By Jennifer Newman on November 1, 2011
This Car Seat Check was first published in March 2011 on MotherProof.com.
The Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan received upgrades to both the exteriors and interiors for the 2011 model year. The minivan siblings each have their strong points. The Town & Country focuses on luxurious touches, and the Grand Caravan goes for a more aggressive, sporty look.
We installed child-safety seats in the Town & Country, but the results can be applied to the Grand Caravan, too. Both minivans have the same seating configuration, with two captain's chairs in the second row and a three-seat bench in the third row.
For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide 30 rear-facing infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible child-safety seat and Graco high-back TurboBooster seat.
The front seats are adjusted to a comfortable position for a 6-foot driver and a 5-foot-8 passenger. The three child seats are installed in the second row. The booster seat sits behind the driver's seat, and the infant seat and convertible seats are installed behind the passenger seat. We also install the infant seat in the second row's middle seat with the booster and convertible in the outboard seats to see if three car seats will fit. In the third row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible.
Here's how the 2011 Town & Country and Grand Caravan did in Cars.com's Car Seat Check:
Latch system: There are three sets of lower Latch anchors in both minivans. The two sets in the second-row captain's chairs stick out slightly from the seat bight, where the back and bottom cushions meet. These anchors are easy to use. The third row's set of Latch anchors are also easy to use. They're placed off-center, in the larger part of the 60/40-split seat.
There are three tether anchors in the minivans. All of them sit in the open and are easy to use.
Booster seat: Even with the fixed head restraint, our high-back booster seat fit well in the captain's chair. The captain's chairs move forward and back, and the seatbacks recline. The seat belt buckles are well-anchored and easy for children to use on their own.
The booster seat also fit well in the third row, which has fixed head restraints and reclining seatbacks. However, the seat belt buckles are floppy, making it difficult for kids to buckle up independently.
Convertible seat: The rear-facing convertible seat fit great in the captain's chair. The forward-facing convertible also fit well in the second row (photo below). The head restraint didn't get in the car seat's way, and the tether anchor at the bottom of the captain's chair is easy to use.
In the third row, we had to recline the seatback to get a good fit with the forward-facing convertible seat. The off-center position of the Latch anchors meant we also had to remove the middle head restraint because it was pushing the car seat forward.
How many car seats fit in the second row? Two
How many car seats fit in third row? Two
Editor's note: For three car seats — infant-safety seat, convertible and booster seats — to fit in a car, our criterion is that a child sitting in the booster seat must be able to reach the seat belt buckle. Parents should also remember that they can use the Latch system or a seat belt to install a car seat.
Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Newman is a certified car-seat technician. A mom of two, she owns a 2013 Subaru Outback crammed with sports gear. Email Jennifer