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Discussion Starter #1
Went to several dealers again today, trying to sate our need for a new vehicle (replacing a 2003 Olds Silhouette Premiere AWD), while still maintaining most of the things we liked about the van category. Unfortunately, I think virtually all car mfgs are full of it -- who in the world do they have sit in the seats (all 3 rows, not just the driver or co-pilot)???

I'm 6'3", 205lbs -- and one of my requirements is to sit in ALL seating positions. If I'm comfortable, I know virtually anyone that drives with me will be.

So here's the rap (IMO) on the Enclave (as well as the Acadia and Outlook): they couldn't have had anyone taller than 5'8" or so sit in all 3 rows and tell them the seats were comfortable. The GM trio seats are good for the driver & copilot -- and that's where it ends.

The 2nd row captain's seats are:
1. too short (bottom seat cushion length)
2. too low to the floor (the seat does NOT support the thighs at all)
3. the big killer for this row -- the head restraints DO NOT ADJUST!!!!!!!!!! How can you GM engineers allow for a 2nd row seat design where you can't adjust the head restraints?
4. because the head restraints won't adjust, the GM Lambda trio will NEVER PASS the Insurance Institute's head restraint/rear collision test -- you can check it for yourself, but when I read their info, they will note that restraints do not adjust to properly protect various body sizes in the seats and will be rated poor.
5. also, because the head rests do not adjust, they hit my back, just above the shoulder blade -- making the seat very uncomfortable as this pitches my body forward off the back of the seat.

Now either all of you that have bought any of the GM trio, including the Enclave, are simply short framed -- or you have ignored the seating comfort in anything other than the driver's or co-pilot's seats. I would really like to know if the GM engineering team simply got opinions of shorter people as they were doing development. How in the world could you let a car that would sticker for upwards of $45K head out into production with seats in the 2nd and 3rd rows that simply cannot fit a taller person?

The 3rd row only fits my frame when the 2nd row is moved up quite a bit -- and then the bench is far too low to provide any support.

I really don't understand how the Honda Odyssey can easily fit my frame in each and every seat, with plenty of room to spare, have adjustable headrest in all seating positions -- and then have literally twice the amount of space behind the 3rd row? These vehicles are virtually the same length and width and height! Or, for heaven's sakes, add another 6 or 8 inches of length to the vehicle and test the seats with people of all sizes -- and with people that ARE "crossing over" from the world of minivans as we wanted to do. Honestly, the seating comfort pales in comparison the Odyssey, as does the total amount of room for people/stuff.

I'm not just railing at GM -- I'm just very disappointed that they've had several years to develop something better and they really didn't do a very good job. We've owned many GM vehicles and we love our On-Star -- but we also love the room our existing van had (which pales itself in comparison to the Honda, but still better than the GM trio). The CX-9 was woeful in this area as well, though it did have much nicer material selection (nice dark wood trim with aluminum bits) and much nicer, higher line plastics over all the GM trio.

I guess the trio is better than any other "crossover" out there for now -- but my opinion is GM has a ways to go in truly competing for people that DO need the space for people and the space for cargo and have far more of real utility in their current minivan. Ours is going on 5 yrs old and I have way more "utility" with it than with what I can get in any of the crossovers. It's very disappointing because we wanted to get away from the van look but don't want to give up the utility it brings.
 

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That is the difference between a minivan and a CUV. We own a Odyssey and are also buying an Enclave. I an 6'1" and have sat in all the seats of both vehicles and did not notice that much of a difference at all. The Odyssey sits lower to the ground and has more interior room as all minivans do, but that is why it looks like a minivan. I believe that for the money, which is about the same for comparably equipped for the two, you would fare better with an Odyssey. We have had our Odyssey for several years now and have truly enjoyed this vehicle, but it does not handle as nice as the Enclave on the road. The added length can have some issues including parking it in your garage.

We are turning in our Volvo XC90 for the Enclave. The second and third row seating in this SUV were even worse as well as the gas mileage with premium. When you look at price, the Enclave is much better priced than other CUV's and SUV's in the same "class". Many of these others offer no great advantages for the higher price especially with the seating and will cost over $70k for a similarly equipped vehicle.

The head restraint issue is a problem and also concerned us with the purchase of the Enclave. Perhaps they can fix this in the aftermarket arena?

I give you credit for owning a GM product. I have not owned an American made car since my Buick Regal T-type in 1986! I think you need to seriously consider getting an Odyssey, you will like it for its utilitarian value even though it is not a beauty. More importantly, you can get one now and not have to wait for your Enclave (i.e., Which I do not really believe is only competing for people that just need space - that still fits the minivan league.) :)
 

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I'm sorry. I saw the subject line say Enclave v Acadia v CX-9 v PILOT. Then I read how wonderful the Honda Odyssey is. Great dude-buy one! But if you want an apples to apples comparison with Honda's SUV/CUV let's compare the Pilot. Well we could but it would be a laugher. The Pilot is smaller, uglier, less powerful, has worse gas mileage, and I would love to see you squeeze your 6'3'' frame into the third row. Seriously, if you want to spend hours of time in a third row that is essentially designed for kids get a freakin Chevy Express, GMC Savana, or Surburban. Does the Pilot have adjustable headrests in the third row-oh wait it doesn't matter when you have 3 inches of leg room. We have a Trailblazer EXT that has occasionally been used to take 3 couples out to eat. Usually 3 six footers and their 5 foot something wives. Needless to say, usually two wives get the last row and are fine for 30-60 minute drives. If you are taking 6 larger adults than that for longer trips you are looking in the wrong segment. The people that like the Lambdas are willing to accept that the third row is not as spacious as the first two in order to get much better styling, more towing capacity, and awd capability with mileage that is now comparable to minivans.
 
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sounds like you should get a suburban or yukon xl, v-8 and alot more room as well as bigger seats in all three rows, i personally have a yukon xl and think it has a ton more third row leg room then the acadia. Also the seats are alot bigger higher and more supportive, if you get a loaded one you get heated second row seats too.


STICK TO GM YOU WILL BE ALOT HAPPIER IN THE LONG RUN, i have had gmc's since the early 80's loved them all, never had any real problems with any of them, had a 99 suburban that was a trooper, never had a problem i could go to texas, then to illinois in the same week, never gave me any trouble, tow a 30 ft boat through the mountains never even once felt under powers or loss of control, and my yukon is the same way, gmc has gotten much better with the interior quality, and over all quality of the truck itself, so has most of gm's branches, stick to gmc, or at least gm, you will be glad you did.
 

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I'm 6'4" 240, and while I wouldn't want to go on a long road trip in the third row, it is sufficient for 99% of what we will be using it for. With the complaints you have made you really should be looking at Suburbans and Vans, a highly customized one at that.
 

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I'm 6'6" and I certainly understand the comment about the second row being a little low to the floor....I found the third row actually a little bit better in that regard. But I don't plan on riding in that second or third row hardly ever in my lifetime...

As an owner of a Chrysler T&C van moving to an Enclave (wife's car) I agree with the prior post - comparing the best minivans to the Lambdas is silly. No one would try to claim that a crossover will provide better capacity or seating than a first class minivan. They are fundamentally different vehicles. Similar issues come up when people claim the Acura or Mazda CUVs are "sportier" than the Lambdas when they are actually much smaller vehicles on the inside and thus naturally handle better with other variables being equal, but at least those are CUV to CUV comparisons.

The target market for these vehicles is not going to be folks looking to routinely use them for more than two adults. I would guess that the two leading segments would be first affluent families with kids, particularly kids beyond infant age, who want something nicer than a minivan in terms of perception (irngoring that a minivan is more practical for many of the reasons cited by the poster)....and the second being empty nesters particularly females who want to sit higher and have some room inside but could care less about driving a monster SUV and don't want the bad mileage either...but like the room for the occasional friends or grandchildren.

Obviously these are gross generalizations and plenty of men and other folks not fitting these segments will buy the Enclave....including many of the enthusiastic posters here on our forum...but the obvious point is 2nd/3rd row seat comfort does not have to be world class in these vehicles in order to meet the needs of most target CUV consumers, and the Lambda platform CUVs actually deliver vastly superior 2nd/3rd row seat experiences compared to most CUV competitors (particularly in the 3rd row, with the 2nd row seat height possibly being the one gap).

Frankly we would have never purchased a CUV until these vehicles came out precisely because of the seating issue - up until now there has not been an attractive CUV with good gas mileage with anything more than a symbolic third row seat, and we also really like having captains chairs in the second row as well which most CUVs also do not offer....so for us the Enclave was a slam dunk....

But of course as others have pointed out...it simply depends on your own situation and needs as to whether the pros and cons of the Lambda vehicles match up with most important buying factors for you....
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well . . . it seems I've stirred up a hornet's nest. To Tuberosa, we did look at the Pilot when we stopped by the dealer -- and there is no comparison between the Pilot and Enclave. It's short on space inside and also really short on 3rd row space. That was out the moment I got in and tried the 2nd and 3rd rows. While a Suburban or Yukon Denali might fight the bill (and likely would from my perspective on 2nd and 3rd row room, it IS a truck and at nearly 222", it won't fit into my garage. I had trouble getting my '74 Cutlass into the garage at 212".

My point -- is that the CUV's are NOT trucks, they are not built like the Suburban with a traditional steel frame -- they are far closer to unibody -- and thus, far closer to a typical car or minivan than a Suburban. I know, the rails are hydorformed steel rails and could be considered to have somewhat of a frame (still, not the same). The point that I was really trying to make is that there are those of us out there that today own a van (in our case, a GM van, in others they might own anything from a Sienna to a Voyager, to even an Odyssey) and want the same kind of space utility that a van brings, including a decently comfortable 2nd and 3rd row with a decent amount of storage behind the 3rd row -- along with the ability to ditch the seats and essentially have a huge cargo hold to haul anything from 4x8 sheets of drywall (which I did many times while finishing my basement) to hundreds of pounds of salt for the water softener.

I got plenty of grief from the family even mentioning an Odyssey instead of the Enclave -- and I understand that -- and agree with most of the reasons. The Enclave is really attractive outside, has lots of great features -- but it IS sorely lacking in refinement in terms of people comfort and space utilization. A comment was made about the CX-9 being a lot smaller -- yes, if you consider 3" a lot smaller. It's 199" long to the Enclave's 202" -- but it only has a 113" wheelbase vs the Enclave's 118" wb. That's one of the reasons the 3rd row is so abysmal -- the lack of headroom is simply that it's not as tall as the Enclave and because of the shorter wheelbase, the 3rd row has to sit somewhat above the rear wheels.

What I was trying to get across was that GM had years to look at what people were trying to replace -- they couldn't have possibly had any tester over 6' sit in their models. A taller seat in the 2nd row with a longer seat cushion -- along with adjustable headrests would have done the trick. I think their flip and fold idea compromised these other requirements -- hmmm, let's see, do we make the seat sit a bit higher, with a longer cushion and put a headrest on it that would fit someone 5' tall to 6'6" tall and give up the ability to use our flip and fold idea --- or, do we lower the seat, shorten the cushion, make sure that no one ever has to put a headrest down to fold because we can't figure out how to do it any other way?

I'm in the new product development business and I can almost certainly say that somewhere along the way, this conversation took place and someone decided it was more important to have the flip and fold feature instead of more comfort/safety but no flip and fold. It's a shame -- but it's reality. And everyone that has responded is right -- there isn't anything else RIGHT NOW that gives you all of this except a mini-van or full size SUV.
 
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Given that you're in the product development business, you must also realize that, when building anything this complex, there will never be a perfect solution for everyone. That means that there will be compromises. Keep in mind that the average height for men is 5'9" or so and 5'4" for women. That means the average height for all humans is around 5 feet, 6-7 inches. If you were to have to compromise on seat height, that would be your number. At 5'10" I have NO problems with the seat height or comfort in any row of the Lambdas. And again, others on here up to 6'2" or so have said the same. I don't doubt for a second that it's uncomfortable for YOU, but you are quite a bit larger than the average frame to which any vehicle would be built. I do agree with you on the headrests. There's really no reason why they should be adjustable, there's no compromise there outside of cost. While they don't affect me while riding back there, they DO affect the positioning of our child seats in the 2nd row.

You are free to express your opinions, positive or negative, on here all you want, but like you pointed out, nobody has done better yet. That's the bottom line. The Enclave is simply as good as a "minivan replacement" vehicle gets. You simply have to ask yourself if it's close enough for you to not have to drive a minivan around :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Admin,
You're accurate on the average heights -- and being in the "business" our human factors group always talks about being able to serve the largest majority of users. There's a range of small to large, whatever the human body or body parts -- so that if you were making gloves, you'd be looking to fit say 90% of hand sizes with your gloves. Maybe that's what the engineers did -- but still there is no accounting for the headrests in the 2nd row being fixed other than the flip and fold seat precluding use of an adj headrest. Again, a compromise. That one factor alone makes the seat uncomfortable and the overall seat design unsafe -- while this article from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does not specifically talk about the GM trio (too new?), it does apply:

"In contrast some manufacturers have introduced new models with subpar seat designs. The ones in the BMW X5, Dodge Nitro, and Suzuki XL7 are rated poor. Those in the new Mazda CX-7 and CX-9 are rated marginal.

Among the poor-rated seats in the new evaluations, those in 7 models didn't make it to the testing stage because the geometry of their head restraints is marginal or poor. This means they can't be positioned to protect many taller people, so the Institute doesn't test them. Among these lowest rated seats are those in the Cadillac SRX SUV, Nissan Quest minivan, and Ford Ranger pickup." (see: http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr070307.html)

So, while you have a problem with the car seats because of the head rests in the 2nd row, I have a real problem with the comfort, and ultimately, the safety of this design. The operative part here is that "the headrests CANNOT be positioned to protect many taller people" -- so IIHS will never test them. The GM trio's headrests in the 2nd row are fixed and are NOT safe -- period. They might protect the "average" person, but the point of this is that there are plenty of people that fall outside the "average" range and could be badly injured because those headrests don't adjust and provide little to no protection.

Regardless of my other complaints (low seat height, short bottom cushion) -- those could be overlooked if the overall design including headrests allowed for adjustment. Ultimately, I think this is a very serious shortcoming that GM needs to address NOW, not later.

I leased my Audi instead of several other models because I did look at the IIHS site for their test results of each model considered. Once the "bloom is off the rose" on the GM trio and the Enclave, GM is going to have to step up and make some changes.
 

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Not to beat a dead horse, but again I think your requirements for the vehicle are simply not aligned with the primary target segments GM expects to purchase the Lambdas. Doesn't mean your desires are not valid and unfortunately sounds like the Enclave won't work for you, but I don't think they erred in product development. Most minivan purchases are not based on adult third row comfort either. Most kids riding in minivans and the minivan replacements are not going to be very tall at all and also less picky about ride comfort to begin with. I think we all agree on the adjustable headrest issue and I personally think they made the second row a little low myself, but overall this is by far the best non-minivan/non-large gas drinking SUV seating arrangment you can find...it appears you essentially want the 2nd/3rd row seat comfort of a minivan and capacity of a minivan but don't want a wheelbase/overall length/mpg of a Suburban or similar large long SUV....but would prefer not to get another minivan. Something has to give there and the Lambda platform is by far the closest to your desires which is why they are selling so well as a new CUV entrant (and yes, the extra three inches of length plus the major wheelbase difference does make a big difference vs. the Mazda).

Hope you find something that works great for you - and hopefully to your point GM will keep pushing on the issues like the headrests for future model years and not just be satisifed because they beat the other guys on so many other dimensions...
 

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Coming from the perspective of a mechanical and structural design engineer, I think your expectations and wishes are simply not aligned to reality. You want all the passenger room, support, and cargo room of a minivan... but not be a minivan. OK, it's called the Yukon XL or Suburban. But you don't want it to be that long. OK, it's called the Porsche FANTASY. If you take the interior of a good minivan, jack it up, and add a more SUV like hood you get a vehicle that is 220"+ in length. Don't want that? It's called design compromises and user preferences (otherwise known as sacrifices).

Sorry to be so blunt, but your criticism is sorely misplaced. Minivans squeeze the interior room they have into the wheelbase and length they have for one simple reason... they are designed around the van concept. Any and all vehicles attempting to optimize space inside for a given wheelbase and length are going to come off the drawing board looking more or less like vans. About the best you can possibly hope for is a shorter, more car like approach yielding something like a Pacifica or Mercedes R class, which still sacrifice interior space in an attempt to not be a minivan.

Not convinced? Think GM royally missed the boat here? Compare the Lambda's to the "biggest" and "best" from the competition, including Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Volvo, Lexus, Acura, Toyota, Nissan and the truck based Yukon and Tahoe. You won't find a single one with more third row room, period. Most are far worse.

As for second and third row room... I'm 6' 3.5" and 215 lbs, and was able to sit "comfortably" (meaning knees not crammed into the seat ahead) in all six seats of a Lambda, meaning I sat in the front and adjusted the seat, moved to the middle and adjusted, and then moved to the rear. The key is that the Lambda's offer a sliding second row, allowing the driver and middle occupants to ease forward if you are carrying a vehicle full of tall adults. They allow the available legroom to be properly distributed among all three rows... something you don't find in the competition where you are stuck with an abysmal third row.

I don't like the fact that the second row headrests don't adjust either, but as you mentioned it was certainly not an oversight. Are you targeting the vehicle for easy access (like a minivan) or larger passsengers (like a Suburban)? Either way, I rode for half an hour in the second row and didn't notice the headrest poking my back. Yes, the second row seats could be a bit higher, longer, and possibly wider... now you've turned the Enclave into a Suburban, which you won't accept.

This vehicle isn't supposed to be the epitome of comfort for 7 or 8 large adults. Truth is, even minivans and Suburbans aren't. You have to go to a full size van to really get proper support and room for everyone. What the Lambda's offer is comfort for front and middle passengers on par with the SUV/CUV competition, and the ability to carry adults in the rear when needed. It's perfect for a family routinely hauling children around who would prefer to not drive a minivan. If you need a business vehicle for shuttling carloads of execs, get the Suburban or full size van.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Osli,
I understand your comments -- and the Suburban is TOO long, won't fit in my garage, that's for sure. However, I still think GM engineers missed the boat on this one. My Dad has a 2005 Buick Rendezvous with 2nd row captain's chairs and the fold-down 3rd row. As I recall, that vehicle is about 187" long (approx 15" shorter than the Enclave) and that was built on the short wheelbase version of GM's van platform (as I recall, I think the wb was about 112" or so). I don't think anyone would say a Rendezvous looks like a van (and no comments about how ugly it is compared to the Enclave -- it's no contest there). However, it does have a hood, just like an SUV or CUV -- and it does package the AWD mechanicals under it as well.

I can tell you that the 2nd row captain's seats are far more comfortable in that vehicle than the Enclave -- they sit higher, have a longer bottom cushion and the headrest design does not intrude on the seat back (and as I recall, the headrests are adj too). And, I can also fit in that 3rd row -- definitely less room than Enclave but you get the point.

All I'm saying is that with an extra 15" of length and about 6" more wb to use to fit the passenger space in between, I just don't think they did as good a job as they could have. There are many other things I love about the Enclave compared to what else is out there and the length is "right" -- about the biggest vehicle my garage can swallow. I just wish they had done a better job with the interior packaging and the interior seating. In the end, we may still end up getting one because there is nothing else that I've seen so far that is equal. However, I still think it's valid to voice these "complaints" to GM (and I know some GM people read this board). Most of this is easily fixed -- make the darned 2nd row seats better (adj headrests, a bit higher with a bit longer bottom cushion) and I would be very happy. ;D
 

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I still disagree with most of your "should have, could have" armchair analysis, but do agree with your end conclusion - the second row could stand to be 1/2" to 1" higher and about the same for seat cusions, with adjustable headrests. It is likely the headrests will show up in a couple of years, and possible the seats may be updated when a facelift comes along as well. However, there is no denying that a lot of people - people who wouldn't have considered a GM and/or (especially) a BUICK in a million years (me included) absolutely love the compromises this vehicle made to be what it is. IMO, GM did a **** of a lot RIGHT!
 

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osli said:
IMO, GM did a **** of a lot RIGHT!
:ditto:

definitely more HITS than misses.... face everybody will never be totally satisfied no matter what it is.
 

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Design Concepts, I know exactly what you mean about seat height and depth and I am only 5'3"!!!

I originally had the Plymouth minivan and the driver's seat - probably the same on all the minivans - was of
enough depth and height so that my legs could be naturally positioned as if in a chair. When you sit in alot
of cars/cuvs, etc. your seat height is lower, forcing you to find something to do with your legs to compensate
and that creates discomfort.

I have also noticed that in the Enclave there is a footrest for the driver to the left of the brake pedal. Due
to the fact that the seats are lower, this forces you to stretch out your leg because you cannont position it
as you would in a chair - it may interfere with the steering wheel, although not sure - therefore needing this rest
as your leg becomes tired of trying to find comfort dangling it around on the floor.

As far as seat depth is concerned.....this is one of my pet peeves because once again, my minivan had it
over the rest of the vehicles. Even the rear bench seats were mostly sufficient in this regard.

Why have any seating in the rear of a vehicle if the depth wouldn't fit a human? Most of the sedans today
have this horrific type of rear seating.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
jeanb1,

In spite of all of my reservations and concerns (and somehow, I am going to find a way to "fix" the fixed headrests in the 2nd row captain's seats so that they adjust), we went ahead and ordered one. Our van is nearly out of the 5yr/60K warranty -- and the last time I held on to a vehicle too long ended up being an expensive lesson. Had a 1990 Aerostar awd van that I ended up keeping for about 8 years. I kept it at least a year too long because I ended up w/about $3K worth or repairs to have it running right -- some to the engine and a bunch to the AWD drivetrain (hence, once of the reasons we ordered a FWD Enclave -- simply less to go wrong!). I should have traded/sold that one much sooner but didn't. I'm at the same point with the Olds van we have -- it's AWD, we've had some noise problems taken care of under warranty and I just know that once it's out of warranty, a big repair bill could loom.

I'm a bit concerned about the lack of adj on the passenger's front seat too, but hoping that we'll all like this vehicle well enough when it arrives. There is nothing on the market that compares size-wise, feature-wise, room-wise. Just wish GM had done a bit better job with their test market group because of lot of these little issues should have been discovered during that time. I am encouraged by hearing the MPG some folks are getting with their new Enclave (espec the FWD's -- most mileage #'s look pretty good). I'm going to guess that within the next year, a lot of these problems/issues that have been brought up will be changed in 2009, 2010 models.
 
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Congrats on the order! I wish there were no issues at all to complain about, but I've yet to see any vehicle fit that description. I have a feeling you'll love your Enclave enough to forgive the nits.
 

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desgnconcpts said:
Just wish GM had done a bit better job with their test market group because of lot of these little issues should have been discovered during that time.
I am not saying this is right or wrong, but I find it probable that GM was well aware of these "issues" and decided to not implement whatever features some of us wanted. It is easy to say that it would only cost them $XX to add what I/we want, but if they did that across the board with everyone's wants, the vehicle would end up being more expensive. In product development there are endless trade-offs discussed.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Zman,
I'm not even talking about adding features/options we might all like (others have mentioned things like rain-sensing wipers, heated AND COOLED seats, bluetooth capability are a few that come to mind). I'm talking about some pretty simple stuff -- having the 2nd row headrests FIXED -- that's a no-brainer. The headrest is already affixed into the seat with 2 posts, just like the front seat headrests. However, to make them adjustable would have cost, what, another 25cents for having one of the posts notched, like the front, and the little spring/tab mechanism to hold the post at a predetermined height. The parts are already designed and in use by the front seat -- why not just use the same mechanism in the 2nd row? Instead, they fix the headrests and the IIHS won't test the vehicle because non-adj headrests make the design poor in a rear-end collision. This just doesn't make any sense.

Those are the kinds of things I'm talking about -- I know all about design trade-offs, I'm in the business of new product development. These are stupid things -- the things that can either delight your customer because you cared enough and thought enough about a particular feature to include it. It's even better when it doesn't cost any more, other than brainpower to come up with the idea or the brainpower to recognize it and include it in your final manufactured product.

I honestly believe they failed in some of their research -- either not enough, not thorough enough -- or maybe they didn't include enough people considered outside of the "normal" range or simply discounted the responses from those folks since they don't represent the majority.
 

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Got it . Thanks.

What other features are you thinking you'd like that they missed?
 
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