Prius Driver's Seat Misery

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by Sherlockian, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. Sherlockian

    Sherlockian New Member

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    everybody. I hate to be writing this right now, but I'm nervous that I might have to sell my 8-month old Prius (obviously that would be a huge financial hit).

    The driver's seat is just that bad.

    I've read threads here and elsewhere about what to do about the seats, but I don't want to trash my potential resale value and safety by replacing the seat with something without an airbag, and the various cushion arrangements haven't worked and also make me ride up way too high int he car.

    Basically, I'm 6'2", 34" inseam. How taller people on this board can claim to drive this car comfortably is a mystery. A 6'6" co-worker sat in my car and he said almost instantly there's no way he could drive it for very long (and he is actually a big fan of the Prius, generally speaking). My legs are basically an inch from the dash, also, and in an accident I'm probably screwed, but that's beside the point.

    I took a test drive before buying, and it seemed okay, but the extreme discomfort didn't present itself for a few months of driving it to work.

    The problem is this: The lack of thigh support (and maybe lumbar, I can't pinpoint exactly where this is coming from) is putting too much pressure on my lower back. I haven't had a history of back problems, but since driving this car it's become an issue. The biggest problem is that my left leg has a constant "being stretched" feel in the back of the thigh. My left cheek also feels "fatigued." My leg isn't actually experiencing streching back there so these sensations are strange. I've actually never had a problem with the right leg or side.

    If I recline the seat enough to lean back and relieve some pressure I'm too far away from the steering wheel (which leads to upper back discomfort after a while).

    I have Wet Okole seat covers that add 1/2" of cushioning. I passed on the optional inflatable lumbar support initially but have now ordered them and will try this (won't be here for a couple of weeks). The thigh support is still tough, though. The cushions/wedges at the back stores didn't do the trick, as I said. One felt great but didn't actually solve the ergonomics issue with the Prius driver's seat--it just put me up too high.

    Do any of you Prius-chatters have any realistic suggestions? There just seems to be no way for this 6'2" guy to get in a comfortable driving position. I hate to lose 10K by selling/trading the car, but I refuse to develop muscle or nerve damage to drive it. If I can't solve this I might be headed for a Honda Accord (and the poorhouse).
     
  2. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    Tall people come in different shapes. Some are all legs, others all torso, which explains why some tall people find the Prius okay and others do not.

    If you have tried the various cushions suggested in other threads, then your only options are to extend the seat rails or trade in your Prius. Extending the seat rails preserves the air bag.

    The new 2010 model features more leg room, an adjustable seat, and a telescoping steering wheel. I would consider that before buying an Accord.

    Tom
     
  3. nownow

    nownow Junior Member

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    I'm so glad I'm not the only one that hates the seats in this car. They need to be height adjustable and heated, at least...and the lumber sucks. For that matter, the lack of a telescoping SW is also a bummer. Honestly, I don't drive the car that much, but I'll be watching this thread as I assume we might be taking the car on a 1200 mile round trip for vacation in June.

    I'm only 5'11 with a 30" inseam, but I have serious back issues when I drive the car for an extended length of time. I put the seat all the way back (which makes me have to reach for the SW), so I have no idea how someone over 6'2" could drive this regularly. The seat and SW are perfect for my wife (primary driver) but she's 5'1".

    I feel like I can do better if I force myself to pull my lower back away from the seat...maybe a lumbar cushion is all I need...but I shouldn't need one in a car that retailed for $29k. Interestingly, I alway had similar issues in my wife's last car (Volvo V70), and they're supposed to have the best seats in the world.
     
  4. Sherlockian

    Sherlockian New Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions. I assume the seat rail option would put me even further away from the wheel, though, and that might be a problem, too.

    The new Prius was a thought, as it sounds like it will have more adjustability. It's just that it seems likely that it will be more expensive, and even if not I pulled the trigger last year because I'm leery of the first production year of a new car (even if it's Toyota). The new Prius is something to think about, regardless.

    I'm still going to take the money hit on trade-in/sale, though. I forgot to mention that I'm in Washington state and there's no sales tax on new Prius, which makes a hell of a ding in the value when selling a used car. :(
     
  5. Sherlockian

    Sherlockian New Member

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    You hit the nail on the head with this. I'm struggling with the resentment over having to use pillows and contort in an car I just paid $30,000 for. I accept some blame for not properly researching all the complaints beforehand, though. Still, it did feel okay on the test drive.

    I'm trying not to kick myself too hard, because like you said with the Volvo the ergonomics/comfort problem can come up with any car. It's a personal fit thing, I suppose.
     
  6. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    I'm 6'3" , 34" inseam. I agree that the seat sucks, but before selling try at least these two things. They can make a big difference:

    1. Don't carry anything (wallet, billfold, etc.) in a rear pocket.

    2. Put a small fat pillow or cushion (or even a wadded-up t-shirt) behind the small of your back. All of the purpose-made back support thingies I tried were not worth a darn.
     
  7. a priori

    a priori Canonus Curiosus

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    I know tall people come in all different packages, but are there any shorter folks who have serious back issues or leg strain complaints from these seats?

    I'll agree they are not the most comfortable seats, but I've had absolutely no issue when driving the car for very long stretches (600 miles non-stop). Perhaps I'm just the one body-type that works in these seats.

    The 2010 is an entirely different machine in this respect. The seats were noticeably more comfortable, and the telescoping steering wheel and seat height adjustment will allow substantially more freedom to set the most comfortable driving position.
     
  8. Frayadjacent

    Frayadjacent Resident Conservative

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    Look around, I'm 6'1" and have similar issues... I've found a couple threads regarding adding the vertical adjustment mechanism from a Corolla driver's seat, and intend to do that mod within the next few months. Right now, the seat is bearable, but it won't be when I make road trips.


    Here's one talking about the mod:
    http://priuschat.com/forums/prius-main-forum/58247-i-added-new-handle-08-a.html
     
  9. seesfar

    seesfar New Member

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  10. Gray Runner

    Gray Runner Junior Member

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    I took a piece of pvc pipe put a "T" fitting on the top with some foam on it and I use that to support my right leg, worked for a 10 hour trip
     
  11. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    Listen .... very .... carefully

    I am 6ft. 2in and have worked on this issue ....

    #1) You are a tall / big guy. You want to protect your seats with covers, BUT the covers are sucking up the small seat-bottom and legroom available. These seats are darn small for a big guy.

    I do not use a driver's seat cover any more. You would be wise to start by removing yours.

    #2) Yes, the driver's seat has abysmal thigh support for anyone with 34" inseams. There is a way to help this.

    Look up a local professional foam factory. You will need to have a custom cut foam cushion made. Good news is they will make one for about $10 (no kidding), BUT,

    you must supply the template of what you want.

    Read on....
     
  12. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    #3) You cannot afford to sit any higher in the car, therefore cannot sit on the commonly found cushions with 2" foam in the butt area.

    You need something like 1/4" foam to sit on, but ironically, more like 1 1/2" foam in the front part of seat.

    A foam factory can make a 1/4" base seat cushion, then attach (ok, glue) a wedge on the front portion for your thighs.

    Sounds cheesy? Darn well better than selling your $30k car for $20k !!

    A good wedge cushion for you will end up looking like a T-shape with the front 5" wedging up to about 1.5" thick, roughly.

    I covered my seat cushion with a pillow case in dark blue.

    Read on...
     
  13. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    This is my template,

    050705 061.jpg

    and this is my custom seat cushion. I challenge anyone to find something like this in a store, anywhere.

    050705 062.jpg

    It is a T-shape since I did not like foam in the side bolster (raised sides) area. Foam there just makes the seat feel smaller. I cut the whole side bolster area w/o foam except for the area where the foam 'wedges' up.

    This shape does help with thigh support. I started out using just a wedge on front of seat, but found myself always fidgeting with it (arrived at shape above after several other tries). When sitting on a whole cushion, no fidgeting to do.

    Is my seat really, really good? No. Is it much better with the seat cushion ... most definitely yes.

    I also use a very small pillow between the seat and console just for a little something to rest right leg against (not the one shown, another much smaller).

    Read on...
     
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  14. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    At this point you may be thinking - I'm not putting some ghetto-a** seat cushion in my $30k car!!

    O. K. but you have the car and really need something to make yourself more comfortable.

    I drove a 400 mile weekend with the seat cushion and did fairly well. BTW, I buy 34" inseam jeans all the time, in case you can't tell from pic below :eek:

    050705 029.jpg

    Read on...
     
  15. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    You have a package #3 and are likely finding that blasted rearview mirror blocking your line of sight ...

    simplest solution is to carefully! invert it (wires attached to it).

    I've had my Homelink mirror inverted for 3 months now, and it helps.

    ----------------

    Why did Toyota favor the rear seat legroom and go marginal on the front seat?

    Most comforting (pun intended?!) explanation I've heard is they didn't think the Gen2 Prius would sell amazingly in North Am., so they favored designing it for the Japanese market.

    Hollar back and let's see you get something working

    BTW, my driver's seat didn't 'hit me' until after 3 months of driving also. Was caught up in the 'new-ness' early on.
     
  16. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    Stop struggling about using cushions in an expensive car. No one will hit you on the head for doing so. At this point, you just need to get more comfort.

    ------
    Little off topic, but want to get PO'd? Go sit in a $20k sticker priced Honda Civic (skip the Si) and languish in one of those driver's seats. Make sure to put the ...

    driver's seat height adjuster all the way down and back. Sure the rear seat leg room goes to pot then, but, who ... cares. At least you, the driver, are then comfortable.

    I could go on about the gen2's seat for tall people. Some might say, 'it wasn't for you ... buy something else'.

    Imagine, not being 'qualified' to buy a car that has more than enough physical size, but not the correct design for a wider range of heights.

    However, the driver's seat travel is also linked to the location of the pillar between the doors, since the seat belt is mounted on that. 2010's pillar is moved back along with the roofline peak, hence the driver's seat travel is greater.

    Oh, and most 'well over 6ft people' must be challenged sitting in the Gen2. If legs are short, then roofline is seriously blocking view.

    ------------
    Wanna get really PO'd? Wait, sit in a 2010 Prius and find out what a proper driver's seat feels like.
     
  17. hyo silver

    hyo silver Awaaaaay

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    Is it possible to install another seat? Even if you had to pay retail for a fully adjustable 2010 model, that has to be cheaper than losing 10 grand on resale.
     
  18. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    I know one PC'er had a Recaro installed to the tune of $2k in his Pri.

    Another very creative PC'er took a Corolla seat base with height adjuster and attached it to the Prius upper. There is a whole thread on this.

    The thing is, the height adjuster does give the effect of some more legroom, because the Toyota adusters tilt the back of seat bottom downward. Slightly increases legroom and 'marries' thighs up with the front of seat.

    Take any 09 Corolla, put the seat height mostly up - you have a Gen2 Prius. Crank the seat height all the way down ... you have what will be much closer to the 2010 Prius.

    The Honda and Mazda seat height adjusters are Really good since they move the way the seat down and back simultaneously. Downside is a little harder to get in / out.

    Wanna know what kinda stinks? The Gen2 Prius driver's seat is basically the same as a ....

    Yaris Liftback's (yes, even the Yaris sedan has height adjust), save some better fabric over top.

    We paid for the Prius drivetrain, not the seats, that's for sure.
     
  19. Frayadjacent

    Frayadjacent Resident Conservative

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    Cycle, the link I posted on the first page is the very Corolla seat mod you mention.
     
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  20. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    Has anyone actually changed seat rails in a gen2 Prius?

    It was a thought at one time. There was a thread for a seat rail group buy, but I don't think that ever occured.

    Crazy thing is, there is actually 1 more rail slot on the right seat rail, but not on the left on the Prius. I'd take that extra notch back.
     
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