Ford’s calling in the butt doctor to help design the seats for the all-new Explorer. No, really. Though they’re a bit more couth than we are, calling him Dr. Derriere.
The hallmark of the family car is the road trip, and since the new full-size family wagon is the big three-row crossover like Ford’s latest Explorer, that means that the Explorer needs road trip ready seats. Sure air conditioning and iPads have made almost any trip more pleasant for the smallest passengers, but they don’t have the lower back issues that moms and dads have earned over the years. So for the driver, a good seat is essential.
“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,” said Ford’s Dr. Derriere Mike Kolich. Kolich is a supervisor with Ford’s global seating and comfort team, which sounds like a very relaxing position. Yes, Dr. Derriere is a doctor, though it’s a Ph.D. in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, not an MD.
So what does it take to make a butt doctor-approved seat? Shape and softness are the two main factors, Ford says. Though obviously the priorities are different between a big crossover and something like a Mustang.
Ford says that customers want a v-shaped seat. With torso support that can fit a wide range of body types and sizes. Well, each buyer probably only wants it to fit their body type, but that’s a little too personal.
The Explorer will get eight and 10-way power adjustable seats to help them fit different drivers. Trims with ventilated seats pull the air through the seat. Drawing warm (and smelly) air away from you instead of pushing cold air through the perforations.
The seats are also sculpted with new rear panels that Ford says look nicer but also add rear-seat knee room.
Because the seats need to remain comfy after years and many cycles of sitting, Ford puts the seats through more than 100 tests, including softness and hardness distribution.
“Our lab testing has changed the way we operate,” said Kolich. “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. We’re smarter than that today – we know what people expect.”
Ford’s even designed a robotic posterior to help it test out vehicle seating.