Is there anybody out there who hasn’t been either freezing or sweltering at the hands of the driver on a road trip?  I didn’t think so.  Sharing the front seat with a driver who enjoys the heat can be a harrowing experience that is rife with sweat dripping down your face, the hostility that accompanies being overheated, and windblown hair if they prefer the feeling of the open windows.  On the other side of the coin, you could have to endure the torture of being blasted with sixty-degree air for the duration of your trip.  Either way, it is unpleasant, at best.

For years, this was the only way.  You could either close the vents and get none of the benefits of the car’s heating or air conditioning, or open them and suffer through the full barrage of extreme temperatures.  You could slip the window open, but it often introduced humid air into the car; not to mention the noise.  These days, automakers are looking to eliminate the tension of family road trip, by allowing passengers to control their own temperatures, with dual and multi-zone climate control.

In 1939, Packard offered air conditioning in its cars, but let’s not pretend it was anything similar to what is offered these days.   They were bulky, inefficient, and barely affordable.  Over the years, the automotive industry has made numerous advancements with their air conditioning efforts.  The biggest of these advancements is the addition of multi-zone climate control, which allows for different temperatures to be experienced in different parts of the vehicle.  That’s right, no more having to wear a winter coat while the driver is dressed in a sleeveless shirt.

For several years, dual zone climate control was the bees’ knees.  It was the best thing the automotive industry had to offer, in terms of finally finding a happy medium between driver preference and passenger preference.  It offered completely separate control of the temperature for both of the occupants in the front seats.  In many systems, however, both parties were unable to adjust the intensity of the fan.  While this system made serious strides towards enjoyable road trips, it was not without its issues.  The fan speed was a big problem, as being blasted with your ideal temperature may still be slightly unpleasant.  Also, there was no accounting for backseat passengers, and their comfort level.

What we’re seeing now is multi-zone climate control.  While the inner workings of these systems are brand specific and in some cases, a well-guarded secret, the gist is pretty much the same.  Currently, newer cars a being manufactured to include several different zones, especially in larger vehicles, such as SUVs and minivans.  Each zone of the car then has control over their ideal temperature.  Should the people in the third row want to enjoy the air conditioning, this no longer means that the entire car has to be blasted with cold air being pumped, with all it’s might, from the front seats.

This type of air conditioning revolutionizes the traveling market.  With each level of the car able to control how they feel, road trips aren’t such a painful experience, anymore.  There is probably less incidence for car sickness, as there is likely less overheating and an influx of cool air can only help with this issue.  Kids will have less to complain about if their legs aren’t sticking together from sweating so badly, and everyone enjoys a road trip when mom and dad aren’t battling over the perfect temperature.  Many families are still unable to afford costly airfare, and multi-zone climate controls provides the required comfort to make a trip in the car that much more tolerable.

For a very long time, we dealt with less than stellar air conditioning.  We all remember the days of our parents having to sacrifice one of their vents as they tried to angle it towards the backseat so that we may get one satisfying stream of cool air.  Kids today may never know the struggle of having to argue over who got to sit behind the parent willing to share their air.  Whatever their intention for this invention, the automotive industry has finally made it possible to achieve a happy medium when it comes to the interior temperature of the car.