Choosing the seven best cars for retirees on a budget isn’t easy, simply because carmakers don’t target seniors. To do so in the car business is the kiss of death; just ask anyone who worked at Oldsmobile.
Car companies invest money and energy to appeal to buyers in the 18- to 45-year-old range. Still, there are features and attributes that make some vehicles better suited for older drivers.
Bankrate relied heavily on Consumer Reports to narrow the possibilities. It recommended every vehicle on this list. It rated as “very good” the driving position of each, while giving high marks for front- and rear-seat access. These cars also scored high for ride quality and interior noise control.
Each received the top Insurance Institute for Highway Safety score of “good” for front-offset and side-impact crash tests.
Although we didn’t filter based on price or fuel economy, the goal was to keep both reasonable. Only the most expensive is priced above $36,000 and each gets average or above-average fuel economy for its class. All have automatic transmissions, rear-view cameras and full power accessories.
The list is representative of several segments from hybrid to sport utility vehicle.
Finally, vehicles featuring power-adjustable front seats with lumbar support, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, good cargo capacity and extra safety features scored higher.
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The Bankrate Daily
2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE
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City – 44 mpg
Highway – 41 mpg
The only hybrid on this list, the 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid offers much more than just excellent fuel economy. It’s packed with standard equipment appealing to seniors, such as dual-zone automatic climate control, power 10-way adjustable driver’s seat, including lumbar adjustment, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with redundant audio controls, and Ford Sync with Bluetooth control for cellphone, iPod and other personal media players.
The 2-liter, four-cylinder engine in combination with an electric motor produces 188 horsepower that is funneled to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Fusion’s smallish cargo space and tight trunk opening weren’t enough to outweigh its affordable price, outstanding fuel economy, better-than-average driver visibility, five-year roadside-assistance warranty and long list of standard features.
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2014 Hyundai Azera
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City – 19 mpg
Highway – 29 mpg
Older drivers like to indulge themselves as much as anyone else, and the Azera accomplishes just that. Leather seating, dual-zone automatic climate control and a glove-box cooler round out this large sedan’s amenities, which also include heated outboard mirrors, eight-way power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and nine air bags.
Hyundai always tells a value story, and Azera doesn’t disappoint. This is a lot of car for the price. Roomy, quiet and comfortable, it is ideal for taking friends to dinner, hauling the foursome golfing or heading across country.
Hyundai has armed it with a robust 293-horsepower, 3.3-liter, V-6 engine. A six-speed, driver-shiftable automatic transmission ushers power to the front wheels.
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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited
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City – 17 mpg
Highway – 25 mpg
An upscale, midsize SUV, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited is the priciest and largest vehicle on this list. Consumer Reports also tested the less pricey Laredo, but it doesn’t have as many senior-friendly features.
As priced here, the Grand Cherokee uses a 290-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 to drive the rear wheels. A V-8 and all-wheel drive are available.
At 68 cubic feet, maximum cargo space is a little stingy for a midsize SUV — the Subaru Outback has more — but Grand Cherokee Limited shines with a full load of senior-friendly equipment, such as dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front/rear seats, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar control, navigation system, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with redundant audio controls, keyless enter/start, parking assist, voice-activated Bluetooth connectivity and a five-year roadside-assistance warranty.
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2015 Kia Optima LX
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Price: $23,250 (with convenience package)
City – 23 mpg
Highway – 34 mpg
“Value” is the mantra of the 2015 Kia Optima LX. It’s a nearly ideal passenger environment transported by an aggressive, fuel-efficient powertrain wrapped in a highly stylized exterior skin covered by a remarkably long warranty. That’s value in our book. It has an IIHS Top Safety Pick +, as well as Consumer Reports’ “recommended” rating.
A 192-horsepower, 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine provides the go through a six-speed automatic transmission. A wide trunk opening swallows more than 15 cubic feet of cargo.
We chose the LX model because that’s the one Consumer Reports recommends with the optional $1,600 convenience package. It also has features we think more mature drivers appreciate, such as keyless entry and start and dual-zone automatic climate control, absent in the base model, and tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Yet, it is value priced!
Other senior-friendly features include 10-way, power-adjustable driver’s seat with power-adjustable lumbar support, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated outboard mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity with voice command and five years of free roadside assistance.
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2014 Mazda 3 iTouring Sedan
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City – 29 mpg
Highway – 41 mpg
Most affordable on this list, the Mazda 3 iTouring sedan delivers terrific fuel economy. It’s priced here with the six-speed automatic transmission. And, it is an IIHS Top Safety Pick +, as well as a Consumer Reports “recommended” car.
Because it straddles the $20,000 threshold, it lacks some of our sought-after features for older drivers, such as power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and keyless start. However, it does offer manual height adjustment for the driver’s seat.
Power comes from a 155-horsepower, 2-liter, four-cylinder.
In addition to its low price and excellent fuel economy, older drivers should be attracted to features such as tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with redundant audio controls, remote keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity and a three-year roadside assistance warranty.
Whether it’s interior room and comfort, fuel economy, styling or driving pleasure, you can check off all the boxes with the Chevrolet Impala. Redesigned for 2014, it is a world-class, full-size sedan.
Although available with a four-cylinder engine, the 2LT comes with a 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 and a six-speed automatic transmission. It accelerates with gusto; yet, it still delivers better than average fuel economy.
It’s priced here with the $940 convenience package, which adds rear-park assist, a rearview camera, remote engine start and an auto-dimming rearview mirror to the 2LT’s healthy list of standard features like 10 air bags, dual-zone automatic climate control and an 8-inch color infotainment touch screen.
Also, the Impala comes with five years of roadside assistance.
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2014 Toyota Sienna XLE
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City – 18 mpg
Highway – 25 mpg
Some might question including a minivan on a best-of-cars list for seniors, but there is a good reason. The 2014 Toyota Sienna LE V-6 is a road-trip vehicle of the first order. It also earned “recommended” from Consumer Reports.
Sienna can transport up to eight and still lug more than twice the cargo of the full-size Toyota Sequoia SUV. Moreover, it’s packed with cup holders and storage cubbies.
Get-up-and-go comes from a 266-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6.
Listed among its notable features: trizone automatic climate control, dual power-sliding side doors, power rear liftgate, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar control, heated front seats, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with redundant audio controls, Bluetooth connectivity, two years or 25,000 miles of free maintenance and roadside assistance.