Q. I am 31 years old, single and six feet, seven inches tall. I’ve just started a new job making decent money, but it requires my being on the road several times a month so I’ll need to buy or lease a car. What specific vehicle models would be the most comfortable for someone of my height? I know that having an adjustable steering wheel is likely a good option to have. Are there any other options I should consider to make my ride more comfortable?
A. A 95th percentile North American male measures 6 feet, two inches (1.88 metres). He’s a shrimp compared to you, but close to the upper limit for many designers of auto interiors. The important measurements for you are front-seat headroom and legroom, to ensure your head isn’t grazing the roof and your knees aren’t hitting the dash. The most comfortable long-distance cruiser of all for a tall driver will likely be a full-size domestic pickup truck or minivan. But, as a single person, that may be more vehicle than you want.
Compared to a conventional car, the taller cabin of an SUV and more upright seating will usually provide more space—particularly in midsize and larger SUVs with three-row seating.
If you prefer to drive a car, some models with good headroom include the Subaru Legacy and Outback, Tesla Model 3, Kia Niro, Hyundai Elantra GT, and VW Beetle; the last three have the added virtue of being moderately priced compacts (although if the Beetle is of interest, you’ll likely have to source a used vehicle—Volkswagen discontinued production in 2019).
Features to avoid include a sunroof and an electric driver’s seat, as both will rob you of needed headroom. The steering wheel should both tilt and telescope; that is now a relatively universal feature, but the range of adjustment varies significantly between models, so be sure that any vehicle you test drive will adjust to your liking.
To a considerable extent, seat comfort is personal and it’s difficult to make a blanket recommendation. You will need a supportive seat with a long seat cushion, ideally adjustable for tilt, and with appropriate lumbar and head restraint support. If you’re sensitive to seating, try to find a rental similar to the vehicle you are considering and drive it for a day or two to evaluate seat comfort properly.
Two convenient sources for vehicle legroom and headroom measurements are Consumer Reports which has the information at the end of its new car guides and the Car Dimensions comparison on the Edmonds website.
Finally, if you do lease, be sure the agreement includes enough mileage to cover both your personal and professional use of the vehicle. Otherwise, you’ll be hit with an over-mileage penalty if you turn the vehicle in at the end of the lease.
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