Best cars for older drivers

Ease of use, good visibility, safety and low running costs are just a few things an older driver needs to consider when searching for a car

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Sep 17, 2020

There are many things to consider when choosing a car for an older person or for yourself as you get older. Like it or not, our needs change as the years pass, so while some of us might still dream of owning an uncompromised sports car, it’s probably time for a more considered approach.

Once you retire, you might spend less time behind the wheel. Fewer long journeys could mean that you can ditch the large car that's expensive to run in favour of something smaller and more cost effective. A supermini certainly ticks all of those boxes.

Modern small cars are safer than ever, with a range of driver assistance systems to keep drivers of all ages out of trouble, plus a raft of safety equipment to keep you protected should the worst happen. That means that even those used to larger cars can often find more than enough space and equipment in a more compact car.

However, it's not all about small cars. Here, we’ve selected eight cars that are perfect for older drivers, from a small but perfectly formed supermini to a safe and dependable SUV for you and the grandchildren, pets or whoever else you need to ferry around.

Best cars for older drivers

1. Honda Jazz

Used deals from £5,695
Monthly finance from £83

The outgoing Honda Jazz is one of the most spacious and dependable small cars you can get and it's developed its own reputation as being a car for older drivers. It’s as though everything was designed to make life as easy as possible, which isn’t something you can say about many cars.

The doors open nice and wide and the seats are reasonably high, too, which makes it easier to get in and out of. Once inside, you’ll find plenty of adjustment in the steering wheel and seats, along with a surprising amount of headroom. Perfect if you're on the tall side.

It’s a similar story in the back, with lots of space in the rear seats and a large boot. The low boot lip makes it easy to load your shopping in the boot and there are a couple of anchor points for restraining your dog.

If you often make trips to the garden centre and come back with large pots and other gear, you'll also be able to take advantage of the clever rear seats. Not only do the seat backs fold down to make the boot larger, but you can also fold the rear seat bases up, freeing up a tall load space from the cabin floor to the roof.

HONDA JAZZ BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Ford Fiesta

Used deals from £4,980
Monthly finance from £101

The Ford Fiesta is the most popular car in Britain - and it’s not hard to see why. There’s a Fiesta to suit all tastes, including a sporty ST model and a rugged Active version, complete with a raised driving position and the feeling that it's almost a mini off-roader.

Many of the features are designed to make life as easy as possible. A heated windscreen clears moisture or ice from the screen on a cold day, so you won’t need to find an ice scraper. You won’t even have to remove the filler cap when you’re filling up with fuel, because there isn’t one - just a flap that automatically closes when you remove the pump. You simply open the filler flap and insert the fuel nozzle. Simple.

Remote central locking and air-conditioning come as standard, as does a lane-keeping system that’s designed to keep you on the straight and narrow. Some models even come with an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, so you won’t be dazzled by headlights at night. Cheap to purchase, affordable to run and simple enough to be serviced anywhere, the Fiesta is the ideal car if you’re looking to downsize from something larger.

FORD FIESTA BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Vauxhall Meriva

Used deals from £4,999
Monthly finance from £101

In the case of the Vauxhall Meriva, it’s all about the ‘Flex’. FlexDoors, FlexFloor, FlexSpace and even FlexRail. But what do these mean? The short answer is that they combine to create one of the most practical and flexible relatively small cars you can buy.

The rear FlexDoors are the Meriva’s chief party trick. They’re hinged at the opposite end from those at the front, which makes it easier to load items and small children into the back seats. Perfect for those occasions when you’re looking after the grandchildren.

Thanks to the Flex Floor, you can choose between a flush boot lip for ease of loading, or a deeper boot if you need to carry larger loads. Then there’s FlexSpace, which allows you to go from five seats to four, three or two without, er… flexing your muscles.

Most models also boast a FlexRail system; a collection of storage cubbies that sit on a pair of rails running across the length of the interior, which can be moved forwards and backwards to suit your needs. The Meriva is an easy car to drive and to live with, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

VAUXHALL MERIVA BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Ford B-Max

Used deals from £5,945
Monthly finance from £107

The Ford B-Max is a car designed for young families, but it also makes a strong case for itself as a car for older people. This is especially true if you find yourself looking after the grandchildren on a regular basis.

It’s based on the Ford Fiesta, which means it’s easy to drive and affordable to run. However, thanks to its taller dimensions, the B-Max offers more headroom, while the slightly elevated driving position provides excellent visibility in the city and when parking.

The B-Max is also hiding a secret. Open the front and sliding rear doors to discover that Ford has ditched the central pillar, which gives the B-Max the edge over the Meriva above. It means that getting in and out of the car is extremely easy.

Some models also feature Ford’s Active City Stop system which reduces the likelihood of you colliding with the car in front in slow-moving traffic. If it detects a collision, the car should apply the brakes before the worst happens.

FORD B-MAX BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Volkswagen Golf SV

Used deals from £7,495
Monthly finance from £146

Drive a Volkswagen Golf SV and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re behind the wheel of a standard Golf hatchback. This is high praise, especially when you consider that the SV is taller, wider, longer and heavier than its more familiar sibling.

Thanks to the sliding rear seats, the Golf SV can offer up to 590 litres of boot space, which is 30% more than you’ll find in the standard Golf, and nearly as much as you’ll find in the Golf Estate.

Up front, you sit 59mm higher than you would in a Golf hatchback, without requiring the step ladder you might need to clamber up into a traditional SUV. There’s also plenty of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel, so you’ll have no problem getting comfortable.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF SV BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Kia Venga

Used deals from £5,195
Monthly finance from £105

Kia stopped selling the Venga in early 2019, but there are plenty of used examples available on the BuyaCar website at seriously low prices - even the relatively new ones offer a genuine bargain. Meanwhile, anything up to a seven-year old car will still have some cover left on Kia’s excellent seven-year warranty.

What makes it suitable for older drivers? It’s all about the ease of use. All the major controls are light, which makes it easy to drive in the city. What’s more, because you sit high, the visibility out of the front window is excellent, aided by a pair of windows next to the windscreen pillars. An often overlooked feature of the Venga is the wide-view driver’s door mirror, which is helpful when overtaking and on the motorway.

All versions come with audio controls on the steering wheel, along with an auto-down function on the driver’s electric window. Almost everything has been designed to remove the stress from driving.

It might look small on the outside, but the Venga is a triumph of good packaging. There’s enough room for four adults, but the sliding rear bench is wide enough for three children. The boot is also one of the largest in its class, with loading aided by a flush lip.

KIA VENGA BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Hyundai Kona

Used deals from £10,450
Monthly finance from £159

If you’re the kind of person who loses their car in a crowded car park, the Hyundai Kona is just the ticket. If the bold styling isn’t enough, it’s also available in some seriously bold colours. You might need to find your sunglasses before looking at Acid Yellow or Tangerine Comet. Aside from the way it looks, the Kona is one of the most practical cars of its size you can buy.

Although the cabin can’t live up to the bold exterior styling, everything has a quality feel and is well laid out. Finding a comfortable driving position will be easy, while the raised stance provides a commanding view of the road ahead. The view out of the back is a little restricted, but rear parking sensors and a reversing camera are standard on all except the entry-level version.

Since the Hyundai Kona comes with a five-year warranty even used models are likely to have warranty cover remaining, while hybrid and electric versions are available if you want to do your bit for the environment.

HYUNDAI KONA BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Volvo XC60

Used deals from £13,058
Monthly finance from £217

If you’re not ready to downsize to a smaller car, the Volvo XC60 is one of the best mid-size SUVs you can buy. Launched in 2017, the current XC60 picked up where the old model left off by focusing on comfort and safety.

As a result, the XC60 is one of the safest and most comfortable cars in its class, with a cool and sophisticated cabin that’s a pleasure to spend any time in. The comfortable seats are also supremely supportive, which is great news for anyone suffering from a bad back.

All versions come with a smooth and relaxed eight-speed automatic transmission, along with cruise control, keyless start, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, dual-zone climate control and a tablet-style touchscreen media system.

VOLVO XC60 BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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