QOTD: What Price Do You Put on Comfort?

qotd what price do you put on comfort

Thinking back on the vehicles I’ve owned over the course of my life, not a single one stands out for reasons related to discomfort. Physical discomfort, to be clear, as a couple drove me to drink due to embarrassing unreliability (Hi, Chrysler Corp!) and infuriating electrical gremlins (Ahoy, Honda!).

I’m sure my back (and backside) would factor more heavily into this discussion if tinkering on cheap foreign exotics played any kind of role in my life. It’s not easy squeezing this lanky frame into a cramped cockpit, and that could surely drain the joy from any man-machine relationship. Yes, front seat comfort ranks extremely high on my list of automotive demands. If a vehicle is to be anything more than a pastime plaything, comfort needs to be assured.

Some very common vehicles are simply out of the question for this reason alone. Ford Taurus? Unacceptable. Toyota Corolla and (outgoing) Corolla iM? No way. Third-generation Nissan Altima? Forget it. Nissan Rogue? Maybe if I was shorter. Fiat 500? Maybe if I was much, much shorter.

In the Taurus’ case, it’s a matter of cramped footwells making this big-on-the-outside sedan a non-starter. The Corollas and older Altima couldn’t be better suited for causing spinal implosions, all thanks to overly soft cushions and nonexistent lower back support. As for the Rogue and Fiat, the issue boils down to legroom and headroom, respectively.

No matter how good the deal, ownership of these models would assuredly become a lesson in misery and regret.

A vehicle might boast dodgy reliability, lackluster performance, and embarrassing styling, but physical discomfort trumps bank balance woes and behind-your-back snickers any day, in my books. Do you agree, or have you purchased a vehicle before where comfort ranked dead last on its list of attributes? Is it something you found you were able to live with, or did your muscles and vertebrae eventually make the case for a replacement?

Join the conversation
2 of 70 comments
  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Apr 17, 2018

    NB Mazda speed Miata. I had an NA and intended to sell it after the NB purchase. But they changed the seats or something and one of the bows for the top was right on the top of my head. That plus the fact that I despised the 6 speed compared to the 5 meant I kept the NA and sold the Mazdaspeed. Now I want an NA with the blistein suspension, motor, and torn LSD from the Mazdaspeed.

  • JLGOLDEN JLGOLDEN on Apr 19, 2018

    I have mistakenly bought cars for the wrong reasons, and now COMFORT WINS for me. I consider my compatibility with all of these things: seat shape, seat padding, leather feel, steering wheel reach, steering wheel rim thickness, driving position, arm rest touch points, outward visibility. If these all fall into that sweet "ahhhhh" space, I can consider the vehicle. If I cannot dial-in a sweet spot with adjustments, I will not even consider a test drive. The best fits so far have been Mazda3 and Chrysler Pacifica. The Subaru Outback just barely makes the list.

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?