The tall person's guide to electric cars

Which plug-in electric car is best for tall people? Green Car Reports offers the best and the worst of plug-in electric cars for very tall drivers.

By , Guest blogger

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    A Tesla Model S electric sedan is driven near the company's factory in Fremont, Calif. The Tesla Model S luxury sport sedan is the ideal electric car for one tall employee at High Gear Media.
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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.

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"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).

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.

"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.

 

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