Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply:
Tom asks: I enjoyed your recent point-Counterpoint column on electric cars, distributed by Tribune News Service. I agree that while electric cars are nice for some people, they are not for everybody. I have driven from Colorado Springs to Chicago twice in the last three years, and am heading to the Grand Canyon when I get the chance. An electric car would not work for me.
In the column you said “One size, obviously, does not fit all.” May I ask you to please take this literally, and not just figuratively, in a future writing? I am mobility impaired by polio and am, quite frankly, obese. I have had difficulty getting in and out of a car all my life, and am currently driving a 2008 Grand Marquis because it is one of the last of the gunboats, and sadly no longer in production. I will keep fixing it up until it dies, or I do.
All cars made today are too damn small for me, thanks to the relentless pursuit of aerodynamics over accessibility. The electric cars are even more so. I am only 5′ 6″ tall, but when I had the chance to sit in a Tesla I literally could not get my head in under the roof. I then needed help getting back up from the low-slung seat.
There are of course SUVs and minivans, but most of them are too high to get in and out of conveniently. Can’t the auto industry produce one accessible sedan? I’m not asking for something built like a classic Checker Cab, but there should be something that I and my fellow aging and arthritic Baby Boomers could get in and out of.
Please consider addressing this issue in some future writing. The auto industry will ignore us, but it would be nice to see somebody recognize the need.
My reply: I also miss the gunboats, Tom!
That said, there are some new cars that might fit you better – and some of these might surprise you, because they are much smaller (on the outside) cars than your Grand Marquis.
The problem for people in your situation is the traditional sedan. They have almost all gone “sporty” – which means low rooflines and low to the ground.
Thus, I’d like to steer you toward some small wagons – and crossovers – like the Maxda CX-5, Honda Fit and Nissan Versa Note. These all have taller rooflines and ample headroom. Another one – and it’s funny looking, but has tremendous headroom and easy access- is the Nissan Cube. I’m 6ft 3 and have probably half a foot of air space between the top of my head and the headliner of this one.
None of the above are speedy or sexy cars, but they have amazingly roomy interiors and their low low step-in height and tall profile make them easier for people with disabilities to get in and out of.
Another possible car to have a look at is the VW Golf. It has a boxy profile – and excellent headroom. It’s also a bit more sporty than the models above, if you’d like a bit more of that to go with your elbow (and noggin’) room!
Hope this was helpful!
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