This Car Seat Check was originally posted in October 2011 on MotherProof.com.
The 2012 Dodge Durango looks to build on last year's success. For the 2012 model year, the Durango added optional second-row captain's chairs with a center console.For our Car Seat Check, we tested a Durango with a three-seat bench in the second row, making it a seven-seater.
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. If there's a third row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible.
Here's how the 2012 Durango did in MotherProof.com's Car Seat Check:
Latch system: The Durango has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the second row's outboard seats. The anchors are easy to find, but a little hard to use with traditional Latch connectors because the seat cushions around them are difficult to move out of the way. We found the anchors to be easier to use with our convertible car seat's rigid Latch connectors. There are three tether anchors midway down the second row's seatbacks.
The third row doesn't have any lower Latch anchors, but it does have two tether anchors about two-thirds of the way down the seatback. The anchors are partially covered by flaps that bridge the gap between the cargo floor and the seatbacks.
Booster seat: Our high-back booster seat fit well in the Durango's second row. We were able to work with the Durango's fixed head restraints by reclining the seatback, so it wouldn't interfere with our booster's fit. The seat belt buckles are on stable bases, but they sit low in the seat cushion, making it easy for the booster to ride over the buckle.
The third row's seat belt buckles are on stable bases that sit much higher than those in the second row. The booster seat also fit well in this row.
Convertible seat: In the second row, the forward- and rear-facing convertible fit well. This was surprising because the second-row seats don't slide forward and back as they do in competing three-row SUVs. The forward-facing convertible (photo below) also fit well in the third row, where we used the seat belt to install it.
Infant-safety seat: This rear-facing seat also fit well in the second row.
Third-row access: The 60/40-split second row tumbles forward to create a pathway to the third row. However, if a car seat is installed in the second row getting to the third row could be a problem.
How many car seats fit in the second row? Two. We were able to fit our three car seats in the second row, but they were tightly wedged against each other, making it difficult for a child in the booster seat to buckle independently.
How many car seats fit in third row? Two
Editor's note: For three car seats — infant-safety seat, convertible and booster seats mdash; 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.