I just completed a 5,300 mile road trip in our 2003 Ford Taurus and it was torture on my aging body! Lack of leg room and positions of the passenger seat added to my discomfort. What reasonably/moderately priced vehicle would be more comfortable, since we hope to take other long drives? We’ve looked at the Kia Soul and the Hyundai Elantra. Any suggestions or experience you’d like to share?
I find that I can (literally) drive my 4Runner for hours without any real discomfort. I recently returned to TX from FL - a 17 hour drive - and felt fine afterwards. I had lots of company (by way of a bluetooth headset) so I never got bored, either. The trip over was equally as entertaining, but I had company in the vehicle going over. I did most of that in the passenger seat, and it’s not as comfortable as the drivers seat, but still not bad.
Check out a Grand Marquis, a Taurus on steroids, if you want interstate cruising comfort…An LX model Crown Vic is not a bad car either…But if you want to go whole hog, the stretch version, Lincoln Town Car, you can get up and walk around in it…
I agree with chaissos about the 4Runner. We have a 2003 4Runner and it is the most comfortable vehicle we have ever owned for trips. The 4Runner replaced a 1993 Oldsmobile 88 that was loaded with all accessories including a power seat. Yet, I could never find a comfortable driving position. After 100 miles I developed leg cramps in the Oldsmobile. I have never had that problem in the 4Runner.
I’ve owned several minivans including the 2011 Sienna that I now own. These vehicles also proved comfortable for me. While we owned the Oldsmobile we also had a 1990 Ford Aerostar. We found the Aerostar more comfortable for us on road trips.
I like firms seats and an upright seating position. I recommend you rent some different vehicles that interest you and take an extended test drive.
While I might be wrong, I’d think a Soul-size car would be a bit choppy for hours of driving. I’d stick with an intermediate, you’ll need to test drive several to see what’s comfortable. Look for ones with electrically adjustable seats to get all the angles just right.
Seats are very personal. What might not be comfortable for me could be the best seat you ever sat on. Your best bet is to test drive the vehicle for at least an hour. When you get a good candidate. consider renting one for a weekend and go for a long drive.
A less expensive alternative might to go to a truck stop and look at seat cushions. The best ones are there. Look into one with both a lumbar support and a tailbone notch.
Thanks for the useful comments. I’d love to have a Lincoln Town Car, but would have to look for a used one. And, uh, sorry for my ignorance, but who makes the 4Runner? New to me. Good testimonies about it!
I really like the idea of renting something to test it out. I’ve thought about a minivan but worried about the size and mpg. Appreciate all your help.
Toyota makes the 4Runner. Mine ('04) currently has 125K on it…no problems so far.
Rentals are a great way of fleshing the difference between those last couple you’re choosing between. however, remember that rental companies (except rent-a-wreck) almost exclusively have new cars, less than 30K miles or so.
If a car was really comfortable, but only got 20mpg highway, would you pass it up for something that got 30+mpg, but left you in worse shape than your Taurus does now?
Check out the Mazda 5, it gets decent mileage.
I can only speak for me, but no, I wouldn’t. With enough capacity for 4 adults, storage in the back for enough for all 4 of them to carry everything they need for a week, including coffee pots, water boilers and the like, I’ll stick with my 22MPG truck. For me, there’s no equal to being able to get out and work at the end of a trip. I have several issues with my back, and nothing else (so far) has kept me this comfortable after a drive. I will admit I haven’t driven a Mazda 5, but I’ve been driven in one, and I didn’t find it that comfortable.
I would, though, refer any/everyone to Keith’s post: Seats are very personal. What might not be comfortable for me could be the best seat you ever sat on.
We have a 2003 Olds Silhouette Premium. It has 4 comfortable captains chairs; even the rear bench is comfortable. It’s like a limousine with its long wheelbase. We drove about 1300 miles a couple of weekends ago and I wasn’t at all sore when we got there or returned home. The front seats are both 8-way power. A loaded 2004 (last year) goes for between $6000 and $7000. Don’t confuse the Silhouette with the Chevy Venture and Pontiac Montana. While very similar in most ways, the seating is much better in the Silhouette. You couldn’t get the other 2 vans outfitted like a Silhouette.
In long distance comfort, I find cars with both excellent seating and good handling tire me the least. I agree with the 4 runner we have that the seating with the power lumbar and unrestricted by size seating gives the suv an advantage. But, the handling leaves a little to be desired and needs more attention, though excellent for an suv. Otherwise, I’d give an equal nod to our and our kid’s Accords. I loved the handling and overall comfort of the Crown Victorias I drove, but never liked the “soft” unsupported seating at time I drove them; maybe they have improved. In general, Give me a large car based suv every time.
We have owned quite a number of vehicles and types over the years including motorhomes and motorcycles. There is little or no difference in comfort over long periods of time in cars. The most comfortable vehicle for long distances is a motorhome because you can change drivers. One person can walk around inside, take a nap, get a snack or a drink or go to the toilet while the other drives. The motorcycle made it plain that we had to stop, get off and stretch every 50 miles or so.
A motorhome or a motorcycle may not be the answer for you so what to do?
The bottom line is as follows: Drive what you like and take the time to stop to stretch periodically. Attempting to find a passenger vehicle that is usefully more comfortable than another for long periods of time is to pursue something that is not there.
My advice is valid for all choices of cars and best of all it is totally free! Never pass up a rest area! Even if the last one was only 20 miles ago, stop and take advantage of the stop, spend 5 or ten minutes walking, or at least moving. It really helps. Remember get out of the car. Keep your body moving. You will feel better.
Good way to meet people too.
My 05 4runner is also very very comfortable. But my wifes Lexus Es-350 is even more comfortable. And both are very reliable. My 05 4runner now has about 175k miles and nothing but fluids and brakes so far. Great vehicle.
Anyone who thinks a 4-runner is comfortable has never driven a Grand Marquis…A 4-Runner is a truck…If you are planning 800 mile days on western interstates, the last thing you need is a 4 wheel drive truck…Sure they have a nice interior, but…
Been in a Grand Marquis several times…Rented one more then once while on business trip…Nice riding car…Taken many trips in my 4runner…Obviously since I have over 175k miles on it since 05. It’s also a nice riding vehicle. Trucks of today aren’t the same as trucks of 20-30 years ago. And for a Mid-size car…I’ve yet to find a vehicle that rides as nice as my wifes Lexus.
It’s all in the seat. If the seat causes discomfort or pain, it will not matter how smooth the vehicle rides. I wish the vehicle manufacturers would get that, but they don’t.
The vehicle that I could drive the longest without discomfort was a 90 Dodge Colt. I put over a 1000 miles on it in a day on a couple of occasions and had no pain. One of the most uncomfortable vehicles I ever had the misfortune to drive was a 2003 Bonneville with the leather multi-way (6 or 8) adjustable power seats. Never could find a good setting and I only drove it for 2 legs of 215 miles each.
My Nissan truck has the second most comfortable (make that least painful) seats for a trip. I have done a couple of 850 mile trips with little discomfort. My Saturn, on the other hand, one hour is the limit and it is as bad as the Bonneville. This is why I recommend a stop at a truck stop. They have various cushions and lumbar supports that can make almost any seat reasonably comfortable. I have made two cross country trips in the Saturn at 8-900 miles a day without pain, but with out the cushions, no way.
“It’s all in the seat. If the seat causes discomfort or pain, it will not matter how smooth the vehicle rides. I wish the vehicle manufacturers would get that, but they don’t.”
I could not agree more. Someone has to tell me why the miniscule increase in cost of a decent seat is worth the savings over the loss of a sale(s). Tell me Yaris maker, please.