Piston Slap: Front Row Seating for Milanese Discomfort?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

TTAC Commentator BigOlds writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I have a bit of an odd one, I suspect: I currently drive a fullsize pickup, but I may be taking a new job, trading my 38 mile country drive for a 38 mile drive into the city, complete with undersized garage parking. The truck will severely limit the number of acceptable spaces, and generally be a pain in there. My solution is to take over the wife’s 2008 Milan (which has been truly flawless for 75,000 miles) and buy her something else. Naturally she’s thrilled with the idea, and this piles the tough commute onto something that is well this side of new. Win-win, right?

Well, the issue is that I can NOT get comfortable driving that car. My wife adores it, and as a passenger I am fine, but when I drive I feel like the seat isn’t deep enough, or maybe not tall enough, and the backs of my thighs get extremely uncomfortable. I don’t know if this is the lateral support reviewers always talk about, but it becomes unpleasant very quickly. I have tried adjusting the seat every which way, but to take another stab at explaining it, it’s like my knees are higher than my butt, so all the weight shifts to the back of my thighs, and the seat won’t go high enough off the floor to bring my thighs level.

Anyway, since the fiscally prudent thing is for me to drive this car, I would like a way to solve this issue. Otherwise, I will probably leave the Milan with my wife and find myself the cheapest commuter car I can.



Sajeev answers:

Oh my damn, Son! You done hit one of my hot buttons!

Thigh support became a thing for me back in ’03: when I drove my Mark VIII from Houston to Atlanta with almost no discomfort. After that I was cognizant of my legs’ warning signs in many an auto show vehicle sit-down. A somewhat unfounded generalization? Sure, so I’m certainly interested in the B&B’s opinion.

Damn near every auto manufacturer was guilty of half-assed design at the beginning of the current millennium. And thigh support certainly took a back seat (get it?): everything from C5 Corvettes to Town Cars (but not other Panthers), the Mercedes E-class (not AMG) to the Camry sported shorter seats, thinner pads and much less support. All of which drove my right hip and both knees into spasms of discomfort. The only brands I remember giving a free pass were Volvo, Saab and BMW.

What’s your solution? Get another car, leave the Milan with the wife. There’s no way you can enjoy the seats. Adding more padding and/or longer cushions to cradle your thighs (then fitting new seat covers) is beyond foolish. Swapping seats with another Ford is doable, except the seat mounts/tracks and airbag wiring could be a nightmare. I wouldn’t even try those messaging wooden seat beads (the ones that Cab drivers supposedly rave about).

Whatever you buy, make sure you drive it for an afternoon before you pull the trigger. And never fear, as there are plenty of new cars with better seats: even the dirt cheap ones. And, after spending a week with the new Fusion, there’s no doubt Ford fixed that seat too.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

More by Sajeev Mehta

Join the conversation
2 of 84 comments
  • Jimbob457 Jimbob457 on Jul 02, 2014

    I had the same problem a few years ago with a 650 mile weekly commute in the dreaded PT Cruiser - a vehicle with a known problem with driver comfort over long trips, and it was seriously kicking my ass at the time. There were three possible solutions: 1. Get another vehicle - the main issue here is that for the retail buyer, the transactions cost of selling one vehicle and buying another is well over a grand (USD) plus your time and effort. Furthermore, is the next vehicle going to be any better? 2. Recaro seats, the comfort variety - installed, probably $1,500 USD unless you can find a deal. 3. Exercise. Get your sorry ass back in shape - for my 65 year old bag of bones (at that time) this was a big deal, but the story had a happy ending. A few years later after feeling some chest pains, a cardiologist found that three of my four major coronary arteries were almost totally blocked. He asked me, "how many heart attacks have you had?" None sez I. Ridiculous said the doc, you must have been distance runner. Yup, and I still am at least as best I can.

  • Chicagoland Chicagoland on Jul 31, 2014

    I drive 35 miles one way and understand 100%! I had great seats in my 2005 Sentra with the SE-R interior trim package. Could sit in them on long trips. But for the past 4 years, I have had 3 new cars, since my back hates sitting/ I am on 2nd Civic, the 13's are better than the '12 I had for a year, but not much. I say get a seat with many positions, or power. My Sentra had good height adjustments, for example. If you plan to "live with it", then go for long walks to keep back fit. And don't be sedentary.

  • Grant P Farrell Oh no the dealership kept the car for hours on two occasions before giving me a loaner for two months while they supposedly replaced the ECU. I hate cords so I've only connected it wirelessly. Next I'm gonna try using the usb-c in the center console and leaving the phone plugged in in there, not as convenient but it might lower my blood pressure.
  • Jeff Tiny electrical parts are ruining today's cars! What can they ...
  • CEastwood From zero there is nowhere to go but up . BYD isn't sold in the U.S. and most Teslas are ugly azz 90s looking plain jane drone mobiles . I've only seen one Rivian on the road and it 's not looking good for them . I live out in the sticks of NW NJ and EVs just aren't practical here , but the local drag strip thrives in the warmer months with most cars making the trip from New York .
  • Lorenzo Aw, that's just the base price. Toyota dealers aren't in the same class as BMW/Porsche upsellers, and the Toyota base is more complete, but nobody will be driving that model off the lot at that price.
  • Mike The cost if our busing program is 6.2 million for our average size district in NJ. It was 3.5 last year.