Are you hesitant to trade in your gas-guzzler for a fuel-efficient model because you might have to sacrifice comfort – or safety? Don’t be.

James Riswick, automotive editor for Edmunds.com, a popular car review site, says there are many fuel-efficient cars with arthritis-friendly features. To be considered fuel-efficient, a car must get 29.7 mpg.

Lightweight doors, a small steering wheel that’s easy to turn, push-button ignition and controls (as opposed to knobs) and a big trunk that will easily hold a scooter, are a few of the arthritis-friendly features available in recent models, says Riswick. A low chassis is also key to ease getting in and out, especially for those with arthritis. 

Even though federal regulations for corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) will be tightened in 2016, people still buy what they want. CAFE was designed to encourage automotive manufacturers to build and sell more fuel-efficient cars, but many manufacturers say they’d rather pay the fine for non-compliance than make cars nobody wants, according to a report by John O'Dell, editor of GreenCarAdvisor.com. Regulators and many in the green community haven't learned that autos are still a major investment made as much with emotion as with common sense, according to O’Dell.

Whether you choose a car based on emotion or logic, you’ll want the most comfort and safety features available.

Newer cars, in general, are more sophisticated and offer more adjustments to their safety devices, says Elin Schold-Davis, occupational therapist and coordinator of the Older Driver Initiative for the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) in Bethesda, Md.

Anything that can be adjusted inside the car makes driving easier for those with arthritis, says Schold-Davis. Many cars have an adjustable steering column – one you can move forward so you can get in and then move back so it’s within a comfortable reach.

Comfort is Key

Fuel-efficient cars are typically small. But Riswick says smaller size can still be comfortable and give you room to move. However, he says, “If you’re tall, you won’t get much leg room in a Toyota.”

The first rule of thumb is to be comfortable in your car. Reduced comfort can be distracting and compromise safety.