Buying a New Car for an Older Driver


My parents are looking to buy a new car. Can you recommend some good resources that can help them evaluate and choose a good car for older drivers?

With more than 40 million licensed drivers in the United States age 65 and older, many automakers today are designing vehicles that are friendlier for older drivers. But what makes a good car for seniors? For many, top priorities include finding a vehicle that is easy to get into and out of, has simple adjustments for fit and comfort, is easy to operate, has good visibility and is safe, reliable and a good value.

To help you narrow your vehicle choices, Consumer Reports (CR) and the American Automobile Association (AAA) offer some great information and tools to assist you.

CR Best Cars

Consumer Reports recently released its rankings of the top 25 new cars for senior drivers. Each vehicle on the list offers excellent or very good ratings in categories like reliability, safety, road-test performance and owner satisfaction. In addition, many of the vehicles offer a variety of features that are extremely important to older divers, such as:
  • Easy front-seat access: Vehicles with low door thresholds, wider door openings and step-in heights make getting into and out of a car easier for those with physical limitations.
  • Good visibility: Being able to see well out of the front, sides and back of a vehicle is important for drivers of all sizes.
  • Simplified controls: Easy-to-read gauges and simplified/intuitive controls for changing the radio, shifting gears and adjusting the heating and cooling is a high priority among older drivers.
  • Bright headlights: Powerful headlights can make driving at night easier for people with decreasing or compromised vision.
The rankings also considered extra safety features (standard or optional) like backup cameras, automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warnings and blind-spot warnings.

CR's picks include a variety of compact and midsized sedans and SUVs, two minivans and a station wagon from seven different automakers. Here is its top 25 ranking, starting from the top: Subaru Forester; Subaru Outback; Kia Soul; Subaru Legacy; Kia Sportage; Toyota Highlander; Toyota Prius V; Toyota RAV4; Honda Odyssey; Nissan Rogue; Honda Accord; Ford C-Max Hybrid; Hyundai Sonata; Toyota Camry; Subaru Crosstrek; Toyota Sienna; Honda CR-V; Honda Pilot; Kia Forte; Ford Escape; Toyota Corolla; Kia Sorento; Ford Flex; Hyundai Santa Fe; Hyundai Tucson.

For more information on CR's top 25 list, see

AAA Tool

Another great resource that can help your parents evaluate and choose a vehicle that meets their needs is the AAA online tool "Smart Features for Older Drivers."

At drivers can check the problem areas, such as diminished vision, cognitive decline, limited upper body range of motion, decreased leg strength, arthritic hands, weight conditions and height limitations. The tool will identify vehicles that have the features that will best accommodate the driver's needs. Although this tool looks at model-year 2016 vehicles, in many cases the features shown are carried over to 2017 models.

They also have a Smart Features brochure you can download that will tell you what to look for in a vehicle to best accommodate your needs.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published September 15, 2017

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