What Are the Best Cars for Senior Drivers?

Senior drivers may want to prioritize comfort and safety when purchasing a vehicle.

Emily Guy Birken
Emily Guy Birken
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  • 12+ years writing about insurance and personal finance

Emily is a widely recognized expert on personal finance and has authored several personal finance books. She’s a frequent guest on national and regional media.

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Katie Powers
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Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
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  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

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Updated April 22, 2024

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Drivers older than 65 typically have decades of experience behind the wheel and lower rates of car accidents compared to younger drivers. Even though older drivers tend to be among the safest on the road, aging may affect their ability to react quickly. In addition, senior drivers have higher fatality rates per 1,000 car crashes compared to drivers aged 35 to 54, likely due to their increased physical vulnerability.[1] 

Senior drivers should think carefully about which car to drive, as some vehicles provide more protection and safety features than others.

Read More: The Best Car Insurance Companies for Seniors

What are the best cars for seniors?

The best cars for senior drivers account for their physical needs as both a driver and potential crash victim. Such a car will offer protections against driver error, as well as crash safety measures. It’ll provide measures for driving ease and comfort, too. Drivers may want to prioritize both safety and comfort for the best driving experience.

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*Quotes generated for Insurify users within the last 10 days. Last updated on April 22, 2024

Rates shown are real-time Insurify user quotes from 100+ insurance companies and Quadrant Information Services data. Insurify’s algorithm excludes anomalous quotes and anonymizes personal details, then displays refined quotes by price, date, and insurer popularity up to 10 days ago from April 22, 2024. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer’s unique driver profile.

Best midsize cars for seniors

Midsize cars land between compact vehicles and full-size vehicles when compared by size. While the federal government defines midsize cars as vehicles with an interior volume (passenger space plus cargo space) of between 110 and 120 cubic feet, most people will recognize midsize cars as a comfortable four-door daily driver with solid fuel efficiency.[2]

Midsize cars can work really well for senior drivers. They offer easy accessibility, since midsize cars don’t require you to fold yourself too much to get inside. Compared to a smaller car, the size also provides more comfort and space, as well as a better ability to handle a crash.

You can choose from among the safest midsize cars, as determined by information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS).

Here are five top midsize vehicles to consider, along with their manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRP).

Check Out: What Is a Hybrid Car?

Toyota Camry

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $25,945

  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5 stars

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick Plus

A car from a company long known for quality and reliability, the well-established Toyota Camry has earned an excellent reputation for safety. The 2023 model comes with driver-assistance technology known as Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 that alerts you if you drift into another lane, warns you of pedestrians or cars ahead of you, and automatically brakes if you don’t react. The Camry has also come with a standard backup camera since 2014.

Subaru Outback

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $29,620

  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5 stars

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+

The Subaru Outback comes standard with all-wheel drive, and every model except the base has heated front seats and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. These features make it a great choice for any senior regularly braving inclement weather or sharing the vehicle with a much taller or shorter partner. 

Subarus come with an intuitive and easy-to-use dashboard design, and every Outback includes the automaker’s EyeSight suite of driver-assistance features that monitor surrounding traffic and more.

Subaru Legacy

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $25,415

  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5 stars

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick

A spacious midsize vehicle, the Subaru Legacy comes standard with all-wheel drive for every trim level, as well as Subaru EyeSight driver-assistance technology, which provides collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-centering assist, and adaptive cruise control.

Hyundai Sonata

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $26,215

  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5 stars

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick

With an ergonomic dashboard design and a spacious cabin, the Hyundai Sonata is comfortable and fun to drive. Every current Sonata comes standard with Hyundai’s SmartSense driver-assistance technology, which offers adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam assist, and a warning system that senses driver drowsiness or distraction, among other features. Hyundai also offers a generous warranty, including complimentary maintenance for three years or up to 36,000 miles.

Lexus ES 350

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $42,590

  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5 stars

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick

With a plush interior, the Lexus ES 350 is a luxurious midsize sedan offering a standard touchscreen system and a 10-speaker sound system. All ES models include the Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 — a driver-assistance technology system that can detect pedestrians and cyclists, implement automated emergency braking, monitor blind spots, and utilize adaptive cruise control.

Best sedans for seniors

Another popular vehicle choice for seniors, sedans have four doors and two rows of seats, with a separate engine bay, cabin, and trunk. This design, often referred to as a “three-box design,” provides a separation between the engine, passengers, and cargo.[3]

The sedan’s design offers comfort and safety due to a more even weight distribution than other car designs. This vehicle type is lower to the ground and also provides easy access for senior drivers to get in and out of the car. The popularity of this style incentivizes automakers to keep sedans up to date with the newest safety features.

Here are some of the safest sedans for seniors to choose from, as determined by the NHTSA and IIHS.

Acura Integra

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $32,495

  • NHTSA safety rating: Not yet rated

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+

The relaunched Integra offers standard heated seats and eight-way power adjustments for the driver’s seat. Though such comforts may seem unnecessary, it’s much easier to drive well when physically comfortable, especially for older drivers. 

Acura also includes driver-assistance technology as standard in every Integra, including automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control. You can also expect complimentary scheduled maintenance for two years or up to 24,000 miles.

Nissan Maxima

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $39,435

  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5 stars

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+

Nissan has announced that 2023 will be the final model year for the Maxima, a long-running and beloved sedan. The current model offers some of the best front seat legroom in its class, as well as a standard push-button start, which makes it a good choice for senior drivers who struggle with neuropathy or arthritis. 

The touchscreen information and entertainment system offers vehicle monitoring, remote access, and automatically alerts emergency services if the airbags deploy. All models provide basic driver-assistance technology, including automated emergency braking and forward-collision warning.

Honda Civic Sedan

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $24,545

  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5 stars

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+ (for 2022 model)

The Honda Civic has long been a cheaper choice that combines reliability with efficiency. Honda has increased the size of the Civic over the years, making it a comfortable and affordable option for older drivers. Driver-assistance technology comes standard in all Civic models, including adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, and lane-departure warning.

Mazda3

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $23,615

  • NHTSA safety rating: Not yet rated

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick

The Mazda3 sedan offers drivers both fun and comfort. With an easy-to-use infotainment dashboard display system — controlled by a rotary knob rather than a touchscreen — and supportive seating, this vehicle will feel good to drive. Every Mazda3 also includes standard driver-assistance technology, including automatic high beams, automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane-departure warnings.

Kia K5

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $26,415

  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5 stars

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+ (for 2022 model)

Kia’s K5 sedan comes standard with heated and ventilated front seats, and the engineers designed the pedals with the comfort of your feet in mind. The infotainment display includes volume knobs and physical buttons on the steering wheel. Standard driver-assistance technology includes forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, and lane-departure warning.

Read More: Insurance Rates by Car Model

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Best SUVs for seniors

The size of sport utility vehicles offers a number of benefits to senior drivers. The cabin of an SUV sits higher than that of a midsize or sedan, giving the driver a better view of the road and more ground clearance, which leads to a smoother ride. But the added height can present difficulties for getting in and out of the vehicle.

Consider five of the safest available SUVs, as rated by the NHTSA and IIHS.

Honda CR-V

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $29,705

  • NHTSA safety rating: Not yet rated

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+

As a compact SUV, the Honda CR-V offers some of the best features associated with sedans and SUVs. You can expect sedan-like fuel efficiency with SUV-like comfort and stability. Honda specifically designed the driver’s seat to decrease fatigue during long drives, which may appeal to older drivers who can feel fatigue more quickly. 

Every CR-V includes driver-assistance technology, including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, driver-attention monitoring, automated emergency braking, and lane-departure warning.

Hyundai Palisade

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $37,235

  • NHTSA safety rating: Not yet rated

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+

Spacious and comfortable, the Hyundai Palisade offers some unique features that any driver will love. These include a massaging driver’s seat and road-noise suppression. The Palisade comes standard with automated emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control — which includes a semi-autonomous driving mode.

Toyota Highlander

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $37,755

  • NHTSA safety rating: 5/5 stars

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+

Another Toyota vehicle known for quality and reliability, the Highlander provides drivers with a smooth ride and a standard complement of driver-assistance technology. With adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic high beams, and automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, the Highlander offers a great choice for older drivers. Toyota also offers complimentary maintenance for two years or up to 25,000 miles.

Nissan Pathfinder

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $36,535

  • NHTSA safety rating: Not yet rated

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+

Senior drivers looking for a smooth and quiet ride will find a lot to love about the Nissan Pathfinder, an SUV engineered to provide sound deadening in the cabin and a smooth ride on less-than-smooth surfaces. The infotainment touchscreen uses the NissanConnect software interface, meaning you can easily connect your smartphone for music, directions, or other needs. 

Driver-assistance technology comes standard and includes automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-departure warning. You can also add adaptive cruise control with a semi-autonomous driving mode as an optional upgrade.

Kia Telluride

  • 2023 model MSRP: Starts at $37,255

  • NHTSA safety rating: Not yet rated

  • IIHS safety rating: Top Safety Pick+

The Telluride features a comfortable cabin with lots of room, precise steering and braking, and a full suite of driver-assistance technology. These safety features include standard blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking.

What safety features should senior drivers look for in a vehicle?

Various modern safety features can help provide older drivers protection on the road. Many of these safety features use driver-assistance technology engineered to help reduce human error. These technologies will alert drivers to potential hazards or automatically deploy during dangerous situations.

Here are five of the best safety features you should look for in your next vehicle.

Adaptive cruise control

Cruise control keeps your car cruising at the same speed on the highway, without requiring you to keep your foot on the pedal. Traditional cruise control could be hazardous if cars in front of you slow down, but the adaptive cruise control system will automatically adjust your vehicle’s speed to maintain the same distance from the car in front of you.[4]

Collision warning

The NHTSA recommends this kind of technology for all drivers. A collision warning system alerts the driver when it detects a potential vehicle collision.

Collision detection systems often come with automatic emergency braking — another NHTSA-recommended technology. The emergency braking system will automatically apply brakes when it detects a collision is imminent.

Lane assist

Lane-assist technology features a few different aspects, including NHTSA-recommended lane-departure warning, which alerts drivers when the vehicle approaches or crosses lane markers.

Additional lane-assist systems include lane-centering assistance and lane-keeping assistance. The first provides continual steering to ensure the vehicle remains centered in the lane. The second automatically steers the vehicle if it comes close to drifting out of the lane.

Automatic crash notification

If a crash occurs, this safety technology automatically contacts emergency responders with the crash location.

Electronic stability control

A less-common safety feature, electronic stability control can be an excellent add-on to a car that you plan to drive in inclement weather. This technology uses automatic, computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to help drivers keep control of their cars in difficult situations, like skids. Electronic stability control may also be called vehicle stability control, electronic stability program, or dynamic stability control.[5]

See More: 12 Ways to Lower Car Insurance

Other factors senior drivers should consider when choosing a car

The right car for a senior driver needs to offer more than just good safety features. You should also consider the following factors when choosing your next vehicle:

  • Accessibility: As you get older, the difficulty of getting in and out of a car and stretching or folding yourself to fit into a seat that’s not quite right can increase. Make sure the car you drive offers excellent accessibility for your current needs.

  • Comfort: Driving an “old beater” with no shock absorbers may not bother a younger driver, but seniors should prioritize their comfort behind the wheel. It’s far easier to drive skillfully when you feel comfortable in your vehicle.

  • Ease of control: Factors like power steering, antilock brakes, and traction control all make it easier for you to maintain control of your car — even in critical situations.

  • Maintenance cost: A well-maintained car will last longer and be easier and safer to drive. Choosing a car with reasonable maintenance costs can help ensure you keep up with the manufacturer recommended maintenance schedule.

  • Visibility: Every car has a blind spot, which can be affected by the height of the driver, the placement of the driver’s seat, and the shape and placement of the windows. Make sure the car you choose has maximum visibility, so you can have full situational awareness behind the wheel.[6]

New car vs. used car: Which is better for seniors?

The average new car costs a whopping $49,500, as of the beginning of 2023. Seniors looking for a more affordable option may want to consider purchasing a used car. Both new and used cars come with benefits and drawbacks, so you should understand what you might be in for with either option.

New car pros and cons

New cars come with a higher price tag but typically feature the latest safety features.

Pros
  • Equipped with the latest safety features and technology

  • No concerns about damage from a previous owner

  • Unlikely to need repair or maintenance right away

  • Generally under manufacturer warranty

  • Can often customize the vehicle to your preferences

Cons
  • Much higher cost than used vehicles

  • Will depreciate very quickly

  • Higher insurance premiums compared to a similar used car

  • Must make the purchase through a dealership

  • Much more likely to need financing for a new car

Used car pros and cons

You’ll save money purchasing a used car, but the vehicle may not have all the latest technology.

Pros
  • The vehicle cost is closer to its actual value, as it has already depreciated

  • Can purchase through a private seller

  • Easier to afford a higher-end car

  • Lower insurance costs

  • Can access discontinued models

Cons
  • The car’s history may be somewhat murky

  • Interest rates tend to be higher for used-car financing

  • Private used-car sales have no warranty, and dealership used-car warranties tend to be short

  • Potentially dated technology and safety features

  • Fewer choices available

See Also: How Long Does It Take to Buy a Used Car? The Ultimate Guide

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Best cars for seniors FAQs

Here are answers to some common questions about the best cars for senior drivers.

  • What is the safest car for senior drivers?

    No single car will be the safest vehicle for every senior driver. To find the best and safest car for you, make sure the vehicle has up-to-date safety features and excellent safety ratings from the NHTSA and IIHS, as well as good accessibility, comfort, visibility, ease of control, and affordable maintenance costs.

    Several vehicles included as a Top Safety Pick+ from IIHS include the Toyota Camry, Subaru Outback, Acura Integra, Nissan Maxima, Honda CR-V, and Hyundai Palisade.

  • What are the worst cars for seniors to drive?

    Senior drivers should avoid any cars that don’t meet safety standards. They should also avoid inaccessible or uncomfortable vehicles. As always, drivers should take any potential car out for a test-drive.

  • Is an SUV a good car for a senior driver?

    An SUV can be a good choice for a senior driver, depending on the specifics. SUVs generally offer good visibility and stability but can be tricky to get in and out of due to their height.

    A newer SUV with driver-assistance technology and other up-to-date features can provide a senior driver with an easy driving experience that prioritizes safety.

  • Is car insurance for seniors expensive?

    Even though senior drivers tend to have lower rates of car crashes than their younger counterparts, auto insurance often goes up for drivers over the age of 60.

  • How can seniors lower their car insurance costs?

    Many insurers offer discounts to their customers to help them lower their insurance costs. Senior drivers may want to ask if they can lower their rates by taking a defensive driving course, bundling their insurance policies, increasing their deductible, or buying a car with certain safety features.

Sources

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Older Adult Drivers."
  2. National Archives Code of Federal Regulations. "Classes of comparable automobiles."
  3. J.D. Powers. "What Is a Sedan?."
  4. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Driver Assistance Technologies."
  5. Kelley Blue Book. "Electronic Stability Control: Everything You Need to Know."
  6. AARP. "Set Your Vehicle’s Mirrors to Limit Blind Spots."
Emily Guy Birken
Emily Guy Birken

Emily Guy Birken is a former educator, lifelong money nerd, and a Plutus Award-winning freelance writer who specializes in the scientific research behind irrational money behaviors. Her background in education allows her to make complex financial topics relatable and easily understood by the layperson.

Her work has appeared on The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Kiplinger's, MSN Money, and The Washington Post online.

She is the author of several books, including The 5 Years Before You Retire, End Financial Stress Now, and the brand new book Stacked: Your Super Serious Guide to Modern Money Management, written with Joe Saul-Sehy.

Emily lives in Milwaukee with her family.

Katie Powers
Edited byKatie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
Photo of an Insurify author
Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

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