Our cars are so laden with technology and creature comforts that luxury options are almost becoming burdens. Infotainment systems are the epicenters of that information overload, and gauge clusters are also now one of a handful of screens that cram every gigabyte of data they can get onto one of the even smaller screens in the car. Navigation, tire pressure, suspension height, ride settings, radio station, who’s calling you; in sportscars it’s track time and horsepower meters on top of the speedometer and tachometer stalwarts. And those are just a sliver of what some cars can come with. Option lists go on ad infinitum across the board.
At what point does a relaxing drive turn into a source of stress? We’re at a point where most of these options are a waste of money because you stop using them or never used them at all. But if you’re buying a new car, save time, money and stress — skip all the frivolous extras and focus on the seats. You won’t regret it.
According to J.D. Power rating report, at least 20 percent of new-vehicle owners have never used 16 of the 33 technology features measured. The five features owners most commonly report that they ‘never use’ are the in-vehicle concierge, mobile routers, automatic parking systems, head-up display, and built-in apps.” Not only that, but those are also among some of the features listed that drivers actively won’t get in their next car. But, as far as the interior goes, seats are most assuredly features you can’t forgo. Therefore, they should be as good as possible.
While pedals pretty much come as they are and steering wheels can be fitted with heaters and switches for ancillary options, think about how much of your body touches the wheel and, inversely, how big of a contact patch you have with your seat. Then consider that you’ll spend about 300 hours in that seat next year alone. All of a sudden, money spent on a better seat is incredibly more appealing than dropping an extra $3,000 just to have satellite navigation — something your smartphone can telegraph through the speaker system with a $10 cable.
Seats aren’t merely a common-sense expenditure anymore, with the best seat options you’re really getting your money’s worth. Manufacturers spend a massive amount of time developing seats, which makes sense since the driver’s seat is the most significant interface the driver has with the car. It’s also quite literally one of the largest objects in the vehicle, second only to the back seat if there is one (and probably the driver).
According to Jonathan Line, Lincoln’s Advanced Seat Innovation Supervisor, when it comes to their flagship captains chairs, for instance, Lincoln started development on them in 2011, debuted them in 2016 with the Continental and premiered a new-and-improved version in the 2018 Navigator. “We were really striving to achieve an experience, not so much to outdo the competition with features but we were going after the greatest human experience we could find in a seat to make them optimally comfortable,” Line admits. You don’t spend six years, as Lincoln did, just to come up with a porch swing. Lincoln dedicated a 15-20 person team to study materials, suspensions and structural composites, and went even further to study biometrics and pressure points to analyze where the body needs to be supported and how to increase blood flow for both comfort and alertness while driving. The result is a 30-way adjustable seat that’s both heated and air-conditioned, massages your back and legs and supports every square inch of you than rests on it — stopping just short of supporting you emotionally.
Now, I’m not saying any less research and development goes into a Sport mode, Apple Carplay, or whatever you can think of that can connect wirelessly to your car. Or, it should be said, any other manufacturer’s premium seats. But, much like “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound,” if a luxury option or creature comfort goes completely unused, is it any good? Is it worth it? There’s no practical circumstance wherein you’re in your car and not using the seat. It stands to reason that you’ll always appreciate the time and money you spend optioning it out to its fullest capacity. Get the best seats you can.