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2013 Ford Focus ST: Car Seat Check

The Focus ST is Ford's take on the sporty hatchback. Its vibrant yellow exterior paint and matching interior trim make it stand out from the compact hatchback pack, as does its tricked-out engine: a 252-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Many families use the regular Focus to haul kids around; how does the ST's backseat handle two child-safety seats?

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 Ford Focus ST did in's Car Seat Check:

Latch system:
There are two sets of Latch anchors in the outboard seats. The sport seats are firm, and the anchors are set about a half-inch into the seat bight, where the back and bottom cushions meet.

Booster seat:
The sport seats were a good fit for the booster because they're wide and flat, with slight seat bolstering that holds the booster snug. The buckles are on stable bases, so they'll be easy for kids to use. They're crowded close to the Latch anchors, however, so they could get in the way of car seat installation.

Convertible seat:
To install the convertible in the forward-facing position, we had to remove the head restraint; it upset the angle of the car seat, pushing it too far off the bottom cushion. The sport seats angle deeply toward the seat bight, so it was tough to get the convertible to sit at the correct angle. There are three tether anchors midway down the seatbacks. Lots of clearance around the anchors eased connection.

In the rear-facing position, there wasn't enough room and we had to slide the front passenger seat as far forward as it would go, which was uncomfortable for the front passenger. Even after that and adjusting the front seat to a more upright angle, we still had to wedge the seat in place. The rear-facing seat's wide base blocked access to the anchors, so installation was tough and required us to lift the seat to get to the anchors. An awkward maneuver.

Infant-safety seat:
Using this rear-facing seat's traditional hook-like connectors made finding the Latch anchors easy, because there's not a lot of room in the seat bight for the convertible’s bulky connectors. To fit the infant seat the front passenger seat still had to be moved all the way forward, but we could adjust the seatback's angle to a more comfortable one for the front passenger. The passenger's knees were still jammed in the glove box, however.

How many car seats fit in the second row?

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.

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