As a society, we must come to terms with the fact that we have an issue with obesity. There is no way to sugar-coat it, but as a whole we have seen a huge growth in the amount of heavy-set people that make up our population, and according to an investigation by our government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “No state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%.”
Surely this kind of information does not come as much of a surprise to many of us because we see it every day, and companies are taking advantage of this fact by tapping into this increasingly crucial segment of the American market. Everywhere we turn we see weight-loss infomercials, exercise equipment, and diet pills being advertised on TV as all-you-can-eat buffets pop up on in every strip mall across America. But meanwhile, the automotive realm has remained relatively quiet on the subject.
Many automakers nowadays seem to be more interested in the latest advancements in infotainment touch-screens than wider seats with lower bolstering for the obese. Sure, there are staples like the Chevrolet Suburban, the Ford Expedition, and the Toyota Sequoia, but all of these cars seem all too obvious of a choice to me. So instead of just listing a handful of land yachts, I have opted to take a different approach, by suggesting five very unexpected offerings that meet a very specific list of key requirements.
While many Americans may never take the time to consider what goes into making a car suitable for anyone with an overly “rubenesque” figure, auto designers have to take this kind of thing into consideration in a very serious manner. Overall seatbelt length needs to be quite considerable because, according to a report by Edmunds.com, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for setting the standards that govern seatbelt length and its guidelines only require that seatbelts accommodate a 215-pound man.” It also found that many Ford, GM, and Nissan models have seatbelts that are up to 20 inches longer than these NHTSA requirements. Other key considerations are wider seats with minimal bolstering, a telescoping steering wheel for added room, a narrow or non-existent center console, large doors for easy entry and exiting, and a ride height that is neither too low nor too high off the ground.
1. Cadillac XTS
From its roomy interior, to its extra-wide doors and extended seatbelts, the Cadillac XTS is an excellent option for anyone wanting a comfortable car that has the ability to complement their physique. Starting at just under $50,000, this luxurious sedan offers everything we were looking for and then some with its comfortable ride height, larger than life doors, extremely wide driver and passenger seat, and a massive rear seat. And just because it’s a Cadillac doesn’t mean it can’t be quick; a twin-turbo 410 horsepower option is easily available for anyone who feels the need for speed, making this slice of American luxury just the right set of wheels for anyone needing a bit more space while flying down the interstate.
2. Volkswagen Beetle
This next offering may come as a bit of a shocker to some, but the Volkswagen Beetle is an excellent option for any large person who doesn’t want a large car. The modern Beetle has long been a favorite choice of the rotund, and it continues to offer some of the best doors on the market for this very reason. The sporty steering wheel, with its flat bottom gives increased leg room, and while it may seem small on the outside, this German machine offers excellent headroom, ample seat adjust-ability, extremely long seat tracks, and excellent visibility courtesy of those larger than life front windows. The base model starts off at just $20,695, and as the sticker price grows from there just be forewarned that the sportier models will have more aggressive bolstering in the seats, so it is best to stick with a simpler model and just add the amenities one wants.
3. Honda Accord
Honda’s flagship has quite the loyal fan-base, and it has seen an even greater amount of support ever since Consumer Reports gave it a glowing review in their 2010 test entitled “Plus-size models: Best cars for larger drivers.” The Honda Accord sure has changed a lot since the early days when it first rolled out of the factory in 1976, with the most recent model offering a superbly spacious cabin, over-sized doors, a standard rear-view camera, telescoping steering, and unobtrusive center console. Starting at just $22,105, the Accord can be built to please and offers a lot of tech features to make commuting all that much easier for a larger driver.
4. Kia Soul
Much like the Beetle the Kia Soul may look to be too small on the outside, but it is what’s on the inside that counts. Yes, the front seats have some bolstering in them, and yes, the car has a quirky feel to it that doesn’t encourage adulthood, but that’s what we love about it! Hop inside and buyers will find that this little Korean car has plenty of space for both drivers and passengers, while a mid-range ride height helps make exiting a cinch. A well-designed dash eliminates the need for a larger center console, the seats (which may be snug by some standards) are way more comfortable and wider than expected, and the whole car comes in at a very modest $15,190 price point. Just be sure to haggle, and ask the dealer if seatbelt extensions can be thrown in for no additional cost.
5. Mercedes Benz S-Class
We wrap things up with a line of cars that isn’t designed for just anyone. Yes, we would all like a Mercedes Benz S-Class, but very few of us have the financial means to purchase or own one. With this sedan starting off at $94,900, it is no wonder we saved the best for last. For those who can afford it, the S-Class offers one of the roomiest cabins on the planet, a backseat the size of most people’s sofas, seat positioning for any needed configuration, and six relaxing massage settings for when the commute proves to be too stressful.
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