What Are The Best Plug-In Electric Cars For Very Tall People?

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Elon Musk signs new 2013 Tesla Model S at Tesla Store opening, Austin, Texas [photo: John Griswell]

Elon Musk signs new 2013 Tesla Model S at Tesla Store opening, Austin, Texas [photo: John Griswell]

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We recently got a question from reader John Meurer that we'd never considered: Which plug-in electric car is best for tall people?

"I'm 6'2" & wear a 44 Long suit," Meurer wrote. "I need an electric car I can afford and I can fit comfortably in."

So we reached out to High Gear Media colleague Bengt Halvorson. At 6'6", he's an inadvertent expert on which cars accommodate those in the upper height percentiles.

"In general, a tall, upright seating position is the ideal," Bengt told us.

"I dislike cars that make me feel either hunched closer to the steering wheel than I'd otherwise be, or propped up too close to the roof."

Best bet costs $70,000-plus

The ideal electric car for him, of course, is the Tesla Model S luxury sport sedan.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA], is more than 6 feet tall, and he fits comfortably in the driver's seat--as the photo above shows.

Our 6'2" author David Noland, who has written about ordering, receiving, and driving his 2013 Tesla Model S, is also over 6 feet and finds the car comfortable (even if his bikes don't quite fit).

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

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But, if you can't afford a Tesla Model S--the lowest-priced model now starts at $69,900--we'd summarized Bengt's comments on the rest of the plug-in electric cars offered for sale this year.

Not loving the Leaf

For battery electrics, he's not that fond of the Nissan Leaf.

"Nissan has given it seats that are somewhat short, and not all that supportive," he said, "although otherwise there's enough space, and it's easy to get in and out."

Leather upholstery is available as a new option on 2013 Leafs, but the seats otherwise don't appear to have been changed.

Instead, the Ford Focus Electric gets his vote for its supportive seats and legroom: "Its seats are great, and there's plenty of headroom and legroom--although the footwells are a bit constrictive."

Small Smart, big space

"The Smart Electric Drive is also surprisingly usable by taller drivers," Bengt continued, "although just as in the Smart ForTwo, it has a vulnerable feel that will make some bigger guys feel claustrophobic."

Sadly, the electric minicar that's perhaps the most fun to drive, the 2013 Fiat 500e, doesn't make the grade for taller drivers.

2013 Smart Electric Drive, Brooklyn, NY

2013 Smart Electric Drive, Brooklyn, NY

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"The 500e has a high, thinly padded seat that leaves taller people in an awkward, hunched, 'bar-bench' driving position," he cautioned.

"And the same applies to the Mitsubishi i-MiEV as well. It's just too short, awkward, and unsupportive to be comfortable for me."

Rating plug-in hybrids

Expanding into plug-in cars that also have gasoline engines, the Chevrolet Volt has front seats that are supportive and comfortable, although the low roof and seating position mean it's not the easiest for entry and exit.

The Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid has seats that are too short, too soft, and not nearly supportive enough.

The driving position of the Ford C-Max Energi "probably isn't going to be ideal for most tall lanky people," Bengt said. "You just somehow feel closer to the dash than you want to be."

But, he says, both the 2013 Ford Fusion Energi and the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid are great.

"Both have loads of legroom, decent seats (especially the Fusion), and a good driving position."

There you have it: the best and the worst of plug-in electric cars for very tall drivers.

If you're more than 6 feet tall, we invite you to weigh on the issue as well: What plug-in cars have you driven, and how did they fit?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (38)
  1. I have to admit I wasn't thrilled with the legroom in my Leaf when I first bought it. I am 6'2" tall and wear a 42 long suit. I ended up buying a pair of seat extenders for $200 and they allowed me to add up to an additional 4 inches of legroom. I don't need that much, but the extra few notches back have made the car much more comfortable and the loss of legroom behind the driver is not too bad (no one has ever complained).

  2. Where did you get the extenders?

  3. http://extendmyseat.com/nissan-leaf-2011-2013-seat-brackets/

    Extend my seat.com - They are well-made and work great! The only issue is the rear floor mat needs to be removed or you need to cut slits in the mat to allow for the extender brackets. Not a big deal considering the result.

  4. We're the same size - been driving a Leaf now for more than 2 years and am very happy in it.

  5. Ford C-Max Energi is close to ideal for people up to 6'7.

  6. I fine tall people are surprised when they sit in the Volt. I've had several tall guys walk up to my car and say; "Can I sit in it? If I fit I'm getting one."
    They fit and then they get.

  7. Just can't have 4 of them in the car... :)

  8. Thankfully recent “upright seating“ trend is more accommodating. Preference will depend on how your height is distributed between legs and torso. At 6’1”, the MINI E needed the seat slid three clicks forward and cranked up four for best comfort, and still left room for a helmet. Fit EV is maxed out on seat track but headroom is still good. A lady friend that’s 6’2” got behind the wheel in the Fit EV and was clearly uncomfortably cramped. LEAF, Spark EV and 500e all had sufficient room for me. iMiEV’s sloped A pillar and roof required a duck under, but was comfortable once inside. C-Max also required tighter tuck to enter. To ensure a comfortable fit, always best to try them on first.

  9. Being 6'6", 42 inseam and 300+lbs, I sat in the following vehicles
    1) Ford CMax - Great headroom/legroom
    2) Leaf - Slightly smaller than the CMAX, but still comfortable.
    3) Focus Electric - Forget it. My head hit the ceiling with the seat in the lowest position. I couldn't even drive it.

    Eventually I chose the Leaf. I may research getting the seat extender for added comfort, however no complaints hear and I'm enjoying the 200MPGe based on my 7 cent fixed kW rate.

  10. 200MPGe? How did you come up with that number?

    Do you mean "200MPG" based on the car computer display which ignores the electricity usage and ONLY gas consumption? We call it MPGbs or "fakempg"...

  11. That is weird. Perhaps it is 100 MPGe, but he is getting his electricity at half price 7 cent/kwh and then considers this 200 MPGe.

  12. yup

  13. It costs me $4 USD in electricity to travel 200 miles. Going rate for gas is around $4 in the US

  14. Cost of the electricity has NOTHING to do with so called "mpge" calculation.

    But to humor you, I get to charge for free at work, I guess my version of the "fake mpg" is about 6,000 according to your calculation.

  15. How is it that this article doesn't even mention the RAV4 EV? I'm a hair under 6 feet tall and I feel like it's cavernous. It would easily and comfortably fit someone who's 6'6" tall. The seats are very basic, but they are comfortable. I also chose it over the Leaf and Focus due to the large cargo capacity and significantly longer range. You can chant "compliance" all you want, but it's a good vehicle.

  16. California only compliance car. Otherwise I would have seriously considered it.

  17. My complaint is that they mentioned cars like the 500e and Smart ED that are not available yet anywhere, but don't mention the RAV4 EV that is currently on dealer lots in California. People have been buying them and shipping them out of state too.

  18. The only thing I really checked when the LEAF tour came through SF and I had my LEAF on pre-order was I just wanted to know I could fit in the drivers seat (I'm 6'5"). While I wish the seat could go back just a bit more, the headroom is great. The only other wish I have is to be able to move the rearview mirror up so I can see under it better. Most new cars with mirrors with any electronics on them are this way, instead of the older style ones where you could articulate the entire mount higher and lower. So my Prius is no better, and the LEAF still has way better headroom.

  19. Finally, someone else who has this problem!!!!!! I almost didn't get the Leaf because of this (it's a safety issue). When I adjust the seat all the way down, rake it back, and adjust the mirror up as far as it will go, it almost solves it for me. It amazes me that with the amount of expensive safety equipment in modern cars so many automakers can't get the old-fashioned mirror to adjust to a safe position.

  20. I sell the LEAF at an LA based Nissan dealer. I have lots of tall customers who fit comfortably, but when I heard about the seat extenders, I sent the info to my whole list and many of them took advantage.

    Contact Griffin Cogorno at Extend My Seat - griffin@extendmyseat.com.

  21. What is next? The best plugin for "short people"?
    The best plugin for "fat people"? Don't leave those groups out, they have their own need too...

    Short people needs pedal extenders and telescope steering. Fat people need extra shoulder room, long seat belt and extra cushioning, plus the easy entry and exit...

  22. I'm a tall big guy and fit nicely in both the BMW ActiveE and Tesla Model S ... although egress is much easier in the ActiveE as it has large doors. The Tesla, is not as easy. But it is a hoot to drive once you get into it ... and I was able to fully adjust the seat. Just wish I had more seat time in it :-)

  23. Perhaps the best plug-in for LGBT. :)

  24. The Mitsubishi i MiEV is great for tall people! My brother is 6'- 6 1/2" and he drives one, and I'm 6'- 4" and we have lots of room with both of us in the car. The rear seat, though, is pretty tight for me.

    The Leaf is also fine for tall people - my brother's wife drives one, and the back seat is okay for us. Your knees are higher than ideal in the back seat because the battery is under the floor.

  25. The i has an especially bad rear-view mirror that won't adjust up high enough. It creates a horrible forward blind spot.

  26. I am 6'3" and regularly drive my Volt with my hat on, plenty of headroom, legroom and I find it one very comfortable car.

  27. I am just over 6 ft (185 cm) and i tried the new renault Zoe a few days back.
    It first fellt a bitt aquard beacause the sitting positione is abitt higer than i am used to, and it isent posible to adjust the seat down.
    But i still had sufficient head room, and after some 5 min of driving i had gotten used to the sligtly higer seating position.
    My over all experiance of the zoe is realy good, and i am now planing to rent one to try out a road tripp threw switzerland and frans this summer :)

  28. At 6'8" I am probably at the 102 percentile. I am currently driving a BMW ActivE and I can say it is the best fitting car I have ever driven as a driver, but it makes the car a 3-seater. The driver seat can go all the way back to the padding of the rear seat, so there is absolutely no room for a passemger behind me. As mentioned earlier, the long doors of the 2 door coupe make for easy ingress and egress as well. The next best fit was the Mini-E (I was not in the program, but I made up shirts on one of those Internet T-shirt printing sites for a company a friend and I were thinking of starting and snuck into press day at the L.A. autoshow to get test drives in all the electric cars that day. There was so much room I had to raise the seat.

  29. The Tesla Model S is also a great fit once inside, but the shorter sedan doors make for issues with ingress and egress is a little awkward. The roofline is also a little low so visibility is a little limited, but not terrible. I did sit in a prototype of the Model X and it was a wonderful fit. The taller upright seating made the narrow entry easy and there was plenty of headroom in the 2nd row with the falcon door. Cars that I have tried that I was not happy with were the Coda, Leaf, Volt and focus. All were cramped and I was knocking my knee on the steering wheel or the dash. I am very interested in how the i3 will come out, but so far my bet is on the Model X where I already put down a deposit.

  30. My Model S is very comfortable--once you get in.

    But getting in and out is an awkward contortion for a tall (6 ft 2), creaky old guy like me. The entry-exit for the Volt is significantly easier, and the Leaf better yet.

    The problem with the S is that the B pillar (the one between the doors) is too far forward. (Stated another way, the front door is too narrow.) When the seat is all the way back, as I require, the B pillar is well in front of the seat, which means you have to scrunch around it to get to the seat. Not easy.

    I'd love to see a two-door version of the S, with a much wider door. Or better yet, follow the example of the Hyundai Veloster--a single wide door on the driver's side, and two doors on the passenger's side.

  31. Based on all these comments, could it be that EV drivers are more likely to be tall? I'm 6'4" and am so used to contorting myself to fit in cars that I was flabbergasted to find myself sitting higher and more upright in the little iMiev than this article would have you believe (much better than the Leaf). So, I bought the iMiev. I've also heard, though no-one chimed in this time, that stooping down (harder for us tall people) to get into the Model S can be more challenging, the Leaf was also a little hard to get down and into, but the iMiev I just step in and go.

  32. I agree with Mike L. way down there.
    I'm a big guy. Checked out several E-cars.
    When our sales guy @ Toyota showed me the (secret) way for a big guy to slide into the (secret) RAVE4 EV (i.e.tilt head way BACK to take advantage of the high sweep of the BACK of the front doors), I slid in easily, and said "Ahhh, this is my car!" PLENTY of headroom for ANY driver, and a GREAT ride to boot.

  33. I'm 6'4" and wear a 44 long suit. My 2013 Volt fits me well and is comfortable both around town and on the highway. I agree that it is a bit of a challenge getting in and out because it's low to the ground, but once in, I find the driving position comfortable. I do find that once I have the seat back where I need it, the back seat is unusable by humans--seat back is so close to the back seat that I can't even fit my briefcase between the two. I love driving it. My only real complaint about the car is the ergonomics of the radio/nav/climate controls are a mess (unwieldy combo of touch panel, touchscreen and knobs is bizarre), but that would be the case if I was 5'2"...

  34. I recently test drove the C-Max Energi, and was impressed with the headroom. I'm 6'2", and my head touches the ceiling in my wife's 2004 Prius. The only thing that felt constricted in the C-Max was my right leg was resting against the center console housing (not certain of correct term.) I'm still considering purchasing the Energi, but it was overall quite a bit smaller that I expected. I've been waiting for a good plug-in hybrid SUV since 2000, and am looking forward to checking out the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in next spring.

  35. My Think City has a gymnasium's worth of headroom! I bought it without ever having the chance to sit in one first. But an online video showed a guy my height (6' 4") remarking about how much headroom the car offered. Haven't heard on when or if they will go back into production.

  36. I'm 6'7 (44XL) and carry most of my height in my torso. I LOVE my Model S! The panoramic roof actually gives another 1-2" of headroom! I've also driven the original Leaf and found it comfortable and fun to drive. The Smart for2 is impossible to fit in, as is the Volt.

  37. I'm 6'2 and have no problem at all with my Chevy volt.

  38. The ideal electric cars by height:

    Below 5'6": Mitsubishi iMiev
    Between 5'6" and 5'9": Nissan Leaf
    Between 5'9" and 6'8": Tesla Model S
    Above 6'8": (no EVs)

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