Best cars for older drivers
4 minute read
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to choosing a car, but ultimately it all comes down to your needs and lifestyle. Are you someone who likes to load up the car and hit the open road every chance you get, or someone who prefers to only get behind the wheel to run errands? Some of us will need enough seats for the grandchildren to pile in, while others might prefer a big boot with enough space for a four-legged friend, mobility scooter or wheelchair.
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Our complete guide to the best cars for older drivers highlights some of the most popular models and key features which you may wish to consider, to help you identify some of the best cars on the market based on safety, comfort, visibility and assistance technology.
The Best Cars for Older Drivers in the UK:
Manual or automatic?
Automatic gearboxes are a great option if you have mobility problems that might make clutch control and frequent gear changes troublesome, particularly on long journeys. It's also worth noting that it is much easier to adapt automatic cars to accommodate features such as hand pedals than it is a manual car.
Here are a few automatics with consistently positive reviews and a variety of features and options:
- Mini hatchback
- Skoda Fabia Estate
- Toyota Prius
- BMW 3 Series Saloon
- Volkswagen Polo hatchback
- Citroen C3 Aircross SUV
- Renault Zoe hatchback
- SEAT Ateca SUV
- Ford Fiesta hatchback
If you’re looking for a car to help you run errands and get across town, then a city car could be your best choice. Generally cheaper and more economic, small cars can save you money and are generally easier to park too. Here are a few of the best rated small cars with relatively roomy interiors and cheaper running costs:
- Ford Fiesta
- Volkswagen Up
- SEAT Ibiza
- Kia Soul
If you’re planning to take longer journeys or need the space to drive friends and relatives around, then you may have a family car in mind. The cars listed below offer more comfort in the form of legroom and a bigger boot, and some are available with hybrid power which could help to lower your road tax:
- Skoda Octavia
- Volkswagen ID.3
- Hyundai Tuscan
- Toyota Corolla
- Skoda Superb
SUVs and MPVs
If you need a spacious car that can carry a wheelchair, pushchair, or even a small mobility scooter, then a sport utility vehicle (SUV) or minivan (MPV) may be ideal. Some MPVs even come with sliding doors which can be useful if you have mobility concerns. Here are some cars which boast interiors of more than 770 litres (in comparison, this is roughly the size of a large 4 wheel wheelie bin). Please be aware the rear seats on some SUVs may need to be folded in order to have a capacity of over 770 litres:
- Volkswagen Touran
- SEAT Alhambra
- Dacia Duster
- Audi Q7
- Honda CR-V
- Kia Sportage
- Volvo XC60
Cars with better visibility
Unfortunately, our eyesight and our reactions tend to deteriorate as we get older. For those with slightly reduced eyesight, you could consider a car that maximises your visibility. Please be aware that the DVLA sets minimum standards of vision for driving, details of which can be found on their website.
Quick-clear windscreens and larger mirrors are great features for visibility, and a higher driving position may also prove beneficial. The following cars all have good visibility:
- Kia Soul
- Hyundai i10
- Mercedes B-Class
- Citroen C3 Picasso
- Honda Jazz
Most comfortable cars
A car which has good lumbar support and plenty of legroom can make all the difference on longer journeys, and so if you have any trouble sitting for long periods then you might find these models a blessing.
Heated seats can also make a world of difference for your back and hips if you find your joints stiffen up in the car. While not a replacement for taking regular rest breaks, the cars below feature extendable seat cushions, comfortable and supportive seats and dual-zone climate control, all designed to improve control whilst driving and could help you enjoy longer trips behind the wheel:
- Honda Jazz
- Ford Fiesta
- Vauxhall Meriva
- Ford B-Max
- Volvo XC60
Feeling safe on the roads is vital, particularly if you’re out of practice or feel less confident. Safety tests have become much more stringent and challenging over time, meaning that manufacturers are constantly striving to meet the strict testing criteria.
As well as sophisticated airbags and seatbelts, many cars now include cruise control technology, which automatically adjusts the car’s speed according to speed limits or the distance between the vehicle in front and can also assist with lane control on motorways – all of which can help minimise the likelihood of accidents occurring.
Some of the safest cars tested in 2021 include:
- Skoda ENYAQ iV
- Skoda Fabia
- Nissan Qashqai
Assistance technology on modern vehicles can make your car much more user-friendly, helping with everything from parking to navigation to driving in the dark.
Ford uses Enhanced Active Park Assist to several of its vehicle types, allowing inbuilt sensors to help with parallel parking and bay parking, as well as helping you manoeuvre out of tight spaces and highlight items that are hidden from view. While none of this technology is a substitute for sound driving skills, much of it could be useful to many drivers.
Here are some of the assistance features you may wish to consider for your new car:
- Voice recognition navigation systems
- Parking sensors
- Reverse cameras
- Adaptive lighting
- Electronically opening boots
- Adaptive cruise control
- Blind spot detection
- Lane departure warning system
Best cars for drivers with arthritis
If you have arthritis or suffer from joint pain it’s important that you feel comfortable at the wheel and that your neck and back are supported. For an easier drive, ideally, those with arthritis should drive automatic vehicles. Assistance features such as a rear-view camera can be extremely helpful, making you feel more confident when parking.
Below is a list of extra features that may help drivers with arthritis:
- Steering wheel cover for extra padding
- Neck support for the headrest
- Moulded backrest
- Swivel cushion
- Seatbelt reaching accessories
- Adaptive hand or foot controls
- Lumbar support pillow
- Spinner knob on the steering wheel
- Mirror extensions for blind spots
- Portable grab bar
- Silicone key cover
If arthritis is affecting your ability to drive or you need to use special controls for driving, you need to inform the DVLA. There are a number of other medical conditions that need to be declared to the DVLA and your car insurance provider. We've created a list of conditions to declare to help you when taking out car insurance.
For more information on things to consider when driving with arthritis, including laws around informing the DVLA and other helpful features to consider for the vehicle you're driving, please take a look at the Versus Arthritis website.
Some of the best cars for drivers with arthritis include:
- Citroen C3 Aircross
- Renault Zoe
- BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
- Hyundai Kona Electric
- Honda Jazz
The best cars for older drivers
When choosing a car to suit your needs may seem daunting at first, having an awareness of which features and functionality can best support your lifestyle will make it easier to narrow your choices down. With this in mind, here are Buyacar's top picks to help make your decision a little easier:
- Ford Fiesta - The Fiesta is a great small car that is very economical to run. It boasts a five-star safety rating and a three-year/60,000 mile warranty as standard. It's spacious interior, high driving position and adjustable lumbar support, means it's also very comfortable. It also comes complete with some handy assistance features, including a rear-view camera and front and rear parking sensors, which make life on the road that little bit easier.
- Vauxhall Meriva - Whether you need space for your golf clubs, a wheelchair or grandchildren, the Vauxhall Meriva boasts flexibility. The 'Flex Floor' means you choose between a flush boot lip for easy loading or a deeper boot if extra space is needed. Known as an easy car to drive, the model is both adaptable and practical.
- Honda Jazz - With wide seats and a spacious interior, a Honda Jazz is a dependable option. As well as being able to fold down the backseats, you can also fold the rear seat bases, unlocking lots of space. Features are adjustable including the steering wheel and seats which is great for those who have a few named drivers on their insurance.
If you're considering changing your car it's important to make sure you have the correct car insurance in place. Find out more about Age Co's 5 Star Defaqto rated Car Insurance, provided by LV=.
This post was reviewed and updated in February 2023. All facts correct at the time of publishing.