The current Chevrolet Impala is the last passenger car still in production in North America to offer a front bench with three-across seating. This will end soon since the brand-new 2014 model year Impala won’t be available with this option.
The front bench was abandoned by almost every carmaker a long time ago. Even the bow-tie brand itself admitted that it was far from popular with Impala buyers, as only one out of 10 ticked the box for this low-cost (US$195) option on the LS and LT trim levels.
General Motors says that front bucket seats are the standard and expects that the trend will continue for quite some time.
“A lot of people prefer bucket seats because they’re sporty, even in models that aren’t sports cars,” said GM director of design Clay Dean. “Our customers also appreciate having the center console as a convenient place to store their phones and other personal items.”
This doesn’t mean that front bench seats will disappear altogether, as they will still be offered in Chevy’s SUVs such as the Suburban.
Dean is also not so quick to dismiss the notion of the front bench making a comeback, albeit in very different cars.
“There is a certain nostalgia for bench seats, like being able to snuggle up with your date at a drive-in movie”, he said, noting that “we might see bench seats re-emerge someday, possibly in very small cars like the EN-V concept”.
By Andrew Tsaousis