By Jennifer Newman on December 4, 2012
For 2013, the Lexus ES 350 received a redesign that included a new exterior look and an upgraded interior. It also welcomed a hybrid counterpart, the ES 300h, for the first time. For the Car Seat Check, we installed car seats in the 300h, but the results can be applied to the ES 350; both sedans have seating for five and the same interior dimensions. The 300h's battery pack does eat into the trunk space, though. The ES 350 has 15.2 cubic feet of cargo space, but the 300h has 12.1.
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 ES 350 and ES 300h did in Cars.com's Car Seat Check:
Latch system: Both ES sedans have two sets of lower Latch anchors in the outboard seats. They're slightly buried between the seat bight and sit tightly against the bottom of the back cushions. This placement makes them difficult to use with traditional hook-like connectors; we had an easier time using anchors with rigid connectors.
There are three tether anchors on the rear shelf behind the backseat's head restraints. They sit under hinged plastic covers and are easy to use.
Booster seat: Our high-back booster seat fit well in the wide outboard seats. The sizable seat bolsters didn't affect the car seat's fit. The outboard seat belt buckles are on stable bases, but the middle seat's buckle is floppy, which can be difficult for kids to use independently.
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