Monday’s sobering quote of the day comes via Sonari Glinton of NPR’s Morning Edition: “We plan for retirement, and we should plan to stop driving in the same way.” Glinton’s piece focuses on the growing number of features that automakers are adding to new vehicles to make them easier for older drivers to operate – ranging from push-button ignition (designed in part to help people whose fingers have been weakened by arthritis) to “park assist,” which aids folks with poor peripheral vision and stiff necks. But while many people think vehicles with features like these could help the oldest Americans through a sort of transitional phase – serving as the last cars they drive before they’re too infirm to drive at all – selling cars that convey that kind of message would obviously be a marketing nightmare. (Glinton says his own mother, a retired Ford Motor Company manager, certainly wouldn’t drive an old-person car.)
Lisa Molnar, of the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, reminds Glinton that design that’s good for older drivers is often just plan good design. That park assist feature, now available in the Ford Focus, among other cars, could also come in handy for your 28-year-old nephew who’s terrible at parking. For now, most baby boomers can still view such bells and whistles as luxury add-ons rather than necessities—and the good news is that many of them are available in models that look great and go like a bat out of hell. Case in point: The Mercedes-Benz S350 Bluetec, which gets 240 horsepower out of its V6 turbodiesel engine but also offers features like lane assist and blind-spot assist that can help drivers (of any age) who doze or drift off course. It’s yours for a midlife crisis-friendly $93,000, and it’s also featured this week in MarketWatch’s Best Cars for Retiring Baby Boomers slideshow. Enjoy responsibly.