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Newer Vehicle Designs Do Little to Help Shorter Drivers

short driver (select to view enlarged photo)

SANTA MONICA, CA--Aug. 8, 2013: Many new car designs make it more difficult for short drivers to achieve optimal visibility, reports The reason, says Edmunds, is that many of the newer vehicles hitting the market have a higher "beltline" – the horizontal line where window glass ends and sheet metal begins – which makes it harder to see out of the side windows.

"This can give the vehicle a more assertive look, but it does little to improve sight lines, and can even make a vehicle feel claustrophobic for smaller drivers," says Editor Warren Clarke. "As a result, short car shoppers making such a big purchase might have trouble getting comfortable with a lot of the new car choices available on the market."

Automakers have made height-adjustable seats and telescopic and tilted steering wheels standard for most new vehicles, which can help shorter drivers. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), all drivers should adjust their driving positions so that there are 10-12 inches between the center of the steering wheel and the breastbone. Some vehicles even offer adjustable pedals, which can accommodate drivers with shorter legs without requiring them to move too close to the steering wheel.

Ultimately, says, a shopper's individual physique will determine the vehicles that suit him or her best, and all shoppers should test-drive vehicles to make sure they're a good fit. To make the shopping process a little easier, has published a list of ten 2013 model year vehicles across all segments that are generally friendlier to smaller drivers. This list consists of:

BMW 3 Series Honda Accord Honda CR-V Kia Soul Lexus LS 460 Mazda 3 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Subaru Forester Toyota Sienna Volkswagen Passat

More details on's recommended list of vehicles for short drivers can be found at Best Cars for Short Drivers .

Of course, hasn't forgotten about taller car shoppers. identifies the top recommended new cars for bigger drivers at Cars for Tall Drivers .