By on February 20, 2018

Image: 1977 Honda Civic CVCC

Uh oh. We’re talkin’ size today. That’s right, a topic tailor-made for awkwardness, embarrassment, even shame — something best not spoken of in polite company. Just amongst your close friends and, perhaps, a doctor… whose brother is a salesman.

The fact of the matter is, sometimes we don’t fit in the cars we love. Or, we can’t cram our gangly or girthy frames into a less desirable car with several redeeming qualities, thus striking it from our mental list of automotive “maybes.”

It’s happy times for those whose height or weight deviates from the norm. Vehicles in all segments are growing like Western nations’ deficits, stretching in wheelbase and expanding in interior room, providing us all with far more comfortable cabin than the vehicles of yesteryear. Remember the Ford Contour? Midsize, my ass.

These days, it’s hard finding a steering wheel that doesn’t adjust for reach or rake. Adjustable pedals, when you can source them, compensate for those on the short side of the fence.

That’s never been an issue in my case, but I have come across vehicles I’d never buy, as the comfort factor just isn’t there. Biggest issue? When the driver’s seat stops its rearward slide too early. Front legroom is key for 6’4″ drivers, and the amount of variation from car to car is often vast. Who knew the Nissan Rogue was so cramped up front?

Image: FCA

Since my earliest memory, vehicles built by General Motors and Toyota have proven the safest bets. Honda’s usually fine, and Ford’s a toss-up, especially smaller models. It’s strange how, when seated as a passenger, the Mazda MX-5 affords more leg extension than the aforementioned Rogue. Outside of the pickup segment, the front legroom king seems to be the Buick LaCrosse, which possesses near-comical levels of lower body acreage — with the seat in its rearmost position, it’s possible for me to lock my knees and still clear the firewall by several inches. Should I ever find myself living out of a car, this living room on wheels rates high on my list.

In some models, skimpy legroom is sometimes paired with a ceiling that’s too low for normal operation. Enter the Fiat 500. While piloting that Italian city car just after its launch, I had to drive with my head canted to the right. Yes, we were in clown car territory.

What about you, Best and Brightest? Is there a car you’ve owned (or desire to own) that just doesn’t cut it in the size department? What’s the least comfortable vehicle you’ve ever shoehorned your body into?

[Images: eBay, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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84 Comments on “QOTD: Too Big For Your Car’s Britches?...”

  • avatar

    I’m 5’11” and 229 lbs and I found the bolstered seats in the Jetta sportwagon to be miserable for my chubby frame. Same with any Focus ST with Recaros.

    • 0 avatar

      Try Juke Nismo. It will add additions height to the bolstering problem

    • 0 avatar

      Best seats in America are in the Lexus NX. Try them before you laugh me off this site.

      • 0 avatar

        Grain of salt on the NX’s seats, mgbjack: The head rests (pardon me, “restraints”) on the base seats are terrible for a lot of drivers. They sit very far forward (presumably in the interest of better crash scores) and only are adjustable for height, not tilt or fore-aft setting. I haven’t perused the Lexus forums in awhile, but I believe fore-aft adjustment is available on the F Sport and on base seats in some non-US markets.

        I agree that they’re very comfortable seats from the shoulder down. And the second row is terrific for two passengers, especially for a vehicle with relatively small length and width.

      • 0 avatar

        Very good seats. Don’t know if best (volvo?) but excellent. I helped my in-law buy this car and I said, “seats alone takes this over RDX”. But this is top leather trim. I don’t know about leatherette-lined models.

  • avatar

    I am obese but that’s not my real problem. I have external rotation of the hips– so it’s uncomfortable for me to sit with my knees together. In many cars my right knee hits the center console in an uncomfortable way.

    I’ve learned to try the driver’s seat before even letting the salesperson start their schpiel. They usually are amused by this but why waste everyone’s time?

    As such I’ve never had an uncomfortable car but I’ve had many that I had to immediately write off my list.

  • avatar

    I’m average height and weight, so no exciting stories from me, but I did once hear from a legitimate 7 footer that the only car he could ever get comfortable in was a Buick Lucerne.

  • avatar

    I am average height and weight… athletic build (5′ 9″ 185 lbs). Weirdest car I’ve sat in was a Citron C3? C4? Cactus. For whatever reason the footwells were really shallow, but the seats were low to the floor. Like they made the firewall too close. It was so strange. Other than that I usually have no problems getting comfortable in a car.

  • avatar

    I am not very tall but when my kid was in a rear facing seat I didn’t have enough legroom if I was on the passenger side of the Outback. Made for some pretty miserable trips to see the grandparents 12 hours away.

  • avatar

    I fit perfectly fine in my Abarth at 5’10”. Ergonomically, I bought a machined aluminum steering column extension to bring the wheel 2″ closer to me, and that made a world of difference. I can’t fit in the 500 with the sunroof because the roof bumps down, but the hatch and my Cabrio have no problems even with my autocross helmet on. Small cars have all the space you need up front, just don’t ask much of the backseat.

  • avatar

    I’m 6’2″ and have problems with legroom in many cars. The Scion xB I had was just horrible for legroom – I could handle the discomfort for around-town but anything on the highway and I began to get that “coach” class feeling.

    BMW and MINI (surprise!) have great legroom, provided I push the seats all the way back. The 2012 Countryman in my stable has enough legroom that – and this is a first for me – I don’t have to push the seat all the way back to get comfortable. There are still 2 clicks left on the rails.

    The 80s and 2001 Accord(s) I owned also had good seat travel for me, while a 1997 Altima was very uncomfortable.

    Larger cars – like the Caprice, Roadmaster, and Grand Marquis were also roomy enough for me, though the bench seat in the Caprice was terrible if my wife was driving. My knees, as a front passenger, would end up against the dash.

    • 0 avatar

      I think the German cars (and German owned brands) generally have very good legroom, even when they are small (such as the Mini), probably because Germans tend to be tall.

  • avatar

    I find the issue is not so much overall legroom, but when you’re cruising you want to sit a little bow-legged and I find a lot of cars’ consoles end up very tall or curve in towards the drive in such a way that your knee doesn’t get enough room to spread out.

  • avatar

    For me it has always been short lower seat cushions. Chrysler and Nissan are pretty much a no-sale for me for this reason, and each time I’ve been in a rental, I’ve had problems in two hours. My wife and I had towels rolled up for one long distance Chry-co rental in a vain attempt at leg support. I pretty much fit (5-10 and 225) in everything else OK. My best seat ever is the BMW Sport Seat, because it has that movable bolster at the front. Heaven, and tight across the back without pinching. VW does a good seat on the cheaper side.

    I think a lot of companies try to short seat because it fits a lot of smaller folks (wife and I have long legs) makes the car look bigger in the showroom, and saves a few pennies in production.

    I notice that big trucks tend to do the good seat thing….a crew cab pickup has good old school couches front and back.

    • 0 avatar

      THIS. The seats in my Forester are so short, and it’s a shame because I like the car in a lot of ways, and it’s otherwise very roomy. I measured it out to (very roughly) 19.5 inches on the bottom.
      I went to the auto show last month, tape measure in hand, ready to find cars with a more comfortable bottom. To my surprise and disappointment, most seats did not measure meaningfully longer than my Forester. The search continues I guess.

  • avatar

    I’m a BIG guy, tall and big. While I can get comfortable in many cars, it feels like many newer cars are shrinking the front door opening by moving the B pillar forward a bit. This makes it quite a but more difficult for a big guy like me to slide in behind the wheel! Of course I’m well aware that my best course of action is to lose some lbs, which I’ll do. But in the meantime, take a look at newer crossovers like the Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC60, and compare them to others with bigger door openings like the Toyota RAV4. A couple of inches at the B pillar makes a big difference for ease of entry and exit. I bet carmakers are bulking up B pillars and moving them forward to help with crash safety, but they’re also restricting access from older and bigger drivers.

  • avatar

    I am 6’2″. I find that in general, Toyota’s are an ergonomic disaster for me. It’s not just how tall you are it is how long your legs or torso is. I’m use to sitting a bit forward of what I prefer to give my son a bit of space behind me. So, when I get into my mom’s Camry, the first thing I notice is that I don’t really feel like I need to move the seat back so much as up but it really does not have much movement in that direction unlike other 6 way power seats such as my TSX. Same in my mother-in-laws Tacoma which does not move up at all. It’s great for her though as it lets her sit further away from the steering wheel. In her CX5 she was way too close to it.

    I’ve always liked small cars and compromise only because of the kids. Miatas are to tight for me. I always liked Preludes but my head hits the roof in all but the 91-96 models. A buddy had a 80 RX7. I had to ride half reclined and still would bump my head over rough spots. I could only drive it with my head leaning over. Maybe these cars are made for their home market so don’t cater to larger sizes. I have a 73 MG Midget and once in it have perfectly adequate space. My legs will stretch out with my feet behind the pedals and my head clears the top. The steering wheel is a bit close but that is just how it is for everyone that has gotten in it if they move the seat up to reach the pedals.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree on Miata’s. I am 6’1 with a relatively long torso, and my eyes fall directly on the header bar of the Miata windshield frame, so that desirable car has always been scratched from my purchase consideration.

      • 0 avatar

        On my original sit with Miata, I thought it is way too small. But last month I tried again and I was able to get good sitting position.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m 6′-2/6′-3 (depends on who’s measuring) and my eye line is even with the windshield header in Miata roadsters. I was 11 when Miatas were brand new and they fit me like a glove at the time while my father, who is also 6′-2 but has a disproportionately long torso, could easily see clearly over the windshield header. I sat in an MX5 RF recently when they were new and with my neck scrunched down into my shoulders my head was planted on the roof hard. Even then visibility would have only allowed me to see the car in front at a stoplight. It’s too bad because controls were well-placed, I had sufficient leg/foot/knee room and despite being girthy at 285 the seat fit well, granted I do prefer sitting up to the wheel more than folks much smaller than myself as I feel I have better vehicle control.

        My dad had a Ford Contour. The front seat ergonomics in that car were pretty good with the seats all the way back. It would have been a perfect compact personal luxury coupe if they had longer front doors and no rear doors. Back seat was useless, except as a parcel shelf. Sitting in it next to a contemporary Ford Escort made the Escort seem HUGE.

        In the early 90s before I was fully grown I found it nearly impossible to fit my feet through the rear door on Chevy Suburbans. There was barely enough room between the 2nd row seats and the B-pillar to pull my feet in sideways.

  • avatar

    I love this topic. It’s amazing how size can limit your options. I’m a lanky 6’2- above average but certainly not a giant- and this trend of lower, longer sedans is not ideal for me. I’m due for a new car this year and would love a Civic, but they’re just too low. Even though I technically “fit,” it’s just not comfortable. I don’t like sitting on the floor.
    Subarus are great in terms of ROOM for tall people, less ideal for comfort. The seats in just about every model feel way too short, it’s a shame because there is plenty of room in all directions.
    Someone above said Mini, and yes they are shockingly great tall people cars. Mazdas also seem to offer good range of adjustments, even on smaller models.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    I’m heavyset and broad-shouldered, yet I can still maneuver in and out of my Miata with relative ease, if not entirely gracefully. (It’s quite comfortable once I’m seated.)

    That said, I was disappointed to discover recently that I couldn’t sit in the driver’s seat of a Kia Stinger without my shoulders and arms making contact with the pillars, and my head scraping the roof. The front door openings seem unusually tiny.

    • 0 avatar

      Despite the exterior dimensions I think the Miata is set up for bigger people. My petite wife could not reach the clutch petal, nixing a very low-mile Mazdaspeed for us. Sucks for us but a remarkable bit of engineering and packaging on Mazda’s part.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I’m 6’4″ and 220lbs, so if thees’s anything that will eventually drag me into a crossover, it’ll be the unwillingness to shoehorn myself into sedans any longer.

    Coupes are pretty much a no-go. I get to be my own roll bar in Miatas and S2000s. I can fit in a Z3, but if its an automatic I have to shift it out of park before sitting down. I’m too tall to use reverse in a Ferrari 308. The Acura RSX was notably comfortable.

    In many SUVs the biggest issue is the needless swoop of the dash down toward the center stack. The original BMW X5 was particularly terrible. Jeeps are much better, even though I always thought the ZJ Grand Cherokee had comically tiny seats for its size.

    As for sedans, my E39 BMW is not very comfortable. There’s hope that fixing the lumbar air bladder will make it better, but as it stands now my left leg is numb in about 45 minutes. The Altima is the most uncomfortable sedan I’ve ever sat in. Those seats just hit me wrong.

    Our next road trip car will need to have 8-way power front seats on both sides so I don’t have to drive all the time. That scratches every Honda/Acura, nearly every Toyota, and the CX-9.

  • avatar

    My reg-cab ’97 Ranger was a snug fit at 5’11” distributed fairly evenly between legs/torso. I tend to prefer a fairly leaned back seating position. In order to not be totally bolt up-right I ended up scooting the seat forward to a too-short distance for my legs to the pedals for long drives. It was the best compromise and made a big difference on the one long distance (8 hours there and back) trip I took the truck on. I’m angling for an extended cab truck this go-around. My 4Runner’s “legs out” seating position took some getting used to, but I now can knock down 13+ hour drives in it without excessive discomfort.

  • avatar

    I’m only 6’2″ but long in the torso so my relatively short legs don’t require me to move the seat all the way back in many cars. I also prefer a more upright seating position, especially as I get older; besides, reclining way back tends to put the B-pillar in my sight line in many 4-door cars. I’m not a fan of convertibles, but the frame at the top of the windshield often obscures my view.

    For me the more common issue is that my head rubs the ceiling and my forward view is nearly blocked by the visor. I loved the Volvo 240s and 740s but had to order my 850 without a sunroof; we tried an S60 and gave up as there was no way to get comfortable in it. I had two sixties Mercedes-Benz 111s and those were great. Strangely, our R53 MINI hardtop was very comfortable and had great sight lines. I could wear a proper cowboy hat and drive that thing. Predictably, I’ve never had an issue with large pickup/SUV type vehicles like the Suburban, but many big American sedans seem to assume tall people like to drive reclined. I had no problem driving a Datsun 620 pickup back in the seventies.

    One of my dream cars since they came out new was the DeTomaso Pantera. Finally a few years ago I found a very nice example not far from me. I arranged to see it just to see if I fit and the seller assured me that he’d never had a problem with it. I rang his doorbell and all 5’8″ of him opened the door. Obviously I didn’t fit. Yes, I scoured the forums and learned about doing a foamectomy to the driver seat so I could sit on the floor, etc. etc. But, no, not happening.

    Other cars that I don’t fit in are the BMW Z3 Coupe, Miatas, most “coupe” style sedans, and so on. Porsche 911s are great, Boxsters and Cayennes not so much. Honda’s, even the smaller, previous generation Fits and Civics are not a problem. Nissans are generally poor for people of my proportions. I’m not fat, but I have broad shoulders so a lot of narrow sports cars are also out of the question.

    There is very little relationship between the external size of the car and how well I fit inside, and I’ve concluded it’s a design issue. I don’t blame designers because they are accommodating the great 80-90% in the middle.

  • avatar

    I’m 6′ tall, a bit long in leg. The only time I have issues is with legroom in the back of smaller vehicles, OR the compromised rearmost seats in SUVs. Can’t really fit comfortably in the back of a Highlander or QX80 in their junky token rear seats.

    Fit in the back of the Tahoe, but it was close (and the seat was so low that knees were high, uncomfortable).

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    6’2″ or so, and my main issue is having to put the seat all the way back. The smart car was the only one I didn’t have to do that in.

    I’m too tall for Miatas. The ND is borderline, but the Fiat version is actually a bit roomier somehow. The S2000 had barely enough room, but I did have to scrunch a bit to wear a helmet. The 240SX would be fine except for the sunroof, so I have to do a mild gangsta slouch.

    I was seriously considering buying a C33 Nissan Laurel, before I sat in one and found out my head hit the roof. “I don’t think the Empire had Wookiees in mind when they designed her, Chewie.” R32 Skylines have an extra inch or two, so I bought one of those instead.

  • avatar

    My kingdom for a column shift, bench seat Park Avenue. At 6’6” evenly split at waist between legs and trunk, with right leg twisted from the hip socket 20 degrees outward. If that’s not weird enough, my femur length ensures console knee capping by interior designers with fighter pilot fantasies targeting my orthopedic induced man spread. The culprit, insane shaped and height of center consoles along with protruding dashes.

    One knows evolution of interior design is regressing when I fit in a 88 manual Accord better than today’s wonder card. And while I don’t fit the 95 percentile designers plan for adopt the modular concept from seating to the center console.

    Best sales car fit. 04 Ford Taurus leather interior (seats are lower)
    Best Personal car. 02 Camry
    Best SUV fit. Ford Expedition
    Best all around fit Chevy Truck.

    I have a slight variation of Stevejac’s method. I put front seat in the rear position then sitvin the back seat. If I fit move to console clearance. I wish it was easier.

  • avatar

    Any car where I feel like I’m sitting on the floor is bad for me…Honda Accords are awful in that regard. It has to do with hip angle while seated. I also don’t do well with “sport” seats…the bolsters aren’t generally designed for someone who is 6 ft 1 inch tall and 245 Lbs. I tried to climb in a 2005ish Lotus once…good luck getting in, much less doing anything with the pedals with my size 13 shoes. Knees together is bad for my hips too, so sport seats don’t help in that regard either.

    I used to drive a progression of 1980s era BMWs, and the Comfort seats were a much better bet for me than the Sport seats.

    I’m finding that arm rest height makes a big difference for me too…I get a stiff neck if the arm rest is too high in relation to the seat.

    My BIGGEST deal breaker is headrests that are so far forward that I feel like they’re pushing my head forward…hate it, hate it, hate it. My wife’s ’16 CRV is awful in that regard…there is no way to adjust the seat so the headrest isn’t nudging the back of my head.

    I don’t do well with coupe-style sedans either…Mercedes CLS and VW CC…I bang my head every time I try to climb in.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Had to return a rental Kia Optima as the headrest pushed my head so far forward that my neck started to cramp. Drove it back to the rental agency with the headrest removed.

      I have started to notice other vehicles with similar problems. I understand that it may be due to the switch to ‘active head restraints’ but surely there is a way to alleviate this.

      • 0 avatar

        My mother-in-law has an “Acadia Limited” purchased just as the 2nd gen Acadia was hitting the lots heavy. Of course since the first generation platform was in production from about 2007 to 2016-2017 there were lots of changes made as regulations changed.

        I’m only 5’11” with a 33 in inseam but I CANNOT GET COMFORTABLE WITH THAT FREAKING HEADREST IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT! It pushes my head forward. I drove it approximately 4 hours on Sunday and on Monday morning my neck was screaming – even with my “My Pillow” which has taken away any neck issues I’ve had from a poor sleeping position.

        It actually makes me a little scared for my next new vehicle purchase because on my 2010 Highlander I took the driver’s headrest flipped it around backwards and reinstalled it. You can’t do that on many current vehicles.

  • avatar

    I spent a lot of time setting up the dimensions of car interiors. In short, the legroom and other dimensions are made to fit the highest ranking person in the program.

    The head of the Caprice program, 91 model, was my height, 6’3″. I was always comfortable in the Caprice. When I started the Buick Roadmaster, the head guy walked in. He was 6’6″, and the first thing he said was, “how can we get more legroom?”

    I never worked for anyone at Ford more than 5’10” and usually less. Every Ford I drove was short of legroom. Ford, at the time, was dominated by women, who pushed through the Women’s Marketing Scorecard. In order to get a high score, you had to accommodate short women. Hence, the lack of legroom.

  • avatar

    Honda S2000 was definitely too tight for me.
    Now, Nissan Juke Nismo gets prize for hardest to get in/out car. The bolsters on its front seats combined with elevated entry require good amount of effort either way.
    For rear seat – too many to mention

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I am average height, with relatively short legs but due to decades in the gym have a rather ‘thick’ build and thighs.

    Had to get rid of a 2nd generation Explorer as with a winter coat on, I could not get the seatbelt buckled or unbuckled without opening the door.

    Had problems with GM minivans with bolstered seats as the bolsters on the bottom cut off the circulation to my legs. Resulted in an ongoing sciatic problem.

    Could never fit into Recaro seats or their imitators. Too narrow for my shoulders and chest.

    What always suited me best was the 60/40 split bench available on 1970’s American luxo barges and some PLC’s.

  • avatar

    WWII Jeeps have the worst leg room of any vehicle that I can think of. Early Japanese mini-pickups were also terrible for legroom.

  • avatar

    I too, like the author, am 6’4”. However the greater proportion of my height is in my torso so headroom is the chief concern for me. My first car was a VW fastback. Tons of headroom. My first NEW car was a 1981 Dodge Colt. I had to drive the car with the seat semi-reclined for the eight years that I owned it.
    Mustangs and Camaros are a nightmare for me to climb in and out of.
    My current cars are a Kia Soul – no fit problems there – and a Spark EV which has a surprising amount of headroom for such a diminutive car.
    Another fun fact of driving while tall is looking out of the top 2 inches of the windshield and often to rearview mirror is slightly below eye level.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m almost 6′ and find getting in and out of Mustang a challenge. Not impossible, but a little more work than I like. Once I’m in, all is well. Still trying to figure the optimal entrance and exit strategy for taller guys.

      Then again, this is my first sports car. Maybe I’ll adjust in time.

  • avatar

    I’m 5’10”, but any car I can’t fit comfortably in is a deal breaker. I also like to sit up and see, so height adjustment is a must (unless it’s a Ford or Ram pickup, oddly enough).

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    At 6’6″, I have to dismiss most cars out of hand.

    I spend a lot of time looking up interior dimensions for headroom (39″ front, minimum) and legroom. I simply can’t consider a vehicle I can’t fit in.

    Besides my minivans over the past 21 years, the car I fit into best was my 05 Scion xB1 – loads of legroom and headroom. One reason I traded my 95 Stratus was because I realized I didn’t really fit inside it – slouching was no way to exist in the car.

    Car interiors are actually getting smaller, not larger. My 70s Pintos were just fine, but today some sedans are actually smaller. We can thank safety and NVH improvements for that. To be fair, I’m no longer 180 lbs, but more like 240 lbs today.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m also 6’6” and rule out most cars too. What’s crazy to me is how small some of today’s big SUVs are interns of headroom – I tried a new Escalade when I sold my JKU Wrangler (because I was sick of leaning down to see lights and my eyes were at the windsheield top) and it was absolutely crazy how small it was! Like I needed 4+ more inches to be comfortable.

      Ended up in a Mercedes GL – it’s absolutely wonderful and nearly a whole fistful of headroom even in an upright position. It’s literally the only SUV I could find where a car seat fits behind me.

      Also have a BMW 750 that is JUST enough headroom to work ok. Only sedan I found I fit in well if a sunroof was optioned.

      My toy is a 996 cabriolet – fit ok especially once you do a GT3 center console delete and Extend My Seat brackets.

  • avatar

    I was 5-10 but age has got me at 5-9 now. 185 LB’s. Compact or sub-compact cars use to be fine for me. But when I last shopped I found that a Mazda3 or Ford Focus seemed a little TOO BIG. Don’t like cars where I can’t reach the far edge of the windshield. Ended up with a Ford Fiesta ST. I fit fine and tolerate the Recaro seats.

  • avatar

    I’m 5’11” and 215 lbs. with lumbar and cervical hardware from previous spinal fusions, lumbar support and comfort are paramount to me. My Charger has great power lumbar, it feels like a fist pushing into the small of my back. Telescopic wheel and adjustable pedals make it easy to get perfect position. A little more side bolstering would be nice though.

  • avatar

    I’m 5’11” 165 and the only issue I’ve ever had is wishing the seat on my Highlander had about an extra inch or two of rearward travel. Given the pedal location it forces me to flex my legs a little which only aggravates the fact that the cushion is too short. This is the first vehicle I’ve owned where I couldn’t adjust the seat so far back that I couldn’t reach the pedals.

    I’m fairly set on bench seat for my next vehicle so I have the option of armrest, no armrest, 3 across in a pinch, move your let and not hit the console. That fact is steering me toward a full size pickup truck. Plus that full size trucks usually have pretty extreme seat travel.

  • avatar

    5’8″, but mostly torso – the worst fit I had was a Cavalier coupe which was short enough on headroom that I had to sit a little more reclined than I’d like, but that was manageable. My only genuine discomfort was from the seats in a rental Nissan Altima (no matter how I adjusted it, I was hobbling after a couple hours), but I’m not shedding any tears after crossing that off my list.

    Motorcycles are trickier – I have an ancient Honda Rebel right now, and to sit comfortably, I’m jamming myself into hardware for the rear seat, so rides of over an hour are pretty much ruled out. Going the other way, some of the bigger cruiser-y bikes seem to require a little more inseam than I have.

  • avatar

    At a slender 6’0″ in the 1970s, I had a bit of a problem with the company Toyota pickups I had to drive. Not only was there insufficient legroom, but the short-cushioned bench seats offered no support and were pain-inducing on long trips.

    I drove a friend’s Chrysler Crossfire and I found the headroom to be marginal even with the seat all the way down. The windshield header was at the same level as the top of my forehead so looking up out of the short windshield was an exercise in futility.

    I had no problems whatsoever fitting in my tiny Honda CRX. I couldn’t even reach the pedals with the seat all the way back. Honda was smart to make it a two-seater for the North American market. I invited a burly, all-muscle, 6’5″, 300-pound coworker to have a seat. He was dubious, but he actually made it into the car, sort of like a big man slipping on a jacket. He cried out “I fit!”

    • 0 avatar

      CRX has more room then you think my only issue was the headroom.
      I like the look of crossfires but yeah bit tight inside. The MB version is better somehow (at one point I had coworkers with both versions)

  • avatar

    My deal breaker is width, I have to be able to put my elbows at my side. Rules out the Bolt and everything else GM has made in the last decade. Put the seat back, turn left and there’s the B-pillar. I’m 5’8” if I fudge a little and put the seat all the way back in every car I get in. I don’t know how you tall guys manage.

  • avatar

    For me the issue isn’t so much the raw interior dimension measurements, but how the car accommodates me. I’m 6’1 / 185lbs with disproportionately long legs and arms. If a seat can’t slide back sufficiently far, I tilt back the rear cushion and tilt up the front cushion (think martini glass) to force a knee bend, then tilt up and telescope out the steering wheel so my knees fit between the steering wheel and dashboard. This seems to do the trick in most rental cars.

    I find ’80s exotics entertainingly bad in terms of fit. I have to drive a Countach with my head tilted to the right (because if tilted to the left the door would whack my head). In a Testarossa I slouch forward in with knees splayed out; it seems as though the Italians anticipated this because the shifter rod is canted right away from the driver.

  • avatar

    I have a couple:
    I’m 6’4″, 255 and actually drove a Fiat 500 (My wife wanted me to try it during our test drive) and I actually fit Ok.
    At an auto show I was going to sit in a BMW i8 but when I approached the car, I realized I would not be getting in gracefully in front of other people so I didn’t bother.
    My last one was I somehow got into the back seat of a ’92 (?) Mazda Previa of a friends. While we were all laughing at how tight it was he closed the hatch back. My head still hurts to this day thinking about it.

  • avatar

    Best cars IMO for me (6’4″ / 36″ inseam) are european brands, or derivatives.

    Our Dodge Challenger is the most comfortable I have ever been, and the only car/truck so far where I do not need all of the seat travel. I dread the introduction of the next generation Challenger – probably going to be as cramped as the Mustang…

    Trucks are usually also a good bet, although I skipped Fords in the past because they seem to hate tall people – I especially disliked the weird foot rest that stuck too far into footwell. I like my Ram truck for leg room, but would like seat to go lower, and the steering wheel to telescope. I heard they fixed both those issues in the 2019 model.

    Other than that (having driven many rental cars), I’d say

  • avatar

    Yes, the lease that I’m turning in next month (YEA!). It’s a 2016 Jeep Patriot 4×4.

    It’s so narrow that I can touch with my fingertips the passenger’s door panel WHILE seated and belted in.

    My wife and I cannot use the center armrest at the same time.

    My knees hit the dash, doors and steering wheel getting in and out.

    The seat’s lumbar support is barely there, and what is there is not even close to being in the right place.

    The rear hatch doesn’t open high enough so I constantly bang my head into the open hatch either walking into it or trying to straighten up from getting anything from the back of the vehicle.

  • avatar

    I found the seating positions in Panthers to be so awful, I’ve ruled them out. The Town Car is better, but the Vic and the G.Marquis are out.

    I’m not a big guy, 5’11/under 200 lbs. I think its how you’re built rather than our actual dimensions. For how long my legs, torso, etc are, driving mom’s 2008 Grand Marquis was worse than the 1991 Tempo coupe I had at the time. I’ve owned a lot of small cars, including many Tempos, a Festiva, CRX, Escorts, etc. No problems with them.

    The vehicle I absolutely could not tolerate to drive for any length of time was my 1996 Isuzu Hombre single cab. It forced my body in such a position that my lower neck/upper spine were pinched. I have pinched nerve and it aggravated it horribly. I actually traded it straight across for the 1991 Tempo GLS mentioned above. It didn’t hurt that the Hombre had electrical gremlins and the cab corners that were as soft as warm butter and as flakey as the biscuits you put butter on. Add in a slight timing chain noise and I had reason enough to end my relationship with it.

    My Taurus fits me very well. Best investment I’ve made was the 1992 LX parts car, the power lumbar support is a gift from almighty God.

    I rode in a friends 2016 Fusion recently, an SE, and I loved the seats. They held me and supported me without feeling hard or confining. They have more lateral support than my parents 2012 Taurus. But, I’ve been in their Taurus for a 6000+ mile road trip and my back hurt me very little. The way I’m built, the console doesn’t feel intrusive and the car is roomy to me. I’m just as comfortable the 6th hour of the trip as I was the first.

    Hondas are low, but they’re not bad. The 2016 Accord coupe I drove new was very comfortable. Everything was in easy reach yet it didnt feel cramped at all. With my seat in a comfortable position, the sales chick could sit behind me with no issues.

    GM products, aside from compact single cab trucks, are okay. I’m comfortable in a GMT400, even the rear seat of an extended cab isn’t horrible. My cousins 2014 Silverado ex-cab is hard to enter due to the very narrow front-hinged rear doors. Once I’m in, its okay for what it is. I’m tempted to say the 1995 is better so far as seat comfort (climbing in isn’t fun), but honestly, its a toss up.

    • 0 avatar

      Ahh compact single cabs trucks not the greatest thing for any one over 5’9
      “. One shop I worked in had a VW caddy for a shop truck. My knees were above the center of the wheel driving that around.

    • 0 avatar

      This question is very apt to me, as my boyfriend is 6’3″ and very slender. I’m trying to find him a car. We drove my Taurus today, he was fine in it. He said quite a while back, he had a 1998 Honda (Accord?) and a 1978 Civic CVCC, which he loved. He said both fit him fine, so maybe a Honda would work well,

  • avatar

    I’m 6’3″ with long arms and long legs. The worst vehicle I’ve driven from an ergonomics standpoint was the 2nd generation Mazda3. Legroom was virtually nonexistent. My feet were crammed into the pedal box, my knees were wedged against the dash, my thighs were hitting the steering wheel. It was a disaster, particularly since it was a manual so I was required to make vain attempts to operate the left peddle without banging my knee on the dash or my thigh on the steering wheel. It was traumatic. #MeToo

    Surprisingly Jeep TJ’s are not great, either. Few people feel cramped in a TJ because the headroom is prodigious, but the legroom is only adequate. My knees are quite close to the bottom of the dash in my TJ, maybe 1″ or less to spare. The excessive headroom is for rollover safety, but it’s strange having a vehicle with ample headroom for a 7-footer and ample leg room for a 6-footer.

    Generally speaking, cars with the drivers seat on the floor are quite uncomfortable. I prefer upright seating, like a dining room chair, not the sort of seats that force the driver to extend his legs under the dash. The seating position is what makes sedans less popular compared to their step-in upright CUV cousins. Some older Toyota trucks also have a car-like seating position.

  • avatar

    I’m 5’10” 205# with broad shoulders, a tall torso, long arms, and short legs. (If I were 6’1″ and the extra three inches were all in my legs, I’d be normally proportioned.)

    In general I fit cars surprisingly well. The worst problem tends to be upper seatback cushions that are too narrow at the shoulders, with the top edge of the bolsters digging into my shoulder blades.

    Most of the exceptions have been Asian. The Forester XT’s thigh cushion was too short for even my short legs. The ’88 Accord had my knees against the steering column (but I loved it anyway).

    But the least comfortable I’ve been in a car in recent memory was the ’11 Mustang convertible I rented for my honeymoon. I just could not find a comfortable position in that car. The seat was very low but wouldn’t go back far enough, so I felt like I was sitting in a bathtub with my legs bent at an awkward angle. Raise the seat and I was against the ceiling. I wouldn’t buy a pre-’15 Mustang, and I’d have to test drive a post ’15 to see if the driving position for me has improved.

  • avatar

    I’m 6’4″, 265, long torso, relatively short legs for my height. It’s hard to find a car that can accommodate my frame comfortably. Even SUVs and crossovers that you’d assume would have plenty of room often don’t. I had a 2006 Lexus IS350, which I loved, but it got to be a masochistic experience having to recline the seat more than I would like so my head wouldn’t hit the roof. The shoulder room was terrible so I had to hunch forward. Sometimes we’re stubborn with our auto choices.

    Besides headroom, the most important thing for my comfort is the length of the seat bottom to support my thighs. Cars with adjustable thigh support or fore-aft adjustable seat bottoms (independent of fore-aft movement of the entire seat) are necessary for me. That rules out most cars, and pretty much forces me to go high end. I’m not at all interested in trucks.

    Land Cruisers (and the Lexus variant) are surprisingly tight in the driver’s seat, so they didn’t work. As a commenter above stated, the outward design, appearance, and size of a vehicle does not necessarily correlate to the interior space and comfort.

    In the end, I went with an LS460. It’s got plenty of space for me, and more importantly, adjusts to the idiosyncrasies of my body with no complaints or compromises whatsoever. It’s a dream of comfort. My parents’ LS430 is similar, though seems to provide a bit more headroom and feels airier. Hard to imagine that I drove a Datsun 280Z (first car) and a Toyota Tercel (second car) for many years, albeit with 35 fewer pounds on my frame. My brother got an old 260Z not long ago to mess around with — it was shockingly small and felt like a go-kart. Fun, but nerve wracking. Cars have come a long way in the past 40 years.

    • 0 avatar

      This is interesting. I’m more focused on shoulder room than head- or legroom, and I find that my new LX570 feels significantly roomier in the driver’s seat than my previous LS460.

      • 0 avatar

        Congrats on the LX. I’ve driven the new LX and I definitely had a hard time getting the adjustment just right no matter what I tried. The footwell and knee room seemed cramped, and I couldn’t get the length in the thigh support that I prefer. It was great for shoulder and headroom, though. I could probably live with it because, well, it’s an LX! And such an awesomely engineered vehicle. The seat just didn’t feel as good as the LS460’s seat does (the bolstered seat with the Sport Package). The 5-place seating configuration for the new LX is definitely tempting me. (The two extra seats in the back never made sense for my purposes — they stole a lot of storage space and would have been rarely used, if at all.)

        • 0 avatar

          Thanks! It makes sense that the footwell would feel cramped… there’s a big old transfer case pushing it sideways.

          My LS460 wasn’t a Sport (I went for C+ instead), but the seats were quite comfortable. The only issue was that they felt a bit narrow in the shoulders. The LX570 doesn’t have that problem.

          The dumb part about the new two-row LX is that it’s available only in base form without the good options. If I were buying a 2018 LX (rather than the finely aged 2011 I got) I’d want it with the two rows but with all the good stuff too, especially the Luxury Package.

          • 0 avatar

            Interesting about the two-row LX not being available fully specced out. I haven’t looked into it in detail. I figured in a couple years I’ll consider getting one used. But I would definitely want the good stuff, too!

            My LS is a 2011 with only 52K miles, and is covered under the full Lexus warranty through 2021(!). So I’m in no hurry to get rid of it — I’m enjoying it so much.

  • avatar

    I’m 5’7″ and kind of built like a fire hydrant 170lbs, so I fit into most anything. However I will say the sport seats in some cars(Recaros in a Mustang GT) are just too tight for a driver IMO. That would be a great track seat, but man it was too constricting and just rock hard for the street.

    Also F the BMW i8. Worst ingress/egress of any car I’ve ever been in. Found it easier to get in and out of an old Winston cup stock car somebody had at the drag strip.

    Also the Lotus Elise with the roof on, its like human oragami getting in one. Take the roof panel off and its super easy, just put your feet in first and swing your butt into the seat.

  • avatar

    I’m I guess we’ll call it 6’3.5″ (I was 6’4″ when I left high school but I measure less now).

    I like others have mentioned have found the best fit in European cars. Domestics next. Volvo VW MB BMW MIni all fit fine. My golf was great.

    Largest leg room was actually a 96 Maxima only car I ever regularly drove not on the rear track stops.
    For headroom my Dads CRX si I either had to do a west coast lean or drive with my head cocked. My toyota pickup I loved but I did whack my head on the roof hitting a few frost heaves in the day.
    I did not have the same issue with a Rogue I had as a rental over the summer but had issues with an altima rental. Also I had a contour when my son was born not the most comfortable for me but drivable but no way the kid could fit behind me. Had to get a narrow car seat so it would fit between the seat (rear facing) so my wife and I could sit up front on that one. Changed to a minivan shortly thereafter.
    I can drive a miata but not comfortably. I can’t actually drive a s2000 ( my leg jams between the wheel and the door when I try to hit the clutch)
    Oddly one of the worst was a 2006 RAV4 simply awful and I’m not alone on that several companies market kits to move the seat further back and down.
    Should also note I prefer power seats. In my experience power seats tend to have more range of motion then regular seats.

  • avatar
    Mike G

    The topic and that interior pic reminds me of the scene from “Police Academy” where Bubba Smith can’t fit in the driver’s seat of a 70s Civic so he rips out the front seats and drives from the back —

  • avatar
    Ben T Spanner

    I’m 6’2″ plus. My legs are somewhat short with a 32 inch inseam. We have a 2016 Acura MDX and a 2016 RDX. The front door on the RDX is longer, and therefore I fit better. Rental cars; no go with Charger, Impala, or Passat. Sonatas and Azeras are ok. Nissan Versa Notes are fine, as are Altimas. I don’t mind sitting low. I do fit in a Kia Soul.

    I’m now 72. Back in the day I drove 6 old Jaguars, 6 Triumphs, and 6 big Healeys. Much more flexibility. We will be considering a Mini to rplace the MDX. I would love a 2005 or so Jaguar as a toy. I fit in the S type, but not the XJ8!

  • avatar

    At 6’4’’ and 185 lbs, I’m tall but pretty skinny. Legroom is always a concern. Granted, most of the cars I’ve owned have been small and I’ve fit in them comfortably (Metro, Aspire, Charade, Aveo, Sonic, Esteem, Focus, Justy, etc)

    But when car shopping in 2015, the worst car I’ve experienced was the Ford Fiesta. What a bummer! I loved the look, the refined feel, the handling, and the crisp manual transmission.

    But I just never could get comfortable in the drivers seat. The wide center console intruded on my right knee, the protruding cupholder in the driver door panel would hit my left leg, and the door armrest didn’t go back far enough for my elbow to rest, forcing me to awkwardly twist my left shoulder forward. I even rented a Fiesta for a weekend trip to see if I was overreacting and it was a miserable trip in the claustrophobic cabin.

    No matter what, part of my body with minimal padding on the bone was in contact with hard plastic. Obviously, whoever engineered this car was under 5’10’’

  • avatar

    I had an opportunity to sit in a Ferrari F1-2000 back when I was much thinner than I am now. I’ve heard about how formula car seats can be one-cheekers for some people, but the fact is that the tub was only big enough for one of my thighs when I rode my bike up a mountain every day. I almost went to Jim Russel driving school at Mont Treblant circa 2000. I was pretty glad I didn’t go when I saw an FF2000 at Buttonwillow years later. Open wheel cars may be the fountain of four-wheeled truth, but the closest I’ll come to knowing was a Lola 440 back when I was a pre-teen.

  • avatar
    Lawyer Applegate

    I’m six-foot-six, weigh 285 pounds, and have disproportionately long legs and size 15 feet. Almost nothing fits comfortably, really.

    The worst ever was my wife’s 2005 Honda CR-V; my knees were pressed against the dash with the seat all the way back. Second-worse was my mother’s first-gen Subaru Forester; the center console pressed against the right side of my right leg hard enough to leave a bruise after an hour or so.

    My wife’s 2018 Impreza Sport is pretty good – not great, but good. Currently I daily a 1979 Olds Delta 88 Royale Brougham which, with custom extended seat brackets and an extra two inches of legroom, is pretty darn good.

  • avatar

    I’m also part of the under-served 6’6″ demographic. Like others here have mentioned, I’m pretty much excluded from most modern sedans on the basis of headroom alone. In many of them, I simply can’t sit up straight even with the seat at the lowest height. I had thought that the Chrysler 300 might potentially fit since it’s one of the biggest cars on the market today, but its roof is too low. I was, however, able to fit in the Chevy Impala.

    Until recently I drove a 2010 Honda Fit, which didn’t have a power seat but still had over 40 inches of headroom, which turned out to be just enough. A couple months ago I switched to a 2016 Ford Escape – with the power seat properly adjusted, headroom is adequate.

    Prior to purchasing the Escape, I had also test-driven the new 2017 Honda CR-V and it was also feasible if adjusted properly. Other vehicles I sat in at dealerships and were able to adequately adjust for headroom were the Chevy Trax (presumably the Buick Encore would also work), the Chevy Colorado, and the half-ton Ford and Chevy pickups. The Jeep Grand Cherokee was a no-go.

  • avatar

    I’m almost 6’4″ and have had a hard time finding comfortable cars my whole life.
    Mostly I think this is due to being pretty picky about under thigh seat support. If I find a car with a seat that adjusts enough to ensure the seat is supporting my legs – I’m usually good. If not I’m in trouble.

    Here’s a list of cars that I’ve owned that have been comfy:
    1974 Ford Gran Torino
    1986 Nissan 200 SX
    1989 Chevy Beretta
    1991 Honda Accord – bad at first – but became very comfy
    1995 Subaru Legacy – bad at first – but became comfy
    2000 Mazda MPV
    2003 Mazda MPV
    2008 Ford Fusion – current driver
    2011 Mazda CX-9

    Cars that were terrible:
    1989 Toyota Celica no support- traded for the Beretta
    2003 Honda Accord LX – terrible seats – traded for the 2003 MPV
    2009 Toyota Camry – my wife’s car, then mine, now my son has it.

    I’ve driven a bunch of rentals and found the new Impala to be good. The Challenger is good too. The 300 is pretty good. Altima was acceptable.

    Last week I had a Fiesta for a day – not much seat time – but after I adjusted the seat all the way down and back it was adequate. But as a poster above mentioned – the cup holder in the door pushed against my leg. Why Ford?

  • avatar

    caterham super seven

  • avatar

    6’1, 32″ inseam, 280lbs here.

    I was car shopping when I got out of college in ’98 and was willing to drink the Saturn kool-aid, but didn’t fit in anything in their lineup. That’s how I wound up with a ’96 Regal.

    Apart from my ’08 Accord and my ’65 Wildcat, every other car I’ve owned has been “put the seat all the way back and recline it a little”.

    I’ve been surprised at the amount of seat travel in the New Beetle, 500L, and Bolt though.

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