Which SUVs are easy to get into? My mom has a hip issue and has trouble stepping up into a regular SUV but still wants to ride higher than a regular car. Are there any SUVs that would fit the bill?
Jess, San Francisco
High ground clearance is a key component of the SUV look that is so popular with buyers, though car-based crossover models tend to be closer to ground level than the traditional truck-based models.
A compact SUV, which some may call a crossover, like the Honda CR-V has 6.3 inches of ground clearance with front-wheel drive and 6.7 with all-wheel drive; the Hyundai Tucson has 6.7 inches and the Kia Sportage 6.8. In comparison, the full-size Chevrolet Tahoe, which is based on a pickup truck platform, has 9.1 inches of ground clearance. Most cars have around 5 inches of ground clearance.
Related: Car-Buying Tips for Senior Drivers
That number may not tell the whole story about how easy or difficult it is to get in or out of a particular vehicle, so you should check them in person. Some SUVs with a high stance might have seats that are lower than in other vehicles.
One suggestion to look at is the Subaru Forester. Though this Subaru sits 8.7 inches off the ground, it has wide, tall doorways that facilitate entry and exit. We can't promise it will be a snap for your mother, but it might be easier than some others SUVs.
You also could look at alternatives, such as the Mazda5 wagon, a sort of mini-minivan with dual sliding rear side doors and 5.5 inches of clearance. Regular minivans such as the Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna with sliding rear doors might also work well for senior drivers. Other alternatives include the so-called "box cars," such as the Nissan Cube and Scion xD that are low to the ground but have tall doorways; you'll have to look for the Nissan and Scion at used-car dealerships.
You can find how much clearance other SUVs have by browsing model reports in the Cars.com Research section and select a specific car to research. After you've selected a car, click on Specifications. Then scroll down to the Standard Specs and Dimensions section and in it, you'll find the ground clearance number for that car.
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