Leading From Behind: Vehicle Seat Comfort and Owner Loyalty

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
leading from behind vehicle seat comfort and owner loyalty

Are comfortable seats the secret behind the popularity of the Jeep Compass/Patriot siblings?

Many would argue that rock-bottom pricing and a lack of knowledge of better choices could have something to do with it, but a study by J.D. Power finds that drivers stay loyal if their seats treat them right.

In its 2016 Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study, J.D. Power ranks the top cushions in each vehicle category, based on feedback from 80,000 people who bought or leased a 2017 car or light truck. Drivers were asked about any seat defect, malfunction or design problem in their vehicles.

Seats aren’t sexy. Well, the non-massaging kind, anyway. But we spend a stupid amount of time in our vehicles, and an uncomfortable seat can break a driver-vehicle relationship (in addition to our backs and asses). Reliability isn’t everything.

When asked to rate their loyalty to their vehicle, 68 percent of drivers who gave their seat comfort a perfect score said they’d “definitely” re-purchase the same vehicle. Only 45 percent of drivers who gave their seats a nine out of 10 would do the same. What about seven out of ten? Seats that are just okay? Less than one-third of drivers said they would buy the vehicle again.

The Jeep Compass and its boxier sibling will die early next year, and this study hands it a solitary accolade as it heads to the gallows. J.D. Power claims the fantastically old model has the best seats in the mass-market compact SUV category, followed close behind by the Ford Escape and Chevrolet Equinox.

The Acura RDX carried the luxury SUV field, while the Toyota 4Runner pleased the most backsides in the midsize/large SUV category. Ford’s Super Duty topped the list of mass-market trucks and vans.

Among compact cars, the funnest entry (Mazda MX-5) nailed the top spot. In the midsize/large car category, the far, far less fun (but still comfortable) Toyota Camry ranked the best. We’re not sure how many taxi drivers J.D. Power surveyed. The best luxury car seats are found in the Porsche Cayman, a vehicle that would still be fun if there was a pin in each cushion.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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  • Frylock350 Frylock350 on Sep 02, 2016

    I think the seats in most new vehicles are generally pretty good, though there are a few exceptions in both directions. For me as long as there's a height adjustment, fore/aft tilt, and some way of reducing lumbar I'm happy. For most folks lumbar support alleviates back pain; for me it causes it. The Chevy Captiva seats are terrible. I could not get comfortable. The seats in my Silverado are fantastic. They're a good combo of soft and supportive and I can and do drive for hours upon hours in them.

  • Hemi Hemi on Sep 03, 2016

    Funny enough I have a 2016 Compass rental and surprisingly it is very comfy and nice. It's very basic, but I would take it over a Crv/rav4 due to the cheap price. Some of the worst seats I've sat in is the 2013 C and E class. I sat in a 2017 E class and we're slightly better. The Benz seats don't do it for me.

    • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Sep 06, 2016

      The seats were OK in a Compass I had a couple weeks ago. The rest of the driving position sucked!

  • Akear I just realized 80% of these EV vehicles producers are going to be liquidated within the next five years. It is not possible to survive by selling only 3000 vehicles a year. This reminds me of the dot.com bust of the late 90s and early 2000s. Those who don't learn from history repeat it.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic I drove a rental Renegade a few years back. Felt the engine (TIgerShark) was ready was ready to pop out from under the hood. Very crude!! Sole purpose was CAFE offsets. Also drove a V6 Cherokee which was very nice and currently out of production. Should be able to scoop up one at a fair deal.🚗🚗🚗
  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!