The Top 9 Cars for Seniors and Older Drivers
By TODD RIDLEY, 12/28/2018
Vehicles that are best for running errands with the grandkids, taking road trips cross country, and visiting the country club with, well, clubs.
I laughed when I read our researcher’s list of the top 9 cars for seniors. Why? Well… one of the cars is mine. I’m 45 and feeling older at the moment. And even though I don’t consider 45 to be “Senior,” perhaps the car is better suited for older drivers. I suspect it has to do with the price point, size and body style. And, yes, in case you’re wondering I’m going to make you wait until the end of this article to find out which car is, indeed, the one that I currently drive.
For the purpose of this category, we’ll be focusing on those in the senior community who are retired, over 65, are not concerned with traditional body styles. We also wanted to remove budget concerns for this one and focus on amenities and technology… who said Seniors can’t afford BMWs?
Our Top Nine list ranges from as low as $16k MSRP all the way to $75k, from hatchbacks to full-size wagons, from standard front-wheel drive Florida cruisers for snowbirds to all-wheel-drive snow machines.
In our opinion, these vehicles are best for running errands with the grandkids, taking road trips cross country, and visiting the country club with, well, clubs.
Without further ado: our list.
#9. Volvo V90 Cross Country
Base MSRP Range: $49,950 - $60,500
Volvo has now fully implemented its Thor’s Hammer architecture into all of its vehicle lineup. Intrigued? You’re meant to be.
Beginning with the long-awaited 2015 full redesign of the Volvo XC90, Volvo brought a sharper edge and higher design eye to its flagship vehicle. The design was quickly praised and announcements were made that this new styling would be applied to all models moving forward. And indeed, they have been. Thor’s Hammer includes high intensity LED headlights in a pattern that is edgy and looks like, well, a nordic hammer on its side. Grilles now have a slight concave aspect to them with teeth that make the vehicles appear they are chewing through the air as much as evading it. Sharp angles and accents are prevalent throughout the brand’s line.
The V90 Cross Country sports the new architecture in spades. The second of Volvo’s vehicles to get the new treatment, this S90 based wagon took over from the brand’s former best seller, the XC70. While a wagon version of the V90 is available, it’s not easy to find in the United States. The company has decided to market the V90 Cross Country more prevalently, and lease and purchase deals are focused on this version of the vehicle.
A bit pricey, the V90 Cross Country is worth every penny. Chock full of industry-best technology and styling, any senior citizen would feel safe enough to travel wintery roads, yet proud enough to take this out on the town. Tech includes Volvo’s large center stack video display, with several layers of easy-to-read and navigate menus. IPhone like in its ease-of-use, this is one of the reasons this car is on the list for seniors.
Other impressive tech includes in-lane assist and full pilot assist.The first will gently nudge you to the center of the lane you’re in when at speed when turned on, the other will apply brakes, gas pedal and steer you down the highway while you talk to your husband of 50 years about what to buy your third grandchild for his next birthday.
#8. Hyundai Sonata
Base MSRP Range: $23,185 - $31,900
The first of two Hyundai’s to make our list, the Hyundai Sonata is a crowd pleaser. Especially for the warmer climates where front wheel drive for airport pickups and visits to the grocery store will suit you just fine. The 5th generation of the Sonata looks like a sportier version of a Ford Fusion (similar in comparison with tech and size), with a generous grille and large, stylish badge and tapered, elegant rear quarter panels.
The Sonata seems to be the best fit for the customer who simply wants to sign, drive and forget about it. Nice enough to not complain, and cheap enough to forget what’s in your driveway. This sedan will help you dissolve into the forest of 4 door sedans on the road and not make a splash. So, why is it on our list? Simply put, this is the option for those who simply need wheels without frills, yet if you want enough current tech to keep up with your grandkids, you can opt for a larger touch screen, automatic distance braking and in-lane assist. This is the not-too-hot, not-too-cold option. Just as it was designed to be.
#7. Nissan Rogue
Base MSRP Range: $24,920 - $32,890
In its third iteration, the 2019 Nissan Rogue is an eye catcher both in looks and equipment. For the price, the Nissan Rogue gives you a competent crossover with options to go all out. This SUV looks good on the road, and it looks good inside as well.
For those seniors looking for extra room and a design edge, the Rogue has both in spades. It’s one of the largest cars in our list. And the sharp front end with Nissan’s new vehicle architecture of sharp angles and large use of chrome gives it a premium feel. The way the vehicle angles up near the rear is also attractive, and gives the vehicle an air of sportiness… just a hint of BMW.
In the tech department, the Rogue features an attractive, available safety shield 360; a package of 6 awesome safety tech features that includes intelligent lane assist and automatic braking. Also available, and to impress the grandkids, is Pilot Assist, Nissan’s entry into the semi-self driving category. This feature will let the Rogue take over on the highway with automatic steering, braking, and acceleration. Also fun for the kids: a motion-activated liftgate where simply sweeping your foot under the rear bumper will automatically open the rear.
#6. Buick Enclave
Base MSRP Range: $41,195 - $54,695
While the Nissan Rogue is our pick for a solid CUV, the Buick Enclave is an upgrade in both room, tech, and styling. Plus… heck… it’s a Buick and may hit the right spot for those seniors still buying American and can afford the extra cash.
The sole 3rd-row crossover on our list, the 2019 Buick Enclave is now in its second generation of styling that has held up well since being introduced in 2016. Featuring sweeping curves on the dash with plush, soft leather inserts and real wood trim, at a blurred glance you could mistake it for a Cadillac. With styling cues taken from many places, like the electronic shifter (BMW), wide infotainment screen (Mercedes) and minimal buttons (Volvo), the interior of the Enclave is satisfying.
With all of the safety and tech bells and whistles, the only thing left to think about maybe the price. One of the more expensive options in our lineup, this Buick’s price tag may be more of a head-turner than the vehicle itself.
#5. Honda Fit
Base MSRP Range: $16,190 - $20,520
Are you that scrappy grandparent who wants to save all the money they can for their grandkids’ college tuition or that cruise? The Honda Fit, a suitable double-entendre to “fit” your lifestyle, is a great choice to get yours around town.
The 2019 Honda Fit is the entry-level vehicle for the brand, yet still has enough styling, room, and tech to make it worthwhile. This is the third generation Fit, and if you’re going to buy one of these now is the time. Gone are the overly large headlamps; Honda “fit” the 2019 Fit with its new brand architecture of sharper, less-pillowy angles. It looks great.
The base LX version at just $16,190 is still a 5-door hatchback… plenty of room for moving crafts or luggage with the rear seats down. Tech is also not abandoned in this car: the infotainment system employs easy-to-use menus and a responsive 12.3-inch touch screen.
#4. Genesis G90
Base MSRP Range: $68,350 - $75,350
Are you that retired person or couple who is used to luxury sedans? The 2019 Genesis G90 is a fantastic option for you if you’re willing to move away from traditional luxury monikers like Cadillac, Mercedes or Lexus. It’s huge. It’s beautiful. Its tech will amaze. And the seats… well, they’ll impress. Hyundai’s entry into the super-luxury market with the Genesis brand seems like a win.
Indeed, from a quick glance, the Genesis G90 could be mistaken for a Jaguar XJ from the front, a Lexus LS from the side or a Mercedes S from the rear. This Genesis model takes the best from this tier of luxury offerings and combines them into one package. The G90 checks all the boxes for a luxury large car: it has more standard tech and safety features than any other car in its class.
The most expensive vehicle on our list doesn’t disappoint. The standard 22-way driver seat provides a ton of adjustment in seat height and fore-aft position with an extended thigh cushion for long-legged pilots. We love these seats. And the appointments in the interior is second to none, except perhaps Bentley and Rolls Royce. One thing that is distinctive about the G90; buttons. The center column is full or real, solid, actual buttons that perform functions you can program. For many people who complain about having to use a touch screen to access basic functions of vehicles in today’s market, the G90 offers this flash-back to traditional sedans that might just push it to your #1 spot on the list.
#3. Kia Niro
Base MSRP Range: $23,490 - $32,150
Our second offering from Korea on our list for seniors, the Kia Niro, is not included for the same reasons as the first. This is not your grandfather’s sedan (see the #8 Hyundai Sonata Above); it’s a brand new, stylish wagon that will turn heads and please with great features and styling. Take a chance on this new Kia, you won’t be disappointed.
Driving around with a friend in this vehicle this Fall, it amazed this writer how many people turned their heads. When looking at it at first glance, there’s nothing earth-shattering about the styling; The vehicle has pleasing lines, large, expressive tail lamps, and a tailored front end. It’s the fact that this is clearly a sports wagon that turns those noggins. And it’s a satisfying feeling.
When getting into the 2019 Niro, you feel like it’s a different vehicle too. Tailored, fit, smart. The thick, chunky steering wheel reminds you of a Volvo. The wagon doesn’t disappoint in the tech area either… want to impress the grandkids? Simply tell your Alexa or Google Home machine to start your Niro and watch them smile.
#2. Subaru Forester
Base MSRP Range: $24,295 - $30,795
The Subaru Forester is on a lot of our lists here at Rydeshopper. And for good reason; it’s a damned good car for the money, and, especially for seniors, it makes a whole lot of sense.
Smaller than the large Subaru Ascent, and a tad taller, larger and more utilitarian than the also popular Subaru Forester, the Forester is in that perfect middle ground of style, size, and price. Backed with Subaru’s renowned quality and dependability, this 4th generation Subaru Forester has finally settled in for the long haul as one of its manufacturer's best selling vehicles.
The wagon features impressive tech and safety like Standard EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology
Subaru DriverFocus™ Distraction Mitigation System. And while the infotainment system isn’t the most flashy on our list, it’s decent, with integrated Apple CarPlay and an attractive telematics interface.
One drawback; if styling is on your mind, you may want to wait for the next, 5th generation due out soon. Otherwise, take a chance on the Subaru. You won’t regret it.
#1. BMW X1
Base MSRP Range: $34,950 - $36,950
Want to throw it all out the window and be “that senior couple” who want to live a little, have great taste and still shell out $5 for lattes at Starbucks? The 2019 BMW X1 opens up the market for the storied carmaker with this CUV/wagon. With thick, chunky styling paired with BMW’s dog-leg, traditional styling, this car is an eye-catcher from the outside, and a people pleaser on the inside.
Now in its second generation, the BMW X1 features BMW’s new interior and exterior architecture; bold, sweeping folds in the sheet metal that give it a more aggressive stance, updated front end with BMW’s new large (and in charge), beautiful grille, chunky, off-road-looking lower side panels for off-roading (maybe just-in-case of a zombie apocalypse?), and a tapered, tailored end.
Inside the BMW is large for grandkids, and intimate enough to still feel exciting. The X1 features the wide-screen interactive display and utilizes BMW’s funky little mouse for its telematics system. Beautifully appointed seats and the dashboard will round out an experience that will make your grandkids beg to be driven by Grandma or Grandpa. Or by your friends driving any of the other vehicles on this list for that matter.
Of course, compiling this list is not all-inclusive. That would be impossible; not all senior drivers have grandkids or even kids for that matter, nor are all older drivers retired. Also, not all seniors are married.
What we tried to do with our list is present good, solid choices for 2019 without using cliches like “sensible” or “affordable.” And there are fantastic options in the wide-ranging list that are flexible; Have more money to spend on a BMW? Opt up for an X2. Need something smaller than a Volvo V90 Cross Country? Opt for the V60 Cross Country. Each vehicle has an option within that same manufacturer that can serve as an upgrade or make for a more fitting vehicle choice for your lifestyle.
As to my vehicle? It’s the V90 Cross Country. Did you guess in advance?