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Definitions: Dual-Zone Climate Control

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author photo by Josh Sadlier

Pros: Lets front passengers set their own temperature

Cons: Increases vehicle price; complicates control interface

Summary: If you're shopping for a car and see the term "dual-zone climate control," it refers to a climate control system with two sets of controls: one for the driver and one for the front passenger.

Some cars offer "tri-zone" or even "quad-zone" climate control. These third and fourth zones are for rear passengers. Tri-zone climate control means second-row passengers share a set of controls. Quad-zone climate control can mean that each side of the second row gets individual climate controls, just like the front -- or, in a 3-row vehicle, it can mean that both the second and third seating rows get their own "single-zone" climate controls.

Most common by far, however, is the dual-zone climate control system. It typically features two temperature controls -- one on each side of the control unit -- so the driver and the passenger can create their own microclimates. Some cars also give the passenger a separate fan control and air-flow selector, whereas others limit the "dual" functionality to just that temperature knob.

Naturally, dual-zone climate control costs more than a traditional manual system, so it will tend to inflate the vehicle price. Also, the sometimes complicated controls can make it hard to switch to "single-zone" mode on demand, which is annoying -- dual zones aren't much good when you're driving alone.

Generally, though, there's a lot to like about these systems.

What it means to you: Dual-zone climate control has traditionally been a luxury feature in the U.S., but it's common in Japan, and more and more cars are using it today. It might be more accessible than you think.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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Definitions: Dual-Zone Climate Control