric appeal it’s actually quite a stylish vehicle.
Without question the Toyota Avalon is a car that’s purpose built for older folks. Sure, it may wear a swanky new body and offer better driving dynamics than ever before, but it’s hard to imagine anyone younger than 60 parking one of these sedans in their garage.
SEE ALSO: 2013 Toyota Avalon Review
Continuing its long tradition of servility, the Avalon is cushy, quiet and loaded with simulated wood trim. Large, arthritis-friendly controls and lots of cabin space are other features that should appeal to older motorists, as is its golf bag-friendly trunk.
Ok, we’ve spent better than 1,000 words ribbing, insulting and disrespecting our elders. All jokes aside, in the coming days we’ll share a list of vehicles that’s actually useful, one that focuses on cars and trucks that are best for older drivers.
Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).
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