Best Cars and SUVs for Short People

We sized up vehicles to find those that are scaled for smaller drivers

Short driver Subaru Forester Photo: John Powers/Consumer Reports

A driver should fit well in his or her car for comfort and safety. This is a particular challenge for shorter or smaller drivers, who might not be able to reach the pedals and steering wheel on some vehicles or have good visibility all-around.

Recognizing this challenge, Consumer Reports uses a range of test drivers to assess driver comfort, including shorter and taller staff members. Each participant in this jury evaluates access, driving position, front-seat comfort, and visibility.

The results are tabulated to create composite scores that are presented on the car model pages, where CR members can find our complete road tests and survey results.

To help shorter drivers find the cars and SUVs that may fit them best, we focus here on the specific results from our shortest drivers.

More on Cars

Mary Reed, the 5 foot, 1 inch business manager at CR’s Auto Test Center, explains what she looks for in evaluating a car: “I adjust the seat for comfort before driving, sliding it forward as needed and moving the steering wheel. I then consider the visibility over the hood and to the rear, especially the corners. With everything adjusted, I then check access to make sure the ease of entry factors into my specific setup. This is something that would be easy to overlook on a test drive.”

Anita Lam, the Auto Test Center’s associate director, automotive data integration, has been evaluating seats for over 20 years. She has a vested interest in vehicles for shorter drivers.

Lam suggests that car shoppers on the shorter or smaller side pay particular attention to the head restraint and shoulder belt adjustments. A belt that adjusts up or down can make a big difference in helping drivers find a comfortable position and lessens fatigue on a long trip, she says. Some inexpensive and older cars have a fixed belt position that can cause the edge of the belt to rub against the neck of a shorter driver. If you’re wearing a jacket on a test drive or you’re otherwise distracted, you may not notice this subtle but important factor.

We have identified the best cars and SUVs for short drivers in several size classes. Within each class, we also list the next best alternative.

Measurements and comfort ratings can be compared on the model pages, linked to from the ratings boxes below.

If you’re a CR member, this article and the list below are already available to you. If you’re not a member, click below to join and get access to the list and all of our exclusive ratings and reviews for each vehicle we buy and test. Membership also gives you full access to exclusive ratings for the other products our experts evaluate in several categories, including electronics and home appliances.

Short driver in driver seat of Subaru Forester, door open so see all of driver

Photo: Consumer Reports Photo: Consumer Reports

Become a member to read the full article and get access to digital ratings.

We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.