When designers focus their creative genius on the blueprint for a new car, they’re using drivers’ average height and build as guidance.
But what about the shorter driver?
In fact, in the US, the average man is 5’10” – give or take about 3” either way. That means there’s wiggle room ranging between 5’7”- 6’1.” Clearly, not every car will ‘fit’ every driver, average or not.
But what about the estimated over 15 million men of driving age in the US that fall between 5’1’ and 5’ 7’’? If you’re on the shorter side, there are plenty of options.
As a ‘modest man’, there are several features you will want to seriously consider before reaching for your wallet.
It’s all about visibility, height, access and comfort.
Visibility is a vital consideration. Do you have good visibility both over the hood and all around you? These are simple but critical considerations if you are to choose the right vehicle.
You’ll find a vehicle with huge windows and higher drive height to be an advantage, so you can see clearly in front, behind and to the side. Blind-spot monitoring and side cameras can help with this, however, that said, not everyone feels comfortable driving a towering, gas guzzling SUV.
Issues of vehicle height can be difficult for the shorter driver. Step-in height needs to be low enough, so you don’t have to hoist yourself up inside.
Well-designed, power adjustable seats, pedals and a tilt-adjustable steering wheel are ‘must haves’ for comfort. Cargo hatch access 20 feet up in the air? That’s a problem.
Some vehicles have an automatic hatch close with a wave of your foot under the back bumper; others have a side opening hatch or another type of automatic close.
Does the trunk extend back into the vehicle so darn far, you can’t reach anything without scrunching forward on your belly? (Oh, the indignity). What about trying to reach the top of the roof to brush off snow in winter? Another annoyance.
Many of the vehicles who made it into our Top 10 list are in the compact, smaller class categories, simply because it’s easier to maneuver a smaller car on the road.
It is also easier to reach the onboard infotainment systems and dashboard controls, plus manage the above-mentioned issues of height and length you’ll find many of the larger vehicles on the market.
The Top 10 Best Cars for Short People (2020)
Here is our Top 10 list of the best cars for short people, starting with the economy models, then moving up to compact SUVs, high-end luxury sedans and sports cars:
1. 2020 Honda Fit
In the compact hatchback class, the Honda Fit holds near top-of-the-list ranking for affordability, reliability (it’s a Honda after all), and economy. But because of its diminutive size and footprint, it is a great choice for short people.
You can see where you are at all times, in crowded traffic and super tight parking lots alike. It just “fits” everywhere. The Fit has manual rather than automatic seat height adjustment and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel.
The Fit also has a LaneWatch system, a blind-spot camera on the passenger outside mirror, so you can see what’s there.
When you push the car’s turn signal, a video of that lane will show up on the infotainment screen, a valuable feature for shorter drivers who may have a larger blind spot than taller ones.
2. 2020 Kia Soul
It’s not the most stylish car on the road, although the 2020 redesign is a big improvement over earlier models.
The Soul is a strange kind of vehicle; it’s a cross between a hatchback, subcompact SUV and a compact car, but if nothing else, the Kia Soul is highly practical and economical to run (25-27 CITY & 31-33 HWY mpg).
The driver seat sits high, so visibility is exceptional if you are short. Optional features for shorter people include a 10-way power adjustable seat adjustment, blind spot monitoring and a rear traffic cross alert.
With excellent crash safety testing scores and active safety measures, the Soul has a lot to offer, especially for the younger, budget-conscious driver.
3. 2020 Honda CRV
Always a contender in any compact SUV ranking, the 2020 Honda CRV is one of the best SUVs for short people.
It has optional 12-way power adjustable driver’s side seating with memory, plus tilt and telescoping steering wheel and a useful adjustable tailgate height feature.
The CRV is easy to get in and out of, with great visibility and maneuverability. New in 2020 is the Sensing Safety Suite which is standard on all trims.
This includes a Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure Mitigation System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist System, and Traffic Sign Recognition, so the car will help greatly with road safety and awareness.
The economical CRV features best-in-class passenger and cargo capacity with a powerful drivetrain, giving you a comfortable, balanced, everyday ride. New also in 2020 is a hybrid version of the CRV, if you’re going for more green.
4. 2020 Subaru Forester
If you are a New Englander, a Subaru is bound to be on your contender list. With Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, Subarus are simply awesome in the snow. They are also a great choice for shorter people.
The Forester features excellent visibility in all directions, low step-up height, adjustable power rear liftgate and a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat combined with oodles of cabin space.
The Forester is a solid, reliable, family-safe vehicle. It may be slightly lackluster in performance, but you’ll find it ticks most of the other boxes.
5. 2020 Volvo XC60
Sit in a Volvo XC60 and you’ll feel instantly at home, but if you are super picky about your personal comfort, you’ll find power 10-way seat adjustments an option.
The XC60 has lots of standard safety features to act as additional eyes on the road; these include automatic emergency braking, collision mitigation and driver drowsiness avoidance.
Optional features are blind spot and rear cross traffic monitoring plus a surround view camera. And the tailgate? Ah, a touch of your key fob both opens and closes it, so you don’t have to stretch into the stratosphere any more, while loaded down with parcels.
6. 2020 Honda Odyssey
If you have to get a minivan, this big guy family-hauler nevertheless has lots of shorter guy features, so you’ll never feel out of place.
It starts with a low step-in height; once inside you can adjust the seat to your exact preferences with a standard eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, and you can even opt for four-way power lumbar support and seat memory settings in the Odyssey’s higher trim models.
Add to this a standard tilt and telescoping steering wheel and the Odyssey will fit you like a glove. Outside visibility is expansive, but one can always use another set of eyes, so the vehicle comes with Honda’s Sensing Suite of safety features, including blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
You can also keep an eye on what the kids are up to in the back seat with the Odyssey’s in-car camera system.
7. 2020 Audi Q3
In the luxury subcompact SUV category, we’ve chosen the Audi Q3, which was freshened up in 2019 with new bells and whistles.
It is small and easily maneuverable, especially if you find yourself in heavy downtown traffic; optional features include parallel and perpendicular park assist, so it will drive itself neatly and automatically into that tight parking space you just happened to see.
Inside features are geared towards the driver’s comfort. These include eight-way adjustable power front seats and power adjustable lumbar support. Steering wheel in the wrong place for you? Tilt and telescoping adjustments can help you find your happy place.
The infotainment screen is tilted towards the driver, so it’s easy to turn up the volume to your heart’s content.
8. 2020 Lexus ES
Whatever you think of Lexus’s bold new front end styling (I’m not a particular fan), nevertheless the 2020 ES deserves to be on the list of best cars for short people – for several reasons.
With optional ES F Sport and ES Hybrid models, the ES offers luxury, comfort, good fuel economy and performance in one neat, stylish package. Easy entry and multiple adjustments turn the seat into a plush (and posh) living room couch.
Standard safety features include forward collision warning, pedestrian detection with automatic braking, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assistance. You almost can’t make a mistake driving this car.
9. 2020 Mercedes-Benz S Class
Looking for an ‘image’ car? In the super luxury sedan category, it doesn’t get much better than the S Class. It’s opulent, luxurious, powerful, with engines ranging from 362 to 621 horsepower in the top of the line AMG S65, priced at a jaw-dropping $235,600, but probably worth every penny.
The interior is no expense-spared, fit for a potentate, with adjustable everything every which way. New in 2020 are even more gadgets to mitigate its $100,000+ cost.
They include proximity keyless entry, massaging front seats, automatic parking assist and surround view parking camera. You’ll run out of superlatives with this car. It’s just that good.
10. 2020 Porsche Cayman
Higher-end sports cars your thing? We’ve just the one for you. When Porsche designed the Cayman they ignored the decades-long design tradition for sports cars; you know, minuscule windows, minimal visibility, cramped, uncomfortable bucket seats and low roofs.
Instead the Cayman gives you expansive visibility in front and safe sightlines all around the car, so, as a shorter driver, you won’t have to scrunch your way round the cockpit to see what’s outside.
With sporty, firmly padded seats and elevated side bolsters you will feel both stable, secure and comfortable. Porsche’s Adaptive Sports Seats Plus offers an electric 18-way seat adjustment to find your optimum seat height, depth, fore/aft and four-way lumbar support.
The car is stunning looking, of course. Compact, sexy and jaw-droppingly sporty. And performance? With a top speed of 188 mph, as the marketing blurb says “ Air resistance is futile..”
Whatever your budget and car type preference, we think you’ll find one on this list to meet your requirements. With good outside visibility and easy access to safety and infotainment features, they are all judged by the experts to be great choices for shorter drivers.