Car for elderly MIL

My MIL is in need of a new car. She has a very weak right hand, and the automatic stick-shift type transmissions are too hard for her to use. Are there any made today that have the transmission lever on the steering column?

She really likes Toyota and Subaru cars.

It would seem that would also affect her ability to steer in an emergency. Maybe it is time for her to hang up the car keys?

The Honda CR-V and Honda Odyssey has push button shift available.


I have a rotator cuff injury which makes using my right arm difficult. My Subaru is a floor shift, my Silverado has a column shift. The floor shifter is a lot easier to use, I have to use my left hand and reach over the steering wheel to put the Chevy onto park.

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Uber & Lyft

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My mother’s 2015 Jetta has a floor shifter that is very easy to manipulate.

I am a small, older woman with severe arthritis. I found that the 2007 Toyota Camry’s automatic transmission center console shifter is very easy to shift, more so than the column shifter on my previous cars. Likely the shifters in current Toyota vehicles of various models are similar.

I suggest you take your MIL shopping for her to find what vehicles she can comfortably enter and exit, sit in in comfortably, see out of well, can manipulate the shifter and pedals safely, etc. Once she can narrow possible choices to a short list, then start test driving.

Good luck.


Testing out a lot of cars is a good idea. Is there a CarMax near her?

Thanks, that’s something to look into! Her hand has been injured since age ten in a farming accident, and lately it has been hurting her more. Would help if the shifter did not have a button, as her right index and middle fingers are useless.

Might well be-- this is NE Ohio. Will check.

Very useful info, thank you! She does have arthritis in that hand now as well as useless fingers.

She had a Subaru, and its shift was a bit too much for her, but it’s also a couple of years old-- maybe they are now a bit easier.

My 2014 Camry I bought and also the Corolla and RAV4 I test drove have center console shifters that do NOT require pressing any buttons! That was a major selling point for me and why I stayed with a column shifter until it was no longer available except on some trucks. I also like that my Camry has a foot pedal for the parking brake. The lever parking brakes are painfully almost impossible for me to push the release button on.

I don’t know what the current model Toyotas have for shift levers and parking brakes, only that the 2014 Camry has what is easy to use for my arthritic hands.

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With respect, having one weak or painful hand does not necessarily equate to trouble maintaining steering control.


Not knowing how NE you are in Ohio, there’s plenty of Mazda dealerships near the Akron/Cleavland area.
I have a CX-7 that doesn’t have a button to push to move the shifter, I imagine it’s the norm these days since mine is a 2010 model.
She might consider the Cx-5, it’s a pretty popular model, and offers higher seats that should allow easier entry and exit while not being too high off the ground.

Yes, that’s our area. Thanks; good thoughts. I’d forgotten about Mazda’s competitiveness.

Unfortunately, the 2015 Jetta’s shifter does have a button on the front, but it could be activated with the ring finger.

My 95-year-old mother drove into a tree a few years ago. She didn’t survive. She wasn’t interested in not-driving.

You might consider modifying the shifter to compensate for her physical limitation.
If you do this she could have the car she wants and have it work correctly for her.
There are a lot of vets with missing arms and legs, so maybe you could talk to someone with the VA or Wounded Warriors Project.