Baby Got Back Seats!
Here are 10 cars with the best backseats in the biz. Passengers rejoice!
In most vehicles, the front seat sees most of the action. According to the latest census data, 75.5 percent of Americans drive to work alone every day. Many pickup trucks and sports cars don't even have rear seats. And the automotive vernacular bemoans the "back-seat driver," labeling him or her a crank and a nudge, who has no business meddling in the act of operating an automobile. In other words, back seats are largely ignored, left fallow or covered in fast-food wrappers and old soda cans — and if there are to be occupants, it is best if they just buckle up, pipe down and enjoy the ride.
It's time we spoke up for our back-seat buddies, from the chauffeured tycoons to the ride-along double-date couples to the kids strapped into car seats. The front passengers shouldn't get all the legroom, bolstered seats and electrically heated tush-warmers to themselves. Here is a look at the vehicles that throw the most love to those who sit in the cheap seats.
Oh my! Did we just say "cheap seats?" Not so in the Maybach 62, a $392,750 luxury land yacht for wealthy folks whose time is too valuable for them to drive themselves. Certainly it's hard to find a bad seat in a car where everybody gets Grand Nappa leather, auto-adjusting belts, heated and cooled seats and a 600-watt, 21-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system.
But the Maybach 62's luxury amenities definitely have a rear-seat bias. Built into the rear-center console is a compressor-driven refrigerator. Each rear seat has its own folding table surfaced with your favorite lacquered wood. The seats not only recline, but have extendable footrests. The rear passengers have their own sunroof made from electro-dimming glass that turns from transparent to opaque at the touch of a button, and champagne flutes come standard.
Lexus LS 460 L
Obviously, $84,125 is hardly bargain pricing for a vehicle, but consider that a Lexus LS 460 L ($70,925) outfitted with the Executive-Class Seating Package ($13,200) gets you most of what you get in the aforementioned Maybach 62 at about one-fifth the price. You have your reclining rear seats (one of them has a footrest) with — ooh, la, la! — lumbar massage; primo leather; a wood-trimmed table; and a cooler for drinks and such.
An extra $2,080 will upgrade you from the standard 10-speaker stereo to a 19-speaker 450-watt, Mark Levinson surround-sound system.
If you're looking to seat more than five folks, you generally need a pretty sizable SUV or a minivan. Or, you could purchase a Ford Flex, which manages to deliver most of the functionality of a minivan and utility of an SUV in a package that says neither "baby on board" nor "I just ran over Bambi." Starting at $28,225, the Flex seats up to seven adults in three rows of seats, or six adults when you opt for a rear fridge in the center console.
Plus, with the optional Multi-panel Vista Roof, every row gets a window to the sky. The Flex's boxy-chic styling may or may not be to your liking, but its look is unique on the road, and the interior fit and finish is top notch.
Chrysler Town & Country
If there is one thing Chrysler still does well, it's the minivan. The company pioneered the concept back in 1984 with the Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan, and the modern Chrysler Town & Country (starting at $25,995) is still the most innovative of the breed. The second row of seats can either fold flat into the floor or be arranged in a Swivel 'n Go configuration that allows the second row of seats to face the third; throw in the removable table and you can play poker with the kids in the back.
Parents with young children will also appreciate the optional built-in booster seat, a nice touch that folds away when not in use. And the optional rear-seat entertainment system is amazing. It's a dual-screen system that allows the second- and third-row passengers to zone out to different DVDs or watch programming from Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel or Cartoon Network via SIRIUS satellite TV service.
Why is the Ferrari California in a list of "best back seats," especially given that the rear seats in this gorgeous grand tourer are so small that they barely qualify as seats at all? We're including it because into one of those rear seats you can strap a Ferrari-designed baby seat (seriously, you can find them at store.ferrari.com) and officially make your child the coolest tot in town.
Not only can the California take you and your youngster from zero to 60 mph in less than four seconds (not that a responsible parent would do that), but the $192,000 sports car has a retractable hardtop that lets you and your next of kin do some open-air cruising in style.