Heralding the end of an era in automotive design, General Motors Company has announced that the 2013 Chevy Impala will be the last American-made sedan to feature front bench seats. The company says it will continue to offer them as an option on its Sports Utility Vehicles and pickup trucks.
Front bucket seats have become the norm in recent years and GM says most consumers probably won’t even take notice of the passing of the front bench seat. According to the automaker, a mere 10 percent of new Impala buyers ponied up the additional $195 to have their new LS and LT models equipped with the option in 2011.
In a statement, Director of GM North America Advanced Design Clay Dean said, “A lot of people prefer bucket seats because they’re sporty, even in models that aren’t sports cars. Our customers also appreciate having the center console as a convenient place to store their phone and other personal items.”
According to an announcement on GM’s Web site “The need for six-passenger sedans is largely being met today by SUVs or crossovers, such as the Chevrolet Suburban and Traverse, which offer seating for up to eight.”
For some, like Dean, the passing of three-across seating is bittersweet. Chevrolet has offered the front bench seating ever since its first model, the Series C Classic Six, rolled off a Detroit assembly line in 1911.
Dean is nostalgic, and perhaps a bit hopeful that we haven’t seen the last of front bench seating. “There is certain nostalgia for bench seats,” he says, “like being able to snuggle up with your date at a drive-in movie, and some customers still like them. You never know, we might see bench seats re-emerge someday, possibly in very small cars like the EN-V urban mobility concept vehicle, in which the feeling of open space may be very desirable.”
The 10th generation 2014 Chevy Impala goes on sale next spring, and GM’s North American chief Mark Reuss says the model “re-establishes this iconic Chevrolet nameplate as a design leader, with bold styling that will turn heads for years to come.”