Buying Guides

2018 Best Cars With Cooled Seats

Keep your backside comfortable all summer long

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

Having a killer dual-zone climate control system is great in the summer, but even potent AC can't cool down a hot seat. This can mean the front of your body is cool while your backside cooks, especially if you have leather or vinyl seating. To combat this, automakers have ventilated or cooled seats. Once you experience this feature, it's hard to go without. Here are some of the best sedans with cooled seats that you can buy.

2018 Kia Cadenza Limited

  • PROS: Standard ventilated seats on the trims offered with it, one of the easiest to use infotainment systems, some seriously comfortable seats, great-looking exterior styling.
  • CONS: No ventilated seats on the bottom trim level, not very sporty.

The Cadenza is one of Kia’s cars that punches well above its class. Kia is making fantastic cars right now, and the Cadenza is one of them. It’s smooth on the road, more upscale than you expect, and feature packed. Ventilated seats are standard equipment on the top Limited trim and the mid-level Technology trim. If you go with the Limited trim, you also get quilted Nappa leather seats, Harman/Kardon audio system, UVO infotainment system with Sirius XM Radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless charging, and navigation. A 290 hp 3.3-liter V6 is the only engine option for the Cadenza.

2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited

  • PROS: Ventilated seats standard on Limited trim, well-laid-out infotainment system, better to drive than previous model years, spacious trunk.
  • CONS: Ventilated seats only available on Limited trim, less powerful engine than top rivals, sloping roofline reduces rear-seat headroom.

Hyundai improved its Sonata for the 2018 model year, keeping it competitive with the new models from Honda and Toyota. The 2018 Sonata drives well, looks fantastic, and offers a comfortable interior with ventilated seats if you want them. To get those ventilated seats, you have to buy the Limited trim level, which also comes with a lot of other equipment and features, including Hyundai’s excellent infotainment system that has Sirius XM Radio, navigation, Bluetooth, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, wireless charging, and Hyundai’s Blue Link connected car services. In terms of engines, you can get the Sonata Limited with either a 184 hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 245 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.

2018 Chevrolet Malibu Premier

  • PROS: Ventilated seats are standard on the Premier trim level, great infotainment system with tons of features, comfortable seating with plenty of legroom.
  • CONS: No ventilated seats in the lower trim levels, not the most engaging to drive.

The Chevrolet Malibu is an attractive sedan. It may be a family car, but it has one of the better-looking exteriors around. The car is as nice to drive as it looks, too. It’s smooth and makes handling the challenges of the road easy. That said, it’s not exactly a sporty car, and its competitors are more engaging to drive. The Malibu excels in the comfort department. This is especially true when you get the Premier trim with the cooled seats. The Malibu has Chevrolet’s excellent MyLink infotainment system, which is packed with features, including navigation, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Under the hood, Chevrolet provides a 250 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

2018 Ford Fusion Titanium

  • PROS: Cooled seats standard on Platinum trim and optional on Titanium trim, superb infotainment system, optional all-wheel drive.
  • CONS: Cooled seats are only available in two trims, design is aging, and Ford has no plans to update the model.

Ford has decided to kill off its sedans to focus on SUVs and trucks, so if you want a good Ford car, snatch up the Fusion before it’s too late. The Ford Fusion comes with cooled seats in Titanium and Platinum trim levels. Get the Titanium trim and you’ll keep your costs down and still get Ford’s excellent Sync 3 infotainment system and have the option of adding all-wheel drive. Sync 3 provides access to features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, Sirius XM Radio, and other apps. Powering the Fusion in Titanium trim is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 245 hp.

2018 Honda Accord Touring

  • PROS: Powerful ventilated seats, excellent driving dynamics, smooth ride, spacious and comfy cabin.
  • CONS: Ventilated seats only available in Touring trim, not the most attractive sedan.

Honda’s 2018 Accord might not be the most beautiful sedan on the market at the moment, but it’s certainly one of the best to drive. While it’s a fantastic sedan in any trim level, in Touring trim you get some powerful ventilated front seats that will keep your backside cool and dry all summer long. Pair that with a large head-up display, wireless phone charging, mobile Wi-Fi hotspot capability, near field communication technology, and heated front and rear outboard seats for the winter months, and you’re looking at a fantastic car for the money. For power, you can have either a 192 hp 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or a 252hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.

2018 Kia Optima SX

  • PROS: Standard ventilated seats on the top trim, refined exterior styling, long list of features for the money.
  • CONS: Ventilated seats only in top two trim levels, performance is now outpaced by the competition.

The Kia Optima offers a great value. It’s not as impressive as Honda’s new Accord or Hyundai’s revamped Sonata, but it still provides quite a lot, including ventilated seats in the right trim level. They’re standard in the SX trim and optional in the EX trim level. If you go with the Optima SX you also get features like surround view monitor, Kia’s fantastic UVO infotainment system that has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and navigation, and a long list of driver assist features including lane change assist, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic braking, and smart cruise control. The SX trim level gets a 245 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.

2018 Lexus IS 300

  • PROS: The option to add ventilated seats to any IS, fun-to-drive sporty sedan, comfortable interior, available all-wheel drive.
  • CONS: Frustrating infotainment system, polarizing exterior styling.

The Lexus IS may not be around in the future. Lexus is considering letting the sedan die off, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad car. In fact, the IS is a fantastic sedan with plenty to offer if you can appreciate the styling. It’s priced fairly close to some of the top trim level mainstream sedans on this list. The car can be had with ventilated front seats and all-wheel drive in any trim level. While the infotainment system is difficult to use, it does have many features, including navigation, Bluetooth, Sirius XM Radio, and Entune’s App Suite. The car is has excellent seats, and on the road, it’s one of the best cars to helm, with direct steering and sporty handling. Under the hood of the IS 300 is a 241 hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder. If that’s not enough for you, you can upgrade to the IS 350, which gets a 311 hp 3.5-liter V6.

What to look for in a car with cooled seats

  • Well-placed physical heated/cooled seat buttons.
  • Multiple cooling settings for ideal control.
  • An air conditioning system that's powerful and complementary.