Best car for RA suffering - any advice: We are looking... - NRAS


31,558 members38,329 posts

Best car for RA suffering - any advice

Ouchyjenna profile image

We are looking to replace my car, I'm really struggling with it. Its a small clio and its so low to get in and out of, Also it has horrible bucket seats so I struggle to turn and pull myself out of it. Does anyone have any advice on what kind of car would be best for mobility issues. Does anyone use a car at the moment that suits all the needs that come along with RA. any advice would be helpful thanks :)

49 Replies

Me and my OH used to have a ford focus and both being disabled struggled to get in and even more so getting out so when we were due to exchange our mobility car we test drove SUVs, we chose the ford Kuga but second choice was a nissan Juke. You step into them rather than climbing down into them. We have just got our second ford kuga.

I would recommend that you test drive any car that you are interested in, and test drive several so you chose the right one for you.

PaulineS profile image
PaulineS in reply to Riedenise

You want to get a car that is higher than the usual saloon. I drive an automatic VW Touran & also a Vauxhall agila, which is smaller but is also higher than most cars.

sandraw21 profile image
sandraw21 in reply to Riedenise

You really should get assessed properly before you get another car. Contact Motability and they will tell you where the assessment centre is in your area. Your GP can refer you (for £10 - ridiculous ) They will assess you, take you for a test drive and then you are better informed for choosing a new car better suited for you now

Dozza profile image
Dozza in reply to Riedenise

I too have owned a kuga and would not have anything else. It's supportive for my back and it's a dream to get in and out of. I also got the automatic version and I really cannot fault it at all. Hope this helps x

The Nissan Juke is a good all rounder, especially an automatic as it saves my left foot, knee and hand fighting with the clutch and gear stick

I have a Honda Jazz and find it very comfortable.

I've never driven an automatic but the cost of conversion, I wondering if I can cope driving manual for a bit longer. We have looked at a vw tiguan but only online. Im a little scared to go to a show room just in case they start pressuring me. I think suv type is where I have to go. Im just going to have to bite the bullet and go to a show room I guess. Thanks

AgedCrone profile image
AgedCrone in reply to Ouchyjenna

Definitely go for an automatic.....the difference it makes on your neck, wrists & ankles is was the first "adaption" I made when first diagnosed.....the relief not to whince every time I changed gear was winderful!

I too had never driven an automatic in the UK, but I had hired one & that is the only downside I have found....hiring an automatic car in Europe is really expensive.

Do go along to a car sales lot & tell them you need to try out an automatic. I find the Honda Jazz auto a comfortable easy car to drive.

I always enjoyed driving, literally driving a manual car. In the past, pre RD, I've always had sports cars, apart from 2, a 4wD (necessary where we used to live) & my first car a Clio, but always manual as I loved the drive of them if that makes sense, listening to the engine, being fully in control & said I'd never have an automatic. people. Boy do I appreciate it now RD has some control on my abilities to drive safely. I've automatic everything on our latest, keyless opening & closing, rain sensors, lights, seats, reversing camera, front sensors, 4 way lumbar support, heated seats, automatic tailgate, auto panoramic sunroof & more... everything I swore I'd never have because it wouldn't be me in control, guess was a control freak driver! Also I'd always understood that automatics were thirsty. Not so with the three we've had, they've been far more economical even with round town driving, even better on a trip with motorway driving. Do you have a friend or relative you has an automatic & who would let you have a drive? It might give you the experience & feel of it, or give you the impetus to start looking for a car that's so easy & a pleasure to drive!

I understand your fear of being pressurised into buying a car so if you have a car supermarket near to where you live maybe have a look round there? You've lots of different cars & makes, saloons, crossovers, 4WD, all shapes & sizes & generally you're left to look round & usually need to ask for help if there's anything you're particularly interested in.

I'm looking at the moment and have a Honda Jazz automatic 1.4 its a great car and never had 1 go wrong in 10 years. That's 3 I've had, and to be honest much as I like the VW Polo and Peugeot 108, I'm going to get a new Jazz. Easy to drive, small car with lots of room inside its the reliability that really sell it. They are fast when needed it's still my favorite. I drive an automatic as RA has damaged my left foot but it's a smooth gear change and a lot of hidden storage too. Test drive one. x

I agree MedwayLady....I have an 18 year old Honda & it's as good as new!

My mechanic is constantly telling me I don't need to buy a new car!

I had to change to an automatic as I have destruction in my wrist and synovial inflammation in other which affects thumb and finger and driving a manual was just too difficult and painful. We bought a Skoda Yeti and I love it all round.

Hi Jenna, I have just taken delivery of a VW Tiguan automatic. I'm very pleased with it.i was having the same problems getting in and out of my last car a ( Ford Focus)

Regards Mike

I'm not sure if it is available in your market, but try the budget-friendly Kia Soul - it's our second car. I drive my DIL's Juke on occasion and like it very much as well. My husband has a Mercedes B250 and I find it very comfortable, easy to get into, and having the smoothest automatic transmission. You should definitely choose an automatic this time. I switched last year, after having driven a manual all my life. It used to be that a manual was better for driving in winter conditions here, but I find the automatics are now generally quite good.

Nissan X Trail or any SUV.

BTW, here's how I handled the car shopping bit:

I left DH at home.

First of all, that helped tremendously because I would be accosted by a right-minded salesperson right off the bat - one who saw my cane and that I was a woman - and made the first move to greet me. This bit was important; I left one dealership because the two guys that were not busy barely made eye contact (and waited for me to pick which "unlucky" guy would have had to deal with me.)

I told the salespersons that I was not interested in any car's bells and whistles just yet, and I told them that my top priority was my comfort in & out of the car. I ended up not test driving many at all - the sitting part was enough to eliminate quite a few.

When I found both the B250 and the Soul, I went back with DH and told the same salesperson to pitch him the bells and whistles.

Then I did the negotiating.

My friend drives a small Nissan.....sorry don't know the model....we call it her Postman Pat car as it's very upright.

I am 5'4" & the front seats are just about at my derrière level as I lean in, & the doors are wide enough to get in without having to pull your knees under your chin.

I've switched to an automatic, much easier. We had a manual Nissan Qashqai which was a great car, love being a bit higher up and as others say it's so much easier to get in and out of. I wouldn't swap for anything lower now.

We needed something bigger as a family and last year's bought an automatic Volvo XC90. It's so easy to drive, it has electronic steering which is more assisted than power steering, you can steer with one hand. All the new cars now have self parking which makes it easy too. This time we've got leather seats and they are much easier to swivel round on to get out. Love it!

We changed from a Mazda 6 to a Mazda CX-5 last year. It's a 4 x 4 so higher. It's a bit of climb up for me because I'm only 5' 1" but really easy to get out of. It's also really comfortable to drive.

Honda Jazz automatic works well for me. It was such a relief after struggling to get up out of car seats lower to the ground.

I find some cars are too high and difficult to struggle into and out of but the not so little Jazz is perfect. (Reasonable leg room for passengers too). The cost of the automatic feature has been repaid a thousand times over as using a manual could set off the RA/RD on yet another little romp round the body. Jude

I am having the same issues with my car, a Seat Leon, I am looking to change and have done a fair bit of research online, the on that comes up best in What Car is Nissan Qashqai and having been for a test drive think this is my best option. The Juke I found more difficult with the steering. Hope you can find something that suits.

I've been watching the car reviews on you tube and all the suv seems so similar now ive ended up worrying about nav features and mpg nonsense etc. I'm trying to remind myself I'm only changing the car so I can get in and out of it with pain. Tiguan seems to be sticking with me also 3008 and qashqai. I know me I will choose the first car I sit in because I don't like the process and just want to choose one. So I'm being sensible and doing so intense homework

GranAmie profile image
GranAmie in reply to Ouchyjenna

ps - forgot to say I'm abt 5'8" and my suzuki is quite tall so easy access for me xx

I had a problem getting in and out of 'normal' cars due to the low seats, so I sat in a lot of different cars and did my research on Which? I have an automatic Ford Fusion which is like a Fiesta but higher, and it's great although it does guzzle the petrol. My husband has an auto Vauxhall Zafira, also a high seat and very comfortable - but only for the driver!

thelmar profile image
thelmar in reply to nettymacd

Unfortunately Ford no longer manufacture the Fusion otherwise it is what I would have chosen.

I have a Hyundai 1x20,and find it very comfortable to sit in and light to drive. I have back problems as well as RD, and like a firm, high seat. (found the Juke seat too soft, but can see that some prefer that)

Ps Jenna another advantage that the Tiguan I got,is that it has a massage facility on the drivers seat. Now that's bells and whistles for you, it came as standard ,I don't think I'd have paid extra for it.

Happy car hunting, again Regards mike

My Fiat Panda ticked all the boxes for me. For a small car it is much higher than most so easy to get in and out of. It is 4 door so the doors don't take up so much room when open.

It has a very unusual handbrake which is really easy to use.

My husband has a Ford company car which is changed frequently. He has either A Kuga or a CMax both of which are high and easy to get in and out of. (His main criteria is that he must be able to get his golf clubs in)! He tends to prefer the CMax because it is far more economical.

I wish you joy with your search.


I drive a Ford Fiesta can adjust seat up & down. I also changed to an automatic as found gear changing difficult. As others have said test drive a few to find a car that suits your needs.

Good luck

Thanks for your advice. I'm going to look further into getting an automatic I think. I've never tried one buy if you all think it's makes a huge difference for the wrists then I will definitely have a look

I have an automatic Ford Ecosport which is based on the Ford Fiesta. It looks like a small ford kuga, or what I tend to say to people who say a Ford what?? It's a Fiesta on stilts!! I have the power shift one which is basically an automatic. The other brilliant thing about it is that the boot door opens like a door so no need to have to reach and hurt shoulders etc to pull the lid down. It is also brilliant for dogs and getting shopping in and out. Hope this has been useful. Good luck with your car quest. Sxx


I've just changed to a Suzuki Vitara. So easy to get in and out of with very light clutch and steering.

Hope you find something that suits.

Just changed to a motability car, and chose a Skoda Octavia. Fully adjustable front seats and steering wheel . Found the yeti too high....was like climbing a mountain for me

Important to test drive possibles, read reviews. Octavia has massive boot...can easily fit mobility scooter.

Comfort very important, and automatics are much kinder on the joints

Hope you find the right car , x

I've just had to get rid of my little MG because of the same issue. Himself has a Hyundai ix35 which has firm seats and is reasonably easy to get into and out of. Nice to drive too. I went for a little Hyundai i10 automatic which is easy in/easy out, comfy heated seats, heated steering wheel, brilliant sat nav etc. So easy to drive it's practically stress free.


Hi! I'm in the U.S. so I don't know if this will help but I figure all info is good while you are looking! I drive my husband's "truckzilla"- 3/4 ton extended cab pickup. Once I'm in (I'm 4'11"), its great and very comfortable to drive. We have foot boards to make it easy for me to get in and I just sorta slide out and put my feet on the board and step down. It is 4 wheel drive as we are planning on moving out of the city..

Good Luck in your search!


Well we have a Mokka and it is perfect x

We've treated ourself with our latest car as the last two automatics I've had issues with, three cars in three years was a bit much so it needed to be right this time. It's a Merc again but an AMG estate, with an auto powered tailgate, so much easier with the dogs. The first automatic we had I needed to press a button to engage, well that with my hands wasn't easy. The next wasn't any easier but this one is by the steering wheel on a stalk, easy peasy. It's also keyless, what a help particularly when shopping. Other helpful things too, memory seats, how did I ever manage without that?! There's automatic this & automatic that, all very helpful.

The seats are very supportive & hug you which I thought might be problem when exiting the car but as I've found it as easy as any other car. By swivelling round until both my feet are placed on the pavement/road I can lever myself out safely.

Good luck finding the most suitable car for your needs, it's surprisingly important to be happy with what you can afford if we're to remain as independent as possible. So take your time, check out lots then you can decide which is the better one for you, our needs are all as different as the cars nowadays!

I drive a suzuki Jimny. I find this is high enough to get in and out of fairly easily. I get stuck in low seats and have to be pulled undignified out of my friends BMW. Also the boot is a my waist height so not such a struggle getting items out.


With PMR I was ok driving a Suzuki Splash but once RA hit me i wasn't able to manage gears, keys etc. So I now drive an AUTOMATIC [Suzuki Swift] and was soooo reieved to regain a measure of independence. Comfortable ?? YES!! - keyfob to open, button start, 1 lever to move foward / back in order to change gear with clutch in.... I'm writing this b4 I read other replies - but will read them now as need to change nxt year. I hope you can manage to find something to suit. try several b4 deciding. You know about Motability? Good luck

I have reasonably severe RA ,and have had a double knee replacement. I had an Hyundai Accent and found it difficult to get in and out. I had to get a new car and someone recommended the Kia Rio. It's reasonably priced and the seat can be easily raised or lowered (if I can do it with my bad hands, anybody can) so that there is no bending at the knees to get out - wonderful. Additionally, it's small, which I much prefer - found the Accent a bit big for my taste.Best of all, after 40 years of driving a manual, I got an automatic. The difference is life changing

nomoreheels profile image
nomoreheels in reply to tezzab

It could have been on his particular model but my father in law had a 65 reg Rio (from new) & whilst the drivers seat was height-adjustable the passenger seat wasn't. The seat position was very low when being driven & I found it terribly difficult to get out of. On the plus side the clutch was very easy to depress & had a good turning space. On later models the passenger seats may be adjustable but something to check when thinking of a test drive particularly if you're ever likely to be driven.

tezzab profile image
tezzab in reply to nomoreheels

I must admit that I never even thought to check the passenger seat. Any passengers that I have at the moment are unlikely to need a higher seat. I must admit that when I am a passenger, the thing that most concerns me is how wide I can actually open the door, and will the door stay open or slide back on my legs (my Accent's doors used to do this on the driver's side). It's interesting - I have been a passenger in a friend's 3 door Volvo hatchback, and the door, even though actually bigger, opened far less than my 5 door car, and was extremely difficult to swing my legs around comfortably and get out easily. I would have assumed that a three door car would be harder to get out of.

However, as I have gotten older, I have probably become more inclined to ensure that things suit me (if they are minor things, obviously e.g. one of the big selling points for my house was that it has no stairs/steps, and I don't go to people's houses if I know I am going to face a long flight of steps). I am not a passenger in a car for more than I can help it, as I find either driving or being a passenger very tiring and gives me a crippling backache after a couple of hours. Additionally, I'm a pest and insist that people park so that I have enough space to stop into the gutter, not directly on the kerb.

I must admit that if I was frequently a passenger in a car I would use my memory foam booster cushion that I keep in the car for restaurants, etc. I can't drive with this as it restricts my movement - but as I said, with the Kia that's not a problem for the driver.

I love the Rio, but a lot of that is probably driving an automatic after years of a manual/stick car. The seat can be raised to a perfect height for me, and has made such a difference to my ease of driving.

However, it's horses for courses.

Oh, before I forget - a motoring expert also recommended the Fiat Panda (I think it was the Panda) as having a good adjustable seat. I know Fiat has lost its reputation for unreliability since it was purchased by someone (I can't remember who) but it, unfortunately, is tainted for me because of friends' complaints decades ago when it was still owned by Fiat.

We could really do with an organised list of vehicles. It was interesting to see a common thread about the height of the car, everything in my flat, bed, sofa, recliner has been put at an height that suits me.

I am looking to get a vehicle, not from overpriced Mobility, height being the most important item on the list. I only need a small vehicle and am considering a Smart car, but how high is it?, they are expensive but German engineering isn't cheap. A bad back makes it very important that I can get in and out of it with ease and living in London means smaller is better for parking and congestion charge.

A friend that takes me shopping has a Mitsubishi 4x4 and the height is perfect, for me, I want a reliable vehicle that I can use, with ease, giving me some real independance without the turbo charged diesel that pollutes. An electric car works until it needs charging urgently and I don't want to be stuck in the wilds of the A303 corridor.

I have a Nissan Juke, it's easy to get in and out of as it's higher than a standard style car. It's compact, great to drive and looks really funky! Mine is bright yellow and makes everyone smile - a ray of sunshine in a gloomy world of pain! 😂

As a ex motor engineer my current vehicle is a Citroen C3 Picasso, it is a 1.6 diesel Blue technology ( very low emissions) up to 70 plus to the gallon. Very practical inexpensive motor.

My wife who is disabled with dementia, and with very poor mobility thinks its the best car we have ever owned, it's such a please to drive, like a puppy eager for a walk. Wonderful all round visibility, compact and comfortable. Not a fashion statement, solid value.

Hope you are delighted with what ever you buy, John

A Mercedes B class has high seating and is easy to get in and out of. The new shape from 2012 I think. Hopefully there are some reasonably priced Second hand ones out there. Automatic of course, rear camera is good so neck gets less twisting, heated seats. Worth every penny.

We have a Mazda CX-5 and it's really easy to get in and out of once you've remembered it has high seats.

Hiya, just thought I would let you know how I got on with my car search. We test drove a Renult Kadjar, It was really lovely, lots of bells and whistles and woman in the showroom was so kind and helpful, as mentioned I really was anxious about the whole show room visit.It was a great car but probably a little style over substance. We then tried the tried a Hyundai Tucson which was terrible, the automatic was way too expensive, the manual had an awful gear stick and was impossible for me, and worst of all the sales person was 45 minutes late seeing us, and only came over to help when we said that we were going, and then just seemed really pisssed off when I said that the gear stick was impossible for me to use. So we just said we would rather just leave. Finally we test drove the Tiguan, the salesperson was a little sure of himself, saying that the Kadjar was shitt etc, my husband didn't like that but we both loved the car, we did so much research so I think my mind was made up before I got there. There was so much room and it was just a better fit for me, also the gear stick was easy to move and to put into reverse, you push down rather that pull up, so for a while I think I will manage fine with that. It came with a lot of useful features like automatic parking and tailgate. I feel so lucky that we could get a car like this. It means I can keep driving myself to work because at the moment that has been a big struggle. Thank you all so much for you help, I hope the thread helps others with their car search!!

From my own experience, the best cars for people like us will be the Peugeot Rifter Horizon. These cars are specially modified to satisfy all our needs. I know this because last month I bought one of these. I am very pleased with the choice I made. I bought it using a special loan from This a platform that shows all the best offers for you. It's calculating them due to your credit score. So, it was very acceptable for me and I decided to do it. I love my baby, it's so sick!

You may also like...