Whether you’re spending all your time zipping around an urban jungle or sitting in grid lock on your way home from work, you know the city demands a lot from vehicles. Not all cars are designed to crawl along in traffic or squeeze effortlessly into compact parking spots, having snaked through small city streets. If your daily routine demands this kind of driving, you have to make sure you’re driving a car designed for it.
Your car has a great deal to do with just how stressed or comfortable you feel behind the wheel. If you’re driving the wrong sort of car for city driving, you might well undermine your safety and the safety of other drivers on the road.
To choose a good car for the city, you need to think a few things. First of all, you need to think about how well the car is going to fit in on the streets. Second, you are going to need to think about how easy it is to park. Finally, you need to think about how easily you can see from the driver’s seat (what is the visibility like) and how easy is it for you to handle and maneuver the car. How comfortable do you feel in the driver’s seat?
Apply these questions when you have a general shortlist of cars that you like. You will be able to answer many of the questions by noting some of the key details about the cars themselves. The turning radius, for example, is measured as the outer radius of a circle that the car would make with the steering wheel cranked all the way in one direction. Generally, this is considered to be perhaps the single most important numbers to look at when shopping for a good city car. According to one senior auto test engineer interviewed in Consumer Reports, the turning radius is “a measure of the car’s maneuverability and how easy it is to park.”
The next thing to think about is the footprint of a car. The footprint refers to its overall length and width of the vehicle. It is especially important for city driving because, as a general rule, the bigger the car, the tougher it is to maneuver on roads crammed with double-parked vehicles and trucks that are loading and unloading.
Once you’ve thought about the maneuverability of the car, you need to think about your visibility from the driver’s seat. It’s all very well if you can zip back and forth and around about but if you can’t see anything to gauge distances, you’re going to be stuck.
Outward visibility of the road and surrounding cars is very important but it’s largely a personal issue. Some people prefer SUVs because of view “over” the road and other cars. Others find it very difficult to see objects that are low down, however, and they often find themselves missing curbs and obstacles. To a certain extent, the height of the driver and the position of the seats matters, too, but it is crucial to review the visibility for your car of choice before you make a decision to buy.
According to Forbes Autos, the top ten best cars for city driving are:
- Honda Insight
- Toyota Prius
- BMW 3 Series Coupe
- Mini Cooper
- Scion xB
- Honda Civic Hybrid
- Volvo V50
- Audi A3
- Saab 9-2X
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The top-ten worst cars for city driving are:
- Hummer H1 Alpha
- Maybach Type 62
- Lincoln Navigator L
- Rolls-Royce Phantom
- Hummer H2
- Chevrolet Suburban
- Cadillac Escalade ESV
- Lincoln Town Car Signature L
- Infiniti QX56
- Bentley Arnage RL
Of course, you’re free to choose the type of car you want without reference to these lists, but if you are driving in the city, it may be a very good idea to invest in one or other of these models. The more comfortable you are in the driver’s seat of your car, the more likely you are to drive well consistently.