Posted on: April 4, 2024 Posted by: Comments: 0

Readers had an interesting discussion a while ago about the best cars for petite women — I haven’t seen the topic in too many other places, so I thought I’d round up the comments for posterity… readers who are petite, what are your thoughts on the best cars for petite women? Do you have opinions on which cars are definitely NOT the best for petite women?

Here’s the reader’s question:

I’m short and now that I’m shopping for a car, realizing that not all cars or trim levels let you adjust the drivers seat up (so I can see above the dash). I also like a window to come down past my shoulder so I can see out easily on each side. Oddly, SUVs can be better or things like a Kia Soul. I didn’t plan on this being such a big deal but “vehicles for short people’ isn’t something that I am able to figure out on my own other than by losing weekend time to going into a dealership and sitting in a car at a time. If you are 5-4 or shorter and like how a cabin “fits” you, can you reply with exactly what you have? I have felt like bringing a booster seat with me (I’m 5-2).

Why Petite Women Have Problem Finding Cars

As the original commenter noted, petite women can have problems with sightlines. Another commenter agreed:

As someone who is also 5’2″, I find the bigger problem is not seat height, but the fact that you have to sit so close to the wheel that the sightlines in the car are way off. The pillars have gotten so much thicker on cars now that it’s quite hard to see. When I sit where my 6′ husband sits, I can see reasonably well (though even he complains about it sometimes), but when I sit where I have to sit to comfortably reach the steering wheel and pedals, my vision is pretty obstructed. I had this issue on pretty much every car we tried last time we shopped for cars, so it wasn’t model specific.

Commenters noted that some brands have steering wheels that telescope out towards the driver more than others, such as the Mazda 6 and the BMW __ . (But: note that according to an IIHS study, if this feature puts you closer to the airbag, you may be at a greater risk in crashes.)

General Tips on How to Find Cars If You’re Petite

Commenters generally extolled the value of going to CarMax, with one reader noting, “I find that visiting a CarMax is a great way to check out a bunch of cars at once without dealing with salesmen (it’s easy to just walk past the sign-in kiosk and out to the lot), even if you don’t intend to buy there.”

The Best Cars for Petite Women

The biggest points of agreement were that Subarus are great cars for petite women, and VWs are horrible for tall people, so must be good for short people. We’ll round up everything that was mentioned…

Audi (A3, Q5 SUV) – “I’m your size and had the same issue. I’ve been happy with my Audis. I had an A3 that I loved, and now I’m driving a Q5 SUV and it fits me well, too.”

BMW 3 series – “I’m 5’2” and my BMW 3 series is a great fit for me.”

Buick Encore GX – “I like my Buick Encore GX. My parents have one too and my mother likes driving it. She’s 5’2, I am a bit taller. Also the only option to service locally in a small town…”


Ford Escape — “Can confirm that my 5’1″ mom really loves her Escape. She didn’t do well with the Subaru Outback because it sits much lower to the ground.”

Ford Expedition — “I have a Ford Expedition and the major reason I chose that over a suburban was that I preferred the fit of the cabin, specifically including the visibility. I’m 5’3.”

Ford Focus — “My 5’3” daughter loves the fit of her Ford Focus while I feel like my head is going to hit the roof even though I’m only a couple inches taller.”

Honda Passport – I’m 5’2′ an love my Honda Passport. My BFF is 4’9″ and drove a CRV for a long time.”


Readers noted that the Subaru line is marketed heavily towards women, and the average woman is 5’4.

Subaru Outback — “My very petite friend drives a Subaru Outback and loves it. I had to move her car the other day, and I could barely squeeze my 5’7 self into the driver’s seat with her settings, so maybe give one of those a look if you haven’t already?” Another reader agreed: “5’3″ and very happy in an Outback.” (This gets another vote from me — I’m 5’4″ and have been comfortable in a Subaru Outback also!)

Subaru Crosstrek – “One of my friends is 4’11 and drives a Subaru Crosstrek.” Another reader agreed: “I’m 5’1″ and drive a crosstrek. My 6′ husband also thinks it is comfortable. Seat and steering wheel are both adjustable.”

Subaru Forester – “I am 5 feet even and drive a Subaru Forester and love it.” Another reader agreed: “Subaru Forester. I’m 5’2″ and drive a 2016 Forester. Not sure about newer models, but my 2016 has fantastic visibility.”


Toyota Corolla – “5’2″ and love my Toyota Corolla. Mine is a 2011 but I don’t think the proportions have changed much in the model years since then. The seat adjusts forward and back and up and down. I don’t feel like I’m too close to the steering wheel when the seat is adjusted so I can reach the pedals.”

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid – “I’m 5’3 and we have a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (one car shared with my 6′ husband). Lots of ways to adjust the seat, and my visibility is SO much better than in our previous Honda sedan.”

Toyota Prius – “I’m 5’0″ and I like my small version Prius.”

VWs in general – “We test drove the VW Passat station wagon and our heads touched the ceiling so maybe VW in general.” Another tall commenter agreed that she and her tall husband ruled out VWs. ” also agree. I’m 5’4″ with a short torso and love the visibility in my Tiguan. The loaner Jetta I used waiting for my car to arrive was too short for my 6′ son (hitting his head on the ceiling). The Tiguan has a little more head clearance for him, but not much.’

Further reading:

The Best Cars for Short People [US News]

Differences in Vehicle Registrations [TrueCar]

New Data Expands on Why Women Have a Greater Risk of Injury in Car Crashes [Consumer Reports]

Fasten Your Seatbelts: A Female Car Crash Test Dummy Represents Average Women For The First Time In 60+ Years [Forbes]

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