Among the new items featured on the 2013 Ford Escape is the company's latest in seat technology. While researching and developing the seats, Ford looked to achieve a number of goals including added back support and reduced weight.
Ford focused on a number of significant stats when designing the seats. They found that the average American driver spends 101 minutes per day on the road; 50 percent of those drivers claim to have back pain. Engineers hoped to combat that troubling statistic by studying a number of chairs outside of the automotive industry including office chairs.
"The office chair industry is one of the major industries we're looking at in terms of construction, materials and durability," said seat comfort engineer Mike Kolich, better known inside the company as "Dr. Derriere. "If you look at the advancements in office chairs from the 1960s -- when luxury meant big, puffy cushions -- to where they are now, with thin, ergonomic chairs that still feel luxurious, it's definitely a major change in the way seats are designed."
That said, when looking at the Escape's front seats from up top, the back support is contoured in a V-shape instead of the typical U-shape used today. Ford states that the new back support does a better job of supporting a wider variety of body sizes. It's the first seat to features Ford's new global "seat DNA," with an overall design made to conform to customers in multiple markets.
"We used to think Europeans liked aggressively shaped seats with firm cushions while Americans preferred flat, cushy seats," said Kolich. "The reality is that regardless of the size and shape of a driver's backside, they tend to value roughly the same characteristics when it comes to comfort. European drivers actually wanted somewhat more cushioning than previously thought while Americans wanted better support."
Finally, the seats are slimmer and 10 percent lighter than those found in the previous-generation Escape due to high-strength steel, laser welding, and use of engineered plastics. Despite the weight savings, the seats still feature 10-way power adjustment.