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Slide Show | August 2011

10 Best Cars for Older Drivers

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Sooner or later, comfort enters into the car equation. Whether you're 50, 60, or 70, you may start thinking about a vehicle that can conform to your chassis, instead of the other way around.

To find our top picks for older drivers, we took a tip from Goldilocks -- a car must be neither too big nor too small. Small cars tend to be low to the ground and often don’t have the room a more mature torso needs.

Big vehicles often involve a step up to get in. So we looked for medium-height cars and smaller SUVs and mini-vans with easy entrance and egress. To customize your ride we insisted on a tilt -- and, ideally, telescoping -- steering wheel. An adjustable-height driver’s seat was also required. Bonus points for heated seats, lumbar support and adjustable pedals; if the passenger seat adjusts as well, even better.

Visibility is also key (why crane your neck?), and several of our picks have backup cameras and reverse sensing systems to aid you. Plus, some have options for high-tech safety features, such as blind-spot and lane-departure warnings. Though these options are pricey, none tips a car’s price over $60,000.

Check out our ten best car picks for older drivers, and let us know which is your favorite by leaving a comment below.


10 Best Cars for Older Drivers

Kia Soul +

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Courtesy of Kia

Sticker price: $17,190

Invoice price: $16,505

Resale value: 3 years, 45%; 5 years, 30%

MPG: 24 city, 30 highway

Cargo space (cubic feet): 19

Seniors will like the Kia Soul as much as the hamsters dancing to a hip new beat in the carmaker's TV commercials. The Soul combines an air of practicality with sporty handling, heaps of space, great styling, and a low price. A standard USB connection will keep you in tunes, and built-in Bluetooth adds hands-free calling.

Kia Soul +

Honda CR-V LX

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Courtesy of Honda

Sticker price: $22,705

Invoice price: $21,190

Resale value: 3 years, 52%; 5 years, 40%

MPG: 21 city, 28 highway

Cargo space (cubic feet): 36

Value doesn't get more straightforward than driving this small SUV. The seats are at just the right height for easy entry and exit. The dash is pleasantly clear of clutter, and handling and braking are impeccably tuned. Plus, the car gets great gas mileage and has loads of cargo room. It's a great choice for mature drivers.

Honda CR-V LX

Mazda5 Grand Touring

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Courtesy of Mazda

Sticker price: $24,670 (2012 model)

Invoice price: $23,151

Resale value: 3 years, 48%; 5 years, 34%

MPG: 21 city, 28 highway

Cargo space (cubic feet): 28

This mini-minivan isn’t just for moms. Its six-person seating is great for ferrying grandkids, and the seats stow easily to give you more cargo room when needed. The Mazda5’s low-riding stance makes it a breeze to get in and out of the vehicle. Plus, the driver’s seat has adjustable lumbar support and the front seats are heated.

Mazda5 Grand Touring

Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

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Courtesy of Subaru

Sticker price: $29,220

Invoice price: $27,455

Resale value: 3 years: 50%; 5 years: 34%

MPG: city: 22; highway: 29

Cargo space (cubic feet): 34

For aging but active drivers, the Outback offers all-wheel drive (standard on all Subarus) and is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick, so you can feel confident navigating any and all road conditions.

The Limited model offers a ten-way power seat with power lumbar adjustment (nice after you lift a canoe or kayak onto the roof) and an extra storage compartment under the cargo area floor (for muddy golf shoes, wet towels, and such).

Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

Ford Taurus Limited

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Courtesy of Ford

Sticker price: $32,845

Invoice price: $30,338

Resale value: 3 years: 42%; 5 years: 26%

MPG: city: 18; highway: 28

Cargo space (cubic feet): 20

The Limited has Ford’s SYNC system, which lets you make hands-free phone calls, control the entertainment system with voice commands, and get turn-by-turn directions. Ten-way power front seats provide an extra level of comfort and adjustable pedals are available in a $2,000 option package. The ample trunk space is great for packing heavy for long trips over the holidays.

Ford Taurus Limited

Toyota Avalon

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Courtesy of Toyota

Sticker price: $33,955

Invoice price: $30,636

Resale value: 3 years: 44%; 5 years: 30%

MPG: city: 20; highway: 29

Cargo space (cubic feet): 14

There's a reason you see so many older drivers cruising in Avalons. Its cushy ride is like sitting on a cloud. And with an eight-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar adjustment, you’ll be able to get that “just right” feel. Choose the Driver Seat Memory option ($1,020) and your passenger can share in the comfort, too -- and you’ll both get heated seats.

Then there's the cockpit -- the dash controls are large and easy to use. A backup monitor comes standard in the rearview mirror. Spring for the navigation system ($2,350) and you’ll get a full-screen, easy-to-see monitor.

Toyota Avalon

Honda Odyssey EX-L

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Courtesy of Honda

Sticker price: $35,535

Invoice price: $32,264

Resale value: 3 years, 55%; 5 years, 37%

MPG: 18 city, 27 highway

Cargo space (cubic feet): 93

Families love mini-vans. But the Odyssey offers exceptional value for empty nesters, too. Low step-in height, a push button for everything from opening the doors to stowing the seats, a gentle ride, and a safety rating are just some of the Odyssey’s highlights. The EX-L boasts a ten-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, tri-zone climate control, rearview camera, Bluetooth and a USB connection.

Honda Odyssey EX-L

Chrysler 300C

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Courtesy of Chrysler

Sticker price: $38,995

Invoice price: $37,167

Resale value: 3 years, 46%; 5 years, 31%

MPG: 16 city, 25 highway

Cargo space (cubic feet): 16

Chrysler’s restyled 300C is evocative of the original 1957 model, with a wide front grille and fins. The doors open wide for easy entry, and the dashboard is clean with big, easy-to-use controls. But there's more to the C than just nostalgia. Heated seats (front and rear) and a rearview camera are standard, and the pedals and steering wheel adjust at the touch of a button.

Add the Safetytec package ($2,795) for adaptive cruise control, which uses radar to keep you a safe distance from the car in front when you’re cruising at highway speeds. The package includes forward collision warning, blind-spot warning and cross-path detection.

Chrysler 300C

Lexus RX 350

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Courtesy of Lexus

Sticker price: $39,950

Invoice price: $36,238

Resale value: 3 years, 55%; 5 years, 37%

MPG: 18 city, 25 highway

Cargo space (cubic feet): 40

The stylish RX wraps drivers of all ages in luxury and comfort. The front seats adjust at the touch of a button and the driver’s seat slides automatically to make entry and exit a snap. A one-year subscription to Safety Connect provides an emergency assist button and collision notification. Safety options include a pre-collision system ($1,500), park assist ($500) and a backup monitor ($350).

Lexus RX 350

Mercedes-Benz E350

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Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Sticker price: $50,275

Invoice price: $46,817

Resale value: 3 years, 42%; 5 years, 26%

MPG: 17 city, 24 highway

Cargo space (cubic feet): 16

Talk about living the retired life of luxury: Sleek lines and sumptuous leather are just the beginning in the E-Class. This IIHS Top Safety Pick says you’ve arrived but is, above all, comfortable and safe. Seats adjust 14 ways and standard Attention Assist monitors your driving for signs of drowsiness and reminds you to take a break.

The Driver’s Assistance Package ($2,950) adds active blind-spot and lane-keeping assist, which will steer you back into your lane if you attempt to move over when a vehicle is in your blind spot or if you drift from your lane.

Mercedes-Benz E350

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