Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

2012 Volkswagen Tiguan (Volkswagen)
2012 Volkswagen Tiguan (Volkswagen)

Best of the lot

Cramped Civic driver needs a seat treat Add to ...

We enjoy your column in the Globe and your show on CTV. I’m hoping I can leverage Vaughan’s focus on value and Cato’s love of driving. I’m a 47-year-old guy driving a Honda Civic. Nice car, but really, really uncomfortable seats. I’m six-foot-one with long legs and 220 pounds. Can you recommend which car or SUV in the mid-size class is going to offer the most comfortable seats for a long journey? I was about to buy a set of Recaros, but my wife feels that a new purchase is the way to go. – Tim in Toronto

More related to this story

Vaughan: Timmy, you’ve nailed it. Comfortable seats are a totally important criterion in vehicle selection. I’m always going on about it.

But shame on you for buying that Civic in the first place, if you find the seats so bad. This time, no matter what we suggest, spend some time in the seats, especially the driver’s seat. Your rear end will give you the answer.

Cato: The answer isn’t a new Recaro, not if you’re a budget-minded Civic driver. Now, if you were to go Recaro, I’d suggest the Ergomed. Fantastic, but here’s the rub: one seat will set you back about three grand.

Three Gs amounts to 20 per cent of what you’ll pay for a whole new Civic, the base model. Buy a pair and you're 40 per cent of the way to a whole new Honda.

So where do you go? Start with a Volkswagen Golf. Superb, superb seats. Autobahn-ready.

Vaughan: Absolutely right. For years now, VeeDub has done great seats and great interiors. There are certainly more expensive seats in fancier cars, but none in my opinion any more comfortable. Plant yourself in one to see if you agree.

The Civic is a great driving little car, but the Golf drives better, plus the great seats. Your wife was right; get a new car.

Cato: Except Timbo wants an SUV. That would mean a VW Tiguan, which starts at $27,875 for the front-drive version. Very good seats.

2012 VW Tiguan

Vaughan: The Tiguan is a terrific little SUV if you want to go that way. But Tim, you were asking about a “mid-size” SUV. You like Hondas, and if that’s what you want, have a look at the Pilot ($34,820 base). But you might find it way too big after the Civic.

If you go a size smaller, Honda does have the CR-V ($25,990 base) and it has terrific seats. I was pleasantly surprised at the comfort level on a recent test drive.

Another small car with terrific seats is the Chevy Sonic. After the horrible Cavaliers that GM once sold for 23 straight years – with a wooden bench for a seat – the Sonic is a refined piece of engineering with Golf-like driving character and great seats.

Cato: What? The Sonic starts at $14,495. This takes Tim back to his Civic. Tim won’t find the love he wants in that Sonic, any more than he did the Civic.

And Vaughan, you don’t weight 220 and you’re most certainly not six-foot-one. Wrong dimensions. You don’t live in Tim’s big world.

Vaughan: Agreed. You’re the wide body here, so I will defer to your broader tastes.

Cato: And you’ve overlooked the fact Tim is looking for a mid-size car or more likely an SUV. If it’s a mid-size car, then I’d suggest a Volvo, pretty much any Volvo. A base Volvo S60 isn’t cheap, though: $38,300 base.

2012 Volvo S60

Timbo, the seats in the S60 are handsome and they fit almost any body type and do so almost perfectly. Not only that, Volvo has been an industry leader in creating seats with outstanding whiplash protection. Drive a car, save a neck.

Vaughan: Not a bad choice in the bunch, but for the money I’d say the Golf’s for you, Tim.

Cato: Hang on. I have yet another suggestion: the Ford Flex ($29,999 base).

2012 Ford Flex

Vaughan: With the hearse-like styling?

Cato: And the brilliant seats. All around, I’d say the Flex has the best seats of any mid-size SUV or crossover listing for less than, say, $50,000. Maybe more.

Vaughan: He’ll be comfortable for an eternity in them? How appropriate, given how the Flex looks.

Cato: Look, Timmer, Ford used to own Volvo, thus it’s no surprise to me that the seats in the Flex – and its Lincoln cousin, the MKT – feel a lot like the wonderful, supportive buckets in the Volvo S80.

Like the S80, the seats in the Flex – and MKT – have wide, well-shaped cushions. You want long-distance support? You got it. Plus, the Flex and MKT have active headrests to protect your neck in a rear-ender.

Vaughan: Timmy, here’s where we bury this: I think the Tiguan is your best bet. Terrific seats and big enough for a man of your stature.

Cato: I say Volvo S60 for a mid-size car and the Ford Flex if it’s a mid-size crossover SUV.

Vaughan: No matter what, Timmy, this is one decision you’ll want to sit on.

HOW THEY COMPARE



2012 Volvo S60 T5 Level 1

2012 Ford Flex SE FWD

2012 Volkwagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI Trendline

Wheelbase (mm)

2,776

2,994

2,604

Length (mm)

4,623

5,125

4,427

Width (mm)

1,864

1,927

1,809

Track, front (mm)

1,484

1,726

1,683

Engine

2.5-litre five-cylinder, turbocharged

3.5-litre V-6

2.0-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged

Output (horsepower/torque)

250/266 lb-ft

262/248 lb-ft

200/207 lb-ft

Drive system

Front-wheel drive

Front-wheel drive

Front-wheel drive

Transmission

Six-speed automatic

Six-speed automatic

Six-speed manual

Curb weight (kg)

1,770

2,028

1,539

Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

10.5 city/6.6 highway

12.6 city/8.1 highway

12.0 city/7.7 highway

Base price (MSRP)

$38,300

$29,999

$27,875

Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

Follow on Twitter: @catocarguy

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories