Today's Cars: Bench Seats Benched, Ashtrays Extinquished?

James Raia

Today's Cars: Bench Seats Benched, Ashtrays Extinquished? 1Larry Printz doesn’t give his opinion, but my hunch is that the automotive writer for the The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., is a throwback kind of guy — at least with regard to his cars. And in many ways, I’m with him.

In a recent piece Printz details traditional car features and gadgets no longer offered or rarely offered. It’s the equipment he writes that’s “about to join vinyl LPs, shag carpet and typewriters in the dustbin of history.”

Bench seats: “The popularity of minivans and SUVs, many with seven passenger seating, have killed the front bench seat, which allows sedans to carry six passengers.”

Ashtrays: “Once commonly found in all cars, the space once reserved for ashtrays is becoming a slot to hold an MP3 player and a power point. Some cars, such as those from Chrysler, offer an optional smokers package. By contrast, most of Nissan’s vehicles no longer have one, even as an option.

Crank Windows:  “People talk about it, but to regress to that type of feature, you’d have to special order it,” says John Linked, automotive editor at Consumer Reports.

Mechanical Locks: “Many cars now use remote keyless entry as a way of locking or unlocking a car or truck. Most cars have one mechanical lock, usually on the driver’s door, as a back up in case the case the electronics fail.

Column-mounted Shifters: Cars with bench seats use transmission levers located on the steering column. Despite the space that a column-mounted shifter can save, automakers have switched to center console-mounted transmissions used in vehicles with bucket seats.

Nice piece, Mr. Printz. I’m an adamant non-smoker, but I miss the ashtrays — great place for spare change.

Article Last Updated: February 26, 2008.

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