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Discussion Starter #1
I can remember my father's 1959 Mercury. Slightly smaller than an aircraft carrier, it seated three people with comfort up front.

With four-on-the-floor (five or six anyone?) passé and automatics with paddle shifts predominant, does anyone think that some evolved form of bench seat up front might make a comeback? I can see eight or nine-seat Explorer or a six seat F-150 being a marketing coup.
 

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NO.
 

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My last F150 had the 40/20/40 split, with a massive fold down center arm rest console, big enough to work your laptop on. When my kids were a bit smaller, I easily fit 3 in front and 4 skinny kids in back. I imagine similar would work for Explorer as well. The massive center console is quite the waste of space.



 

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A lap seat belt and no center air bag makes a bench seat a nightmare for crash protection.

I thought GM showcased a center airbag that would protect someone in a bench seat
 

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I thought GM showcased a center airbag that would protect someone in a bench seat
This would help with frontal crashes, but with a major side impact, heads would clunk together.
 

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This would help with frontal crashes, but with a major side impact, heads would clunk together.
GM’s front, center airbag is exactly for that...so noggins don’t bang together in a side impact. Not for front collisions. They’re on the full-size cuvs
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Ford/Lincoln employs engineers to figure these things out. Any future center seats--should they make a comeback--will not have only a lap belt.
 

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Just want to point out that brand new F-Series trucks are still available with column shifters and middle front seats on lower trim levels, which is my preferred interior anyways.
They also come with vinyl flooring. 😉 I honestly love how customizable these trucks are.
 

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Just want to point out that brand new F-Series trucks are still available with column shifters and middle front seats on lower trim levels, which is my preferred interior anyways.
They also come with vinyl flooring. 😉 I honestly love how customizable these trucks are.
40/20/40 front seat are standard/available on most trims of GM as well as Ram
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the education. I was not aware of the 40/20/40 options on the F-150. Perhaps someone can tell me whether pickups were the last consumer vehicle to accept the 2 bucket seat configuration.

Again, I remember when just about all pickups were 2-door, one-row vehicles and riding 4 abreast, was common. Of course, this was before seat belts and airbags. Does anyone even make a one-row, 2-door pickup any more?

I wonder if any auto manufacturers are considering a 40/20/40 option and designs without center consoles for their larger, wider SUVs/CUVs. Perhaps some disruptive, innovative manufacturer not beholden to current wisdom might just start a trend. Let's hope it's not T***a.
 

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Thanks for the education. I was not aware of the 40/20/40 options on the F-150. Perhaps someone can tell me whether pickups were the last consumer vehicle to accept the 2 bucket seat configuration.

Again, I remember when just about all pickups were 2-door, one-row vehicles and riding 4 abreast, was common. Of course, this was before seat belts and airbags. Does anyone even make a one-row, 2-door pickup any more?

I wonder if any auto manufacturers are considering a 40/20/40 option and designs without center consoles for their larger, wider SUVs/CUVs. Perhaps some disruptive, innovative manufacturer not beholden to current wisdom might just start a trend. Let's hope it's not T***a.
What you say is not a crazy idea. A Crossover without center console and 3 seat bench could be an interesting trend.

About T***a, i have to recognize that is very disruptive, resuscitating one old and funny configuration...
 

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I thought GM showcased a center airbag that would protect someone in a bench seat
In the mid-90s, Ford Australia introduced a passenger airbag which extended to the middle for the Falcon (and I guess the other related models). Bench front seats were still available in the big Australian Fords back then.

Source: Five Starr Photos (Aussiefordadverts) on Flickr
 

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In the mid-90s, Ford Australia introduced a passenger airbag which extended to the middle for the Falcon (and I guess the other related models). Bench front seats were still available in the big Australian Fords back then.

Source: Five Starr Photos (Aussiefordadverts) on Flickr

Didn't know about this thanks for posting. I imagine the LTD probably had this too I know that was their big full size above the Falcon and I think it had a bench seat option.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
One more thing. Aside from the transmission hump, which should be a reasonable size on trucks and SUVs, some reasonable barrier should exist between the middle passenger's feet and the driver's pedals. Innovation should require a look at design solutions in this area if bench seats make a comeback else the regulators may get involved. How is this handled on the current 40/20/40 bench seats?
 

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One more thing. Aside from the transmission hump, which should be a reasonable size on trucks and SUVs, some reasonable barrier should exist between the middle passenger's feet and the driver's pedals. Innovation should require a look at design solutions in this area if bench seats make a comeback else the regulators may get involved. How is this handled on the current 40/20/40 bench seats?

If I recall correctly, the center hump was modest and very flat in the front, and completely flat in the rear. Being flat makes it easier to keep your feet away from either side. I also love the flat rear, which you can literally sleep back there if needed. I don't believe anyone else is doing that yet. BOF of course allows you to do so having more space as well, as unibody depends on it for structure.
 

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Yeah the industry has definitely long forgotten bench front seats for a family SUV. It screams "old man car" to younger generations. It's only available on low trim trucks for workers utilizing fleet vehicles. Definitely by no means marketable. If people still cared about raw people moving utility, minivans would still be selling like hotcakes.
 

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Yeah the industry has definitely long forgotten bench front seats for a family SUV. It screams "old man car" to younger generations. It's only available on low trim trucks for workers utilizing fleet vehicles. Definitely by no means marketable. If people still cared about raw people moving utility, minivans would still be selling like hotcakes.

That's just it, they don't have to look like a big bench seat, but rather a 40/20/40 with captains chairs and flip up center console. That is far more practical than a big center console, by offering you that 3rd option in front if needed. Not exactly sure how roomy it would be in a smaller Explorer, but trucks can easily fit 3 large adults in front. Perhaps just a smaller adult, but it is quite nice if you wanted your honey sitting next to you as well. Something that nobody does any more. I learned to drive with my right arm over my girlfriends shoulder, lol
 
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