Being Indians, one of the first thing we notice in any vehicle, is the level of comfort and convenience offered. After all, who would like to travel in a state of constant discomfort and irritation? And while interiors and other modern features such as infotainments, sunroofs, armrests etc. have a big role in contributing towards a comfortable journey, everything goes for a toss if the seats aren’t as comfortable as they might be. And with modern-day SUVs and MUVs now offering options to opt-in for captain seats, our inclination for comfort has been triggered. So if you too are contemplating whether or not to opt for captain seats, here’s a little information that might help you make the call.

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Captain Seats on-board the Toyota Innova Crysta

What are Captain Seats?

A fairly new trend in the Indian market, captain seats are the modern-day offering that is slowly making its way to every leading SUV and MUV. As compared to conventional bench seating, captain’s seats are crafted to fit a single person and offer higher back support. Just like your comfortable rocking chair at home, a captain seat generally has its own armrests that are sometimes even adjustable. Usually, a captain seat comes with a contoured design and is shaped like a saddle for maximum comfort.

The Pros of Captain Seats

  • Since seats are individually carved for each passenger, captain seats tend to provide better lumbar support.
  • The overall comfort of a captain seat is better than what is offered on a bench-type seat as passengers do not have to squeeze in and adjust with other co-passengers.
  • Captain seats can be adjusted and/or reclined individually as per the comfort preference of each passenger.
  • Just by the looks of it, captain seats are more premium than bench seats
  • With captain seats on board, the third-row passenger can also stretch their legs and enjoy a comfortable ride since with captain seats on board there’s always a free middle lane.
  • The back of a captain seat is usually contoured in a scooped out manner in order to make more knee room for third-row passengers.
  • As a general practice, almost all passengers of the car can get 3-point seatbelt support with captain seats.
  • Captain seats are easier to move in case passengers in the third row require more space.
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The Cons of Captain Seats

  • First things first, with captain seats onboard you can only seat 2 passengers in the second row.
  • If the third row is a place you don’t prefer, then captain seats aren’t for you as the 5th passenger has no choice but to sit in the third row.
  • In some cases, the captain seats cannot be tumbled forward thereby making ingress/egress as well as the access to the third row, a challenging task.
  • There is no common centre armrest between captain seats that can make you miss the cup-holder space.
  • Captain seats are dearer than bench seats and are, therefore, found only on top variants.
  • Since captain seats are individually placed, the space between the middle is usually wasted.
  • In some cases, one cannot fold down the captain seats individually to increase luggage space, take away the very essence of having a captain seat on-board.
New Tata Safari 7 Seater Variant
New Tata Safari 7 Seater Variant

What are Bench Seats?

An offering that makes its way in every segment of vehicles in India for decades, bench seats are an omnipresent inclusion you would see throughout the world. As compared to captain seats, bench seats as the name suggests are seats that are laid out in a bench structure. This means that there are no individual seats, and all passengers of the second row share a single bench seat. Often there are retractable armrests and/or cup-holders provided in the middle to provide comfort and convenience.

The Pros of Bench Seats

  • First things first, as an obvious advantage, the bench seats can seat one extra passenger as compared to captain seats.
  • Bench seats often come with a 60:40 split with which you can comfortably seat four and still use the remaining part of the folded seat for luggage
  • Another advantage of bench seats is the fact that the entire bench can be tumble forward to make room for more cabin space or for ingress/egress into the third row
  • Bench seats make it easier and convenient for healthy or heavy built individuals to sit in comfort as compared to captain seats.
  • Bench seats on-board an SUV/MUV is far more practical as they can also fold flat making room for a flat loading bay and a spacious luggage space.
  • With bench seats on-board you can exponentially enhance the cabin of the vehicle by folding both the second and third rows.

Cons of Bench Seats

  • Offers lesser lumbar support as seats aren’t individually available.
  • With a bench seat set-up, the fifth passenger will usually have a hard backrest, due to the presence of the retractable armrest, which is uncomfortable.
  • Since bench seats accommodate three passengers abreast, the journey can get highly uncomfortable in the long run.
  • With bench seats, the middle passenger misses out on a 3-point seatbelt in most cars.
  • The central floor hump in cars with bench seats often reduces the legroom for the fifth passenger.

The Bottom Line

With modern-day SUVs and MUVs offering a choice between Bench and Captain Seats, the decision is entirely left on the consumers themselves. With that said we would surely advise you to visit the showroom and actually try out both lay-outs to have a better idea about the comfort.

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