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Let's go down the list of 4-door sedans with 6-passenger seating STANDARD

Ford Crown Victoria

Lincoln Town Car

Mercury Grand Marquis

and the list of OPTIONAL 6-passenger seating

Buick LaCrosse

Buick Lucerne

Cadillac DTS

Chevrolet Impala

So with the Crown Vic possibly going fleet only, a redesign in the mix for the GM and TC, and the fact that GM makes a front split bench optional, who will be left with a true 6-passenger full-size sedan that you don't have to pay extra, special order, or search dealer lots for weeks to find?

And why did GM make a split front bench OPTIONAL on full-size cars? Isn't the whole point of buying a full-size car to get 6-passenger seating?

And don't get me started on wagons with 3rd seats... :censored:

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There is no reason a center front passenger seat couldn't have a shoulder belt.

Look at the trucks with the front seatbelts mounted on the seat. If that's safe enough for the outboard passengers, then there is no reason why they can't put one more on for the inboard passenger.

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I find the 6-passenger seating in a sedan more gimmicky than the 3rd row seat in a compact SUV. Intrepids had it as an option, but I wouldn't want to give up the center console and floor mounted shifter for a practically useless seat...hence why I have the buckets and the console...plus it makes the interior look better IMO.

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Because putting a seat there is:

a) very uncomfortable for the poor sap stuck there

b) is dangerous due to the airbags (or lack therof) and the dash being just in front of them

c) cramps the driver who really needs the most room to drive safely (and needs a lot of peripheral vision for side mirrors)

d) dramatically decreases the ergonomics and storage space

e) is extremely low-demand. People who need to seat 6 trade up to an SUV, crossover or minivan. Why? Because people who routinely need to carry 6 passengers generally want them all to be comfortable as well as need to fit all their stuff in the vehicle.

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And those of us who carry 6 or 7 daily, 8 on the weekends, and 9 when the mother in law visits at least monthly, what do we do? The only 9-passenger vehicles out there are the Suburban, Tahoe, and Yukons. Maybe an Expedition or Excursion. All of these are DIFFICULT to find in a 9-passenger configuration. Maybe a 12-passenger full-size van? those roll over when fully loaded.

I guess my family is just stuck with driving used cars forever. Clamshells for us.

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>>"Because putting a seat there is:

a) very uncomfortable for the poor sap stuck there"<<

No moreso that the center rear seat position, yet we don't see a strong trend for rear seat consoles....

>>"b) is dangerous due to the airbags (or lack therof) and the dash being just in front of them"<<

The dash is in front of the driver and RH passenger also, isn't it? A center air bag (or an enlarged RH airbag) could easily be installed for this position.

>>"c) cramps the driver who really needs the most room to drive safely (and needs a lot of peripheral vision for side mirrors)"<<

Peripheral vision WRT sideviews is no more obstructed due to a center front pass than a RH passenger. 'Over the shoulder' vision would be tho, tho I do not believe this is a regular criteria for seating layout. I do not see 'driver room' as a valid reason except in the compact class; large cars should not dangerously cramp the driver.

>>"d) dramatically decreases the ergonomics and storage space"<<

Any cubbyhole for CDs can be located elsewhere, likewise any features/controls that are 'ergonomically' paced in the front center seating position (the console).

>>"e) is extremely low-demand. People who need to seat 6 trade up to an SUV, crossover or minivan. Why? Because people who routinely need to carry 6 passengers generally want them all to be comfortable as well as need to fit all their stuff in the vehicle."<<

This is true (6 passengers need cargo volume)- but a full-sized car should be able to accomodate as much cargo as a comparitively-sized SUV. Many 7-pass SUVs have a disproportionally small & compromised cargo areas.

IMO, the primary reason for the disappearance of the full-sized 6-passenger car is that

2) the true full-size car is almost gone itself and there is far less room in the midsize car for this layout, and the #1 reason:

It's percieved as 'old fashioned' and 'not sporty'.

I too wish there were more bench seat options available- in the mid-size class I find the ubitquitous console intrusive and a waste of space. It's fine in a full-sized car however.

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6-passenger cars today have bench seats usually designed for comfort or convenience. I will quickly attest to the convenience of a bench seats in many situations, and not just the one you're thinking of now you sick, sick, correct people.

As far as all these exaggerated safety issues, that doesn't seem to stop foreign-market cars like the Multipla from having two-row six-passenger seating.

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Ok, let's look at my father' s '73 Parisienne: it had a solid bench seat across the front and it was at least a few inches wider than any vehicles on the road today. Sitting in the middle was not that bad. Nobody wore seat belts back then (funny, how we are still around today?), so the difficulty of use of the middle lap belt didn't matter.

Seatbelt laws and the shrinking size of cars are what killed the 6 passenger car. I remember 9 of us sitting in my father's '69 Chrysler 300, even with front buckets and a console. The cars were so much bigger then and people were not so anal about safety laws.

Also, modern contoured seats aren't comfortable for a person in the middle - even in the back seat in many cars.

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Front benches are rare for the same reason casette players are rare in new cars. There isn't enough demand to bother. Most people who need room to carry 6 people spring for a van or SUV, you can blame the Caravan for the start of this trend if you'd like to. I've had two bench seats in my lifetime, a 1987 Dakota and a 1996 Century The Century was pretty narrow and with the armrest folded up there wasn't much room for that middle passenger. That space could have been put to better use by having a real armrest/storage space that could have included real cupholders and maybe a floor shifter for that rare occasion when I had to take it out of "D". Want to know why the bench seat is dead? Its not the 50's or the 60's or the 70's anymore. Its 2006 and the MAJORITY of new car buyers dont want bench seats.

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No, because most people see the alternative as being better. They'd rather have the added storage of a huge console in between the seats than a dinky fold down one on a bench seat and real cupholders instead of some put in some random place because they wont interfere with the middle seat.

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And those of us who carry 6 or 7 daily, 8 on the weekends, and 9 when the mother in law visits at least monthly, what do we do?  The only 9-passenger vehicles out there are the Suburban, Tahoe, and Yukons.  Maybe an Expedition or Excursion.  All of these are DIFFICULT to find in a 9-passenger configuration.  Maybe a 12-passenger full-size van?  those roll over when fully loaded.

I guess my family is just stuck with driving used cars forever.  Clamshells for us.

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See now, with those numbers, a 6-passenger car wouldn't even help you. In order to carry that many people you'd probably need one of those full-size vans. Or just drive 2 cars. If people hauling is the name of the game, get an SUV or a Minivan like the Outlook or the Caravan. The Grand Caravan gives you unmatched versatility with the seats, and the Outlook (or any Lambada) is an excellent choice for people hauling.

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I'd still like to see more front split-bench seats-modernized of course, that is, having actual room for the center passenger (i.e. its time for GM to stop offering such narrow cars), if not for that traditional American feel. The cupholders-in-doors is a good trend too, started by Honda Accord, Ford Five Hundred, and the Chrysler Sebring-makes sense, right? And if Chevy, Buick, and Cadillac continue to offer a front bench (which I hope they do-and for STANDARD or no-cost option, not extra, which is just stupid), then I hope there is some innovation put in, such as a small headrest, higher backrest, and a detachable/seat-mounted shoulder/lap belt offered as well.

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I guess my family is just stuck with driving used cars forever.  Clamshells for us.

223386[/snapback]

Two vehicles? When we have all of our family members in town for holidays, we carpool with multiple vehicles. You should try it--it's safer and more comfortable.
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>>"Because putting a seat there is:

a) very uncomfortable for the poor sap stuck there"<<

No moreso that the center rear seat position, yet we don't see a strong trend for rear seat consoles....

Even in our 1980 Sedan de Ville, the front passenger seats are wider than the rear. The front and center seat is very narrow...to the extent that only a small child would be comfortable there, and small children should NOT be in the front seat.
>>"b) is dangerous due to the airbags (or lack therof) and the dash being just in front of them"<<

The dash is in front of the driver and RH passenger also, isn't it? A center air bag (or an enlarged RH airbag) could easily be installed for this position.

The driver has a steering wheel in front of him/her, and the passenger has the (usually) soft dash top. The center passenger has a lot of protruding knobs made of not-soft plastic in front of them.
>>"c) cramps the driver who really needs the most room to drive safely (and needs a lot of peripheral vision for side mirrors)"<<

Peripheral vision WRT sideviews is no more obstructed due to a center front pass than a RH passenger. 'Over the shoulder' vision would be tho, tho I do not believe this is a regular criteria for seating layout. I do not see 'driver room' as a valid reason except in the compact class; large cars should not dangerously cramp the driver.

Actually, having someone RIGHT NEXT TO YOU versus being several feet away would hinder right side mirror vision. You should be able to turn your head quickly to see the right mirror without having to lean forward. Drivers should be able to have room to their right also in case of an emergency situation so they can react quickly and steer/swerve without jabbing someone's face with their elbow.
>>"d) dramatically decreases the ergonomics and storage space"<<

Any cubbyhole for CDs can be located elsewhere, likewise any features/controls that are 'ergonomically' paced in the front center seating position (the console).

What about cupholders? They can get in the way of stalks if located on the left-hand side. Also, with a sixth passenger front-center, how do you operate climate controls and audio controls? Their knees are often in the way due to the drivetrain shaft, which is STILL in FWD cars (knees aren't an issue with a small child, but again they should NOT be in the front seat).
>>"e) is extremely low-demand.  People who need to seat 6 trade up to an SUV, crossover or minivan.  Why?  Because people who routinely need to carry 6 passengers generally want them all to be comfortable as well as need to fit all their stuff in the vehicle."<<

This is true (6 passengers need cargo volume)- but a full-sized car should be able to accomodate as much cargo as a comparitively-sized SUV. Many 7-pass SUVs have a disproportionally small & compromised cargo areas.

So you're saying a 6-passenger sedan would have more cargo space than a 7-passenger wagon? The integrated interior with connected cargo area is the most space-efficient design because it is essentially a box. SUVs and wagons have the same overall shape. Also, you're comparing a 6-passenger sedan with a 7-passenger SUV/wagon. The SUV/wagon would have more space if in a 6-passenger configuration (split third row is offered in many minivans and crossover SUVs, including the lambdas).
IMO, the primary reason for the disappearance of the full-sized 6-passenger car is that

2) the true full-size car is almost gone itself and there is far less room in the midsize car for this layout,

Measured by...exterior size or interior width? I don't think the interiors have gotten dramatically narrower, I think the decreased overall size is due to much better packaging. I DO think automakers are making the front buckets with better side bolsters so the driver isn't sliding all around while driving around curves.
and the #1 reason:

It's percieved as 'old fashioned' and 'not sporty'.

I too wish there were more bench seat options available- in the mid-size class I find the ubitquitous console intrusive and a waste of space. It's fine in a full-sized car however.

223387[/snapback]

I think people just got tired of sliding around while driving in front benches with no side bolsters.

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I factory ordered my Colorado with a split bench even though I'm the only one in the truck most of the time. With the stickshift, I'd have to be plenty friendly with the center passenger if the need arose. It has a center armrest with storage. If I end up with this new Sierra, I'll be glad to have a bench seat with fold-down center storage/armrest.

With a fullsize car, I think it is a shame split bench seats aren't more readily available. The local Buick dealership usually keeps 2 or 3 Lucernes with benches.

Dash knobs have been crash-safe for decades, but I do understand that with the lack of a front center shoulder belt, and no airbag directly in front of the center passenger, that there might be concern.

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As it is now, we have a 1998 Lumina (6-passenger sedan) and a 1989 Celebrity (6-passenger sedan). When the oldest daughter comes to visit, and when mother-in-law is here, as it is we will be taking both cars around.

I'd love to get a Grand Caravan with Stow and Go. Problem is that still caps us with a 7-passenger seating limit. Even the 8-passenger Sienna leaves me hiding in the floor behind the 3rd seat when the mother-in-law is here (and I actually WOULDN'T MIND being that far away from her...)

As for clamshell wagons, I'd love to have one come springtime. There are plenty around in the $1500-$3000 range that would suit us just fine. My biggest problem with that is finding one with three rows of seats, a small-block V8 (350 or MAYBE a 400, but no 454/455, that's too much motor), and WORKING air. If I could have my way it'd be a 1973 Impala Kingswood, 3-seat, no woodgrain, silver or black, 2-barrel 350/350. Then I can drop in a 700R4 later and get even better mileage.

I just don't see the point in driving a Suburban when we'd have to park it outside. Suburbans are too tall for the garage. Heck, even a Venture is 72 inches tall and I'd be scraping the door as I pull in and bounce over the little minicurb at the end of the garage floor. I'm 5' 11" and I have to duck slightly walking into the garage even when the door is as high as it goes.

I also believe a Suburban may be too long for the garage. Then again, a clamshell wagon probably is, too. I'll have to take some measurements. With the Lumina in there (201 inches long) I have roughly two feet to spare when it's touching the wall.

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My answer to the question posed by the thread title:

SUVs ate them. SUVs are natural predators of the six-seat sedan. This is why they have become rare. The only remnants are the Crown Vic Trio, because they are extremely abundant and reproduce like rabbits, and the G/W body benches, which optionally install a center console to confuse seat-hungry Tahoes and Sequoias.

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