short people questions

short people questions

I am only 5'2", and that's on a good day, early in the morning! I own a Prius, and it drives me crazy because I cannot see where the front of the car is. It is very difficult to spacially judge where the car is. I was wondering if anyone who has been inside a Model S could respond to this. Also, I read somewhere that the seatbelts are not adjustable. Again, this has always been an issue for me; if I were ever in an accident, I know that the seatbelt would probably decapitate me. It always falls right across my neck and is very uncomfortable. Again, if anyone could comment that would help tremendously. Thanks.

jerry3 | July 4, 2012

In aerodynamically styled cars you're never going to be able to see the front of the vehicle, even if you were 7' 6". The hood slopes down and out of sight. This as been true for me since my 1969 DS-21.

Others will have to answer about the seat belt.

Schlermie | July 4, 2012

I saw somebody (self-declared to be 6'4") post that the seat belt was not adjustable but was high enough on the "B" pillar to be comfortable, so your neck may still be in jeopardy. I've seen seat belt adjusters you can weave the seatbelt through near the vertex where the shoulder belt meets the lap belt, so the shoulder belt gets pulled down at a steeper angle.

Sudre_ | July 4, 2012

If you have a collision so slow that the airbag does not deploy I don't think the seat belt will severely injury you. I think now days the seat belt just keeps you in position so the airbag can do it's job.

My wife is 5' so if we get a chance to test drive before you I will post back.... but that may be a long way off.

John MC | July 4, 2012

I'm 5'6" and currently drive a 2002 Prius. I haven't driven the 2004 or 2010 models, but the 2002 leaves me with great visibility around the vehicle. I park in garages with lots of cement pillars and can easily maneuver the car to within inches of obstacles. I'm surprised that you find it difficult to spatially judge where the car is relative to other objects. I find that getting the rear view mirrors positioned correctly for rear views, plus identifying "landmarks" on the car for front views makes it easy to judge.

Here's an example of what I mean by landmarks. Take the car (any car) to a empty parking lot with a long straight curb. Position the car near the curb and then sit in the driver's seat. Follow the line made by the curb to where it intersects your hood, or windshield, etc. Look for an unmistakable landmark on the car near that intersection. A good one is where the windshield meets the hood, or where the wiper blade ends. Whenever a curb or lane stripe lines up with that landmark, you will have the same amount of space that you have in that parking lot. You may want to move the car closer or further from the curb to get an exact alignment and learn how much space is available under different conditions. You can do this on both sides of the car.

In the Model S the seats are adjustable (8 ways for the regular version and 12 ways for the Signature). I think that height off the floor is one of the adjustments in both versions. If you're near a dealership, you should be able to sit in one and adjust the height.

My wife is 5'0" and hasn't really tried the Model S yet. She is concerned about not having enough visibility, but I expect we'll be able to adjust it for her.

John MC | July 4, 2012

And the seat height adjustment should help with the seat belt positioning, although I'm unsure if the range of movement of the seat will be enough to do everything that you want.

bsimoes | July 4, 2012

You're all wonderful; thank you.

jbunn | July 4, 2012

@bsimoes - My wife is 5'-2". We drive Sunday June 8 in Seattle. I'm letting her drive because her approval is important to me. I will pay special attention, ask her about it, and report back.

bsimoes | July 4, 2012

jbunn, your wife is a lucky woman! Thanks.

jbunn | July 4, 2012

I will remind her of that.

Brian H | July 5, 2012

If you adjust seat height, the pedals may need to be adjusted to suit, too.

dahtye | July 11, 2012

Good point Brian. One problem that shorter drivers encounter is reaching the pedals. With the seat positioned fully forward, the driver is pressed against the steering wheel unless the steering wheel can be retracted enough. Then, to set the seatbelts correctly, the seats need to be in the high position, making the distance to the pedals even further and also pinching the legs between the seat and the steering wheel unless the wheel is tilted up. Then, if the steering wheel is large, steering and control becomes a problem.

Many small people opt for small cars to feel confortable in them. It's difficult to design a car that fits 99% of body types. We can hope for perhaps the middle 70% of height range. Beyond that, the prospective buyer just needs to try it out.

I'm not particularly tall either (at 5' 6"), but my wife is 5' 2", so I'm also concerned.