“Road trips can be largely defined by how comfortable people are — and when you get down to it, how comfortable our seats allow them to be,” says Mike Kolich, supervisor of Ford’s global seating team. It’s hard to argue with that logic, considering that the average driver spends 26 minutes commuting to work each day and that more than half of all families in the United States will take an extended road trip this year, but especially since it comes from a man (we’re not making this up) known by his colleagues as “Dr. Derriere.”
Kolich’s latest handiwork is on display inside the upcoming 2020 Ford Explorer. The crossover debuts a new seat design with thinner seat backs and sculpted back panels to increase second-row knee room. That sounds a bit like what airlines have done over the years, reducing the size of seats but claiming there’s just as much room for each individual passenger (though the passengers themselves are getting larger, too). To combat such sizable concerns (sorry), Ford says its seats go through more than 100 in-lab tests to ensure their comfort.
“Not long ago, the industry didn’t have measurable objectives like we do today. We would build a seat, and from there it was trial-and-error,” Kolich relates. “We’re smarter than that today — we know what people expect.”
Another interesting tidbit gleaned from Kolich is that all of Ford’s seats share the same guts under the skin. “What people see in a Mustang differs from what they see in an Explorer, but it’s all built on the same architecture,” says Kolich. So the new space-saving measures that debut in the Explorer could conceivably make their way across the rest of the Ford lineup, thereby increasing roominess in other vehicles, too.