Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Some hip pointers regarding comfy seats Add to ...

I am six-foot-four, 67 years of age and a Type 2 Diabetic. In anticipation of retirement, I want to purchase a car. At the moment, I walk to my law practice but we have a Subaru Legacy. The issue is this: I will require very comfortable seats with good support and a cushion that does not cut into the middle of my right thigh. It is critical that I do not limit circulation. In effect, I need more support for the thigh.

More related to this story

The Subaru is extremely uncomfortable because of the pressure on my right leg and I cannot drive for more than one hour before I have to get out of the car. I anticipate in retirement that we will drive longer distances and therefore the next car has to work from the 'comfort' perspective. I do not want to visit every showroom in the city to sit in the cars if I can avoid that task. Hence, my request to you for my options so I can narrow the field.

David in Toronto

Cato: David, great question. Boomers like yourself have different driving needs as they edge towards retirement. They are judging vehicles not so much on how fast they go or how much kids' stuff they'll hold, but … well, on new criteria.

Vaughan: Yeah, and The Over-The-Hill Gang has the purchasing power to make auto makers take notice.

Cato: Easy, fella. You're not far off from an address at the Shady Rest Village yourself. Here you are, 10 years into that econo-box of yours, and it seems to me an older lad like yourself might like something new.

Vaughan: Cato, you lumber along like a pensioned-off football lineman; your next vehicle will need a ramp. For me, it's economic. I drive an 11-year-old Volkswagen. Whatever else might be wrong with them, the VeeDubs have excellent, comfortable seats.

Cato: Your current VW needs a windscreen; that small chip is spider-webbing. Why not just replace the whole thing and be done with it? Oh, yeah, you'd need to spend money. Right. Mr. "I-left-my-wallet-in-the-car-can-you-front-me-lunch?" buy a new car? Another decade.

Okay, listen to this, Vaughan; you're going to need it. It's the condensed version of my lecture on the importance of the hip point in automotive design.

Vaughan: Arggh. Here we go.

Cato: David should consider both the comfort of the seats and the ease with which he can get into them. He needs a car with a seat height close to his hip level so he can swing into it without climbing up or bending too far down. On that score, your Golf's hip point is down there practically at the gutter. Not for David.

Vaughan: Yes, on that I agree. I'll tell you what I find to be a very comfortable car with excellent ease of entry - the unappreciated Chevy Malibu. It's way cheaper than a Subaru Legacy and a whole lot quieter.

Maybe it doesn't have enough snob appeal for a Toronto lawyer but it's great value for money. However, no four-wheel-drive like the Subie.

So my next choice would be an Audi A4 Quattro. With that one, he gets the all-wheel-drive plus Volkswagen seats plus a decent hip point - to acknowledge the point of the All-Knowing One.

The Malibu earned five stars – the highest rating – in U.S. government front- and side-impact crash tests.

Cato: Wrong on both counts. David wants a Ford Flex. The seats are big and comfy and the hip point is perfect for easy of entry and exit, it's huge inside, it's available with all-wheel-drive, like the Subie, and best of all it's being sold at a big discount.

The base model with AWD lists for $37,999, but Ford Canada has at least $6,500 in discounts out there - plus whatever dealer discount David, our lawyer, can negotiate. Splurge, David, and get the Flex Limited that lists for $43,199, before the sales sweeteners.

Vaughan: Maybe it's because I'm in my late thirties now that I appreciate vehicle comfort ...

Cato: Ha, ha, ha. Maybe you were in your 30s in the 1930s!

Vaughan: I was about to say - before being interrupted - that of all the countless test drives we take each year the comment I often make first is about the comfort of the seats. They're too hard, too slippery, too short, too narrow, too brutal - all in otherwise good cars. David is onto something big.

Cato: Like the Flex. It's big and the seats are great.

Vaughan: Audi and BMW make the best seats in the expensive German expensive stuff; Volksie is good the mainstream. For David, I think General Motors is doing the best job on seats from the Detroiters and Nissan for the Japanese.

Cato: Try that Flex, David. And I'll work on Vaughan to buy something built this century.

*****

HOW THEY COMPARE



2011 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

2011 Ford Flex Limited AWD

2011 Audi A4 Avant 2.0T Premium Plus

Wheelbase (mm)

2852

2994

2808

Length (mm)

4872

5125

4703

Width (mm)

1786

1927

1826

Height (mm)

1450

1726

1436

Engine

2.4-litre four-cylinder

3.5-litre V-6

2.0-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged

Output (horsepower/torque)

170/158 lb-ft

262/248 lb-ft

211/258 lb-ft

Drive system

front-wheel drive

all-wheel drive

all-wheel drive

Transmission

six-speed automatic

six-speed automatic

eight-speed automatic

Curb weight (kg)

1577

2209

1730

Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

9.4 city/5.8 highway

13.4 city/9.0 highway

10.0 city/7.0 highway

Base price (MSRP)

$32,995

$43,199

$49,400

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.

The strangest concept cars at the Geneva auto show

Rinspeed Bamboo car
If these unusual cars ever hit the road, they'll undergo a series of significant redesign first

In the know

Most popular videos »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular