Good cars for bad backs

#1

I have a bad back and cars are generally terrible for it. Low seats, no matter how lush, kill me. I am looking for a low cost, high mileage, new or used car with high seats and good back support.

#2

You will get very varied, and frequently contradictory, advice on this topic simply because the perception of seat comfort is a very individual thing. What feels good to one person can be like torture to someone else.

However, since, like you, I can’t drive a car with low seats, I will share my experience on that topic. I have found that Honda seats are typically set very low to the floor, leading to a “legs out” driving posture. Because of this factor, I can’t drive a Honda Accord for more than 30 minutes or so without severe lower back pain.

Other than this generalization, I can only advise you to do a lot of “test sitting” and–hopefully–some extended test drives of the ones that seem to be comfortable.

#3

Honda Element? We have two and love them.

#4

Yes, those tend to be very “upright cars” and have very good seats. As VDC says, seat comfort is very personal, but I like good lumbar support and slightly larger than average seats. That rules out a number of imports.

Years ago, Road & Track did an article on seats. As expected, most sports cars had seating positions so low that they were uncomfortable on long trips. Volvo and Mercedes rated very high, US-built low end cars fared very bad for lack of good lumbar support.

The best bench seats they could fine was in, beieve it or not in a Mercedes garbage truck!

Worts seats I ever had were in a 1957 Plymouth and 1971 Mercury Comet. Best seats in a 1976 Ford Granada and a 1988 Olds 88.

#5

You must find a dealer who will work with you, only then will you buy, tell them that up front. A back issue can take time to manifest itself and a LONG test drive ( maybe even over night ) is an absolute condition of sale. An suv, truck, or full size car that sits higher from the ground is good for backs getting in and out ( your personal size will determine which ) so you can simply lean back and there’s the seat. Are there any brands with a swivel out driver’s seat ? maybe a Mobility mod shop can install a swivel when you find the seat hight and type that fits. ( I have shopped for mobility adaptation twice in the past. Wife’s 85 year old granfather, walked with crutches and couldn’t lean much, 73 Caprice fit the bill. And my step mother with m.s. had leg movement and leaning issues AND an Amigo cart…'00 Ford E150 van with side steps and rear electric hoist for cart. )

#6

Some furniture manufacturing company that specialized in custom car seats (like shoe orthotics) could make a killing…sit on memory foam, mold a plastic seat, cover it with padding, mount it to your seat frame…etc. Cheap and effective. OOps, scratch the idea, forgot all the safety devices. Well forget the cheap anyway.

#7

Some furniture manufacturing company that specialized in custom car seats (like shoe orthotics) could make a killing…sit on memory foam, mold a plastic seat, cover it with padding, mount it to your seat frame…etc. Cheap and effective. OOps, scratch the idea, forgot all the safety devices. Well forget the cheap anyway.

#8

Some Explorers and Expeditions with the better interiors had great seats. I was comfortable in a 76 Impala with bench seats.

#9

You should all consider yourselves lucky enough to even fit into a small car like a Ford Tarus, I can sit in one, but from two car lengths behind the white line at a stoplight, I still cannot see the green light(yes the seat is pushed all the way back).

#10

Ford Escape or Taurus.

#11

You are going to need to do the work of taking various models on long test drives. There simply is no other way to find one that will work for you.

I suffer from disabling degenerative disc disease and arthritis. Oddly, one of the very few vehicles that I can drive without pain is my Scion tC. It has a low but laid-back position that suits me perfectly. I can drive all day long without discomfort and have many times.

You have to find your own perfect ride the hard way. Nobody can do it for you.

#12

Back position as well as leg position can add to the comfort or discomfort, depending. Test drove a Flex today and the position of the kick pedal(thing you rest your left foot on) left me with a cramp in my left leg after a few miles of the test drive. Where I had to sit to grab the steering wheel, my foot rested on that pedal and it was bent up pretty high, putting my knee near the bottom of the steering wheel. Not very comfortable at all.

#13

Most times it takes multiple attempts at which adjustments are a fit for the long run. These days you don’t just move the seat back and forth and adjust the seat back. Thers also seat bottom tilt then the back angle, coupled with seat hight then forward/backward and possibly the pedal adjustment too !!!whew ! You won’t hit it on the first try, what seems o.k. now will feel different in 50 miles.

#14

I suggest that you find a car with an 8-way power seat that is not so low to the ground that you stress your back getting in and out. A small SUV might fit the bill.

#15

My wife and I switched to minivans and most recently a Toyota 4Runner for distance driving. The seats were too low on the cars that we previously owned. These cars included a Mercury Sable and an Oldsmbile 88 and these cars were equipped with power seats.

#16

As mentioned, seat comfort can be a subjective opinion but the most comfortable car I’ve ever been in is my Lincoln Mark VIII. After 30 years of back problems (3 major surgeries) comfort is very important to me.

The Mark is the only car I’ve even owned or driven that gives me zero problems with comfort. With some cars on an extended trip I often have to get out every 100-200 miles and walk around a bit.

With the Mark I’ve made 425 mile runs without ever stopping even once.
To be honest, the car is a real joy to drive on the open road. If you find a good used one and test drive it you’ll see what I mean.

I’ve actually had a couple of people come up to me at various times while I’m fueling up and ask me about the Mark while stating they used to have one and regretted ever getting rid of it.
Curse Ford for discontinuing the production of them. :frowning: