By Jennifer Newman on December 20, 2011
Little was left untouched with Mercedes' redesign of its midsize SUV, the 2012 M-Class. This five-seater has a new look inside and out as well as revised engine offerings and chassis. Of course, we focused on child-safety seats, and we were excited to fit three car seats across the ML350's backseat. Very few two-row vehicles — luxury or otherwise — can handle three across.
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 M-Class did in Cars.com's Car Seat Check:
Latch system: The M-Class has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the second row's outboard seats. The anchors are extremely easy to use because they sit out in the open. The SUV's three tether anchors are also a cinch to use. They're midway down the seatbacks.
Booster seat: The second row's seatbacks recline, which helps a variety of car seats get a good fit. Our high-back booster seat fit well in the second row. The seat belt buckles are on stable bases, making it easier for kids to buckle up independently.
How many car seats fit in the second row? Three
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