2016 Small Luxury Cars for Tall Drivers

2016 Small Luxury Cars for Tall Drivers

If you’re moving up in the world, the small/entry-level luxury car might be an option for you. While these may be the “small” luxury cars, that doesn’t mean that none of them will fit a tall driver.

I’ve gathered the interior dimensions for this segment of cars, including headroom, legroom and hip room. You’ll notice that a lot of the hip room measurements are missing. There are several OEM’s that apparently don’t report this measurement.

Let’s take a look at these three categories:

2016 Small Luxury Car Leg Room

As always, I’m using the total leg room measurement here. That’s the addition of the front and rear leg room. The average for this segment is 75.26 inches.

2016 Small Luxury Car Leg Room

The 2016 Infiniti Q50 leads the category in leg room by over 2 inches. Close behind are the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS, BMW 3 Series, and Acura TLX. All of these vehicles have about 77 inches of leg room.

Short in the leg room category are the Mercedes-Benz CLA class, BMW i3, Audi A5 and Lexus RC.

2016 Small Luxury Car Head Room

Head room is the room I’m least happy about sacrificing. Here are the numbers on head room for entry luxury cars:

2016 Small Luxury Car Head Room

Leading the way here is the BMW 3-Series with 40.3 inches of headroom. The Infiniti Q50 offers about the same amount of headroom, with the BMW 2-Series trailing closely. On the short end of the headroom competition are the Audi family and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

2016 Small Luxury Car Hip Room

Here’s where things get a little weird. Hip room is a measurement of the width of the seat. It’s a measurement that’s important for drivers that are both big and tall. But there aren’t hip room measurements for many of the vehicles in this segment.

Here are the measurements that we do have:

2016 Small Luxury Car Hip Room

None of the vehicles reporting hip room are running away with the competition. All but the Acura ILX come in at about 55 inches. This is a situation in which feedback from those who’ve driven these vehicles could give us an idea of whether or not the hip room is satisfactory.

The Big Picture

To add one more element to this comparison, I’ve included MSRP:

2016 Small Luxury Car Interior Dimensions And MSRP


At the expensive end of the chart you’ll find the BMW i3 (which is an electric vehicle, to be fair), the BMW 4-Series and the Audi A5. These three start above $40,000. On the low end we have the Acura ILX, which starts under $30,000.

The Audi A3 and A4, Lexus CT200h, Mercedes Benz CLA-Class, BMW 2-Series and 3-Series, Volvo S60 and Cadillac ATS start between $30,000 and $35,000.

I hope that this post helps you in your small luxury car search, and I look forward to hearing about your experiences.

Have you driven any of the vehicles listed in this post? Let us know how you felt about that car in the comments.

Tell a friend!


  • JoeK

    Hi Will,

    Great work putting all the data together and presenting it this way….but remember, data/numbers can be deceptive….

    I would like to offer some first hand ‘sitting experience’ (if it were) in some of the cars in your data.

    I posted a while ago, I’m 6’4″ @245lbs. Being this tall, I need to have a 2 door vehicle because the bar between the back/front doors becomes a blind spot (off the left of my head) when I put the seat all the way back and tilt it back in a 4 door car. I need a 2 door car with the long door/window to eliminate this. Also, the 2 door makes the door opening larger and much easier for a tall person to get in any car. Having neck problems, twisting/bending getting into a 4 door just doesn’t cut it.

    I spent just about every weekend in August and September 2016 going from dealership to dealership asking to ‘sit in their 2 door car’ and try it on for size. Everyone that I told the results to, couldn’t believe it. All cars I sat in had plenty of legroom….but…headroom is a different story.

    The new 2 door cars today, slope the roof back to make the car look sleek. This is OK if you’re 5’8″ or 5’10”, but if you’re 6’4″, the sloping roofs cause you to lose headroom with the seat all the way back. So the message here is that the published numbers for headroom do not apply for tall people. They apply for 5’8″ or 5’10” people.

    For example, when I sat in the BMW 2 and 4 series 2 door cars, the salesman couldn’t believe that I only had 1.5 fingers over my head with the seat back and tilted so I fit in and could drive safely. His comment was ‘just don’t hit a bump while you’re driving’. The close headroom was because the roll bar was right over my head. It was ‘padded’ with the roof inlay, but only 1.5 fingers of clearance over my head.

    The Honda Accord the saleslady couldn’t believe her eyes, my head was hitting with the seat all the way back and slightly tilted. She commented, “I can’t sell you this car” and escorted me out the door.

    Infinity Q60, same thing, 1.5fingers over my head with the seat all the way back and slightly tilted. Oh yea, I could have had more headroom if I wanted to lay back/lay down and drive by tilting the seat WAY back…then the salesman said the 2017 model wasn’t out yet, let’s wait for that and see if there is more headroom in it.

    The Mercedes C300 was in the same boat, 1.5 fingers over my head clearance, seat back and tilted to drive comfortably – salesman said the same thing, ‘don’t hit any bumps and then tried to sell me a $140K car that I should fit in…’

    Cadillac ATS, dealer tool me out to the car but told me I wouldn’t fit. Got in and my head was hitting the side of the sunroof mounting inside the car.

    Sat in the Audi A5 and had 4 fingers over my head of clearance. This is because the Audi A5 has a full sunroof over the drivers/passengers compartment. If I would measure to just the ceiling inlay, yes it would be about 1.5 fingers of clearance. But the sunroof opening changed the headroom so I could fit.

    I could continue with my car shopping/sitting experiences, all over the map with manufacturers…but nothing I found were perfect for a tall person…unless you wanted a truck!?

    So with full disclosure, yes I did buy an A5. Take delivery this Friday. Not happy about the price(well over what I budgeted), but it was the ONLY car I could find that I could sit in and drive safely at 6’4″ tall, @245lbs.

    I did get manuals on almost all cars that I sat in and compared the headroom numbers. Surprisingly, the Audi A5 showed less headroom than the Mercedes C300…but the proof is in the pudding, or seating!

    So the message here is while the data/numbers may say one thing, actual ‘trying the cars on for size’ says another. I recommend you stop at some of these dealers and try on the cars for size, I think you’ll be amazed at what your data shows vs. fittings?

    Thank you for doing all the work you’ve done. I for one really appreciate it and wanted to share my first hand experience.

    Best wishes.

    • Will Eifert

      Hi Joe. Thanks for reading and commenting. These are the kinds of comments that I hope for with these posts. You are correct that numbers only tell part of the story. The way I explain it is that the numbers represent the raw space of a vehicle. How the designers use that space can either be good or bad for tall drivers. The latter you can only learn by getting in vehicles. Even then, a vehicle can seem like a good fit when you test drive only to prove painful over longer periods of driving.

      I’m working on ways to get into cars and start evaluating them. Hopefully I will be able to do some more reviews, but I haven’t made the leap to getting cars for test driving. Until then, comments like yours are a real help and I appreciate them.

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