About a decade ago a Congressman from Idaho named Larry Craig got into a bit of a dice for playing footsie with what turned out to be an undercover police officer in an airport men’s room. Oops. His defense was somewhat laughable, he claimed that he simply has a “wide stance” and was looking for room, not some action. I bring that up not to engender political discussion, but to point out that cars – and even some trucks – these days seem to have forgotten that some of us might really have a wide stance, or at the very least the desire to stretch out a bit on a long drive.
One of reasons originally touted for the adoption of front wheel drive (or rope drive in the case of certain ’60s Pontiacs) was the form’s ability to provide an almost flat floor. Oh sure, there still needed to be room for exhaust, fuel lines and the like, but for the most part it was flat city. Most FWD cars from the ’70s offered just this benefit, as well as an open space between the floor and what were generally compact dashboards. The room afforded may not have been the most usable, but it certainly made the cars feel more spacious and let you check out your passenger’s legs, if you were into that.
Cars today, on the whole, don’t offer this opportunity. Many, like the Audi example above have morphed from roomy front-drivers to all-wheel-drive monsters with center consoles so high and cosseting that driving them makes you feel like you’re wearing Fred Mertz pants. Sure, if AWD is an option on the model then a tunnel is pretty much going to be on the playbill, but why do FWD-only cars get saddled with massive consoles and confining front seating accommodations? Do you think it’s better to have these large dashboard extensions taking up the space between driver and passenger, and offering such modern conveniences as cup holders and a plug for your phone? Or, do you yearn for cars that offered room instead? Do you miss console-less cars?