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The center console (British English: centre console) in an automobile refers to the control-bearing surfaces in the center of the front of the vehicle interior. The term is applied to the area beginning in the dashboard and continuing beneath it, and often merging with the transmission tunnel which runs between the front driver's and passenger's seats of many vehicles.
Traditionally, vehicles with a gear stick have placed this control where the two areas of console and tunnel merge, or at the rear-most end of the console in front-wheel-drive vehicles without transmission tunnels. In some modern vehicles – particularly vans – the gear stick is mounted in the front, more vertical part of the center console to be within better reach of the driver without requiring a long stalk mounted on the steering column.
Increasingly, center consoles include a wide variety of storage compartments and cupholders, some of them with a refrigerator, in addition to the more traditional use as purely a surface for instrumentation (e.g., outside temperature display) and controls (car audio).
The term "center console" often extends, as well, to the armrest between the driver's and passenger's seats, which in some vehicles (e.g., the Toyota RAV4) features one or more storage compartments under the armrest.
Rear center console
Some cars include additional rear center console, which commonly includes entertainment and climate system controls (and possibly display screens and air vents), auxiliary power outlets, and sometimes window controls when these are not in the doors (for example, in the Ford Sierra). Another element is an ashtray, though this is now less common. On some cars and SUVs, the center console has heater vents for the comfort of rear passengers.
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