What to Drive When You're Too Short for Most Cars
BOSTON ( MainStreet) Short drivers can sometimes feel like they're in an episode of Little People, Big World when out car shopping, so here are five great models for those of us who look more like Danny DeVito than LeBron James.
"Short drivers obviously have different needs than taller ones," says Warren Clarke of Edmunds, which recently named the Best Cars for Short Drivers for 2013. "The main thing they need is visibility. If you're short and you buy the wrong vehicle, you can end up looking at the car's door instead of out the window."
Clarke says the best models for smaller drivers have low "beltlines" the border between a car's metal body and its windows and big "greenhouses," the glass area above the frame and below the roof.
He says short drivers should also look for cars with narrower seat cushions, as wide upholstery makes it harder for smaller people to reach a vehicle's pedals comfortably.
"People tend to assume that smaller cars are the best choices for smaller drivers, but that's not always true," Clarke says. "Visibility and seat comfort have to do with how a vehicle's cabin has been designed, not necessarily with the car's size."
Unfortunately, wider seat cushions often make cars more comfortable for bigger drivers, while higher beltlines and smaller greenhouses tend to look cool so more and more automakers seem to favor all three.
"There are still models that offer lower beltlines and bigger greenhouses, but you have to specifically look for them," Clarke says.
Click below to check out the five lowest-priced such models that Edmunds recommends for shorter drivers (or here for cars the site suggests tall drivers consider). All vehicles listed below appear in order of their manufacturer's suggested retail price for 2013 base models.
Base price: $14,400
If those cartoon hamsters in Kia's TV commercials for the Soul like this small wagon, shorter human drivers should enjoy it, too.
"It's immediately obvious when you look at that Soul that it's got fairly big greenhouse, with a tall windshield and tall, upright side windows," Clarke says. "Visibility is excellent, and it should be very easy for shorter drivers to see out of the Soul's cabin."
Clarke says the Soul also offers both short and taller drivers a roomy cabin, a modest price and "very good, distinctive styling. It's got that boxy shape that you don't see very often."
Under the hood, the 2013 Soul comes standard with a 138-horsepower four-cylinder engine and manual transmission a combination that delivers an estimated 25 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.