I recently took a road trip across the bottom of Australia, going from Melbourne to Brisbane. We took the journey in a 2017 Toyota RAV4, and it was fine, except for those parts that I had to sit in the back seat. The combination of the RAV4’s small rear windows, its black upholstery, and high shoulder lines of the vehicle meant that rear compartment was dark, cramped, and somewhat claustrophobic.
Countless times throughout that journey when I was in the back seat I longed for a decent rear seat entertainment package. It would have made those stints in the backseat a lot more tolerable as I could watch a movie, surf the web, or amuse myself with one of those Australian online gambling games that I like so much without having to hold a smartphone up to my eyes the whole time. That brings me to the whole concept of Rear Seat Entertainment and why it should be included in every sedan, SUV and hatchback as standard, or at the very least as an option you can choose.
These days, with the cost of electronic devices at an all time low, there really isn’t an excuse for car makers not to at least offer a rear seat entertainment package as an extra. Time was such packages were reserved only for the most expensive luxury sedans, and even they used to get a crappy system with low-re screens that showed a crappy picture of the local TV stations. Now though, you can have iPad-quality touchscreen displays connected to fast LTE networks, providing you with plenty of choices how to spend those boring hours in the back seat. I cannot stress enough how much I would like to have slot machine games to play on the go! Luckily, I can get my fill of games here instead of my car.
But rear seat entertainment goes deeper than a couple of screens. Actually, I reckon we should call it the rear seat convenience package, as it should also include individual climate zone each occupant can control on their own, and also a massage function for each of the backrests. Again, these used to be the purview of high-end super deluxe models. But the cost of fitting these systems has dropped so much, you can have all of them, plus the above-mentioned entertainment goodies, in an optional package for less than two grand. And that’s a two grand I would happily pay, even if it means I’ll only use them like twice a year.
An step further than that would be having reclining seats in the back, and that is still not an option readily available for mid-range cars. If you want that, you either have to wait a few more years until they become a mainstream feature – as they have started to, given some of the latest SUVs and executive sedans we’ve seen out in the market – or shell out big money on a full-size sedan or SUV, most of which come as standard with it. Of course the very top end of this segment also provides you with a Maybach-style reclining chair complete with front passenger seat fold option which gives you the same comfort as in an Emirates business class seat in an Airbus A380.