Hooniverse Asks- Do You Miss Console-less Cars?


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?

Image sources: Retromotoring via Flickr, Lincah

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71 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- Do You Miss Console-less Cars?”

  1. danleym Avatar

    Not at all. Consoles are pretty handy to have- most of us have stuff from time to time that we would like to set down somewhere, right? Sunglasses, coffee cup, spare change? I have no issues with having a console.
    That said, I do want an old pickup with a bench seat. Not much room for a console there.

    1. M Gardner Avatar
      M Gardner

      ABSOLUTELY!!!!!! That is why I have been driving a front wheel drive car since the mid 70;s. I have a Town & Country van 2005, and may never be able to give it up. I love the space between the seats for all sorts of things. Are there any front wheel drive cars without the console?????? Help!!!!!

    2. Lee Bullard Avatar
      Lee Bullard

      As a former resue squad chief I have had to remove drivers from autos with bucket seats and consoles from the passanger side it is no easy task I would not want my family in one

  2. Vavon Avatar

    Do You Miss Console-less Cars? Looks at the (slightly different) interior of his Peugeot 106… NOPE!
    <img src="http://s1.aecdn.com/images/gallery/PEUGEOT106-1032_3.jpg&quot; width="670/">

  3. $kaycog Avatar

    I like having a console and so does my dog.
    <img src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41wAEP-at1L.jpg"width="500"/&gt;

  4. P161911 Avatar

    The wife's Trailblazer has a console. I don't mind it, I just wish the shifter and parking brake didn't live there, they take up too much room. There is NO reason it couldn't have a column shifter and floor parking brake. It isn't a sports car.
    My truck has the best of both worlds. The middle seat folds down into a console. So unless there are three in the front seat, I have a console. Weird fact, the center front seat passenger gets a lap belt only. The center rear seat passenger gets a shoulder belt.

    1. danleym Avatar

      I'll agree to the shifter. I hate floor shifters in automatics.

    2. SSurfer321 Avatar

      My 05 F150 has split bench in front. Armrest folds down and has area for storage.

  5. TurboBrick Avatar

    The center console is pretty much useless on a car with an automatic transmission. I do not miss it one bit in my MPV. Now, here's a picture of what a center console should look like IMHO:
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5d/R25_baccie.jpg&quot; WIDTH="600">
    This is from a Renault 25, my personal high water mark for interior design. The parking brake lever is there, with a tiny cubby in front of it, just big enough for a cell phone so it doesn't become a spot to dump all of your crap in and forget it. There's a change holder if you insist (the coins rattle so you have to pack them tight), and the top of the console is a padded arm rest which is at the same height as the other arm rest on the door = you have a spot for either or both arms if you want to just drive lazy. The door arm rest flips up to reveal a storage pocket for your window scraper etc. that doesn't get kicked to pieces like typical open door pockets.

  6. Joe Dunlap Avatar
    Joe Dunlap

    Im pretty sure the reason that most front wheel drive vehicles have at least a vestige of a tunnel is a strength issue. Without a frame, the tunnel adds a tremendous amount of stiffness to the passenger cell.

    1. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      mr. mzs zsm msz esq

      I had a first gen Volvo C70, a car that never was offered with AWD but was available as a 'vert. It said in the owners manual that was why there was a prominent tunnel to make the car stiffer and safer.

  7. duurtlang_ Avatar

    Dashboards are like the people of today. They've become fat and flabby, while they're so much better looking and livable if they're more toned and slender.
    That said, I like having a console. But even with a console you can have plenty of room. The dash and console just need to work out and reduce their calorie intake. The picture Vavon uploaded shows how it should be done for a cheap car. Look at that tray behind the shifter. It can house your phone just fine, and you can charge it right there. There's absolutely no practical reason I can come up with why modern interiors need to be claustrophobic.

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      One reason may be to keep passengers from ping-ponging around in case of an accident.
      New interiors are claustrophobic, like a cocoon.
      And where else are manufacturers going to install GPSNavBluRaySeatHeatersCoolersAndFiftyOtherControls?

      1. duurtlang_ Avatar

        I'm certainly not an expert but I do assume that when you wear a seatbelt in the way you should you'll stay in your seat just fine. Giving your legs the ability to move slightly further towards the center of the car can't be too detrimental either. The nav control argument does make sense though. I'm not used to driving a car with integrated navigation, so I didn't think of this.

  8. chrystlubitshi Avatar

    I know this has been posted here many times before, but I thought it to be an appropriate song to listen to whilst reading this article.[youtube J3i7EFYk-_c http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3i7EFYk-_c youtube]

    1. MVEilenstein Avatar

      Yes, and yes.

  9. LTDScott Avatar

    I HAVE to have some sort of armrest or center console on my car. So much so that I actually added one to two cars I owned that didn't have one (P71 Crown Vic and SVT Focus). I am tall with a freakishly long torso, and if I don't have an armrest, my back will sometimes get achy on long trips from keeping myself upright.
    The rest of the console I could take or leave. I really like the one on my Mazdaspeed 3 – two decent cupholders, a spot to store my cell phone, and lots of storage under the armrest, including an extra power point and stereo aux-in, which came in handy to wire up a Bluetooth phone connection thingy. On the other hand, the center console on my LTD is pretty useless. There's a storage bin under the armrest, but the rest is purely decorative, just to cover up the area around the flood shifter. No cupholder or anything else. I would have no problem getting rid of it as long as I still had an armrest.

  10. humblejanitor Avatar

    Nope. I like consoles. However, they do need to take into account the comfort of the driver and passenger. This means that they need to be narrower, not wider and they need to serve a purpose other than eye candy.

  11. JayP2112 Avatar

    As consoles get taller, the shifter gets shorter.
    <img src="http://www.motortopia.com/files/2484/journal/49da588075f7f/EdRothRatFinkRod.jpg"&gt;

  12. Arco777 Avatar

    I do like a center console/armrest – It gives me a place to rest my arm, storage for doodads like sunglasses and cupholders, and discourages passengers from trying to squeeze in "3-wide" up front. But I don't like consoles that extend beyond the seats up into the dash. That extra room there really makes the car feel more open, even if all I put there is my CD binder.

  13. Devin Avatar

    I've been driving a console-less car for the past couple weeks. In that time, I've discovered I hate column shift, I miss having the little cubbies just after the shifter, and I can't live without an armrest anymore (though this car does have armrests built into the seats.) So I don't miss console-less cars one bit, and probably wouldn't buy one.

  14. muthalovin Avatar

    Bench seats, FTW!
    Though, I dont mind the center console in the Forester when driving for hours on end.

  15. calzonegolem Avatar

    2004 Ford Taurus
    Now you see it
    <img src="http://images04.olx.com/ui/1/91/72/2588972_4.jpg"&gt;
    Now you don't.
    <img src="http://images.gtcarlot.com/pictures/39800683.jpg"&gt;

    1. MVEilenstein Avatar

      I actually quite liked the late-model Taurus. They're very comfortable, and yes, the center seat/console is very handy.

      1. calzonegolem Avatar

        My current ride is an '04 Taurus. It is quite comfortable and get fit 6 people if needs must. I feel like it will probably out live.
        It is quite boring to drive but on a highway blast it can't really be beat.

        1. MVEilenstein Avatar

          Yep, it's a great freeway cruiser. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

  16. ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
    ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

    I've had a lot of contemporary cars without a center console, even without a tunnel, minivans. Just another reason they are awesome. To be able to scoot from the back to the front through that aisle is incredible and so is being able to throw really long stuff like gutters between there.
    I do like center stacks though in general especially with all the vents and controls cars have there now a days. I guess it makes more sense than to have stuff like the radio on the left of the driver to make it all fit. In some cars a center console is right though, like Jaguars of a certain age. There's just something about sitting down and into this well of luxury. I also think that there may be something safer about it, like in a side impact the feet of the passenger will not hit the driver and the passenger will not twist out and down. That's the reason dashboards have gotten so low down, to prevent submarining. I've seen the FD practice dash elevation evacuations here at bring your kid to work day with hydraulic equipment and they explained that to us.
    One thing freaked me out though. In Astrid the Amazon I was driving some coworkers to retirements and one time a guy I work with just would not stop talking about watching my legs. He's a superior of mine on some projects and that was a little uncomfortable for me.

    1. Lee Bullard Avatar
      Lee Bullard

      Cramped is not luxury neither is inconvenience the new cars all look like they are made from the same designer whether. Foreign or domestic .

  17. MVEilenstein Avatar

    No console? No problem.
    <img src="http://www.alpinemotorswyoming.com/upload/1992-Ford-F-250-hd-int.JPG&quot; width=600">
    (not mine, but identical interior)

    1. Devin Avatar

      This may be another reason why I don't get the bench seat love other people have. When you're a kid, you ride in the middle. That gear lever, or at least the one in my dad's truck, is right against your balls when it's in reverse. Couple that with an older truck which requires force to engage reverse, and you suddenly hate bench seats and never want to sit in them again.

      1. MVEilenstein Avatar

        I got an extended cab so I could throw kids and boxes in the back seat. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

      2. jeepjeff Avatar

        I'm going to counter with "Don't grab the wrong stick" jokes. Bench seats in manual, floor shifted trucks are great.

  18. Sjalabais Avatar

    Definitely! My Volvo 140 was perfect – roomy, open, beautiful. A lot of space creates a nice atmosphere. But then again I think that modern cars are full of unnecessary crap – and the radio was way over at the passengers side in the old Volvo. Not the tidiest bit ergonomic.

  19. SawdustTX Avatar

    Just last week my Father-in-Law and I were comparing a Cadillac DHS without console to a Lexus with console. Turns out the Caddy actually has more storage, cup, and arm rest space, while still maintaining that "open stance" space you mention for your legs. The Caddy, and my wife's smaller Buick, have a center arm rest that has two levels of storage, plus hefty fold-out cup holders. I favor consoles, but it was eye-opening to see how much more flexible and spacious the non-console cars are.

  20. Fritzo2162 Avatar

    Yes I miss them. No console is the reason I can fit in a Porsche 914 and an MGB, but I can't get into a 2002 Boxster, Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice, or a Mazda Miata.

  21. dculberson Avatar

    Absolutely I miss them. The last car I had without one was the Roadmaster wagon, and wifey liked to fall asleep on long trips with her head resting on me. It's sweet. My '66 Pontiac was also good for that, something about all the wind noise and the floating ride added up to her quickly dozing off…
    I need to go get another old car!

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      See also: road head.

      1. dculberson Avatar

        "fall asleep" == code

      2. Brandon Avatar

        Could see that comin'

  22. mdharrell Avatar

    As even my newest car lacks one, I remain inconsolable.

  23. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    My wife has traditionally insisted on bench front seats, which for her meant lots of Buicks. Her last car-shopping go-around, she caved and bought a Chrysler 300 with a fat, tall console between the seats.
    Ironically, the Town Cow is console-free.

  24. Stu_Rock Avatar

    Another vote for yes. I bought my Buick (and the Buick before that, and the Oldsmobile before that) specifically because it has a column shifter. Having all that space is so much more comfortable than being enclosed by a space-hogging console. If I wanted to be encapsulated in a tiny cockpit I would have signed up for the Air Force.
    I remember once test driving a Saturn LS2 that had a console so wide that my foot couldn't fit between the brake pedal and the console. No throttle for me. That was not cool.
    The current worst offender is the Ford Taurus.
    <img src="http://image.motortrend.com/f/17086317%2Bw750/112_0901_28z%2B2010_Ford_Taurus%2Binterior_view.jpg&quot; width=480>
    Where the hell is my right knee supposed to go?

  25. Scandinavian Flick Avatar
    Scandinavian Flick

    Nah, she's flexible enough.

  26. DemonXanth Avatar

    I used to want an LM Corvair over an EM, but after sitting in my EM and seeing pictures of the LM interior… I like my EM a lot. <img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-nPxoyKiJbB0/USFHZmuWsXI/AAAAAAAABMA/_uMbrbUdhqE/s678/IMG_20130217_122731.jpg&quot; width=400>

    1. Vairship Avatar

      So do I!

  27. Preludacris Avatar

    I don't mind consoles, probably 'cos I'm too young and haven't owned a car without one…
    <img src="http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z313/ndrwhrnr/DSC_0183_zpsb9988ce6.jpg&quot; width="600">
    But I do understand the appeal of the wide open spaces.

    1. Lotte Avatar

      Is that…wood flooring?

      1. Preludacris Avatar

        Laminate. I threw it in there for fun last summer and ended up liking it. Just a different look.

        1. Vairship Avatar

          Looks great! I'll have to keep that in mind for the PT Cruiser in case the carpets get dirty beyond repair. I'll have a wood floor in the back!

      2. jean Avatar

        where do I find laminate……?

  28. Trouble Avatar

    I would love to have a Honda S2000, but as the saying goes about cheap motels and the lack of ballroom….. I have seriously considered buying the dang car anyway and modifying the inside to eliminate the console just to make a four hour road trip tolerable. I swear my 67 Spitfire had more interior room than the younger, hotter, tighter, Miata/S2000/Mr2.

  29. jeepjeff Avatar

    The center console is actually a source of marital strife for me. So, I've soured on them significantly. I just want my gear lever there between the front buckets and nothing else.
    The strife is caused by the fact that my wife cannot drive a manual (I made a couple abortive attempts to teach her; it's been a comedy of errors, some my fault, some not). To her, the center console area is used by the driver only during start-up and shutdown of the vehicle. She only shifts from P to R to D at a stop, so there's no critical timing on those shifts. Which means, it doesn't matter if she has to carefully move her elbow past a pile of stuff.
    You can see what happens next: she sees the center console as the place to pile her purse and coat. Which causes me to grump at her when I'm driving. I consider the center console the domain of the driver, because I have to shift in concert with turning and acceleration, and if my elbow is blocked by something, it's a safety hazard. Also, annoying. This normally happens right at the start of the drive, and generally puts us both off. Which sucks. (I get annoyed at this in both the Jeep and the Civic, but in the Civic, it's only an annoyance, since it's an automatic.)
    I'd rather have nothing at all between the seats, then there might be room for a small pile that won't get in my way. Also, I could get rid of those cup holders. Like liquid is going to stay in a container with any opening in a Jeep…

  30. Lotte Avatar

    I haven't had a car without, but I don't really like them. It's in the way when I want to reach into the glovebox, and I rarely use the armrest for either arm-resting or storage (I throw my bag on the passenger seat). Plus, non-console interiors just seem so much cozier. I would love to drive one of these; even the seats themselves look cozy next to each other:
    <img src="http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/3/3202/4041/33004520007_large.jpg&quot; width=500>
    And this looks like a fantastic place to be:
    <img src="http://media.caranddriver.com/images/09q4/301696/ronald-helderman-in-his-1963-amc-rambler-american-330-wagon-photo-305376-s-1280×782.jpg&quot; width=500>

  31. salguod Avatar

    Column shift plus center console? Yes please:
    <img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2514/3821294417_92027ed02e.jpg&quot; width=600>
    This is due to the low slung bod and high center driveshaft tunnel. Even the rare stick shift 'Birds had 3 on the tree.
    (BTW – What's up with the narrow layout?)

  32. ptschett Avatar

    I'm OK with the full console on my Challenger & T-bird. Both are RWD with deep transmission tunnel & floor-mounted shifter, so it's not like I was going to have any opportunity to use that space anyways. Though I will say that my grandpa's DTS with column-shift & front bench is an excellent highway cruiser partly thanks to the extra transverse legroom.
    However I don't tolerate full consoles in pickups & SUVs if there is any way to avoid it. Example: pickup trucks with an automatic transmission – give me a column shift like my Dakota, or the Ram 8-speed dial-shifter.
    I've heard that police personnel love console-less, column-shift cars*. It makes sense, given all the radio & computer gear they have in the patrol cars now.
    *Based on a survey of one ND state patrolman who pulled me over a few weeks ago. After he gave me a warning & asked if I had any questions, I asked how he liked the HoldenChevy he was driving.

  33. AteUpWithMotor Avatar

    It really depends. If the console has cupholders, storage bins, and/or armrests and is not overly intrusive (some press into your leg like an over-affectionate St. Bernard), it can be welcome. A fair number of consoles, particularly on '60s American cars, are basically just decoration and something to knock your knee on. When I've driven cars without useful consoles, though, I do tend to miss them — I'm used to having somewhere to set or stow things and a place to rest my elbow.

  34. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
    C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    While I like consoles for DD-ing, I miss bench seats for road trips.
    The '73 Coupe deVille I used to have was so smooth, yet had the slightest surging at constant throttle, my wife would never last more than about 90 minutes before being asleep, head in my lap.
    I need to go look at that '95 RWD Fleetwood with 44K miles which is only a few miles from here, even if I can't justify owning it.

  35. BobWellington Avatar

    My Explorer's center console has room for two drinks and nothing else. I hate how it's set up. I wish it had a column-mounted shifter instead of a console mounted one. It's such a waste of space. Also, the part of the console that your right knee rests against is hard plastic. Bad decision, Ford. I should probably put something soft there myself.
    <img src="http://www.samarins.com/reviews/img/explorer_2006_int_large.jpg&quot; width="600">
    *Not my Explorer

  36. bhtooefr Avatar

    Good, relatively thin consoles are good. I like the Miata's console (despite its limitations), and I generally like my Golf's console.
    Mack truck sized consoles (I'm looking at you, current Taurus) are stupid. The Taurus feels more cramped than a previous-gen Fusion, FFS!

  37. florida maverick Avatar
    florida maverick

    Down with consoles! Automakers please give us more choices. If you want to grab something on the floor or the seat you risk an accident. Our console-less mini-van (Chrysler) is very spacious and has room for incidentals; also allows riders to change places easily. Is this the only vehicle out there w/o a console? We love it but this is our third one & we're ready for a change Would like a crossover-type but will stay with this until there are more choices.

  38. Larry Avatar

    Yep not only are they a nuisance for drivers, but riding shotgun is also made uncomfortable by the obstructive console. Being couped up in a small car with a broad center console on a hot day after filling your bladder in an attempt to stay cool is a bad feeling. That's pretty specific, but plenty of people have been there.

  39. Jean Avatar

    ok folks, let's start a letter campaign to auto makers …. I'm gonna start looking some up.

  40. Terry Moss Avatar
    Terry Moss

    Yes, I find the center console annoying, I also miss the luxury of pillow top leather seats. Buick and Cadillac have both strayed from what made them great. If I wanted a Mercedes I would buy one.

  41. disqus_SBxbICDCIX Avatar

    Couldn’t agree more. I hate the new, massive counsles and loved my bench seats. There is only one vehicle sold in america that you can special order a bench seat… the massive, gas guzzeling checy tahoe. my 96 taraus had a 60/40 split bench with fold down arm rest and column shifter. It was awesome! I loved that front seat and hte HUGE amount of space it provided. Nearly as bad as the counsel for long drives is that they force you into those horrible bucket seats where the sides rise up. I don’t need a child seat and it’s not a race car where the g forces are so great i need to held into the seat.

  42. Brandyn Nutter Avatar
    Brandyn Nutter

    I am a huge guy, 6’5″ and 400lbs. I can’t even drive most modern cars for more than 20 minutes because the center console makes me hold my leg in such a way that I get calf cramps from working the pedals. My car is a 2001 Buick LeSabre, and I LOVE the extra space. It’s the most comfortable car I’ve ever driven. Unfortunately, it is starting to become a money sink with it’s “old car syndrome” and I’m starting to look at getting something new. I was so disappointed to see that they discontinued the LeSabre for the Lucerne and put in that awful center console. Now I don’t know what I’m going to do.

  43. S. welch Avatar
    S. welch

    I need a newer car than my 2004 Nissan Quest with 147,000 miles. I do not want a center console as I believe center consoles a safety hazard. Is there a SUV with no center console?

  44. Super Jeepin Avatar
    Super Jeepin

    I’m guessing tall and wide center consoles offer better protection in the event of a crash because they help hold the occupants in place. The less space your body has that it can move during a crash, the less chance of injury. It seems like it would be a logical step forward in the pursuit of safer cars.

  45. Dutchman Avatar

    I drive a 1995 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale – no console and shift on the tree. The new cars are junk with this stupid space hogging piece of plastic called a console. As long as I can fix my Olds I refuse to buy the new junk. Give me a split bench seat with a low back for maximum viability with a large glass amount in the car to also enhance visibility.

  46. fnulnu40 Avatar


    1. Elizabeth Lang Avatar
      Elizabeth Lang

      I’m a mail carrier, and I’m looking for an SUV with no center console. A co-worker has a Ford Explorer with out a console, and she says that anything older than a 2005 doesn’t have one, but I have found that she’s wrong. I need help!

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