Reader Question: Car for the Vertically Challenged?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Harvey asks: My challenge with a vehicle is my height. I am 6’3 and it is challenging for me to fit in a car. I am a locksmith by trade and work with cars all day. What make of car and model would you recommend and what type of SUV type vehicle would you recommend?

My reply: I, too, am vertically challenged – to exactly the same degree because I am exactly the same height.

But even people who are the same overall height can have varying torso height and leg length. This is why it’s important – for us Tall Folk especially – to find a car with both room and adjustability.

VWs have more than typical vertical adjustability – and so I recommend them, for openers. The Golf is a very good choice, as far as a specific model – because in addition to adjustability, it has a very tall roofline and very generous headroom as a result. You might also have a look at the new Atlas – which I reviewed last week – if you’re in the market for a large crossover SUV.

The Toyota Avalon is a very spacious car; also the Chrysler 300. Both make excellent Big Person cars.

The Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 are surprisingly roomy for tall people, too.

Almost any full-size/truck-based SUV (e.g., a Chevy Tahoe or Ford Expedition) or a full-size truck should definitely fit you with room to spare.

Be sure to check for differences in usable range of adjustability between manual and power seats and for head clearance with (and without ) sunroofs, where offered!

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. As an author, I am curious what would be recommended for tall folks, since a few of my characters are in the 6’3-4 range with a few exceptions (I’m 5’9)

    Curious though, do have one guy whose at least 7ft and is as built as he is tall, would an older Ram 2500 work for him or naw?

  2. I’ll second EP’s recommendations. I, too, am 6’3″ and also fairly large. It’s interesting to me how many vehicles I can easily fit into and how many I can’t. Often it’s predictable, but sometimes it is not.

    As for VW, I’ve owned a Touareg and a Golf GTI, both had plenty of headroom and legroom despite not being that large on the outside. I’ve been in Subarus and they generally seem to be fairly good in headroom as well.

    On the other hand, I was quite surprised when I owned a Toyota Land Cruiser that it was actually somewhat difficult to get into and out of without hitting my head. I also tend to find Japanese makes to be the most unpredictable when it comes to having room for tall people. I don’t want to blame it on stereotypes, but perhaps there’s something to that. On the other hand, American and German cars tend to be pretty well suited to tall/large individuals. I have little experience with British or Swedish makes/models, though I can say without a doubt that recent Volvo wagons are pretty cramped/tight up front when I test-fit myself into one last year.

    I’ve found it more and more difficult to fit in vehicles today than 20 years ago, and not because I’m bigger. It seems that door panels are getting thicker, dashes larger and more intrusive, and rooflines lower. Some of this is styling, but most of this is due to added air bags, safety bars for side-impact intrusion, and electronic systems, all of which need space to coexist with the normal parts of the vehicle. This is why, for example, my 1999 GMC Yukon had almost as much interior volume as a new Suburban does despite being much smaller on the outside.

    Given that you are a locksmith and need a roomy, lockable interior to store all your tools and equipment, likely need to get pretty good gas mileage since it sounds like you’d be driving all over the place to pop car locks, and may need some mild off-road chops to get down dirt roads, handle bad weather, etc., I’d consider the following:

    Subaru Forester (roomy, high roof line, good gas mileage, AWD with ground clearance)
    Any American-make, full-size pickup based SUV such as the Tahoe/Yukon or Expedition (not great gas mileage, but simple and rugged and roomy)
    VW Touareg TDI (great room, great comfort, great fuel mileage and range, a bit expensive to buy, even used)

    Whatever you consider, definitely take it for a test drive and pay attention to how much you have to duck your head getting in and out, and how much you have to step up/down as well.


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