The 9 Easiest Cars to Drive

These models top our ratings in how effortless they are to use in your everyday life. Think comfy seats, straightforward controls, and good visibility.

Toyota RAV 4 Prime Photo: John Powers/Consumer Reports

Nancy Williams, a retired public school administrative assistant, says she has always considered her vehicle as “simply a way to get me from here to there.” That is, until she leased her first Subaru Forester, with its wide windows, comfortable seats, and simple controls. “It’s the perfect size,” says the 74-year-old, who lives in Lexington, Ky. “The GPS screen is large and easy to follow, and you can pack a couple of kids in there.”

With its unique body design, the Forester is small enough to navigate crowded parking lots but big enough to hold large plants from the nearby Lowe’s, Williams says. “It feels heavy when you drive. It’s not a dinky little car.”

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When the lease on her 2018 model was up, she signed a new one for a 2021 version, which is slightly wider and comes with safety features she likes, such as automatic emergency braking (AEB).

With shoppers like Williams in mind, we used our test data to identify CR-recommended vehicles that are the easiest to drive, including the Forester. We looked for vehicles with the highest scores in nine variables, detailed below. These autos boast smooth rides, easy access, uncomplicated infotainment systems, and unobstructed views, among other stress-reducing attributes.

Many of the models are sedans in the $35,000 range. No trucks and just one large SUV made our list, because those bigger vehicles can be difficult to get in and out of and are trickier to maneuver and park. You also won’t see any luxury cars, because many have complicated infotainment systems and are prone to technical problems, such as software glitches. The models here offer standard forward collision warning (FCW) and AEB with pedestrian detection.

As CR-recommended vehicles, they have strong reliability, owner satisfaction, and road-test scores. They’re arranged by category and then by the price of the entry-level trim.

What Makes a Vehicle Hassle-Free

More reliable: Nothing causes stress like a car that’s constantly in the shop for repairs.
Easy access: Vehicles with hip-height seats and wide door openings are less difficult to enter and exit.
Comfortable seats: Supportive padding, multiple adjustments, and adequate legroom provide the most pleasant seating.
Nice driver positioning: An ergonomic driving position reduces fatigue over time, making the journey more enjoyable.
Quick-read gauges: The speedometer, fuel gauge, and other information displays are simple to read and understand.
Uncomplicated controls: Physical knobs and buttons tend to make more sense than fussy digital menus.
Good visibility: Unobstructed outward views make a car easier to drive. Large windows and thin roof pillars help.
Quiet interior: Excessive tire and wind noise can be irritating. Adequate soundproofing allows greater tranquility.
Smooth ride: The best suspension systems soak up bumps nicely and keep occupant-jostling to a minimum.

Small Sedan: Volkswagen Jetta

Midsized Sedan: Subaru Legacy

Midsized Sedan: Toyota Camry Hybrid

Midsized Sedan: Kia K5

Small SUV: Subaru Forester

Small SUV: Toyota RAV4 Prime

Midsized 2-Row SUV: Subaru Outback

Midsized 3-Row SUV: Chevrolet Traverse

Minivan: Honda Odyssey

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the September 2022 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

Head shot of CR Autos Editor, Benjamin Preston

Benjamin Preston

My reporting has taken me everywhere from Baghdad, Iraq, to the Detroit auto show, along the U.S.-Mexico border and everywhere in between. If my travels have taught me anything, it's that stuff—consumer products—is at the center of daily life all over the world. That's why I'm so jazzed to be shining light on what works, what doesn't, and how people can enrich their lives by being smarter consumers. When I'm not reporting, I can usually be found at home with my family, at the beach surfing, or in my driveway, wrenching on my hot rod '74 Olds sedan.