Cars for sore hips, legs that don't bend... what to buy

My mother has a hip/leg that doesn’t work well. 93yrs with lots of miles. She needs a car with a passenger door that opens wide, a low side that allows her to slide her leg in as much as possible without bending the hip/knee too much. Also a low carryover in the truck so we can lift her traveling wheelchair in easier. A Chevy Malibu-sized car is our target as both drivers are short people. I’m going searching to sit in all the cars myself but if anyone has any potentials I’d appreciate knowing so I don’t miss them.



Believe it or not, the easiest vehicles for mobility-impaired people to enter and exit are the small SUVs like the CR-V, Forester, Rav-4, etc. The seats are actually at “butt-height”, enabling passengers to literally just slide directly onto the seat and then to bring their legs in. While this may seem counterintuitive, it really is the case with these small SUVs–but not with the larger ones.

The problem with almost all sedans is that the seat is lower than the person’s butt when they are standing next to the car. That involves lowering one’s self onto the seat and–even more difficult–hoisting one’s self up out of the seat when exiting. This lowering and lifting of the body is difficult for those with hip and leg problems.

And, the “carryover” in the rear of these vehicles tends to be lower than in most sedans. The ease of loading and unloading cargo in a small SUV is much better than in a sedan, generally speaking.

It is possible the some of the minivans would also be good for your mother’s mobility problem. I will leave it to someone else to make possible recommendations of these vehicles.

VDC’s comments are spot-on, and your approach of actually trying all the different vehicles is the only way to go.

Regarding the eheelchair, I have a suggestion. When my mom was in her later years and wheelchair-bound I used to take her on trips every weekend. I have a bad back and was having difficuly loading and unloading her regular “lightweight” chair. I solved the problem by getting a 100% aluminum chair, much, much lighter. Much easier to load and unload.

A related suggestion:
Aluminum chairs being very expensive new, I searched and searched and searched. The end result of my search was I discovered that funeral homes end up with a collection of wheelchairs that people leave with them. They give them away and/or sell them “if asked” for practically nothing.

Sincere best.

I have friends with joint or back problems and they both have Honda CR-Vs. Any small/midsize SUV might work. A lot depends on whether Mom can easily slide into any of these SUVs. If you can find one that offers seat height adjustment for the passenger, you have a better chance of finding a match. The Ford Edge Limited is the only one I find that offers a height adjustment on the pasenger seat.

My mother, who has had one hip replacement and two knee replacements, likes the Toyota Sienna. I have also heard people with disabilities like the Chrysler PT Cruiser for the ease of getting in and out. My mother made a big mistake before getting the Sienna by buying a Nisssan minivan without an extended test drive first. Whatever your mother gets, make sure she takes it home for the weekend for an extended test drive. She won’t know what is a good fit based on just a normal test drive. She should see how being in the seat for longer periods feels.

Re. the “related suggestion,” I found Goodwill and the Salvation Army are good places to buy things like used wheel chairs and walkers. It might be a good idea to call around before heading out.

I agree with the CR-v. I owned one and it was the easiest car to get into that I have ever owned. The seats are at slide in height. Lots of head room and easy access rear end for storing away the wheel chair.

Also, look for as flat a seat as possible, that will help.

The new Sienna has rear seats that recline like big chairs. It has plenty of room for the wheelchair, and will be a lot easier to enter with the sliding door and seat pushed all the way back.

I would second your motion to investigate the 2011 Sienna. I purchased one in March. The Sienna is about the same height that passenger cars used to be. I have a fellow horn player who is 80 years old and has some difficulty getting around because of a stroke (though she still plays horn well). The Sienna is easy for her to enter and exit. The power sliding doors are a real plus.

I’ve racked up about 5000 miles since mid March. I’m in my late 60’s and I’ve found the Sienna very comfortable for the two trips of 375 miles each way we have taken to visit our son and his family.