Ergonomic Seats

My spouse and I are Baby Boomers, with various medical conditions related to back problems (broken ribs, lumbar vertebrae damage, slipped disks, etc.) developed over the years. We are planning to purchase a new vehicle in 2012. What vehicles would you consider as having the best designed, ergonomically most comfortable and supportive front driver and front passenger seats? We don’t want to waste time and effort by looking at inferior vehicles. Thank you.

My former neighbor had degenerative back trouble. He was comfortable in a Honda CR-V. A large part of it was how easy it it was to slide into the seat. Test drive one and see if it works for you.

This is highly subjective. We cannot possible say which vehicle might have seats that you find comfortable. You will have to try multiple vehicles until you find one that’s right for you and your spouse.

Good luck.

One persons comfortable seat is another’s torture. You need to try seats until you can find one you like, unfortunately there are two of you so you may not agree on which seat is comfortable.

The Back Store now carry’s ergonomic car seats, so instead of buying another car, you might give them a try. Another place to try is a truck stop.

Agree this is highly subjective. However, for the average US “bottom”, I find the seats in a Mazda 3 very supportive and comfortable. If you have any trouble bending while getting in and out, an SUV or similar high model would be best. A Mazda 5 has both generous and high seats. It’s really worth a try. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get good seats.

A friend of ours has a rare degenerative disease which makes most bending difficult. They kept their Dodge minivan since it is easy to enter and exit as well as having comfortable seats.

Generally, smaller cars have shorter seats and those are the least comfortable.

I hate to admit, but of all cars we have had, a Dodge Caravan has had the best seats. It is like a small recliner. Now the rest of the car has not been that stellar.

At the end of the day, as mentioned, you have to test quite a few. Ideally rent the model that you like for a week and see if you can put up with it. I have a bad back, the compromise car after the Minivan has been a Honda CRV, it gets better gas mileage and still decent seat comfort-not equal to the Caravan though.

Volvo has always had wonderful seats, not sure of their current offerings but would expect seats to still be best out there. Unfortunately Volvo’s that are off warranty are expensive to maintain and repair. If you buy new vehicles and trade them in every few years take a look at Volvo. Just sell or trade it before the warranty expires.

In general, seats with the most adjustability should fare the best. Active motion lumbar support either passively, adjusted by you, or actively in some Ford models may fit the bill. The back does not like to remain static regardless of the support and the ability to easily adjust your seat or position while driving is a key to back pain sufferers. SUVs and other more upright and roomy vehicles also offer more potential in this area then a lower sedan. I have never been uncomfortable in a Ford Expedition on a trip.

The bottom line is that a seat that is ergonomic and comfortable for me might not be the best seat for another person. The best car seats that I ever experienced were on my '74 Volvo, but since the rest of the car was an unmitigated piece of crap, the seats were not sufficient to make it a good car.

Nowadays, many cars have seats that I find to be comfortable, but then again, I have sat in some others that bordered on torture. Only personally testing seat comfort will reveal what is good for you. Even the presence of active lumbar support does not guarantee a comfortable seat, as some lumbar supports are placed too high for some people.

Unfortunately, I see no alternative to the OP actually trying out the seats of every vehicle in which he has some interest. Keep an open mind, as the most comfortable seats for you might be on a sedan, or on an SUV, or even on a truck. Once you have found seats that seem correct for you, then you need to take an extended test drive (preferably more than one extended test drive) in order to see if that comfort still exists after…let’s say…an hour of sitting.

Test drive, test drive, and test drive some more. If the salesman doesn’t want to let you go beyond their 2 mile, round the block, drive, then leave and find another place that will. Maybe ask if they have a demo car you can have overnight where you can run some errands or go for a nice long drive to see how you like it.

The seat in my old Civic was decent around town, but a trip out of town, or over rough road, made for some bad times. The seats in my current CX-7 are quite comfortable even on long trips and the car handles bumps a lot better than the Civic as well. Though my Civic just had back and forth lever on it plus a back adjust, the CX-7 has an 8way power adjustable seat. Not sure what’s available on the lower trim models, but my GT has the heated leather seats, and the heated seat does help alleviate some back pain after a hard day at work(they aren’t just for winter).

“the heated seat does help alleviate some back pain after a hard day at work(they aren’t just for winter).”

Excellent point, bs!
On more than one occasion over the years, I have used the seat heaters in my cars as mobile heating pads for an aching back.

Even if your car’s seats are ergonomically correct for you, if you get into the car with an aching back, you probably won’t feel very good at the end of a long drive. Using the seat heaters can really help with muscles that need soothing.

It’s impossible for us to tell you what seats are best for YOU…

I may find one seat to be extremely comfortable…but because of your physical characteristics…you may find it extremely painful. Auto Shows are coming up soon…Go to one and sit in as many vehicles as you can.

I recommend you start with luxury brands, like BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Lincoln, and Cadillac, and I suggest you start with the largest cushiest models you can find. You might find it is easier to get in and out of an SUV than a car.

I have degenerative disc disease advanced to the point of disability. I personally find the Scion tC (with a special back pad that I use) to be the only car I can drive for long distances without pain. I can drive the car all day, and have many times, where other cars have left me crippled. But I only point it out to make the point to “leave no stone unturned”…try everything without preconceptions or assumptions.

VDC and BScar said it perfectly.

That reminds me, I’ve heard good things about the Chrysler PT Cruiser from those with mobility problems.

While I don’t usually recommend Volvos, a number of recent car reviews and extended (1-2 year) tests repeatedly talk about how comfortable the Volvo seats are. If you can afford one, and are willing to deal with expensive off-warranty work, they’d be worth a look.

And regardless of make, test drive your favorites for long periods. I sat in an Escalade for 5 minutes, thought the seat felt great. One hour into a 5 hour trip I was squirming and uncomfortable because the seat was too soft, with no support.

I just remembered that the Taurus has an optional seat massager in it that’ll massage you for a little bit to alleviate leg cramps/pain

In addition to the good information above, I’ll suggest looking for a telescoping steering wheel and looking for a memory system that allows two different positions for each driver (so that you can switch back and forth between them on a long drive).