By Jennifer Newman on October 4, 2012
The 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander is the automaker's largest crossover, but we found its three rows to be too small when it came to fitting rear-facing child-safety seats in its second row. The Outlander can be had with two or three rows of 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 convertible seat in the second row's middle seat with the booster and infant seat 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 Outlander did in Cars.com's Car Seat Check:
Latch system: This seven-seater has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the second row's outboard seats. They sit behind vertical slits in the seat cushions and are easy to use with both the traditional hook-like connectors as well as the chunky, rigid connectors.
The second row's three tether anchors are much more difficult to use. They're at the base of the seatbacks and like the latch anchors, they sit behind slits in the leather seats. We had to work to get at the anchors, pushing the leather aside to try to get better access.
The third row, which has two seating positions, didn't have any Latch or tether anchors, so we didn't install the forward-facing convertible back there.
Booster seat: The second-row seat belt buckle caused all sorts of problems for our booster seat (photo above). The floppy buckle, which is often difficult for younger kids to use independently, rests behind the booster seat. Our installer had to scoot the booster seat toward the door to connect the seat belt into the buckle; it's a setup that leads to tears for the child sitting in the booster and frustration for the parent.
The third row's bottom seat cushion is shallow (photo above), so part of the high-back booster seat hangs off the cushion, which is allowed as long as 80% of the booster (or other child-safety seat) is resting against the car's seat. The seating positions on the bench are narrow, so our booster seat had to be moved to the side again to get at the buckle, which is floppy.
Convertible seat: The forward-facing convertible fit well in the second row, though we had difficulties using the tether anchor. To fit the rear-facing convertible, we had to move the front passenger seat nearly all the way forward, which left our tester's knees pushing against the glove box.
Infant-safety seat: As with the rear-facing convertible, we had to move the front passenger seat nearly all the way forward and put the seatback in a more upright position to get the infant seat to fit in the second row. The tester was even more uncomfortable because of the seatback's angle.
Third-row access: To get to the third row, the 60/40-split second row tumbles forward easily. To tumble the seat forward, a child-safety seat would have to be removed. Putting the seat back in place is more difficult because of the seat's heaviness, and it's a two-step process.
How many car seats fit in the second row? Two
How many car seats fit in third row? Two, but boosters only.
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