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Best Cars and SUVs for Short People From Consumer Reports' Tests

Sizing up tested vehicles to find those scaled for petite drivers

Best SUV for short people, showing a Subaru Forester

A driver should fit well in their car for comfort and safety. This is a particular challenge for shorter or smaller drivers, who might struggle to reach the pedals and steering wheel and also 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.

But to help petite drivers find the cars and SUVs that may fit them best, we focused on the specific results from our shortest drivers.

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Mary Reed, the 5’ 1” business manager at the CR 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 my specific setup—this is something that would be easy to overlook on a test-drive.” 

Anita Lam, associate director, automotive data integration, at the Auto Test Center has been evaluating seats for over 20 years.

Lam suggests shorter or smaller car shoppers pay particular attention to the head restraint and shoulder belt adjustments. A belt that adjusts up or down can make a big difference in finding a driving position that allows you to stay comfortable, lessening fatigue on a long trip, she says. Lam says some cars with a fixed belt position can ride too high and rub the neck of a shorter driver.

If you’re wearing a jacket on a test-drive, or otherwise distracted, you may not notice this subtle but important factor, she says. To steer you in the right direction, we have identified the best cars and SUVs for short drivers in several size classes. Within each class, we also list the next best alternatives in rank order. 

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

Best SUV for short people, showing a short driver sitting in a Subaru Forester

Best Compact Car for Short Drivers