The GMC Canyon small pickup truck gives parents some flexibility thanks to a novel rear seat design.
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GMC Canyon’s Family-Friendly Seat Provides Added Flexibility

Child safety restraints and car seats don’t always fit properly in the back seats of small extended-cab pickups, but a clever design engineered for the GMC Canyon may give families some newfound flexibility.

Midsize extended-cab pickups aren’t traditionally known for being all that family friendly, especially when child safety seats are involved. The GMC Canyon small truck, however, gives parents some flexibility thanks to a novel rear seat design.

Modern child safety restraints are growing increasingly larger, making packaging the restraint within a vehicle challenging, let alone the cabin of an extended-cab midsize pickup.

“Typically, rear seats in compact or midsize extended cab pickup trucks are not long enough to meet the child restraint manufacturer’s installation recommendations,” said Eduardo Bugelli, who served as the lead safety performance integration engineer for the project. “In order to provide proper support to the restraint, most restraint manufacturers recommend at least 80% of the child restraint’s base is supported by the vehicle seat cushion.”

After spending an immense amount of time evaluating different seat designs and footprints, Bugelli’s team began working to find a way to extend the rear seat cushion in the Canyon. At one stage, over seventeen different proposals were under consideration before the team found a clever way to leverage the Canyon’s rear seat head rest.

The finished design on the Canyon works like this: on the passenger-side rear seat, users simply remove the head rest from the seat back and insert it into the mounting points located on the leading edge of the seat cushion. This simple design effectively solves two pertinent issues. Not only does it extend the cushion’s length to meet overhang standards, but it also gives a secure storage location for the headrest, which is frequently removed in order to properly position the child restraint or access the upper LATCH anchor.

After selecting this design, GM engineers still had to specifically design and engineer the head rests to ensure they would provide enough surface area and strength to support the base of the child restraint. A lot of analysis and digital modeling was performed in order to design a head rest could withstand the load imparted by a child and restraint, but also the weight subjected by an adult body leaning in to install or buckle the restraint.

“In my opinion, this concept is unique because it is simple,” said Bugelli. “It does not require additional components or complex mechanisms to achieve the end goal of extending the seat cushion. Besides the simplicity, plugging in the head rest also provides a place to store it when it is removed to facilitate child restraint installation.“