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If you’ve ever bought a car, you most likely went on a few test drives to see how each car suited you. It’s important that your car drive well of course, but there’s a chance you may have been unconsciously testing for more. Every time you get behind the wheel, you’re responding to the design of each car’s ergonomics—that is, how the engineering and design affects you and makes you more (or less) comfortable. As October is National Ergonomics Month, we want to discuss what ergonomics are, how they affect your driving experience, and where you can find the right car for your ergonomic needs.
Vehicle ergonomics cover a large swath of features in your car. It encompasses everything from how high the steering wheel is, to how your arms hit the armrests, to the placement of buttons on the radio. An ergonomics engineer for Ford once described her job as “human factors engineering”, and if we know anything about humans it’s that every single one of us is different. This makes the job of an ergonomics engineer that much harder, since one design does not necessarily work for all. That’s why we’ve put together a few lists of cars with some of the best ergonomics—and within each list, we’ve included a smaller car, a larger car, and one luxury car.
If You’re Shorter
If you’re on the shorter side, you know how hard it can be to find a car that doesn’t force you to sit on a phone book to see over the steering wheel (which means you also know how hard it is to find a phone book these days). Here are few that should take the strain out of your neck (and the phone book from under your butt).
The Forester offers a tilt and telescoping steering wheel and multi-way adjustable seats, plus it’s easy to get in and out of!
Just because you’re on the shorter side doesn’t mean trucks are out of the question. The Ridgeline offers a tilting and telescoping steering wheel and adjustable seats, as well as front seat adjustable seat belt anchors and great forward visibility.
This car is super luxurious in a lot of ways, but it’s the seating options that can’t be beat: the heated and cooled seats are adjustable sixteen different ways!
If You’re Taller
Driving as a person bestowed with extra height also presents its challenges. Here are the best cars where you won’t feel like all your limbs are crammed into your car’s nooks and crannies:
Who says you have to have a large car to accommodate your height? The Leaf is a hatchback that offers ample headroom.
Need room for yourself and the stuff you’re always hauling around? This truck has spacious seats and a roomy cabin.
This luxury SUV boasts some of the most headroom available…and it’s also pretty iconic.
If You Have Back Issues
We all know that a long drive can wreak havoc on your lower back, even if you don’t already have any back pain issues. Try out one of these cars to keep your lower back from screaming:
The Civic has an eight-way adjustable driver’s seat which also includes an updated “pivot point”, which allows for a unique approach to seat positioning.
The seats in this car were actually developed by orthopedic specialists, so you know you and your back are in for a treat. In addition to lumbar support, their contour seats also provide shoulder and thigh support.
Even the standard-issue front seats of this luxury car allow for fourteen-way adjustable seats, PLUS four-way adjustable lumbar support.
So there you have it: a few of the best ergonomically-minded cars on the market. Don’t forget, just because a car is on this list doesn’t mean it’s the perfect one for you. Be sure to test them out for yourself to find your perfect fit!