How Many Car Seats Do I Need? And What Should I Look Out For?

When you set out to choose a new car, the number of seats and the style of seats probably don't rank very highly on your list of deal-breakers.

But they should.

After all, you’re sat down for the entire time that you’re driving and the quality of the seat can have a huge impact on your driving experience.

The car seat can also have an impact on your health. Strain on the lumbar region of your back caused by bad seats can wreak havoc with your spine and if you already suffer from back problems, you should probably be paying close attention to the type of seats that you choose for your car. Basically, the car seat is a fundamental part of car practicality that there's no escaping from.

Types of car seat

So, there are two basic types of seat that you’ll find: bucket seats and bench seats.

Type #1 — Bucket seats

These are pretty much the standard type of seat in most cars on UK roads — unless you’re driving some kind of massive American car, like a classic Chevrolet.

Named for the characteristic way that the sides of the seat slope inwards, bucket seats provide a decent amount of comfort whilst maximising space. The driver’s seat and front passenger seat are nearly always bucket seats.

Type #2 — Bench seats

I’d be very surprised if you found a proper, completely flat bench seat in a new UK car nowadays. Classic bench seats are pretty old fashioned and don’t really work with modern-day seatbelts.

Normally, the seats you’ll come across in the back of a car are generally combinations of bucket and bench seats. They’re not entirely flat, and they’re not entirely separate either (like normal bucket seats are).

Type #3 — Folding seats

Folding seats are normally bucket-style seats in the rear of the car that can fold down to give you more space. They’re really useful if you want to move larger, bulkier items like small pieces of furniture or lots of luggage. Bucket seats are most common in SUVs and MPVs.

Optional extras

You’ll also get the option of adding some more features to the basic seats in your car too! Here's three of the most popular include.

Extra #1 — Heated seats

Okay, it’s a bit of a luxury but heated seats are pretty useful, if the area you live in bears the brunt of a good, old-fashioned British winter, they can make all the difference in terms of comfort in really cold temperatures.

Extra #2 — Massage seats

We’ve all been there. You’re driving along, hitting a cool 70mph on the motorway and you think, “I could really do with a massage right now.” Well, don’t worry. Your dreams can be fulfilled with the optional extra of a massage chair that a lot of companies offer with their cars.

Extra #3 — Remote controls

The days of clumsily fumbling with plastic seating dials are over – a pretty useful feature that’s found its way into more and more cars lately is electronic, remote control operated seats. To change the angle of the seat, all you need to do is press a button. Simple.

Car seat furnishing

So, you won’t really get much choice in terms of customising the exact type of car seat you get. You probably won’t be able to replace the front driver and passenger seat with a bench seat and still pass your MOT, for instance. You do get a surprising amount of choice in terms of fabric and upholstery though.

Furnishing #1 — Nylon or polyester

Most cars are made of nylon or polyester fabric. These types of artificial fabrics are pretty durable but they are quite easy to stain. They’re not too difficult to clean with a hoover but expect to have to dig out the ole’ carpet cleaner to tackle anything more major than crumbs.

Furnishing #2 — Leather

It’s usually the most expensive form of soft furnishing. Leather is also probably the most attractive type of finish you can have on a seat.

They’re also really easy to clean and hoover.