4x4, Ford, holiday travel, Motoring News

Dr Derriere gets to the bottom of Explorer’s comfort

  • Ford develops sleek front seats for 2020 Explorer
  • Created by the Ford US global seating team
  • Stringent shape and softness for best comfort  
COMFY SEATS: The latest Ford Explorer seats, the automaker says, are re-sculptured and thinner. Image: Ford US

DEARBORN, Michigan – Whether stuck in rush-hour traffic or cruising for hours on the open road some vehicle seats can become, well, a pain in the butt. However, a Ford doctor believes he has crack the cramps.

Supervisor Mike Kolich – friends call him Ford’s ‘Dr Derriere’ (that’s him below/right) – and the Ford global seating and comfort team spend their worktime dreaming up ways to cradle human bottoms.

The latest result (pictured)  is what Ford describes as ”sleek and stylish new front seats for the latest (2019) Ford Explorer”.

COMFY SEATS:  Mike Kolich – friends call him Ford’s ‘Dr Derriere’. Image: Ford US

Ford says they maintain the brand’s standard for shape and softness but with a less cumbersome design that creates more space for second-row passengers.

ELIMINATING BULK

Kolich, whose Ph.D. in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering with an emphasis on seat comfort got to the  bottom of things:

“Road trips can largely be defined by passengers’ comfort. When you get down to it, that means how comfortable our seats allow them to be.

“We engineers are thrilled by this new seat but it’s what our customers say and think that matters.”

That expectation, defined as the Ford comfort DNA, is measured largely by two factors – shape and softness. Kolich and his team have maintained the comfort standard in the new front-row seat now in the Explorer while eliminating some of the bulk.

The design, it is hoped, will improve comfort for more than half of family travellers as well as the millions of commuters who, according to the US Census Bureau, spend a record average of 26 minutes each way. (Lucky them, they should try the daily crawl that is commuting here in Cape Town, South Africa.)

READ MORE Ford features on Carman’s Corner

The first-for-Ford design is the seating team’s latest innovation. For the all-new Explorer, the team started with its award-winning seat architecture used for all its seats, whatever vehicle type or size.

Kolich again: “What people see in a Mustang differs from what they see in an Explorer but it’s all built on the same architecture. That architecture allows us to maintain consistency – the seats should feel similar to those in any other new Ford.”

UNIQUE MASSAGE PATTERNS

What Ford delivers is a V-shaped design that provides torso support for a wider range of body types and sizes. Also, the Explorer offers eight- and 10-way adjustment for the front seats, are ventilated with cool or warmed air.

Explorer ST and Platinum units are also multi-contoured and have unique massage patterns. New front-row back panels allow for a more sculpted appearance and improved second-row knee room.

Second-row seats have new-to-Explorer EZ-entry functionality to access the third row without the need to remove a child-booster seat.

‘WE’RE SMARTER TODAY…’

Each seat design, Ford says, is put through a series of more than 100 lab tests – among them initial softness and hardness distribution tests – that use proven metrics for validation.

Kolich yet again: “Our lab testing has changed the way we operate. Not long ago the industry didn’t have today’s measurable objectives. We used to use trial-and-error but we’re smarter than that today – we know what people expect.”

And that, The Corner believes, is the bottom line…

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