Best Cars for your later years
24th May 2017
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.
As people grow older the need to plan activities and structure is important. Though not incapable of spontaneity, prior planning and preparation makes many trips more relaxed and successful. This is most apparent when it comes to choice of vehicle.
What people need from a vehicle changes throughout life, from the economic and reliable run around for the younger generation to the safe and spacious option for families. As you get older your needs change again, and some people may need specifically designed motability vehicles, whereas others will prefer a lower car with more leg room.
Regardless of whether the car user needs other mobility accessories around their home, such as Stairlifts or disabled bathrooms, an accessible and comfortable car is key to ensuring they remain active in the community and do not isolate themselves. Retaining independence is essential for those who live with mobility issues.
What to look for
Speaking to experts is a fantastic way to understand what is currently available on the market and what would suit an individual’s accessibility needs. Barnaby Jones, a spokesperson for Volvo, has some great tips on what to look for to ensure maximum ease and comfort with your new vehicle.
He says, “When it comes to the best cars for when you retire and your later years, practicality and ease of use are vital. Practicality covers many things, including getting into and out of the car (both you and your passengers), the ease of loading and unloading the boot, and the size and shape of the storage spaces inside the car.
“A car that is easy to get into and out of should have wide-opening doors, wide and tall door openings with minimal intrusion (from wheel arches, for example), and, most importantly, an h-point that is neither too high nor too low. An h-point (or hip-point) is the relative location of your hip, and is measured to other places such as the pavement and the vehicle floor. If the h-point when you’re in the driver’s seat is also similar to that when you’re standing on the pavement, that tends to make getting into and out of the car easier – as long as the car has a relatively low sill (so you don’t have to lift your legs up too high), you are stepping into the car, rather than stepping down or up into it.
“As for the boot, a wide, tall opening is important, as are a flat boot floor and sides, along with a range of hooks and a partition to keep your luggage in place.
“With this all in mind, an SUV with its high ground clearance, raised seating position and practical interior is an excellent choice. Of the current Volvo range, we’d recommend the XC60 (five-seat SUV), or the V60 Cross Country or V90 Cross Country, both of which are rugged estates that ride a little higher off the ground (which helps raise their h-points) than the standard versions of the V60 and V90.
“No matter which Volvo you refer to, though, it comes with a range of efficient engines – which help to keep running costs down – along with an array of advanced safety systems. Volvos are also designed to look stylish and elegant, and have cutting-edge technology and connectivity equipment – after all, this sort of technology is becoming increasingly important to buyers of all ages. Finally, the V90 Cross Country comes with an automatic gearbox as standard, and an automatic ’box is available on every version of the XC60 and V60 Cross Country.”
For Wheel chair users
Honest John is an online car blog that covers reviews, polls and all of your questions to your favourite agony uncle. His opinions are well respected, with the Telegraph picking up his car of the year. When asked for his thoughts on the best cars for wheelchair users, Honest John did not disappoint:
“The Hyundai ix20, KIA Venga and Citroen C3 Picasso all offer upright seating and plenty of space inside for wheelchairs, etc.
“The Honda Jazz has upward folding rear seat squabs that allow a wheelchair to be stowed in the centre of the car.
“The BMW i3 electric and the Ford B-Max have fully opening sides with no B-Pillar5, allowing easier access.
“To accommodate people in wheelchairs the best answer is a basic MPV such as a Citroen Berlingo Muiltispace, Mercedes Benz Citan or FIAT Doblo with an aftermarket electric ramp fitted by a specialist such as Brotherwood. These are known as 'Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles' (WAVs).
“The question of manual or automatic is a delicate one because if the driver does not have a ready means of braking the car (able bodied people can left foot brake) then there is a danger of losing control.”
Other things to consider
Many modern cars come with extras to consider, depending on how the car is intended to be used. If Long journeys to new places are anticipated, an integrated satellite navigation system that will not distract the driver will be best.
If the car is intended for quick jaunts to town, with lots of street parking, considering parking sensors to aid the driver, especially if more room is needed to help passengers out of the car, as this will be helpful.
Hands free boot opening may or may not come as standard, but if dexterity can be an issue or the driver often finds themselves juggling multiple things in their hands while trying to open the boot, it can be an essential extra. Bluetooth connectivity is another extra that’s usefulness is dependent on how the car is used. If the driver is often without passengers, then connecting your phone and safely taking calls can be marvellous, where as if there are often passengers on board, this may not be necessary.