Small Cars for the Big Man

Article by Bruce Sturgell

What's the biggest trend in the auto industry in the last 15 years?

The downsizing of the automobile. In an attempt to appeal to urban drivers while making automobiles go farther on less (or no) gas, cars have gotten smaller. For XL guys, this has meant stuffing yourself into a car that just wasn’t made to fit you. Because of this, we tend to overlook the compacts when car shopping.

Luckily, in the last few years, automakers have realized they can make smaller cars that are still roomy on the inside. Take a look at a few of my favorite small cars for XL guys:

King Size Runners Up

None of these tickle your fancy? Consider the Toyota Yaris, the Honda Fit, or the Kia Soul as alternatives. Each offers decent legroom and a fairly unique design which, in my opinion, is almost as important.

Do you drive a compact car? What are you driving? Is it comfortable? Tell us about it in the comments below.


  1. Mike Reply

    I drive a 2015 mazda 3 and it is plenty comfortable. I am not Very tall but heavy and i dont feel cramped.

  2. Martin Pollard Reply

    Can’t agree more about the dart. I’m a “fluffy” guy and have been driving them for over three years and have been very satisfied. i’m on my second one now (leased), and this 2015 sxt rallye has more pep under the hood than the 2013 limited i had before, so i’m having even more fun. lots of leg room, comfortable seats (my wife and I sit side-by-side comfortably without bumping elbows), plenty of techie bells and whistles (8.4″ Uconnect touch screen with SiriusXM, bluetooth for my phone, USB connector for lots of MP3 music, back up camera), and a nice-sized trunk. Highly recommended for fellow “fluffy” people!

  3. Stephen Reply

    I have a 2014 Hyundai Accent and it is surprisingly comfortable and roomy inside with a fairly large trunk. I’m 6’5″ and very “fluffy”. The one down side is the rear seat leg room behind my seat, but if you need that than I would recommend the Hyundai Elantra. I found a huge plus in the car is that for a compact it looks good and I average 30 mpg around town and 38-40 on the freeway. I got the manual transmission in mine to get a little extra of that sporty feel out of the very non-sporty engine but that is the only downside and it’s a trade off for the mpg’s

  4. I drive a fiat 500 and love it, good head room and leg room in front seat (I’m 6’5″), excellent handling, gas mileage, parks in very tight spots. Tiny back seat for extra passengers but for Just two (large) people it’s very functional.

  5. peter lefeau Reply

    I am about 425 pounds Samoan 6 foot 2 in trying to fit into the small cars, some cars seatbelts don’t accommodate the larger person except in the Nissan series i sat in the Nissan Versa that has accommodated me in the front seats but with the Nissan Altima accommodated me in the front seats and two corner seats which offers a lot of room for the seat belt to go around you the other vehicles don’t offer the same seat belt length like that the Nissan. I have to be honest I would rather drive a Nissan than any of the other vehicles at this time, some cars you buckle basically you can’t move so you know I can’t comment on the Mini Cooper but we’ll see about the other vehicles

  6. Jeff Reply

    I’m currently driving a 2014 fiat 500l as my “runaround town” car. i’m also one of the big guys that have short legs with a long torso. The fact that i could easily get in & out of the fiat was a huge selling factor when i was looking to purchase. in addition to myself, i have a friend that is 6’6″ tall and weighs around 275. he can ride in the fiat with plenty of head & legroom to spare.

  7. Ken Reply

    I’m 6’5″, 350lb, my ford c-max hybrid is the first car i’ve driven in wHich i had to pull the drivers seat forward in order to reach the controls. I also have 6-7″ of headroom. Truly unusual!

  8. Sam G Reply

    I drive a 2012 Kia Soul and find it plenty roomy. I love the hatchback design and feel like there’s a lot of interior space when we need it. In fact, I’ve found most of the cars in the Kia family to be pleasantly roomy (we also have 2008 Sedona).

    My brother-in-law drives a Nissan Versa and its also pleasantly roomy.

    I’m average height but very large (6x), so hip width is essential and leg room always an issue as I sit further forward in the seat than most.

  9. Diana S Reply

    My four teenage sons are all big guys [6′ to 6’6″ and 250-350 pounds] and I’m looking for a new car that they will also be able to drive. (And they do not want to drive my mini-van 😉 ). Please help this clueless mom and list the makes/models of these cars as I have no idea what all the pictures are! Thanks.

  10. Naeces Reply

    I had the Toyota Yaris and my first accident my knee went into the center divider/dash. Also the fiats I tested all didn’t have telescoping or fully adjustable steering wheels so I couldn’t raise them up enough to fit my thighs in. The car had plenty of room but without an adjustable steering wheel column I couldn’t fit. It’s important to choose side clearance in case of a crash as well as enough room to sit

  11. Greory K. Reply

    Although not made anymore, they are around as used cars still. I am 5’9″ and 387 lbs. I’ve owned two Chevrolet HHR panel trucks. Lots of headroom and room behind the wheel. Comfortable on long trips and carries your stuff adequately. I have a mobile DJ service catering to the car show events, so I needed something big enought to haul my stuff amd be cool enough to enter car shows with it.

  12. John Donahue Reply

    I drive a 2008 Scion XB. I am 6’1″ tall and have been blessed not only with girth but I have a long torso as well as long legs. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten to a vacation destination only to be told when I go pick up my rental car that they don’t have the one in stock that I reserved. They always offer me a free “upgrade”, but I never have considered their choice to be an upgrade over the spacious full-sized SUV I had reserved. I UNDERSTAND completely what Bruce is talking about. every one of those luxury Japanese compacts they upgraded me to were impossible to drive. not only did i have trouble fitting between the seat and the steering wheel but between the seat and the pedals and the seat and the headliner, as well. I have always had to insist that a supervisor find me the car I reserved from a different location.

    My personal car is a 2008 scion XB. It has an amazing amout of room for me to fit between the seat and steering wheel, the seat and the pedals, as well as the seat and the headliner. the only car that I have sat in recently that offered more space was the cooper mini. the funny thing is i almost passed on the scion xb because i was prejudiced against the boxy appearance. I am glad I decided that i had to at least test drive my car or I probably would have gotten stuck in another honda crv being forced to lean the seat back in order to fit.

    i like my scion, but i am probably going to go with a cooper mini for my next car.

  13. Mike Dallavis Reply

    I have a 2015 VW Diesel Beetle Convertable. They have streched out the Bug it’s quick, sporty, get 44 mpg minimum. 6’1″ 265 pds, I’ve been driving Bugs since 2002 & the is the biggest one yet.

  14. Ford Focus, Fiesta and C-Max are all very nice for a large person. I was 470 and 6′ with a 66″ waist and have happily owned and riven all three. Currently I have a C-Max and really love it (I don’t credit it with any of my 90lb weight loss, but I don’t sit the seat back as far anymore 🙂

  15. Adrian Lathan Reply

    I am 6’4″ and 400 lbs, I drive a ’13 Ford C-Max Hybrid. Tons of room in the front and rear seats. And very comfortable on long drives.

  16. Paul Reply

    There is plenty of room in a Nissan cube.

  17. Dave Reply

    I own a Kia Soul and a Toyota highlander, and I tip the scales at 275 @ 5″10. The 2011 soul offers a very high roof at the windshield, and tapers down to the rear of the car. The highlander is just big.

    The soul offers perfect seating for my petite bottom and i drive over 30K miles a year for my job. My legs are short, so there is no problem with leg room and I am COMFORTABLY wedged in between the window controls on the door and the center console.

    The car is the absolute embodiment of perfect engineering and reliability. If you are fluffy and looking for a trouble free ride, the soul is the answer. I have learned that after 3 elantras, and now this Soul, Kia/hyundai has reliability all sewed up.

    I highly recommend Consumer reports as the bible for ratings and rankings. The car best suited for us guys
    are the Soul, the Honda CR-V, and the SUBARU FORESTER- Stay away from all American cars, they still don’t have the RELIABILITY and long term value. These are my opinions and i’ m stickin; to em.

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