Car recommendations for a passenger prone to motion sickness.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 1999

Dear Tom and Ray:

I'm looking for my car for the next decade, and I'm collecting opinions. In my effort to avoid a minivan, despite a lifestyle that would seem to dictate one, I'm looking at
things like the Subaru Outback and the Volkswagen Passat Wagon. But my 8-year-old daughter gets motion sick, sometimes even on short trips when we are on winding
country roads. I really don't relish the thought of spending long test drives on winding country roads with her and a paper bag in the back. Are there any design features
in a car that make motion sickness less likely? -- Bobbie

RAY: Yes, there are. The most important being a stiff suspension.

TOM: There are a number of factors that contribute to car sickness. One is the type of road you're on. Winding roads or, even worse, winding, hilly roads seem to be
the worst.

RAY: Then there's placement of the individual. Drivers rarely make themselves car sick (although my brother is such a bad driver, he's been known to do it). Front-seat
passengers generally do better than rear-seat passengers.

TOM: People who look out the side or rear window seem to have a higher LCR (Lost Cookie Ratio) than people who stare straight ahead through the windshield.

RAY: And finally, the "floatier," softer or more boatlike the ride, the easier it is to lose your lunch.

TOM: So how old is she? She's 8? Well, I guess you can't let her drive yet. But you can sit her in the passenger seat. Although it's safest to have kids in the back seat, if she's properly belted in and far enough back from the air bag, she should be fine.

RAY: You also want to train her to look straight ahead, since staring out the side window can contribute to her wooziness.

TOM: And finally, you can buy a car that doesn't float around a lot. Taller cars, like minivans, tend to lean quite a bit, as do large American luxury cars. So of the cars
you mention, I'd say the Passat -- which has a sporty suspension -- is going to produce the lowest LCR of the bunch. You might also look at a Volvo wagon, which has a
similar-feeling suspension and is a little bigger.

RAY: And whatever you end up getting, be sure to get the Scotchgard!

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