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Adjustable pedals in SUVs: 2021 Ford, Lincoln models are the last men standing

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My mother is petite like I am, and whenever she’s looking for a new car, the first question she asks me is: What cars have adjustable pedals today? My answer: Not many.

This is especially true for 2021 models as automakers have largely done away with this feature. When I’ve asked why they would do such a thing, I’ve been told it was just a gimmick or because of telescoping steering wheels, the ability to adjust pedals is no longer necessary.

Well, I’m calling bullshit.

I previously did a story about pickup trucks in 2020 with adjustable pedals, and I came up with just four – all from Ram or Ford. I can add one more for 2021 – the Ram TRX.

That story happens to be one of our more commented posts, and I get emails and messages from readers on a regular basis about how helpful this story is and how they’d never buy a vehicle without adjustable pedals.

So, gimmick? My eye.

And when you look at SUVs, pickings get even slimmer. For 2021 there are just two SUVs (built on the same platform) with this feature: The Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.

2020 Ram Heavy Duty adjustable pedals

2020 Ram Heavy Duty adjustable pedals (Image courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)

How much will it cost? Well, adjustable pedals aren’t available on the base XL STX trim ($51,585). But they are an option on the XLT trim, and then they are standard starting on the mid-level Limited trim ($63,165).

As for the Navigator, they are (thankfully) standard on the base Standard trim ($76,185).

Is that it, then? Pretty much. With a caveat.

If you’re really quick, you might be able to find a 2020 Chevrolet Suburban, Tahoe or GMC Yukon with adjustable pedals. These models were redesigned for 2021, and the feature was removed. Why? Well, here’s the company line from a GM spokesperson:

“The decision was made to remove the adjustable pedals, as the seat travel on the new Tahoe and Suburban have been extended fore and aft, and, in conjunction with the telescoping steering column, was designed to fit a multitude of varying customer requirements.”

After having driven both the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon, I’m going to say they should have kept the ability to adjust the pedals.

The bottom line on adjustable pedals

Even though seats are more adjustable and tilt/telescoping steering wheels are prevalent, there is still a need for adjustable pedals – especially on large SUVs and trucks. More often than not, when I put my seat in a far-forward position, that means I’m eating the steering wheel.

I just can’t push it far enough away to make it safe for my petite stature.

But if I could push my seat back 2 inches, adjust the pedals and leave the steering wheel pushed all the way in, that would make my driving position better and safer. As it is, in most of these vehicles, if I were ever in an accident where airbags deployed, the best-case scenario is a broken nose. I don’t want to think about the worst case.

Related posts:

IIHS study shows women are up to 73% more likely to be injured in crashes

Which pickup trucks have adjustable pedals?

2021 GMC Yukon Denali: Next-gen Yukon gets tons of tech, holds line on price

2021 Chevy Tahoe: Controversial styling, gearshift bring on the comments

 

 

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is a syndicated automotive writer. Jill also manages the “Drive, She Said” blog for ChicagoNow and posts reviews to DriveChicago. She is the president emeritus of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. She also serves as a judge for the Automotive Heritage Foundation Journalism Awards. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the Chicago Sun-Times News Group and Pioneer Press Newspapers.

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13 Comments

  1. Ric December 31, 2020

    Adjustable pedals is needed. Moving the seat far enough up even if the steering wheel can retract in, still leaves you with your knees right up against the panels. I know, I’m a short guy and to reach the pedals, me seat has to move up, I only have 1″ between my knees and the panel once I’m settled on and driving. My tundra has knee airbags, I bet that won’t feel great when it deploys.

    Reply
    1. Jill Ciminillo January 8, 2021

      Yep, you nailed the issue exactly. As a petite driver I worry about both my face and knees when it comes to airbag deployment. The more I write about adjustable pedals, the more I learn taller people have this problem, too!! It boggles my mind that automakers call this a gimmick.

      Reply
      1. TRoot April 15, 2021

        I would rather have adjustable pedals than telescoping steering column. I had adjustable on my 2004 FreeStar but my 2019 Edge SL did not. I am 5’2″. Even with the telescoping steering column on my now 2020 Edge Titanium in all the way, the seat is much to close to the wheel for me to feel safe. In the 2019 Edge I had the felt mat under the winter one to lift it slightly just so my heel rested comfortably enough to drive any distance. (yes it has cruise) As far as the lower airbag for your legs…..My husband isn’t much taller than me. He just totaled my 2019 Edge last Saturday and got a nasty gash on his shin from the lower airbag. Nothing broken inside the car or moved around that caused it.

        Reply
        1. Jill Ciminillo May 5, 2021

          The knee airbag is definitely a new concern of mine. I recently wrote an article about women getting more lower extremity injuries than men in vehicles — I think this is definitely due to lack of adjustable pedals …

          Reply
  2. Maria January 8, 2021

    I have adjustable pedals in my current 2011 suburban. I test drove the 2021 today and while everything else is nice in the car…. the driver seat is the worst. I cannot reach the pedals!!! And I am 5’3. This totally sucks. I will NOT be buying until adjustable pedals are brought back. Guess I will be test driving the Expedition and Navigator now. Bummer for Chevrolet. Ford is going to attract so many petite women on this option alone. I’d rather keep my 2011 as it drives way nicer and more comfortable.

    Reply
  3. David Bethel January 22, 2021

    I have been a Medic for a long time and seen thousands of accidents. Adjustable pedals could have prevented a lot of injuries especially in the vertically challenged population. They were unable to distance themselves far enough from the steering wheel ,and sustained injuries.For example: lung and cardiac contusions, fractured ribs from the airbag deployment. Proper positioning in the seat cannot be achieved by a seat and steering wheel adjustment .Everyone’s arm and legs very in sizes ,and you have to accommodate all driver for there safety .By eliminating this feature on vehicles as a option you have made it impossible to achieve the proper safety measures. Hopefully you will reconsider your decision.Thanks

    Reply
    1. Jill Ciminillo February 4, 2021

      Excellent point! I worry about all of this when I’m driving as a 5-foot-tall female. NHTSA says 10 inches from breast bone to center of steering wheel is sufficiently safe, but what does that mean REALLY? I have a feeling there’s further research in my future.

      Reply
  4. Lara January 27, 2021

    This is a bummer that they removed the adjustable pedals!! I have owned a 2015 Yukon Denali and tonight put a deposit (sight unseen) a 2021 Yukon Denali. I started really looking at the photos to see where that adjustable pedal button was located and to my horror, I couldn’t find it!! THIS IS A BUMMER!!! I am 5’1″ and that feature made my driving so much more comfortable. I didn’t have to have the seat all the way to the steering wheel and my toes in a constant ballet pointe trying to reach the gas. This is such a huge disappointment!! Smaller people drive and that feature was such a nice touch. One of the reasons why I wanted to stay with GMC. Now, I am going to look at other SUVS and see if I can get my deposit back. Shame on GMC!

    Reply
    1. Jill Ciminillo February 4, 2021

      100% agree. I figure the more voices that speak up about this, the more likely automakers will bring this feature back. As an FYI, the NHTSA says you are “safe” as long as you are 10 inches from the steering wheel. I’ve started taking a tape measure out when I’m testing cars to verify a comfortable driving position accomplishes this.

      Reply
  5. Richard Lee March 9, 2021

    Completely agree with this analysis. The loss of movable peddles has stopped us from purchasing a new 2021 Tahoe, as the driving position was not safe for my wife, who is 5’4”.

    Reply
  6. Harry Tomaszewski March 12, 2021

    No one ever speaks of it but tall people need those adjustable pedals as well. Rather than having my knee in my eye the adjustment to the pedal allows me to sit with comfort and extend my legs. I have looked at and driven most every SUV/Truck. My 2015 Silverado 2500 was not a fit without the adjust pedals. Same for my Tahoe and Ford F-150. Not sure what to do when it is time for a new vehicle outside of the Expedition and Gator. Can someone talk some sense into these people!?

    Reply
  7. Jaime Buchholz March 14, 2021

    Recently being in a head on collision, and having truck with adjustable pedals i walked away from it, had i been forced to be on the steering wheel to touch the pedals i probably would not have walked away.

    Reply
  8. MaryAnn May 8, 2021

    I’m so disappointed that adjustable pedals are going away. I drive a 2014 Explorer with adjustable pedals. It’s been my favorite vehicle. I just looked at an Aviator and a Nautilus. Neither vehicle provides adjustable pedals. I might just have to keep my Explorer.

    Reply

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