Cars With the Most Legroom: Car Seat Modifications 3


A common question for tall people is, “which are the cars with the most legroom?”. We’ll answer that, but let’s start at the beginning. The problem is that common car regulations only require accommodation of the 95th percentile male. The rest of us are forced to drive in discomfort. Furthermore, given how much legroom varies from one car to the next, it’s clear these rules are up to the discretion and interpretation of the various car companies, and if they can save a buck on seat design, they will.

Car legroom isn’t just a matter of comfort. Insufficient legroom is an ergonomic hazard; it can affect reaction time for hitting the brakes [1], and if an accident does occur, more serious injuries are likely to result [2].

When searching for cars with the most legroom, you can find measurements on most manufacturer’s websites. Measuring techniques vary from one manufacturer to the next, but at least the reported legroom measurements allow you to figure out roughly which cars have the most legroom.

But what if the car that suits all of your other needs has insufficient legroom? Or what if you picked one of the cars with the most legroom, and it still isn’t enough for your long legs? Modifications are the answer.

Car mobility shops are used to doing the kind of major car modifications that allow for someone to accelerate and break with their hands, drive one handed, and even get wheelchairs in and out. But if you approach them about modifying the seat brackets to gain more legroom, there’s a good chance they will refuse. The problem is that it is an untested modification to the major safety system of a car, and thus liability and insure-ability are major concerns. These kinds of modifications require crash testing to be proven safe, so shops only do a select set of modifications that have been proven crash worthy on specific vehicles. Offering your own car up for crashing testing, unfortunately, won’t get you ahead in the game.

In your search, you might eventually stumble upon a back-alley shop that will modify your car seat brackets for you. But it will be expensive and decrease your headroom; typically the way it is done is to weld an extension on top of your existing seat bracket, thus raising your seat. The change is small, but every tiny bit counts when you’re already being shunned in those top few percentiles.

All this is quite discouraging, but here is the good news. There is a company that is designing, fabricating, and selling seat brackets that reposition the seat anywhere from 3″ to 6″ further back, giving you vastly more legroom. The existing seat brackets mount directly on these new brackets and the ingenious recessed tab design allows the seat height to remain unchanged.

Extend My Seat Brackets

It is a challenging enterprise for the small company, ExtendMySeat (EMS), as every car is different, and every year car designs are changing. They currently stock for over 25 makes and models. If you are looking for a new car and legroom is a concern, it would be a good idea to get one on their list or talk to them about bringing your car in for a fitting. Someone please bring them a Honda Element!

ExtendMySeatBrackets

Insufficient car legroom is both an inconvenience and a major health hazard for tall people. ExtendMySeat is fighting the odds by taking on this niche market despite the liability and insure-ability issues. Furthermore, they are are manufacturing domestically! It is a valiant endeavor they are pursuing and should rightfully be supported by the tall community. So please, spread the word as much as you can, and hopefully they will expand their product lineup and might even come up with new products to benefit tall people. And maybe, just maybe, other companies will start to pop up that also cater to the needs of tall people. So, to answer the question we started with, the cars with the most legroom are the ones with EMS brackets installed!

[1] Erwin R. Boer, J. de Bruin, D. de Abbink, N.J. de Ward, M. de Manser, “Are Drivers with Small Feet or Long Legs at Greater Risk of Rear end Collisions?”, Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 2006.
[2] Sochor, M.R.a, Faust, D.P.a, Wang, S.C.a, Schneider, L.W.b, “Knee, thigh and hip injury patterns for drivers and right front passengers in frontal impacts”, SAE technical papers, 2003.

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