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Subaru Forester seats

A couple weeks ago I purchased a sweet 2008 Subaru Forester Premium with just under 36k miles. I love the car, except for one thing - the seats! When I test drove the vehicle, I knew the seats would be an issue - my back was killing me after 15 minutes. I went to a local auto interior place, and they assured me they could fix the seats to be comfortable, so I bought the car and took it to them, where it spent the greater part of two weeks. They have messed with the seats three times - now they are worse. They shaved some of the seat cushion to level the seat, since the seat angle was pitched too much toward the back, even with the auto adjustment at its most level. When I questioned that, they said because of the airbags they couldn’t add any padding to the seat. Then they took some padding out of the back so it wouldn’t press against my back. Then they removed the lumbar support entirely, and added a small amount of padding at the base of the back, near the junction of the back and seat. The seats are harder than they were before (for obvious reasons!), the angle of seat to back is not improved, and the seat heater element is now so close to the seat cover, I’m sitting on a hard square piece of plastic. And … my back still hurts constantly. If I can’t get these seats adjusted, I will have to sell the car, after looking for one for two years. I’m desperate! I did drive an LL Bean Forester, and the seats seemed to be ok. Anyone know whether LL Bean seats could be swapped for the Premium seats? And if so, how I could find those seats and someone to do the work? Thanks!

And yes, I do have a cushion - doesn’t do much. And someone else suggested a Brookstone seat cover.

If you can find a 2008 LL Bean Forester the seats will bolt right to the same mounting holes. Any boneyard that’s internet connected (most are now) can help you find one, and they can also tell you via their interchangability database what other seats will fit without alterations.

That interior place did not do you any favors. Comfort for someone with a back problem is an extremely difficult problem. Upholsterers do not have the training to understand the source of the pain, and everything they try is a crap shoot. They should not have claimed to be able to make the seats comfortable. Those kind of claims are, IMHO, deceptive and appalling.

For the record, I bought a new Corolla in 2005, and due to my degenerative disc disease the seats were killing me. I had to trade it after only 2 months. I mentally “wrote off” the $2500 loss as a medical expense.

Visit a boneyard. Have them search for an LL Bean Forester that’ll direct-fit your car.

You could also search for automotive aftermarket seats, but IMHO they too would be a crap shoot.

“When I test drove the vehicle, I knew the seats would be an issue - my back was killing me after 15 minutes.”

So, why did you buy this car? It does not sound so “sweet” to me. Next time, buy a car that fits you better.


While I am empathetic with the OP’s plight, I have to agree with twotone that the OP made a bad purchase decision. In fact, when my friend was car-shopping in 2008, I went with him when he test-drove a Forester. And…guess what? My back was in agony after only 15 minutes in the front passenger seat!

I was silently hoping that he would reject the Forester, simply because it would make it very difficult–if not impossible–to ever ride in his car. Well, he did reject it because of the seats, but his objection was a different one from mine. Because he is very short, he needs a seat that can be elevated to a great extent, and the Forester’s seats failed this test.

He liked everything else about the Forester–acceleration, handling, braking, superior AWD system–but in the end he had to compromise on a Rav-4, simply because of the seating issue.

Bottom line…if seat comfort seems to be bad w/in 15 minutes, it is unlikely to get better in the long term. And, it is ironic that Subaru’s other, larger models (Legacy, Tribeca, Outback) have very comfortable seats. Go figure!

I sold an older Subaru that ran great…because seats were so bad. Where this is a newer car then I had, it would definitely be worth some research. For me, it was the same thing as the rear part of the seat that tilted your back into an ackward position while sitting upright for driving. Not a big deal for passengers who could recline or those with bubble butts. wonder it it’s similar with yours. If it is, no amount of back support will help. The seat needs to be adjusted or padded somehow beyound what you have done or replaced…it was beyound me. Goodbye Subaru. So, Trade for a Honda Crv…Honda specializes in decent seats.

“Honda specializes in decent seats.”

Not necessarily.
When driving both my '92 Accord and a friend’s '01 Accord, my right leg would always go numb after about 20-30 minutes.

I don’t think that this was because of the seats per se, but rather it was because of Honda’s practice of mounting the seats extremely low. The very low placement of the seats made it necessary for the driver to keep his right leg extended horizontally in order to press the gas & brake pedals, and that is not good design, IMHO. Good seat design includes placing the seats high enough so as to not put drivers in this type of situation.

I suspect that Honda now places their seats higher than they used to, but that is just speculation on my part.

"Honda specializes in decent seats."
Both my wife and I had to drive Honda Civic Hybrids from our institution’s fleet for out of town trips. We both found the seats and/or driving position to be uncomfortable. However, others really liked the seats. My research partner thought the Honda seats were great and her own personal vehicle is a Honda Civic. My wife would request a Ford Taurus when she had to make long distance trips for our institution because she found the Taurus more comfortable than the Honda Civic, Chevrolet Malibu or the other cars in the fleet.
We once owned a 1993 Oldsmobile 88. It was a great car, but I would get a cramp in my leg after driving for about an hour. We found our 1990 Ford Aerostar van more comfortable for long distance trips.
We both like the seats in our 2003 Toyota 4Runner. We just returned from a 700 mile round trip to visit our son. The seats are firm and the ride of the 4Runner is a little stiff, but we can drive that vehicle for hours and not feel tired.
Each person’s seating needs are different. I found the seats and driving position in a Nissan Sentra that I had to take on a road trip more comfortable than the seats in the Honda Civic Hybrid or a Hyundai Sonata that I had to drive for the same distance. My wife’s last trip for the institution was from east central Indiana to Washington, D.C. and back in a Dodge Avenger. She didn’t think it was too bad. However, we had a Dodge Avenger as a rental car this past summer when we flew to Albany, New York and took a drive through Vermont and New Hampshire. I wasn’t comfortable driving that car, so my wife did a lot of the driving and she was reasonable comfortable.

As a chronic back pain sufferer I can tell you that Triedaq is 100% correct. Everyone’s needs are different.

I have a close ladyfriend of many years who also suffers from back pain and we cannot even ride in one another’s cars. Many years ago we used to go everywhere in any vehicle, even my old Toyota pickup, but now we’ve both gotten to the point that we have to drive our own car and meet at the destination. It sucks, but that’s life.

Since the OP has had success with a 2008 LL Bean Forester, I still think her best bet is to work with a boneyard to find a 2008 LL Bean Forester seat.

According to my daughter, a physical therapist, right leg problems while driving is often because of the wrong distance from the accelerator. If your right leg is stretch to far to reach the pedal while bent, them it rests too much on the front cushion causing pressure on the nerves. It’s not a seat only problem, it’s an ergonomic problem between the seat, accelerator and steering wheel. Some cars without a telescoping steering wheel and a fixed incorrect relation ship can give that problem to some drivers. And yes, it can be exacerbated in lower cars.
I like the seats in my 4Runner too. But they are not better then my wife’s Accord. They are more upright and have a greater rage of adjustability to more people because of the larger vehicle they are in. Plus, they have standard power lumbar support. I f you want comfortable seating for more variety of people, you first must find a big tall car. But, Honda, given the limited confines in the vehicles they make…other then the Pilot, in my experience with a bunch in our family makes seats that are comfortable for more people for a longer period of time. What seemed a little hard when new, are still great at 200k miles. Compared to other seats in other cars which all broke down earlier they were better, without question. Honda cars are noted for their excellent ergonomics and seating…you don’t sell the Accords and Civics they have with poor seats.

Yep, in the eye of the beholder. I’ve driven our 2007 Forester on a 8 hour day followed by a 16 hour day, and I did fine. Not perfect, but no pain after the trip…

Yeah I hear ya. The most comfortable seats I ever had were with my special order 81 Olds 88. Split bench with power driver seat. I could drive that car all day long and never have a sore seat. In my Acura with buckets, I have to take my billfold out of my right rear pocket on long drives, but on my Pontiac with buckets, I never have a problem. The Acura seems a little hard to me.

I’ve often thought that a comfortable vehicle would be a Divco milk truck as was made in the 1950s. When the driver got tired of sitting, he or she could stand up and drive for a while.
Back in 1992, Consumer Reports tested some medium priced cars–an Oldsmobile 88, a Buick Roadmaster, and a Mercury. CR also rounded up a 1952 Buick Roadmaster for a comparison. CR reported that the seats and seating position were more comfortable in the 1952 Buick than the cars that were 40 years newer. In 1959, my dad was thinking about replacing his 1954 Buick with a new 1959 LeSabre. After a short test drive, he decided to keep his old car. He told the salesman that he wasn’t going to pay $3300 for a 4 passenger car. The seats were terribly hard in the middle and the seating position was very low. When comfort has to take a back seat to styling, then I think the manufacturers have missed the boat. I’ve known quite a few people in their 70s and 80s that have traded in their cars for Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4 SUVs because of the seats.

dagosa, I think your daughter is onto something. When I go on a long trip, I always move the seat up a notch because it takes the strain off my lower back.

Car magazine writers always boast about the thigh support some cars have, and some manufacturers seem to pander to them, personally I always though they were wrong.

They seem to be pandering to them again wit these paddle shifters, about the stupidest thing for a street car to come along in quite awhile.

I found a mesh and spring lumbar support at Walmart and really like it. For less than $10, it made my 2007 seat comfortable.

I tried one of those. It didn’t work for me, but for $10 it was worth trying.
I have about 15 different seat pads in my supply. Only one of them works in my current vehicle, but with it in my current car I’ve driven hundreds of miles with no problem at all on a good day. A “good day” in one where I’m not having back pain to begin with. Sometimes I go for weeks without pain, then I’ll move the wrong way and be unable to walk unassisted for a week followed by weeks of moderate pain.

But even on a “good day” I have low level pain and my legs don’t work that well. I get numbness and occasional shots of pain. I went shopping on a “moderate day” in a big box store with a ladyfriend recently, limped the whole time, and was totally exhausted after just from the effort it took to walk.

I have collapsed discs, collapsing vertebra, spurs, and two stenosis. I have the “behaviors” pretty well ingrained in my daily actions, but all I have to do is move the wrong way once and I go through it all over again.

But hey, other than that I feel great! :slight_smile:

I had the exact opposite experience when I purchased my Forester in 1999 (I still have it and love it). I went to the Suburu dealer to look at a Legacy (I was looking for an all-wheel drive car that could handle long distance commuting in all weather), but I found the Legacy seats uncomfortable. I had never heard of the Forester but the sales person suggested I try it and it fit me perfectly. Best car decision I ever made.

…which just tends to prove what I, mountainbike, and a few others have said repeatedly in this forum, namely that what is comfortable to one person may well prove to be uncomfortable to somebody else.

So, when somebody asks a question along the lines of “which cars have the most comfortable seats”, I suggest that they begin by buying a copy of the Consumer Reports New Car Buyer’s Guide in order to first narrow down their choices by using factors such as price, fuel economy, size, etc.

Once somebody has a manageable list of prospective makes & models, it then behooves him/her to go to showrooms in order to see how the seats fit their own body and how the seats accommodate their own infirmities. Once somebody locates a few models that seem to meet their seat comfort needs, then it is vital to take the car on an extended test drive of at least an hour I order to see how those seats feel for more than just a few minutes.

What seemed comfortable in the showroom may turn out to be close to torture after sitting for more than 45 minutes, and what one person thinks is comfortable may have no bearing on reality for another person.

Excellent advice.
However, btm, you may want to check the original posting date and perhaps the date of the latest post prior to reviving old posts. I’m sure the OP is long gone.

Probably repeating someone else from loooong ago, but there is nothing like power seats with multiple ways of adjusting including power lumbar to address the problems of individual preferences. It often means going to a different trim level. Otherwise, you can give up on good cars just because their base model doesn’t fit. Buying a “Yugo” ( just kidding) instead of a Corolla because the seats are more comfy needs a different strategy.
@Triedaq, according to his Mrs., Is the only board member I know who resorts to such measures. ;=) ( JK again)