Competition is fierce in the midsize car class and the players are always changing: Toyota's Camry was redesigned for 2012 and new versions of the Honda Accord and Ford Fusion are forthcoming for 2013. Nissan is keeping pace with a restyled Altima sedan. Its wide, flat backseat is great for child-safety seats, but crowded buckles and Latch anchors made installation less than easy.
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 2013 Nissan Altima did in Cars.com's Car Seat Check:
Latch system: There are two sets of Latch anchors in the Altima's outboard seats. They're set high in the seat bight, where the back and bottom cushions meet. The anchors are smashed against the top cushion. This placement makes them tricky to access.
Booster seat: The wide, flat backseat helped us get a good fit for the booster, which had plenty of room. The Altima's buckles are on fairly stable bases, so kids should be able to buckle-up independently.
Convertible seat: There are three tether anchors on the rear parcel shelf. They're under hinged plastic covers and have plenty of clearance. They look accessible on first glance, but the Altima's head restraints are fixed, so the convertible's top tether strap has to be thread around the head restraint, making connecting to it an awkward maneuver. The fixed head restraint also made it tough to situate the forward-facing convertible at the correct angle. The rear-facing convertible had plenty of room — the front passenger seat didn't need to move forward — but the Latch anchors and the seat belts are crowded together, complicating connecting the car seat.
Infant-safety seat: The front passenger seat had to be moved forward about 2 inches for the rear-facing infant seat to fit. An average-size passenger will still have enough legroom. The Altima's middle seatback folds down to become an armrest, so this isn't a safe place for a rear-facing car seat. In a crash, the seatback could flip down and injure the child.
How many car seats fit in the second row? Two, but it was pretty close.
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.