RIP To The Front Bench Seat
The days of the six passenger sedan are officially over; with the death of the current generation Chevrolet Impala, the front bench seat is now gone from the North American marketplace.
Only 10 percent of Impala customers ordered the bench seat option, at a cost of $195. Bucket seats are now the sole choice in all automobiles, but GM’s Clay Dean revealed an interesting nugget while speaking to Automotive News
Dean said bench seats carry a nostalgic factor, and he doesn’t rule out their return in smaller cars.
“There is certain nostalgia for bench seats, like being able to snuggle up with your date at a drive-in movie, and some customers still like them,” Dean said.
Maybe this is a previously-unknown part of GM’s Generation Why marketing strategy? If so, it’s a damn sight better than, well… everything else they’ve done.
I too will miss the bench (particularly the split bench) as its just more practical than a bucket seat. My previous vehicle, a Roadmaster Station Wagon had one and it came in handy in a number of situations. I thought about ordering one for my Suburban, but GM wouldn't let you option the bench seat with leather interior, so I got the buckets. At least the Suburban still retains a column shifter so the center console is still useful for storage.
Side bolstering on F-150 benchseats make them a perfect fit without feeling crowded by a console that my knees would knock against. I can't remember ever carrying a center passenger, but a center console with shifter is just out of place in trucks.
I can't help but see this as one more strike against the 'family sedan'. People like the convenience of knowing that they can fit 6 people in their car, but now must buy a crossover/suv/minivan/truck to do so.
Guess I'll never buy a new car. I currently have a '93 Town Car which is very comfortable and I really hate bucket seats. They have never been comfortable in any car I've driven.