Need suitable car for elderly parents to ride in

My sister has to buy a new car to drive our elderly parents around in. Both parents use walkers, and my father is on his 5th hip replacement. My sister has had both knees replaced. We need a recommendation for a car that our father can get in and out of the front passenger seat, our mother in and out of the back seat, will stow 2 walkers, and, hopefully, is reliable and gets reasonable mileage.

Believe it or not, the absolute easiest vehicles to get into and out of are the small SUVs, like the Honda CR-V, the Toyota Rav-4, and the Subaru Forester.

In those vehicles, the seats are–literally–at “butt height”, thus meaning that passengers don’t have to lower themselves onto seats when getting in, and they don’t have to hoist themselves up from the seats when getting out. It is simply a case of sliding in and out. Additionally, those 3 vehicles are among the very most reliable ones on the road today. Typical gas mileage for them is about 22-23 mpg, which is respectable.

Some minivans may also be good in terms of entry and egress, but only some visits to showrooms will reveal which vehicles are ideal for your particular situation.

Some kind of budget info would help narrow the suggestions. If you can afford new and money is no object; a Volvo XC70 wagon is easy to get in and out of, very comfy seats, and storage in the back. Not a good used car because they can require expensive repairs.

In used cars, a Lincoln town car would work, or a Ford Crown Vic. These are good reliable cars that do OK on gas mileage for such large cars. When they need repairs just about any good mechanic can fix them with reasonable prices for parts and labor.

Thanks! The budget is not going to be sky-high, but the most critical issue is the comfort factor. I will have my sister check into the cost of the Volvo to see if is even close to their affordability.

We were thinking about the CR-V and Rav-4, which are promising. We have tried the Honda Odyssey (which we own), and it is fabulous for the front seat, but, surprisingly, our mother had trouble getting into the back. She has dementia, and had trouble finding something to hold onto to pull herself into the car. I think it might be easier for her to have a door that opens out that she can grab when getting in and out. Not sure, though.

Hands down…a minivan first with low sills for low entrance, room for walker etc., sliding doors, comfortable right, good view. If it’s good for kids, it’s good for the young at heart who still want to travel. Regular sedans require too much knee flex to enter and leave; minivan is almost ideal height for most.
Elderly at our church are transported in regular vans, and minivans and they have worked best over time. Work around the entrance problem if you have to help, Try other vans. If mom has dementia, we have to load and secure elderly regardless.

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Grand Marquis…

I agree. My grandfather (mother’s side) has driven Crown Vics exclusively since the 70’s and my grandmother has always driven Grand Marquises (father’s side). I think it’s an unwritten rule that once you hit 70, you’re obligated to drive a CV or GM for the rest of your life.

Despite being marketed towards young people, tall wagons such as the Scion XB are easy to enter and exit. While smaller than minivans and small SUVs, they offer a lot of room for their size and are cheaper and more fuel efficient than crossovers.

We have friends that chose the CR-V because they could get into and out of them comfortably. On is my neighbor with a back problem and another is a friend with knee problems. Also consider power adjustable driver and passenger seats. The CR-V does not have height adjustment or power adjustment in the passenger’s seat, but the Odyssey does. Maybe Mom just needs a little help getting in and out. We’ve had our Olds Silhouette for 7 years and my MIL still cant figure out how to open and close the rear power doors. We just push the button for her.

If you go up in size for the SUV, front passenger seat height adjustment becomes available. Take Mom and Dad car shopping and find one that your sister likes and the 'rents fit into nicely.

Only for those who can stoop down. I know a couple of people that can’t and they get along fine with small SUVs. You just slide in and out. That won’t work in a LeSabre.

Scion’s ride like fork-lifts. It feels like a paint-shaker compared to a Vic or Marquis. The “over 50 crowd” loves these cars not because they are over 50, but because they have accumulated far more wisdom then the 18-39 consumer. Have you ever seen a post on this board by a Crown Vic owner whining about timing belt failures, blown head gaskets or CEL’s that nobody can fix?

I was going to suggest the Panther cars because of their large doors. If you need 4 doors, finding a car with large back doors can be hard, and for people with trouble getting in and out of cars that is a problem.

From what you have said, neither of them is driving. That is a big data point. It also sounds like you’re not able to help much financially (I feel your pain, if so). Since they don’t need to drive, go with a Vista Cruiser; the Volare wagon is also a splendid vehicle.

Sounds to me, based on your tales of replacements, like you and your parents would benefit more from medical and legal advice rather than car advice.

I had to deal with a similar situation with my father. I got him something long and black. Hope you have better luck. Please, think this through, why can they not both sit in the back seat? I suspect there are other issues here, and mileage should be the last of your worries.

5th hip replacement? Presumably you mean they were done individually and one had to be redone (that happens).

Talk to some of the local churches, rest homes, etc. and ask if they’ve had any of their vehicles modified to accommodate elderly/handicapped patrons. See about rigging up a small ramp inside that pops out when the door is opened. They can still use her walkers to get inside the van and sit down. Should they become wheelchair bound, you’ll need something like this setup anyways.
A quick google search also shows they have portable wheel chair ramps for sale that can be stored elsewhere after you’ve used them, and you don’t have to modify your vehicle much. Just make sure you’re there to help them up the ramp

Husband bought a Rav 4 the seat is sort of bucket and the step in is very high (bad knee and I am pretty short). Hard for me to just “slide” in.

… duly noted…


If the parents are up to it, go to a Carmax and have them sit in a several SUV’s and mini vans. The salespeople won’t pressure you. I would probably not buy from Carmax, but they have many cars for comparison.
Several people have mentioned the CRV. It’s cousin the Acura RDX is being replaced by a new model. The remaining 2018’s have money on the hood, and low finance/lease rates… I just replaced my 2016 with a 2018 because of the deals. I am almost 73, and 6’2" with a long spine. RDX’s are easier to get in and out of than a MDX; which I also have.

For some reason Kathy Shanker revived an 8 year old thread and really did not make a contribution to it.

I’d recommend the Subaru Forester. After I bought mine, Consumer Reports rated this as best for elderly drivers, mainly for visibility and ease of access.

It does have a very large rear seat area, lots of legroom and headroom.