The Car Cupholder Craze Is Out of Control

When you’re shopping for a new car, you’ll find more options than ever — built-in WiFi, in-car air fragrance systems, massaging seats, autonomous driving, and even gaming systems — but what about cupholders? Are they an indispensable, critical element of a driver’s well-being? Considering the fact that automakers are offering as many as 19 cupholders in one car, it sure seems like Americans can’t live without them. The first cupholder showed up in 1953, though it was an add-on accessory at the time. It wasn’t until 1984 that the cupholder craze really kicked off. It all started with the Plymouth Voyager minivan, which became the first vehicle to feature an integrated center console that could hold two 12-oz cups. From there, the trend spiraled out of control, as automakers began to prioritize cupholders. Today, we have some of the most cupholder-equipped vehicles ever introduced to the market. Take, for example, the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. It can seat a maximum of five passengers, but it has a staggering 13 cupholders. The Nissan Titan XD, another compact pickup, has seating for five, with a whopping 14 cupholders. That brings us to the Subaru Ascent, a 3-row SUV that’s the brand’s largest vehicle yet. The 8-passenger SUV has a record-breaking 19 cupholders. Apparently, the Ascent would have had 20 cupholders, but part of the HVAC system had to be routed through the left armrest in the rear row, taking the spot of cupholder No. 20. So, what have we learned here, other than automakers seem keenly aware of our need to hydrate while on the road? Nothing really, except that perhaps the cupholder trend seems ridiculous to some but a good way to utilize space to others. For now, the craze appears to be going nowhere but up.