Luxury features like ventilated and cooled car seats can significantly boost your comfort levels while you drive — at least, in terms of the surrounding temperature. Since they’re not necessarily the same thing though, you may be wondering whether you should get one or the other or if using either makes no difference.
Ventilated seats blow air through perforations in the upholstery to keep the occupant cool. On the other hand, cooled seats direct air over a cool surface and pass it into the seat chambers.
This guide goes into more detail about the differences between ventilated and cooled car seats. Specifically, I’ll cover their pros and cons and how they work. I’ll also discuss other concerns you may have, like whether these seals increase fuel consumption, whether you can install the aftermarket versions of these seats in your car, and the major brands that offer these features.
The Difference Between Ventilated and Cooled Car Seats
The main difference between ventilated and cooled car seats is the type of air they produce. Ventilated car seats use ambient air to keep the seat occupant comfortable, while cooled car seats use refrigerated air. They also differ in terms of the control and comfort they provide.
If you’re in a car with cooled seats, you can easily adjust the air to your comfort levels. Some vehicles allow you to control the cooled seats remotely. That means you can lower the seat’s temperature before getting into the car – a particularly handy feature on a hot, scorching day.
You might assume that cooled car seats provide better comfort than their ventilated counterparts. But that isn’t always the case. For example, cooled car seats are hardly useful if you live in an area that’s prone to cold weather or freezing winters. In this case, you’re better off with ventilated seats, since they blow ambient air without refrigerating it.
The air circulation from ventilated seats is usually enough to cool you in hot weather. Also, it can prevent the uncomfortable stickiness from sweat that often happens with leather upholstery.
Conversely, some vehicles have ventilated seats that can provide warmth when the temperature gets too cold. The system circulates air to either heat or cool the seat, allowing you to enjoy a more comfortable driving experience.
However, ventilated seats may not provide the comfort level you need if you live in extremely hot regions. Under such conditions, the refrigerated air from cooled seats works better.
Ventilated Car Seats: What You Need to Know
How Ventilated Car Seats Work
Ventilated seats usually feature small fans and ducts inside the areas that come into direct contact with your body, such as the backrest and cushion. Some ventilated systems blow ambient air from inside the seat through tiny perforations in the upholstery to the occupant. Others cool by sucking air into the seat.
The system usually comes with varying fan speeds, allowing you to choose the one that’s more comfortable for you. Usually, the fan starts at the highest speed when you first switch it on before gradually slowing down.
Some ventilated car seats automatically start the cooling process if the temperature outside the car is hot. You can also set the system to automatically turn on when the cabin temperature reaches a certain level.
Pros and Cons of Ventilated Car Seats
- Keeps occupant cool
- Reduces car seat temperature in hot weather
- Reduces sweating and dries moisture
- Boosts functionality of other features like massage, heated, and cooled seats
- Doesn’t produce refrigerated air, making it ineffective and inefficient for staying cool in extremely hot weather
- Poor car ventilation can reduce its overall effectiveness
- May hum loudly in some car models
About Cooled Car Seats
How Cooled Car Seats Work
Like ventilated seats, cooled car seats use small fans inside the seat to blow air over a cool surface that refrigerates it. The air then blows out through the perforations in the upholstery to keep you cool. The refrigeration process may work with the car’s air conditioning system or a different cooling element.
Air refrigeration occurs by compressing and condensing gas into a liquid in a closed loop. The liquid turns back into gas as it passes through an expansion valve. Then, it comes out as refrigerated air, allowing you to indulge in a cooler, more relaxing driving experience.
Pros and Cons of Cooled Car Seats
- Excellent comfort level during high temperatures
- Eliminates stickiness and prevents sweat stains
- Keeps you cooler than ventilated seats do
- Saves fuel
- Requires regular maintenance
- Difficult to install aftermarket options
- Requires refrigerants to function properly
Ultimately, the best choice for you boils down to your personal preferences and lifestyle. Some car owners use ventilated seats to prevent scorching and sticky seats, which some cars’ HVAC systems have trouble doing under hot weather conditions.
Other car owners prefer a more sophisticated cooling system that allows them to control each seat’s temperature. A cooled car seat fits this bill perfectly, as it allows each occupant to set their preferred temperatures.
Do Cooled Car Seats Increase Fuel Consumption?
Cooled car seats don’t increase fuel consumption. On the contrary, they save gas by improving the car’s fuel efficiency. Refrigerating air and blowing it is more fuel-efficient than cooling the entire car with conventional air conditioner systems.
Most cars have air conditioning systems that require engine power to work, leading to higher fuel consumption. According to a study, running air conditioners can lead to a 30% increase in fuel consumption during hot weather. Therefore, you should turn off the air conditioner to save fuel.
On the other hand, you don’t have to turn off cooled seats to save gas. The system cools individual seats instead of the car’s entire cabin. Therefore, cooled car seats are a more environmentally-friendly option.
Can You Install Aftermarket Ventilated or Cooled Seats in Your Vehicle?
Cars that have ventilated or cooled seats usually come with these features pre-installed. But what if you don’t plan to buy a new car yet and want to upgrade your car seats to either of these cooling options? Can you easily add an aftermarket seat to your car?
You can install aftermarket ventilated or cooled seats in your vehicle, but the process can be difficult because they may not entirely fit your car seat. However, it’s possible to install new car seats with cooling features. Custom embroidery and fancy piping are other options you may consider.
List of Major Cars Brands With Ventilated or Cooled Seats
As I mentioned, most cars don’t come equipped with ventilated or cooled seats. Instead, these luxury features often come with high-end automobiles. Some major car brands offer these seats as standard features, while others provide them on an optional basis.
Below is a list of passenger vehicles with ventilated or cooled car seats. Keep in mind that the list is by no means comprehensive. However, it should give you a fair idea of what kinds of models offer ventilation and other cooling features for seats.
- Acura TLX and RDX
- Aston Martin Vantage, DBS, and DB11
- Audi E-Tron, Q5, Q7, Q8, and A4 through A8
- Bentley Continental GT, Flying Spur, and Bentayga
- BMW X3 through X7, and 4 Series through 8 Series
- Buick Envision and Enclave
- Cadillac Escalade, XT4 through XT6, CT4, and CT5
- Chevrolet Camaro, Traverse, Equinox, Blazer, and Malibu
- Dodge Charger, Durango, and Challenger
- Ford F-150, Mustang, Explorer, Expedition, Edge, and Super Duty F-250/350/450
- Genesis G70 through G90 and GV80
- GMC Terrain, Acadia, Yukon, Canyon, Sierra 1500, and Sierra 2500/3500
- Honda Odyssey, Passport, Accord, and Pilot
- Hyundai Kona EV, Elantra HEV, Santa Fe, Palisade, Nexo Sonata, and Tucson
- Infiniti QX50 and QX80
- Jaguar XF, F-Pace, F-Type, and E-Pace
- Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, Grand Cherokee L, and Compass
- Kia Sportage, Stinger, Niro, Forte, Sedona, Sorento, and Telluride
- Lamborghini Urus
- Land Rover Discovery, Discovery Sport, Range Rover, Range Rover Velar, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Evoque, and Defender
- Lexus LC, LX, ES, IS, UX, GX, RX, and NX
- Lincoln Corsair, Nautilus, Aviator, and Navigator
- Maserati Levante, Ghibli, and Quattroporte
- Mazda Mazda6, CX-5, and CX-9
- Mercedes-Benz S-Class, E-Class, A-Class, C-Class, G-Class, GLE-Class, and GLC-Class
- Nissan Maxima, Armada, Titan, Titan XD, and Murano
- Porsche Cayenne, Taycan, Panamera, and Macan
- Rolls-Royce Ghost, Dawn, and Cullinan
- Subaru Legacy, Ascent, and Outback
- Tesla Model Y, Model S, and Model X
- Toyota Highlander, 4Runner, Tundra, Land Cruiser, Avalon, Camry, and RAV4
- Volkswagen Jetta, Atlas, and Atlas Cross Sport
When you choose between ventilated and cooled car seats, your primary consideration should be the general climate of the place you live in. If you live in a place with relatively high temperatures, a cooled seat is a better option; otherwise, go for a ventilated seat. Don’t forget to account for your personal preferences and lifestyle when making this decision.
See also: How to Make Car Seats More Comfortable