This Car Seat Check was originally published in June 2011 on MotherProof.com.
The 2012 Mazda5 is a small minivan that seats six passengers in three rows of seats. The second-row captain's chairs can travel forward to create more legroom when it's needed 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. If there's a third row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible.
Here's how the 2012 Mazda5 did in Cars.com's Car Seat Check:
Latch system: The Mazda5 has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the second row. While the anchors aren't visible in the seat bight (where the back and bottom cushions meet), they're just between the cushions and can be easy to use depending on the style of Latch connectors. There are two tether anchors in both the second and third rows. The second row's tethers are at the base of the seatbacks. In the third row, the tethers are midway down the seatbacks.
Booster seat: In the second row, our high-back booster seat fit well. The seat belt buckles are on stable bases and sit high enough for kids to easily use.
The booster fit well in the third row, but we ran into a few problems with the seat belt buckles. The buckles are floppy and sit close to the booster's base. This increases the likelihood that the car seat will ride over the buckle, making it difficult for kids to buckle up independently.
Convertible seat: Our convertible car seat's rigid Latch connectors made it difficult to hook them to the anchors in the second row. We solved the problem by reclining the seatback to open up the seat bight. Our car seat's large base caused problems when installing it in the second row, too. We had the same problems when installing the convertible in a rear-facing position in the second row. Once installed, there was plenty of room for this car seat in either position.
The third row doesn't have Latch anchors, so we used the seat belt to install the forward-facing convertible. The car seat fit well after we removed the head restraint.
Infant-safety seat: In the second row, there was plenty of room for this rear-facing car seat. Our infant seat has traditional Latch connectors, so we didn't have problems using the Mazda5's Latch anchors.
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.