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The Science Behind The Comfort

By Author: Shiv Sadhawani
Total Articles: 312

The 2014 Chevy Impala has been praised for its smooth and comfortable ride, and seats that welcome the driver in and lets them know they are in for a better driving experience. But what makes these seats so comfortable?

High-tech tools like seat pressure mapping systems and a multi-part mannequin that feeds data into a comfort dimensioning system are helpful, but Chevrolet believes there is no substitute of an element of human fine-tuning, or putting some butts in seats.

General Motors’ engineers who understand biomechanics, psychology, quantitative research and ergonomics applied all of these disciplines to help make the seats comfortable in the 2014 Chevrolet Impala.

Each car segments customers want more or less support and rigidity in their car seats. Cars that are used for commuting have a different “sweet spot” than cars that are used for track racing. And finding that sweet spot doesn’t come easy. 

For the new Impala, volunteer seat testers ranging from short and small females to tall and heavy men and everything in between, spent hundreds of hours and logged thousands of miles in prototypes of the redesigned sedan to evaluate seat comfort.
Seat testers typically rate every aspect of the seat: cushion, backrest, lumbar support, headrest and side bolsters at every 60 minute interval of driving time.

“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.”

Seat tester evaluations alone would have been insufficient to achieve the results the 2014 Impala has. That’s where high tech tools like Oscar, the mannequin-like tool made of steel, plastic and aluminum come in hand.

State-of-the-art digital pressure mapping technology was used to scan the rear-end impressions of people of all shapes and sizes over the seat surface, creating a map with more than 4,600 data points. A laptop used the data to generate graphics illustrating how occupants sit in the seat statically versus when driving.

The result of all of the testing and evaluations was an Impala that has caused car reviewers to notice the attention paid to the comfort of the seats.

“After hours in the driver seat, we found ourselves just as fresh as we were before we set out,” wrote Mark Takahashi, automotive editor, Edmunds.com. “The outboard rear seats have enough head- and legroom for the average adult male to remain comfortable for extended trips as well.”

After reading what went into just the seats of the Impala, we imagine you want to sit in one and see what it’s all about. There’s no better place to do so than at Westside Chevrolet. Visit our showroom and “Grab a seat!” at 23001 Katy Freeway in Katy, Texas or give us a call at 1-888-285-7051 today!

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