By Jennifer Newman on November 1, 2011
This Car Seat Check was originally published in March 2011 on MotherProof.com.
Volkswagen entered the minivan market in 2008 with the Routan. If it looks familiar, that's because it's related to the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan. The Routan comes with two captain's chairs in the second row and a three-seat bench in the third.
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 Routan scored in Cars.com's Car Seat Check:
Latch system: The Routan has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the second row. These Latch anchors are somewhat difficult to use with car seats that have rigid Latch connectors as our Roundabout does because the seat cushions get in the way. We reclined the captain's chair seatback to gain better access to the anchors. There's one more set of lower Latch anchors in the larger portion of the 60/40-split third row. These anchors are exposed and easy to use. The Routan has three tether anchors, with two in the second row.
Booster seat: The high-back booster seat fit well in the captain's chair. While the head restraints in the second row are removable, there was no need to take them out of the chairs. The seat belt buckles are on stable bases that stand up high enough for a child to grasp it. In the third row, the booster seat also fit well. The large head restraints in the third row don't get in the way of the booster. The seat belt buckles are floppy, making them difficult for a child to use independently.
Convertible car seat: The forward-facing convertible fit well in the captain's chair after we leaned the seatback to expose the Latch anchors. The rear-facing convertible also fit well, but connecting the rigid Latch connectors to the anchors was a struggle. There was no struggle when installing the forward-facing convertible in the third row. The exposed Latch anchors make it easy to get the car seat installed quickly. The Latch anchors sit off-center in the third row, allowing for only one other car seat or person to fit back there when in use.
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