J.D. Power and Associates has released the 2013 seat quality and satisfaction study which looks into how pleased customers are with the seats in their vehicles.
Power seats that feature manually adjustable lumbar support caused the most dissatisfaction among owners with a rating of 1.9 problems per 100 vehicles. Customers with these types of seats also tended to rate their overall vehicle experience lower, with average vehicle satisfaction sitting at 8.2/10 while customers with full-power seats rated their vehicles at an average of 8.4/10.
This dissatisfaction stems mostly from customers expecting a powered seat to have power lumbar support. Many automakers eliminate power lumbar support as a way to save money and weight in its automobiles.
The study also reveals that many shorter drivers have problems with headrest- and seat-height adjustment. Owners under under 5 feet 5 inches tall report double the amount of issues as taller customers, with a third of these owners saying the seat doesn’t adjust high enough. This lead to poor overall ratings for seat satisfaction and rear visibility.
“It’s a challenge for suppliers to make a seat that fits all owners,” said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power. “Automakers will often integrate other movable features into their vehicles, such as adjustable pedals and tilt-and-telescoping steering column, to enable owners to adjust the seat to their comfort without compromising safety or visibility.”
When it comes to suppliers, Johnson Controls and Toyota Boshoku both took home two overall category satisfaction wins. Johnson provides the seats for the Toyota Venza along with the Ford F-250 and F-350, both of which won in their respective categories, while Toyota Boshoku took home two wins for the seats in the Camry and Lexus LS. The Audi Allroad, Chevy Equinox and Mazda MX-5 also topped their respective categories, with seats provides by Lear, Magna, and Toyo respectively.
To determine these results, new vehicle owners are asked to rate their satisfaction with their seats and seat belts based on whether or not they experienced defects/malfunctions or design problems within the first 90 days of owning the new car. In total, 83,400 new car owners were polled.