Chevy Equinox

Should all cars be easy to operate

Chevy shines a spotlight on universal design and ease of use with the 2013 Equinox as its example.

Where should the horn on a 2013 Chevy Equinox be? Should it be easy for most people to enter and exit the vehicle, or can Chevy just make it easy for fit people? Should all navigation systems have similar menus? The answer to these questions is not so obvious. The topic is called universal design and Chevy recently brought the topic to the forefront in a press release using its Equinox as an example.

In the information released by Chevy, the examples of universal design and ease of use design include a simple to step over sill (once called a rocker panel) under the door. If that sill requires a step over some drivers with limited mobility would have a hard time entering and exiting. Careful, thoughtful design can eliminate the issue. To the contrary, some vehicles are purpose built. For example the Lotus Elise is a track car thinly disguised as a road car. When one first opens the Elise door the sill to step over is the size of a carry-on bag. Entering requires dexterity, flexibility, bravado, and faith. However, that thick sill is actually a part of the vehicle's box frame and it gives the car such rigidity it impacts the car’s cornering in amazing ways. The Chevy Equinox is a general purpose vehicle so ease of entry matters a lot.


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I would like it if most carmakers would just agree that not everyone is 5'10" and 150 pounds. I'm 6'3" and have a very hard time getting into and out of (or just sitting in) many of today's cars. Funny thing, most of the culprits are American designs (like the new Dodge Dart) rather than foreign. I should get the Big and Tall Club together and collectively sue the auto industry for causing bad knees and neck cramps. :)