Seniors are often associated with driving large, spacious sedans such as a Buick LaCrosse or a Toyota Avalon. Despite the stereotype, a full-size sedan will not always be the best option for a senior driver. Today, seniors are living more actively than ever. For seniors who enjoy taking road trips, getting out into nature or spending time with their young grandkids, a crossover or SUV can be a better fit for their active lifestyle. These higher-riding vehicles are good for visibility, offer flexible cargo space for gear, plus passenger space for when the grandkids come to visit. We'll identify the criteria for selecting the best SUVs for seniors and cover the top 5 options.
Criteria for Best SUVs and Crossovers for Seniors
How did we narrow down the top SUVs for seniors among the hundreds of options on the market? We've test-driven dozens of SUVs and crossovers this year, and these 5 were the ones we found to be best for the 'young at heart' senior thanks to their comfort, cargo space, passenger space, and safety features.
- Comfort: We look at the comfort and support of the front seats, rear seats, and visibility from the driver's seat. We also take into account the noise, vibrations, and harshness of the vehicle's cabin.
- Safety: The IIHS and NHTSA ratings are considered, plus the standard and optional safety technology to make driving safer for seniors.
- Cargo and passenger space: We look at the SUV's total cargo space with rear seats up and folded.
1. 2019 Subaru Forester
The 2019 Subaru Forester tops our list of best SUVs for seniors thanks to its excellent cargo space, safety features, and comfort. This rugged crossover will serve you well for years, whether you're getting out to your favorite walking trails or the everyday grocery trip. When it comes to storage space, the Forester has plenty to offer, including a big open cubby in the center stack. The cargo space in the back is massive with 76.1 cubic feet of space with the seats folded down and 35.42 cubic feet with the seats up. The Forester's cargo space beats out SUVs that are larger in size and will accommodate your grandkids' strollers or the groceries for your famous Thanksgiving feast.
The Subaru Forester also outranks many competitors when it comes to safety and comfort. Not only does the 2019 model earn the Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS and 5 stars from the NHTSA, but every model comes standard with the DriverFocus suite of safety tech including Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking, Lane Departure, and Sway Warning and Lane Keep Assist.
In addition to helping keep you safe on the road, the Forester will also keep you comfortable. Thanks to its increased size, this SUV has spacious front and rear seats with almost excessive headroom, offering an airy feel. Seniors will love that the front seats are well-cushioned and provide plenty of lateral support for longer drives. Visibility is excellent all around the vehicle which removes the need to rely on cameras. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine found in every trim is good for 182 horsepower and each trim comes with standard AWD for confident driving in all seasons.
2019 Subaru Forester Starting MSRP: $24,295
2. 2019 Honda Passport
The Honda Passport is a brand new model that makes a good fit for the senior that believes age is just a number or is looking to downsize from a larger three-row SUV. It is based on the popular Honda Pilot but instead of a third row, it gives you more cargo space, a comfortable ride and loads of standard safety tech. The Passport's excellent power, user-friendly cargo area, and room for 5 will let you keep up with the kids and grandkids. When you have the grandkids in tow in the back, the Passport will have 41 cubic feet of space and when you're flying solo, you'll have a huge 78 cubic feet of room with the seats folded down.
Despite minor demerits in the IIHS safety ratings, the 2019 Honda Passport got solid overall safety ratings which include a 5 star NHTSA rating for confidence behind the wheel. All models come with the Honda Sensing suite of driver-assistance features including Adaptive Cruise Control, Automated Emergency Braking, Forward-Collision Warning, and Lane-Departure Warning with Lane-Keep Steering Assist. There's also a multi-view rear camera for getting in and out of tight spots.
The Passport is a comfortable choice for seniors thanks to big front seats that sit high for improved visibility. The Passport is also free of obstructive pillars that can block a driver's view. The rear seats will fit grandkids of all ages with lots of legroom and headroom. Under the hood of the Passport is a 280 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 for 280 horsepower. Thanks to its smaller size compared to the Pilot, the Passport is easier to drive and feels nimble and quick.
2019 Honda Passport Starting MSRP: $31,990
3. 2019 Kia Sorento
The Kia Sorento is a refined SUV for seniors who like to have the whole family along for the ride including the kids and grandkids. This three-row, 7 passenger SUV is not only safe and spacious, but it also offers a smooth and quiet ride, plus excellent visibility. Although the third row of the Sorento is on the tighter side, it will be more than sufficient for the young grandkids and the second row will fit teens or adults easily. When it comes to driver comfort, the front seats offer good adjustability, cushioning and bolstering.
The 2019 Sorento passed safety testing with flying colors by earning a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS and a 5 star rating from the NHTSA. Going with the LX trim and higher gives you safety features like Blind-Spot Collision Warning and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning. For more advanced safety features like Surround-View Monitoring and Park Distance Warning, upgrade to one of the higher trims like the SX or the SX Limited.
No matter how much you adore the grandkids, there's no denying they come with a lot of baggage. This includes strollers, car seats, and bulky toys. Luckily the Sorento's cargo space is extremely generous with a large cubby in front, plus 73 cubic feet of cargo space which beats out some luxury vehicles like the Audi Q7. There are two engine options across the 7 trims of the Sorento including a 185 horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and a 290 horsepower 3.3-liter V6.
2019 Kia Sorento Starting MSRP: $26,290
4. 2019 Subaru Outback
The Subaru Outback is a more compact crossover compared to the others on our list, and can also be classified as a wagon. As Subaru's top-selling vehicle, the Outback will work well for seniors who only need room for a few passengers but want the cargo space and AWD of an SUV along with top safety features. For 2019, the Outback earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating and 5 stars from the NHTSA. Safety features like Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control w/ Lane Centering, Pre-Collision Braking, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, and Lane-Keep Assist are rolled up into Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist package which comes standard across all trims.
Subaru created the Outback for the outdoorsy and adventurous driver and its cargo space doesn't disappoint. This means plenty of room for your family's gear, gardening supplies or that impromptu shopping spree. When the rear seats are up, there is 35.5 cubic feet of space and when the seats are folded flat, you get a cavernous 73.3 cubic feet.
Although smaller in size than some of the other SUVs on the list, the Outback doesn't skimp on comfort in the front or rear seats. The front seats are supportive and comfortable while the rear seat legroom beats out even some larger competitors. The cabin is quiet and spacious with great visibility and no large pillars to obstruct the view. An added benefit is the ease of getting in and out of the Outback. Like the Forester, the Outback offers standard symmetrical AWD across all trim levels. Every trim of the 2019 Subaru Outback besides the top Outback Onyx Edition XT gets a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine for 182 horsepower. The Onyx Edition XT gets an increased 260 horsepower thanks to a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine.
2019 Subaru Outback Starting MSRP: $26,345
5. 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
After a complete redesign for 2019, the Hyundai Santa Fe offers numerous perks for the senior driver. The two-row crossover is comfortable for drivers and passengers alike, plus it has generous cargo and great safety features. The Santa Fe really shines when it comes to safety. For 2019, it gets fully loaded with standard safety tech including Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection.
When it comes to comfort, the 2019 Santa Fe has improved front seat cushioning along with good bolstering. The rear seats get 1.5 inches more legroom which is ideal for the grandkids going through their growth spurts. Another perk of the redesign is that the Santa Fe gets 40% more glass area, making visibility a no brainer.
Cargo space in the Santa Fe will help you tote everything from luggage for the road trip you've always want to take, to your youngest grandkid's tricycle. When the seats are up, you get 35.9 cubic feet behind the second row and 71.3 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. Across the 7 trim options, you'll find a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine for 185 horsepower and a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine for 235 horsepower.
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Starting MSRP: $25,750