A Questions for Long Leggedy Driving Dopers

I have a 6 foot tall son who is learning to drive. We have a Malibu. His legs are so long that we cannot move the chair back far enough for him to drive without scrunching up his legs. I looked today and yes, he could use another 6 inches leg room easily.

So, my question is, is there anything more we can do to make it less uncomfortable and cramp inducing to learn to drive?

If not, and if we do decide to get another car, is there a list of cars with the most legroom? I’m meaning a used beater with lots of legroom, don’t want to invest a lot in a car for a kid.

I don’t know… I’m 6’5" and I’ve driven everything from a Chevy Geo to a 87 Fierro to a 04 mini. I’ve never really had much problem with legroom.

Is it possible that he’s not really sitting up straight. You’d be suprised how much difference that’ll make.

I’m 6’1" and drive a 2000 Malibu. Before the Malibu I had a Cavilier. Tilt steering tends to be on my list of requirements for any smaller car. While I am more comfortable driving larger trucks and suv’s I hardly think its a requirement. My opinion is he isn’t going to get any shorter so it’s simply a fact of life he’s going to have to deal with. Unless he is all leg and no upper body a Malibu isn’t to bad a choice. My seat is set all the way back with the backrest one click from straight up. American cars tend to be better suited for taller(and larger) people.

I have found from personal experience that body weight is as important as height.

I am 6’2". Two years ago I was 370 pounds and I had to move the seat as far back as possible on all cars. On smaller cars like eg. a Mazda Miata, I would have a really hard time entering and once I was inside there would be no room at all to use my feet.

Today I am 210 pounds and if I move the seat too far back my feet don’t touch the pedals at all on some cars.

There are lots and lots of variables here.

I’d just suggest that he sit in lots of cars on the used-car lots.

I am 6’4" and have this friend who is 6’7"–without going into a lot of unnecessary detail, I once had this car that was really, really tiny (Triumph GT-6). It was an exercise to get in to, but once there, I had LOTS of leg room. My friend could not even fit into it as a passenger. Why? HE had a long torso, not long legs, so he sat so high, it was not leg room, but head room that was the issue.

Like I said, so many variables. I’d just have him sit in various cars and see how he could adjust them to fit.

Really? What you’re saying seems very logical, but my experience has been the opposite, for some reason. I’m a cigarette paper shorter than 6’5", and I too have driven everything from an original Mini to the latest SUV Wanktank, but I’ve driven a LOT of small cars, and generally have little problem. The odd thing is, when I find a car that I’ve already maxed out sliding back the driver’s seat in and it’s still uncomfortable, I find the best thing to do is to recline the seat a bit. At that point, my knees are still going to be bent more than I’d like, but they aren’t up around my chin.

6’ 5" 37" inseam checking in.

I’ve driven LOTS of cars, and have only had a problem in right hand drive ones. Basically, I sit with my legs splayed, rather than right in front of me, expecially my right leg. Otherwise it is difficult to work the pedals. The door is in the way of that in RHD cars. And yes, tipping the seat-back back helps…otherwise you may be hunkered down for head clearance at the expense of leg room.

The new Cooper Mini’s are really roomy BTW, that and a '72 Lincoln Town Car are the only things I’ve driven where the seat actually went far enough back.

I’m about 6’6" with my shoes on. I drive a 2003 Malibu, which (apart from a Sebring, and Honda Civics '98 and earlier) was the only model car I could find in months of looking that would allow me to put my foot on the brake and still fit my knee behind the steering wheel.

Some cars I couldn’t even fit in, others I could, but the placement of the steering wheel (and lack of sufficient/any telescoping action) to avoid my knees was my primary concern when looking.

Various people keep telling me that the newer model cars are better, (with the Smart Car being finally marketed in the 'States I’ve seen some ads for it showing lots of room), but if new cars are out, I’d say you’d be far better off looking at trucks. I didn’t want a truck due to never needing to carry anything, and wanting a smaller, more efficient vehicle, but there’s no denying they fit taller people better.

I should have been more clear. You’re absolutely right that reclining the seat helps me, otherwise I tend to have my head hitting the ceiling. But if he’s pushing his butt forward on the seat, then he’s losing some legroom that way. That’s what I was trying to say as far as sitting straight…

Another tall guy checking in. I too have problems with both legroom and headroom. I dislike driving with my legs splayed, but sometimes it is the only way.

It’s going to be hard for a tall man to find a car that really fits. The legs are almost always going to splayed frogwise, with one knee on the door and the other on the shifter. I’ve had to sadly walk away from some cars, because my splayed knees were hard against the dashboard. In a few others, the top of my head was solidly against the roof.

The lad is most likely to find enough room in a ride with upright seating, such as a Chrysler PT Cruiser. Some of the pseudo-SUVs (really small station wagons on tall tires) have upright seating. He’s just going to have to sit in a lot of cars. This will give him good experience in wriggling out of the clutches of car salesmen, a priceless skill. :wink:

I’m currently 6’5" (down from 6’6", aging sucks) and have found my need for legroom has evolved with age. My first car was a Nissan Pulsar, where I didn’t mind the legroom, but had to keep the sunroof open when I drove.

First off, it may be uncomfortable for him, but I doubt it’s unsafe. And given a choice between not driving and being uncomfortable, I think a 17 yr old boy will choose being uncomfortable.

Secondly, he’s only 6’? Tell him to suck it up. The Chevy website shows the Malibu has 39.4" of headroom and nearly 42" of legroom. That’s very generous. As others have suggested, make sure he’s sitting up straight and has his butt in the seat. Driving posture can certainly impact legroom.

Thirdly, if you do buy him a used beater, just have him start sitting in cars on the lot. Don’t even talk features or money with the salesman until you’re sure your son fits in the car.

Weight does play into it some, as I’ve found my car to be less comfortable on longer drives as I have gotten heavier. When I test drove the car, I wasn’t in it long enough to realize that the leg bend would get to me after 45 minutes or so. Used to be over an hour. I do sit with my legs somewhat splayed, which wreaks havoc with my shoe heels.

Thanks for the replies, all.

Yes, I didn’t believe it either when he said that he was having trouble with fitting in the car. I mean, he is not that big. His inseam is only 32. I think what’s causing the problem here is his weight. He’s pretty heavy. He won’t tell me what he weighs, but he has refused to go on a water ride at an amusement park because the weight limit was 275, so it’s more than that.

I did take a look at how he is positioning himself in there, and it seems like he is sitting back as far as he can. We did try the reclining seat position, and he didn’t seem to think it made very much difference. Of course, we didn’t know that this was a matter of a notch or two. I think we must have tilted it back too much. The Malibu we have is a 99 and there is no way to splay his legs. The box where your legs go is closed in on the right side so there is only so far you can move your knee to the right. I have been encouraging him to try driving my Suburban, but he’s afraid of the size of the thing. I think I’ll see if he will try driving that today.

I was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and we had great fun guessing whether or not I would fit into XYZ supercar. We didn’t find a single one that I could drive comfortably.

At “only” 6’2" I reached the same Civic conclusion after suffering years in crappy quality Ford Escorts. The '88 Civic was the first car I was comfortable driving, and the '95 was slightly worse. Of course that '95 was my last crappy econobox, and I don’t have many problems in true full-size cars (i.e., not what rental companies call full size).

Be careful on cars that have moon roofs that go internal; they steal headroom.

I’ve been looking at RV’s lately, and I’m sorely disappointed with the leg room. Obviously the seat can’t slide back too far because the living room or bathroom or whatever is in the way. (Now I wish I’d not sold the Expedition so I’d be in the market for the travel trailer.)

Ah, yes, the Ford Focus is actually pretty damn roomy to me, as long as there’s no moon roof.

at 6’3" I have some issues with leg room but not as bad as a few peeps here, the last time I went car shopping I ended up with an Altima…yeah a Japanese car. it was the only thing I looked at in the type of car I wanted that fit. well that or a 35k+bmw.

as for the suburban, wtf get his ass in there.
(I teach Drivers ed, you can tell him that there are 15 year old girls rolling around in daddy’s expedition and I have seen one of them back it into a parking space easy as pie)