Automakers are adding features for older drivers

Mary Ann Capo, Chrysler Brand Senior Product Planning Manager, discussed the Chrysler Pacifica minivan’s age-friendly features: a low step height that makes it easier to get into the vehicle and second-row seats that fold into the floor to create space for large items such as walkers.

While the minivan tends to be associated with parents carrying young children, more than 60% of Pacifica buyers are over the age of 50, according to Eric Mayne, spokesman for global automaker Stellantis, which manufactures and sells Chryslers. .

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Minivans can be useful for transporting grandkids, and snowbirds appreciate the roomy interior when heading south each winter, Capo says. It also comes with 97 standard safety features, which Capo says is important for older drivers. “They want to make sure that when they’re driving they’re safe and their passengers are safe,” she says.

This is the case of Miriam Karp, 64, who bought a 2020 Mazda CX-3 in April. Karp, from Cincinnati, had only bought much older model used cars in the past, but driving around town as a community chaplain convinced her “that paying extra was important. for a newer car with safety features”.

A small SUV like the CX-3 was attractive because the seats are higher than a regular car, making it easier to get in and out. The Mazda, she said, had an excellent safety record and cost less than comparable models. “I feel safer” in it, she adds.

Small compact SUVs like the one Karp chose “are among the best vehicles for older drivers,” says Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations for the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center. More than 43% of these compact SUVs were purchased by people age 55 and older, according to S&P Global Mobility. While a sedan “requires a bit of dodging and lifting,” small SUVs have hip-height seats, which provide easy access, as well as extra visibility, Stockburger says.

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