While many pundits would tell you that old age is a state of mind, your body will tell you differently. For some, driving becomes more difficult. But buying the right set of wheels for you — with the proper options — can make a huge difference in your ability to remain mobile. Here's what to look for in a new vehicle.
Size matters: Midsize cars have almost as much room as a full-size car, yet can be easier on gas and are no less safe. Government crash-test results are listed on a new car's price sticker.
Door openings: Egress can be hampered by door openings that are too narrow at the bottom. Also, look for door sills that are closer to the ground, as they make entry and exit easier.
Automatic dimming mirrors, both rear-view and side-view, help prevent glare at night.
Storage: Check the depth and the liftover height of the trunk to ensure you can easily load it. If you commonly carry a bulky item, such as a wheelchair, bring it along on the test drive to make sure it will fit and is easy to load.
Power tailgate: A power-operated tailgate or trunk lid makes accessing the trunk easier for those with limited upper-body strength or mobility.
Seats: Ease of entry is enhanced by choosing leather seats instead of cloth. Look for seats that are higher off the ground. The ideal seat height is between your mid-thigh and lower buttocks. Power height and lumbar support are worth considering.
Steering wheel: A steering wheel that tilts and telescopes makes finding a safe driving position easier. Look for a thicker steering wheel, which is easier to grip.
Clear readouts: Make sure the gauges are large enough and have enough contrast for you to easily read.
Controls: Large buttons are easier to activate while driving.
Easy on the wrist: A dash-mounted push button used to start the car rather than a traditional key can be easier to use for those with arthritis.
Safety: Look for these features: Anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic stability control, traction control, backup camera, blind-spot alert, lane departure warning and assist, collision warning and prevention, cross-traffic alert.