What’s the best type of car for a back pain sufferer? 

A reader finds getting in and out of his hatchback a pain in the back, what type of car would be more comfortable for him?...

LT BMW 3 Series causing back pain

I am 6ft 3in tall and find it uncomfortable to climb out of my current car, which is a 63-reg Volkswagen Golf TDI.

My wife is 5ft 4in tall, so there’s quite a height difference between us, but she also has a tendency to suffer with back pain. Neither of us are old or infirm, in fact, we're both fit 57 years olds.

We leased the Golf in 2013 before buying it from Volkswagen. It has been a really good car, although we find the boot too small and we’d like to move away from diesel.

We don’t drive as much as we used to since the pandemic, but we’d like to trade the Golf for a new car. If we opt for an SUV with a higher seat and driving position, would that help to alleviate back pain while driving and getting in and out of the car? 

I like the idea of a pure electric car, but they’re currently too expensive for us. So which models would you recommend? 

James Rutherford

 What Car? says

You’re right, in general, cars with higher front seats and a loftier driving position do offer easier access than hatchbacks; these tend to have their seats closer to the ground and require you to bend more to get in and out. So it is worth you considering a family-sized SUV as a replacement for your Golf. 

However, it’s worth checking out the driving position and seat comfort information on our car reviews for models you’re interested in because not all SUVs have higher seating positions than hatchbacks.

Volvo XC40 front

One car we'd recommend is the Volvo XC40; it has a higher seating position than many rivals, including the BMW X1 and Mazda CX-30. It also comes with four-way electric lumbar adjustment as standard across the range. This is important because it helps you to get a comfortable seating position that supports all of your back well, and this should alleviate discomfort on longer drives.

The 1.5-litre petrol T3 R-Design version of the XC40 is our pick of the range because it’s more affordable to buy than the diesels and reasonably frugal. Its list price new is £33,545, but you can get it for £31,450 from one of our trusted dealers via our online New Car Buying service.

Skoda Karoq 2021 front cornering

Another family SUV that's worth considering is the Skoda Karoq because it too has supportive – and pretty lofty – front seats with manual lumbar adjustment. Our favourite 1.5 TSI 150 petrol engine managed a respectable 44.2mpg in our real-world True MPG test, so it won’t be vastly less efficient than your diesel Golf. It’s more affordable than the XC40, with a list price of £28,610 and a What Car? Target Price of £27,085.

A third option is the Kia E-Niro pure electric vehicle (EV), which isn't as plush inside as the Volvo or Skoda, but it is an affordable route into EV ownership with prices starting at £32,845 before the Governement's £3000 electric car grant. It was our overall Car of the Year 2020 because it's well equipped and has a long range and decent practicality. It doesn't have the highest driving position though, so we'd advise trying one out for yourself to ensure it isn't uncomfortable to get in and out of. 

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