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J.D. Power Study Says Lumbar Controls Type and Headrest Adjustments Are Key Problem Areas for Drivers

August 20, 2013

J.D. Power released a new report, the 2013 Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study, which details the types of seats and seating technology that drivers are looking for and the overall quality of seats in late-model vehicles. The report stated that owners had more problems with vehicles equipped with power seats that have manually adjustable lumbar support, 1.9 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), than they did with seats where all the functions were powered (0.4 PP100).

The study also found that owners of vehicles with seats that had all manual controls had more problems overall (1.1 PP100), though they still had fewer problems with lumbar support than did customers with power seats that had manual lumbar controls.

The study went on to say that seat height and headrest adjustments were important seat features for vehicle owners, particularly for those who are shorter than average. Shorter owners (which J.D. Power said means people less than 5 ft. 5 inches tall) experience nearly twice as many problems with their seat height adjustment than do taller individuals (PP100 of 1.2 for shorter individuals vs. 0.7 PP100 for taller people). The study also found that shorter owners report more problems with headrest adjustments than do taller owners (1.6 PP100 for shorter people vs. 1.0 PP100 for taller individuals).

Beyond driver comfort, seat height and adjustment can impact safety, for example owners who indicate problems with headrest adjustment are also less satisfied with visibility, particularly visibility behind the vehicle, J.D. Power’ study noted.

For specific vehicles, J.D. Power’s study ranked the seats, made by Johnson Controls, in the F-250 and F-350 Super Duty highest. Johnson Controls also ranked highest for its seats in the Toyota Venza. Next, Toyota Boshoku ranked highest for its seat quality in the Lexus LS in the Luxury Car segment and for its Toyota Camry in the Mass Market Midsize/Large Car segment. Lear Corporation ranked highest in the Luxury CUV segment for its seats in the Audi allroad, Magna ranked highest in the Mass Market Compact CUV/MPV segment for its seats in the Chevrolet Equinox, and Toyo Seats ranked highest in the Mass Market Compact Car segment for the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

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