Car dealers have long been fond of saying "There's a butt for every seat," but for auto makers, finding a seat for every butt has often proven far more elusive.
Over the years, car industry ergonomists have developed seating innovations like variable-density foams and dynamically inflating lumbar supports that expand to hug you in corners. But up until these thrones, we've never seen seats that allow the cushion under each leg to be manipulated independently, let alone for both length and height.
While these seats are technically those of a concept car, CNET has been assured that they are extremely close to the production model's units, with the brand going so far as to hold a New York press event this week just to let journalists inspect them more closely. The forthcoming production sedan from Ford's luxury brand will boast 30-way power, which sounds like more adjustability than one of those indulgent $4,000 massage recliners from Brookstone (only these seats are a lot better-looking).
Dan Ferretti, Lincoln's global seat technical leader, tells CNET the reason the Continental's seats allow for individual leg articulation is because drivers use their legs differently: "There was a recognition early on that each of your legs is doing something different. One is, for the most part, continuously connected to the accelerator or brake pedal. The other leg is free to move about, sometimes you tuck it up under you, or stretch it out... you want to have different functionality and different support."
On long drives, I've found that it doesn't take a Costanza wallet in one's back pocket to create spinal and posterior discomfort, so I'm looking forward to seeing how the Continental's high-tech chairs may be able to alleviate side-to-side variances that can trigger pain.
What's more, it's likely that it won't be just the driver and passenger who will enjoy all that adjustability. The Continental concept features four individually articulating seats, and when the vehicle was, company officials insisted that the show car's interior was nearly production ready. CNET expects the bucket seat and center console setup to be a cost option, with a traditional three-across bench as standard.
This oddly hypnotic video shows many of the various ways these seats can be adjusted:
In its search for the perfect chair, Lincoln designers studied first-class and private jet cabins, and unsurprisingly, the resulting Venetian-leather-clad perches not only feature heating and cooling, but also a rolling-pattern massage to reduce muscle fatigue by keeping leg- and lower-back muscles and blood vessels stimulated. Indeed, Jonathan Line, Lincoln's advanced seat innovation supervisor, says, "We're really taking it from a health and wellness angle... [delivering] a holistic approach for comfort and relaxation - stress relief - to the customer in ways they can't get it today."
Lincoln boasts that the seats themselves have accounted for over 50 disclosures to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and over 100 more are being disclosed or reviewed. That's largely because their novel modular construction is unlike any seat the company has made before, with greater adjustability and 40 percent less foam by volume than a typical seat.
The full-size Lincoln Continental and its ultra-comfy seats will be built in Flat Rock, MI. It heads into battle against the Cadillac CT6 and beginning next year.