Why Don't All Heated Seats Warm Just Your Back?

By David Thomas  on March 25, 2014

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When the redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Impala rolled out, I was happy to see one of my favorite features return to a GM vehicle: multiple-zone heated seats.

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In almost every car with heated seats you can only heat the entire seat — not just the seatback but also the seat bottom. Sure, you may be able to dial up the heat levels from mild to Chernobyl, but that heat is going to be dispersed to both areas.

Not in the Impala and many previous GM models. If you just want the heat on your aching back, you can get it without your backside getting toasty.

Here are the reasons why this is a winner:

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The aching back aspect

Even at my sub-40 age, my back is sore from darn near everything from shoveling snow to lifting my kids to even the occasional workout. A nice heat treatment on the ride to and from work does wonders. I use the back-only heat in weather all the way up to 70 degrees for this reason.

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Clothing is not all the same thickness

Whether it's just a cool autumn evening or a frigid winter morning, I sometimes get into a car and keep a jacket on or have a sweater or extra layer between my upper body and the seat, while my pants or jeans are just a single layer. I know I must be alone in this strategy of dressing in layers.

When I set the heat to high when first starting the car, the part of my body with a single layer gets hot long before the other one, so I have to turn down the seat heater and am never evenly warm. Curses.

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Who wants their rear that warm?

I'm not sure about the right way to phrase this for a family publication, but personally, I just don't like my fanny all that warm. Do I want to sit on an ice-cold leather seat first thing in the morning? Of course not. But once it's warmed up a bit I've had enough of the added heat source below my bottom.

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears, Cars.com illustrations by Paul Dolan.


Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon.  Email David


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