My wife and I was going to purchase a 2008 Toyota Camry but after driving it we found it too bumpy of a ride. We would like suggestions for alternative cars at a similar level that would provide a smoother ride.
In addition to ride quality, you need to consider seat comfort!
I can tell you from personal experience that Honda Accords (the chief competitor of the Camry) are built very low to the ground and they also feature seats that are VERY close to the floor. The net result is that you have to lower yourself much more in order to get into the vehicle, and you have to lift yourself much higher when getting out of the car. These maneuvers can be very hard on the back.
Also, the very low position of the Accord’s seats–relative to the floor–results in a “legs out” seating position, which is very bad for the lower back. When driving my '92 Accord, I typically experienced lower back pain and sciatic pain radiating into my right leg if I drove for more than 30 minutes.
Later, when driving my SO’s '01 Accord, I experienced the same intense discomfort. While it is possible that the newer Accords are not built in the same manner, it would behoove you to do an extended test drive of an Accord if you are considering one. With the current sales figures for most car dealerships, you should encounter little resistance if you tell the salesman that you need to drive the car for an hour or so, in order to assess whether it is suited to your anatomy.
Incidentally, the easiest vehicles to get into and out of are–believe it or not–the smaller SUVs, such as the Honda CR-V, the Toyota RAV-4, and the Subaru Forester. Their seats are, literally, “butt-height” for most people, making for very easy entry and exit, and this is much easier on the back than having to lower yourself into a sedan seat or having to climb up and down in order to seat yourself in a large SUV.
With any vehicle, plan on an extended test drive in order to assess both the ride quality and the seat comfort. The typical 15 minute test drive tells you very little about seat comfort.
When you have lower back problems, cars are like shoes–you have to try them on for size. My wife and I don’t have a car anymore because of the seating position–we have a Chevrolet Uplander minivan and a Toyota 4Runner SUV. Before the 4Runner, we had a 1993 Oldsmobile 88. The ride was soft, but due to the seats, my legs and back ached after only 100 miles. The 4Runner has a firm ride, but the seats fit us so well that we can ride all day and not be tired.
The university where I am employed has three makes of vehicles in its fleet–Honda Civic hybrids, Ford Tauruses, and Chevrolet Impalas. My wife is also employed by the university and recruits graduate students. Of the three, she prefers the Ford for its comfort. I haven’t been assgined to the Chevrolet Impala, but I prefer the Ford Taurus over the Honda Civic Hybrid when I have driven these cars. The institution once rented a Hyundai Sonata for me for a road trip. I didn’t find it particularly comfortable.
Try the cars on as you would a pair of shoes. VDCdriver has given you good advice in not overlooking a small SUV.
Do you have problems entering and exiting cars? If so, you might consider a small SUV. My neighbor has back problems and switched from a Honda Accord to a Honda CR-V. It worked for him. If you like Toyotas, look at a RAV4. Other, similar trucks are the Ford Escape and Chevy Equinox. There are many others, too.
Toyota makes a car that rhymes with have a lawn. Then there is a Ford Expedition. Try the Taurus too.
Whatever you look at, make sure you take it for more than a spin around the block. It may seem comfortable after a short trip, but after 20 or 30 minutes, can really feel horrible. Upscale cars like Acura or Cadillac may have the smoother ride you’re looking for, but you’ll need to spend a good deal of time looking at, and test driving, different vehicles.
Let no stone go unturned would be a good phrase to remember.
My daughter-in-law has severe back problems. Her car is a really nice 1995 Ford Mustang. However, she hasn’t been able to drive it for the last seven years. She is drivng a minivan while my son drives the Mustang. To my son, “a car is a car” and as long as something rolls, that’s all he cares about. My daughter-in-law really likes cars, but driving comfort is more important. She will have back surgery this coming week and has hopes of being able to drive her Mustang again. The point is that comfort needs to be your first concern. Try SUV’s, minivans and even a Divco milk wagon where you can stand up and drive if necessary.
I don’t know about a smoother ride but my wife had spinal fusion and loves our blazer with the adjustable lumbar support, she says it is the most comfortable car for her back she has ever ridden in. Not similar for sure but just our experience.
In the early 1960’s, I had a fellow college student who had a severe back problem. His parents were wealthy and told him he could buy any car he wanted. He checked out everything that was available in 1961 and purchased a Volkswagen Beetle. He claimed that it was more comfortable for him to drive than his parents’ Cadillac.
It would be neat if a new vw was as good for her, A long test drive is probably the best advice.
A couple of years ago a used car dealer that I have done business with (dealership has been in the same family since the 1920’s)had an MG midget on the lot that needed some work, but was priced at only $700. I always thought I wanted one and thought this one might be fun to own. The two sons who do the saleswork were tied up with customers, but the mother of the family told me that I could go take it for a spin. She said that if I could get into the car, they might just give it to me. I’m 6’ 2" tall. When I got back from my ride, she came up and said,“I hope you can get out of it or you will have to buy it”. I almost had to buy the MG. I learned very quickly that this geezer belongs in a minivan.
Most comfortable seats I have ever sat in for an extended period were in a 1998 Volvo S70. Leather, not cloth S70 seats. The padding is quite different.
The seats in my wife’s 330 BMW are not necessarily all that comfortable, but I love the fact that you can adjust them in so many ways that you can have a different shaped seat every few minutes. The electric lumbar support moves up and down as well as in and out, and the seat bottom changes shape, so you can get it just the way you want it.
Believe it or not the Dodge Caravan we have got has the best combination of seat comfort, ease of getting in and out and gas mileage. The gas mileage is better than a SUV and the height is perfect for me. As others said you need a long test drive to know. Consider renting a car for a week before you buy.
This is Jimbarb. I appreciate people taking the time to respond and there a number of good tips. Since my initial question our dealer has suggested we try a Hyundai Azera. Has anyone had experience with this car in relation to comfort and back problems?
We road tested a Dodge Caravan in 2000 and neither my wife nor I found the seats very comfortable for us. We found the seats in the Ford Windstar a much better fit. This just points out the need for the original post to really test the vehicle before he makes a purchase. Cars are like shoes–different cars fit different people
We have a windstar and wife prefers the blazer by far! they are both 03, mileage is a little worse for the trailblazer both are 6 cyl, 15 vs 18 city and 22 vs 23 highway, neither a good prospect for the future given the recent history of gas prices.
My brother has an Azera and he loves it in every way, including seat comfort. However, since seat comfort is so subjective, you have to evaluate each possible car model on your own terms.
Have you considered a Ford Five-Hundred/Taurus? It has the “command seating” with the seats at fanny level making entry and exit to and from the car quite easy. And the wheel base is long enough to give a smooth ride. So does the Ford Fusion although not to the same extent. Of course, the Mercury equivalents of both also ride pretty much like their Ford counterparts.
See if the dealer will let you take an Azera home overnight. Drive it for at least a half hour to see if you have any issues. You don’t need to drive far, just sitting in traffic would be enough.
If you can’t borrow one, see if you can rent one for a weekend. Do a web search for “rent azera” and see what you get. If you rent one, make sure the rental agency knows why you are renting it so that they will have an Azera for you and not a usually reasonable substitute.