A car for people experiencing knee problems should be comfortable, easy to get in and out of, and most importantly spacious. It should also be automatic, especially so if your left knee is the one troubling you, and because driving an automatic is way easier and less stressful.
Besides these features, cars with wide opening doors are also beneficial, and so are the grab handles all around the car to make it easier to get in and out of. Electronically adjustable seats and steering wheel also come in handy if you have trouble with your knees.
As such, you are best off looking for a crossover/SUV/minivan because they usually offer all of these features. Something like a Ford Focus Active X, Toyota RAV4, or the Subaru Forester are great entry-level options.
If you want a more luxurious option, a BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Mercedes Benz GLE, or a Range Rover are worth considering. If you want something slightly lower to the ground but still high enough, the Golf Alltrack, Audi A6 Allroad, and the Volvo S60 Cross Country are also great options.
Ford Focus Active X
The Ford Focus has been around for decades, as such, Ford has managed to perfect the interior ergonomics. And the Active X model increases the ride height by up to 30mm which makes the Active X a lot easier to get in and out of.
Besides the higher ride height, the Active X also offers wide opening doors and seats that are fully electrically adjustable, both of which are essential for people with knee problems. It also comes equipped with an automatic transmission, great visibility, and lots of intuitive and easy-to-reach controls.
The Toyota RAV4 is one of the best-selling compact SUVs thanks to an incredibly approachable price and superior reliability. As such the RAV4 offers a raised-up driving position that makes it easy to get in and out of. The best engine option is the 2.5L hybrid petrol engine which oozes smoothness and refinement.
The Toyota also comes equipped with an electric tailgate which makes it easy to access the trunk area. Besides the general benefits a compact SUV offers, the RAV4 offers great visibility and a fairly compliant on-road suspension setup capable of mild to moderate off-roading.
The Subaru Forester is also a relatively small SUV, but thanks to its boxy design, the Forester offers lots of space inside and a large cargo area. Useful features include wide-opening doors, easy access thanks to a raised-up driving position, comfortable electrically adjustable seats, a light steering wheel, and lots of foot space.
Besides the superior ergonomics, the Forester is also competitively priced and it offers decent reliability results. If you want to go off-road or you often experience snow and rain, the Forester offers a legendary Subaru AWD system that can easily tackle everything you can throw at it.
But if you want a more upscale experience, you should most definitely check out the new BMW X5. The X5 costs a lot more compared to all the models previously listed, but the levels of comfort and luxury that reside in the BMW X5 are leagues above any Ford, Toyota, or Subaru.
The X5 rides as smooth as an SUV can, and it is fairly obvious that the X5 is mostly tailored towards on-road driving, but if you do come across mud or snow, the X5 is more than capable of traversing it. Besides the road manners, the X5 offers everything, and thanks to a spacious cabin, it’s a perfect car for people with knee problems.
Whenever you think about mid-size luxury SUVs, the XC90 comes to mind as one of the very best ones on the market. The XC90 looks and feels grown-up, and it certainly drives like that. The XC90 is nowhere near as dynamic as the X5 is, but that might actually be a good thing.
If you are in the market for a chilled down, upmarket but safe luxury cruiser, the XC90 is certainly one of the best options out there.
Audi A6 Allroad
If you are not a fan of SUVs, rest assured that there are loads of alternatives out there, and one of the best ones is certainly the Audi A6 Allroad. This estate/crossover is essentially an Audi A6 Avant that is built for traversing uneven terrain while still retaining comfort and refinement.
As such, the raised driving position makes the Allroad an easy car to get in and out of, and the fact that it offers a beefed-up suspension kit does not translate to the Allroad being any less comfortable on the road. Besides driving, the A6 Allroad offers everything one would expect from a German executive luxury car.
Which types of cars should I avoid if I have knee problems?
If your knees are troubling you, you should avoid shopping for a sports car primarily as sports cars tend to be way too low to the ground. As such, getting in and out of a sports car is a bit of a challenge even for people without any specific knee problems.
Besides the low ride height, sports cars are almost always coupes with long and heavy doors, and these can be difficult to open and close sometimes, especially so if you are sitting on any serious gradient.
Can driving damage your knees?
In most cases, driving should not put any serious strain on your knees. But if you are often driving long distances and if you are driving a car with a stiff pedal setup, you might strain your knee eventually.
Make sure to do enough rest stops and try to stretch your knees or go on small walks if possible. While driving does not usually result in any serious knee problems, there are a few cases where people ended up getting arthritis.
Should I always opt for an automatic if I have trouble with my knees?
Driving an automatic is a lot easier on your knees, and as such, you should most definitely consider getting an automatic. But, lots of newer manual cars are smooth enough that it does not make any difference.
That being said, some automatic transmissions are jerky and not all that refined, and you can drive a manual way smoother sometimes. You should opt for an automatic if you do lots of city driving, but if you predominantly drive on highways, it makes no mentionable difference.