General Motors used a variety of methods to craft the most comfortable seats possible for the 2014 Chevrolet Impala. As helpful as high tech tools like pressure mapping systems may be, there is no replacement for getting a human butt in the seat and simply asking, “is it comfortable?”
Volunteer seat testers ranging from 5th percentile females (5 feet tall, 100 pounds) to 95th percentile males (6 feet tall, 223 pounds) spent a hundreds of combined hours in prototypes of the 2014 Chevrolet Impala to evaluate and critique seat comfort. Seat testers rode in prototype vehicles for 60 minute intervals, providing feedback after the first 10 minutes. At the end of each 60 minute interval, they would numerically rate each component of the seat, cushion, backrest, lumbar support, head rest and side bolsters.
“Developing comfortable seats is both an art and a science,” said Jill Green, GM seat comfort lab manager. “Knowing how to translate a physiological impression into tangible design elements is the art, and knowing how to execute the design is the science.”
As tester feedback is subjective, these evaluations alone would not have been sufficient to achieve the quality of seat that GM wanted. Oscar, the name of a 170 pound mannequin like tool was used to determine the overall layout and dimensions of the interior, helping engineers to make the best use of available space. Pressure mapping technology was used to scan the impressions of people of all shapes and sizes over the seating surface, creating a map of over 4,600 data points, allowing engineers to gauge how people sit in the car statically and while driving.
So those of you with a 2014 Impala, thank GM’s seat engineers for their continued dedication to the comfort of your buttocks. Better yet, tell them how they did in the comments below.