Top 10 Cars for Older Drivers

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Last week we pointed out some of the most geriatric cars on the market, vehicles that are stodgy, dated or otherwise un-cool. In the process we totally lampooned senior citizens, making fun of them every chance we had.

But with this Top 10 we’re setting aside our comments about hemorrhoid cream and adjustable beds to pay these life veterans the respect they deserve. Features we thought would be most appreciated by older folks include things like affordable prices, strong fuel economy, simple-to-use controls, elevated h-points for easy ingress and egress as well as high safety ratings.

Here’s a list of vehicles that are solid choices for senior drivers, and hell, youthful motorists might just take a shine to some of them.

Hyundais are almost always super-strong values. The company has built its reputation on giving customers more for less and the 2015 Sonata midsize sedan continues this proud tradition. But this car is more than just a pocketbook pleaser, it’s also a great choice for older drivers. It’s spacious and comfortable inside with simple controls. Beyond these virtues it’s also earned a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the best score possible.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Hyundai Sonata Review

When equipped with the company’s mainline 185 hp 2.4-liter four cylinder engine the Sonata delivers a combined fuel-economy rating of 29 miles per gallon; it rates at 25 MPG city and 37 highway. The base price for this attractive sedan is about $22,000.

But let’s say grandma and grandpa want something with a little extra style and a few more features. Perhaps a Volvo will fit the bill. This Swedish automaker is a pioneer in passenger safety and appropriately their flagship S80 has an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ feather in its cap.

Additionally if offers all kinds of assistance features that make the task of driving just a little bit easier. It’s got things like cameras that can help you see around corners, automatic high beams, cross-traffic alert, parking assist and more. It’s also got a seriously spacious interior and SUPER comfortable seats. An entry-level S80 can be had for right around 42 grand.

If a senior motorist wants something with a little more cargo space, the Subaru Forester is a smart choice. This crossover is reliable and safe, commodious and affordable, plus it comes standard with all-wheel drive, a major confidence booster in regions that experience inclement weather.

Thanks to its elevated ride height entry and exit are a snap, which is a boon for arthritic joints. The Forester also offers pleasantly simple interior controls and good outward visibility.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Subaru Forester Review

In its most basic form the Forester comes with a 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder engine that delivers 170 ponies. It comes standard with a six-speed manual gearbox but for an extra $1,000 you can get a continuously variable transmission. When equipped with the automatic the Forester starts at just about $24,000.

Another spacious choice is the Honda Fit. This little hatchback is a packaging wonder. Engineers have managed to maximize its interior volume while minimizing its exterior dimensions. Against all odds it offers nearly 53 cubic feet of cargo volume!

Power is provided by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder the delivers 130 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque, adequate if not inspiring figures. But what the Fit lacks in outright performance it more than makes up for with fuel economy. When equipped with the optional CVT it stickers at 33 MPG city, 41 highway and 36 combined. A six-speed manual transmission is also available.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Honda Fit Review

Of course with strong quality scores and affordable pricing (it starts at just 16 and change) the Honda Fit is an excellent small-car option. The icing on this little rice cake? It’s also a Top Safety Pick.

But it seems most older drivers prefer larger cars. Perhaps they’re nostalgic about the big boats from America’s glorious automotive past, or maybe these vehicles are just more comfortable for them. Chevrolet’s new Impala is a modern take on the classic cruiser.

This large sedan offers a spacious cabin, a refined driving experience and a cavernous trunk that clocks in at 18.8 cubic feet! Two engines are available, a 2.5-liter 196 hp four-banger or a 3.6-liter V6 with 305 ponies. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission available.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Chevrolet Impala Review

Entry pricing for the Chevy Impala is a little less than $29,000. That gets you the base engine, 10 air bags, OnStar, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and much more.

On the subject of tradition we can’t suggest a list of vehicles for elderly motorists without including a Lincoln, after all this is the quintessential senior brand. Honest Abe’s MKZ sedan is a possible recommendation for older drivers. Though hardly a great car, this Ford Fusion-based four-door is certainly a good one and arguably the best in this troubled brand’s lineup.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Lincoln MKZ Review

Its interior is nicely styled and constructed of quality materials. It drives well, delivers an affordable luxury experience and depending on equipment even earns Top Safety Pick+ honors. It’s even available as a fuel-sipping hybrid, which delivers 40 MPG combined. Base price for a Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is just about $36,000.

Aside from the MKZ Hybrid, one compelling alternative-fuel option is the Volkswagen Passat TDI. With a small diesel engine this large family sedan returns impressive fuel-economy numbers.

When equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission it stickers at 30 miles per gallon around town, but on the interstate it clocks in at 42. Combined it ought to return 34 MPG. It delivers these impressive figures along with a fat serving of low-rpm torque. Its 2.0-liter compression-ignition powerplant cranks out a rather measly 150 hp but a mountain of twist, 236 lb-ft to be exact.

Furthering its elder appeal the Passat wears anodyne styling and has a colossal back seat; the trunk’s pretty huge as well.

The Chrysler 300 is a traditional American sedan. It’s long, wide, rear-wheel drive and features an available Hemi V8 engine … never mind that it rides on a leftover Mercedes-Benz platform. We’ve forgotten about that and so should you.

Base price for this Pentastar car is around $31,000 not counting any rebates that may be available; they could literally save you thousands. For that price Chrysler gives you a 292 hp V6 engine, an eight-speed automatic gearbox, a spacious interior and stylish bodywork. Fuel consumption measures 23 MPG combined. What more do you need?

For a touch of luxury or to reward yourself after a lifetime of hard work the Lexus RX 350 could be a good option for well-heeled seniors. This gussied-up crossover should deliver bulletproof reliability and a serene on-road experience.

The ride is smooth, the cabin quiet and seats comfy-cozy. The RX 350 is a solid option for older drivers. Base price for the most basic version is just about 42 grand.

At that price you get 3.5-liter 270 hp V6 and a six-speed automatic transmission. With front-wheel drive this vehicle’s fuel economy clocks in at 18 miles per gallon city, 25 highway and 21 combined.

The Mazda5 is an interesting option. Think of it as a mini minivan, a smaller version of a vehicle type that’s grown to gargantuan proportions in recent years.

It’s roomy inside and trim outside. Dual sliding doors make accessing the cabin a snap, even in tight parking spaces. With clear sight-lines and affordable pricing and a thrifty drivetrain the Mazda5 is a shoe-in for geriatric drivers.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Geriatric Vehicles

This Zoom-Zoom van is powered by a 157 hp 2.5-liter engine. A six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission is on the menu. With the latter it stickers at 21 miles per gallon city, 28 highway and 24 combined. Base price for a Mazda5 with the self-shifter is right around $22,000.

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

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 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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2 of 4 comments
  • Ben Vincent Ben Vincent on Sep 09, 2014

    God when is the auto media going to get it straight? The LX sedans are not a left over Mercedes platform. Some of the design features from an older Mercedes platform were used as a starting point in designing the LX platform. But none of the parts were used. New parts were designed. If the auto media is going to keep this up then they ought to reference the original vehicle for each and every feature. "It has an engine derived from the Model T."

  • Socialcarpet Socialcarpet on Sep 30, 2014

    I'm 41 and single and I love my Mazda 5 haha. It even came with a 6 speed manual transmission. Probably not going to see too many "geriatric drivers" choosing that option though. Still I don't disagree with this assessment. It is a car that allows you to sit higher off the floor than a low-slung car, but the car itself isn't high like an SUV that you have to climb up into. That combined with sliding rear doors that make getting in/out even easier for passengers and being one of the few cars left it seems that doesn't come with atrocious blind spots, and I think it probably would be a great car for older folks. :) Don't et that stop you from getting one if you're younger though, because I can tell you it has sportier handling than any of the SUV's or minivans I looked at, that's why I chose it.