I drive a 2010 Toyota Venza. It replaced a 2007 Audi Q7. Both of these cars have unbelievably uncomfortable seats due to the head rests. They are certainly not designed for a gal who is 5'4".
The angle of the head rest is such that no matter what position the seat is in , the head rest pushes my head forward about 15º (maybe not that much, but it sure feels like it). Driving around town it was uncomfortable. Taking a long trip, however, it was excruciating!
After one such trip, I removed the head rest and reversed it (picture to the left). This helps the pain, but does not provide great protection if I were to be hit from the rear and needed whiplash prevention. There is a small gap between the head rest and what would be a comfortable resting place for my head. The picture on the right (attempts to) show the difference with the way the forward and rear facing head rests are positioned.
Today, I went on-line to see if there was some sort of custom headrest or pillow that could be ordered to fill the gap and give me something padded to lean on (the reverse side of the headrest is barely padded).
It turns out that across the board, manufacturers have changed their headrest styles. I found complaints for every major car manufacturer from Ford to Mercedes about headrests pushing forward the heads of folks in the 5'2" to 5'4" height.
If you have a newer car and are having trouble with the headrest, I encourage you to complain to the manufacturer and the NHTSA. The NHTSA has a new, and easy to use website that allows you to make a complaint. If enough people complain, maybe they will require manufacturers to fix these horrible headrests (make them adjustable). These newer headrests are apparently to comply with safety rules and regulations put out by the NHTSA.
The website is www.safecar.gov. If you go under the tab for Vehicle Owners you will see File A Complaint on the left side. I used the Portable Form and it was quick and easy. You need your VIN, make and model and year in order to submit a complaint.
We spend a lot of time in our cars; we deserve to have cars that are both safe AND comfortable!