Does the driver's head restraint bother you?
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  1. #1
    Indecisive is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Does the driver's head restraint bother you?

    I am in the market for a new car to replace a 2001 Accord with 200K miles. I use my vehicle primarily as a road car, driving solo. The search has boiled down to a few cars, with the leading candidates being the ATS and the BMW 3 series. I like a lot of things about the ATS: the styling, the size, the performance, the techie stuff. However, one factor about the ATS is troubling me, and I would like to see if others can relate.

    On one of my test drives, I felt surprisingly uncomfortable in the driverís seat. I thought the culprit was that the head restraint was adjusted forward at the time. However, after reading about seat comfort issues encountered by others, I did some additional digging and eventually uncovered a government rule on head restraints that went into effect in late 2008. (Perhaps this is very old news to you, but I do not avidly follow the auto world.) The skinny: in an effort to limit whiplash injuries, this rule imposes a maximum of about 2 inches (55 mm) between the average driverís head and the head restraint. After reading about this rule, I went back and test-drove the ATS, and for me, a 5í9Ē driver, the distance is only about half an inch, even with the head restraint all the way back.

    When I take my ancient Accord out on the interstate, I often angle my head back on the head restraint and look down slightly to see the road. I am able to do this because the distance between my head and the restraint is roughly 2-3 inches. (I suspect this relieves some pressure on my spine, although I never really think about why I adopt that posture.) With the limited clearance in the ATS, however, my head brushes up against the restraint even with minor head movements, and this driving position would not be possible.

    The difficult part about this is that I am unsure whether this is a legitimate concern. On one hand, I theorize that a car seat might be like a mattress: you get used to what you have, and eventually you like what youíve gotten used to. Using that reasoning, perhaps I would eventually adjust to the seat and love it. On the other hand, I havenít yet been able convince myself that this is NOT a factor that could lead to a major case of buyerís remorse.

    Therefore, Iím wondering if anyone has had a similar experience with or reaction to the head restraint in the ATS. Although I need to take another test drive of the 3-series, from sitting in the BMW, my sense is that this is somewhat less of a concern, i.e. there is more distance between my head and the head restraint in the BMW than in the ATS.

    I never expected that a decision on purchasing a fifty-thousand-dollar auto would come down to the humble headrest, but thatís where I am at the moment. Any input is most appreciated.

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  3. #2
    MoistCabbage's Avatar
    MoistCabbage is online now Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    The alternitive to the goofy looking (and feeling in some cases) "close to the head" head rests in newer cars, is active headrests that move forward in a collision. Those add cost and complication, so most cars just have the close to the head design.

    If you normally lean your head back while driving, you do have an odd driving position, but I'd imagine you could get used to driving with your head up.

    If you really like the car, if it came to it, you could always have the headrests altered by an upholsterer.

    Out of curiosity, what year is the "ancient Accord"?

  4. #3
    Indecisive is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Does the driver's head restraint bother you?

    Quote Originally Posted by MoistCabbage View Post
    Out of curiosity, what year is the "ancient Accord"?
    2001. Also, it's not just the ATS that has this issue. A local salesman (at a dealer that sells several brands) told me, "We get a lot of complaints about headrests." That said, with the various cars I've test-driven and rented from time-to-time over the past few years (including some longer highway trips), the head restraint has been noticeable only on the ATS.

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    ben.gators is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Does the driver's head restraint bother you?

    Your observation is correct and your concern is legitimate. When I rented a Buick Enclave, I couldn't find a comfortable position, no matter how I adjusted the seat or changed my seating position. And it was the headrest position that created the problems! Long story short, I ended up with a neck pain during that trip. Fast forward, when I bought my new ATS, I encountered the same problem, but not as worse as the Buick. The good news is that after driving the car for one month, I have used to it, and there is no pain or discomfort any more.

    By the way, do you know that you can adjust the headrest in ATS? You can move it forward and backward. Did you push it all the way back? However, I need to say that, even when you push the headrest all the way back, it is still leaning forward!

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    Bertha D Blues is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Does the driver's head restraint bother you?

    The ATS headrests, in my opinion, are not nearly as intrusive as Volvo's. I don't have any complaints about the comfort of ATS seating. However, I would prefer a thinner profile for better rearward visibility during lane changes. Bert

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    Audioi's Avatar
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    Re: Does the driver's head restraint bother you?

    I have this same issue with both of my other new cars, at least this car is adjustable. I find with them all the way back (5th detent) they are much less obtrusive.

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    73JPS is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Does the driver's head restraint bother you?

    For the first couple of weeks I had the car, the head restraint did bother me; for whatever reason, I don't notice it at all any more. In general, I find the front seats very comfortable.

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    DeanP is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Does the driver's head restraint bother you?

    I like it. It is one the first cars I had that I can use the headrest while driving.

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    Stevo Supremo's Avatar
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    Re: Does the driver's head restraint bother you?

    Quote Originally Posted by DeanP View Post
    I like it. It is one the first cars I had that I can use the headrest while driving.
    this^ love the headrests in this car... it actually rests your head without the need to hang your neck over the seat

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    pissedoffwookiee's Avatar
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    Re: Does the driver's head restraint bother you?

    i had someone complain about headrests to me once and my response was "it's your fault, you wanted a five star rear end crash rating, didn't you?"


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    Audioi's Avatar
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    Re: Does the driver's head restraint bother you?

    Quote Originally Posted by pissedoffwookiee View Post
    i had someone complain about headrests to me once and my response was "it's your fault, you wanted a five star rear end crash rating, didn't you?"

    Darn good answer, I need to remember that one.

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    Indecisive is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Does the driver's head restraint bother you?

    Quote Originally Posted by ben.gators View Post
    By the way, do you know that you can adjust the headrest in ATS? You can move it forward and backward. Did you push it all the way back? However, I need to say that, even when you push the headrest all the way back, it is still leaning forward!
    Yes. When I did my latest test drive, it was positioned all the way back. Even in that position, it was very close to my head.

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    General Lee 01's Avatar
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    I always have my head touching the headrest with no effort made to maintain any space between. My seatback is slightly reclined position, and I definitely feel comfortable. Maybe your discomfort is coming from trying to not touch the headrest? Are you putting effort into not touching the headrest? Or perhaps reclining the seat a little more could help. Recline but elevate the seat so vision isn't impaired.

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    Indecisive is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Does the driver's head restraint bother you?

    Quote Originally Posted by General Lee 01 View Post
    I always have my head touching the headrest with no effort made to maintain any space between. My seatback is slightly reclined position, and I definitely feel comfortable. Maybe your discomfort is coming from trying to not touch the headrest? Are you putting effort into not touching the headrest? Or perhaps reclining the seat a little more could help. Recline but elevate the seat so vision isn't impaired.
    When I've driven the car I have been sitting naturally, not putting effort into touching or not touching the headrest. I am used to my head not touching unless I deliberately adopt a modified driving position such as I described in my original post. In the ATS, when the headrest is pushed forward, my head touches and is pushed downward, which is not comfortable. When pushed all the way back, there is perhaps a half inch of clearance, much less than I am used to. In this position, my head frequently brushes up against the restraint, and I am prevented from adopting the modified driving position.

    I haven't tried every possible seat position, but I did try leaning the seat back a little more than I am used to, and it may have helped, but it was hard to tell.

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    Sir CussFreq is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Does the driver's head restraint bother you?

    Try tilting the seat back just a little bit further... Changing the angle will change where your head rests naturally. With the way I have my seat positioned, with the headrest all the way back, I have to lean my head backwards uncomfortably to touch it. All the way forward, it's about in the right place to actually rest my head on it while I'm driving, without having to look down to see the road. Or step up into a higher-end BMW with the ability to adjust the seat back in 2 or 3 different positions, so you can adjust the angle of the upper back separately from the lower back.

    For what it's worth, I've always preferred the headrests with a slight V shape on top, that you can angle forward... But I'm pretty happy with the ATS's.

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