2016 Ford Explorer: Car Seat Check

16Ford_Explorer_AC_Lead.jpg photo by Angela Conners

CARS.COM — For the Ford Explorer, model-year 2016 brings a face-lift and a new top-line Platinum trim. This three-row SUV can seat six or seven passengers. For our Car Seat Check, we tested the Explorer in Platinum trim with six seats and a leather interior. The second-row captain’s chairs slide forward and back, and the seatbacks recline.

More Car Seat Checks

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

How many car seats fit in the third row? Two

What We Like

  • The third row has one set of lower Latch anchors for easier car-seat installation.
  • Our high-back booster seat fit well in both the second and third rows. The seat belt buckles are easy to grasp because they’re on stable bases.
  • We didn’t need to move the front passenger seat forward to fit our rear-facing convertible seat, though we did struggle to connect the seat’s rigid Latch connectors to the Latch anchors.
  • The second-row captain’s chairs fold and flip forward after pulling a lever to create a wide path to the third row. However, our Explorer didn’t have any running boards, making it a sizable climb into the second and third rows. You also can access the third row via the walkway between the captain’s chairs.
  • It took some effort to get the forward-facing convertible’s rigid Latch connectors past the second row’s stiff leather seat cushions, but once connected to the Latch anchors, this car seat fit well. In the third row, the forward convertible also fit well, but we struggled to connect the seat’s tether hook to the anchor.

What We Don’t

  • There are two sets of lower Latch anchors in the second-row captain’s chairs, but they’re difficult to access because of stiff leather seat cushions.
  • The three tether anchors — one at the base of each captain’s chair and a third anchor at a third-row seatback’s base — are difficult to find because of their low locations and because they’re not clearly marked. To add to the possible confusion, in the third row there are cargo tie-downs in the cargo area’s rear lip; some parents may confuse them with tether anchors.
  • We had to move the front passenger seat forward a significant amount to fit the rear-facing infant seat behind it. Our 5-foot-8 tester’s knees were pushed into the glove box.

Grading Scale

A: Plenty of room for the car seat and the child; doesn’t impact driver or front-passenger legroom. Easy to find and connect to Latch and tether anchors. No fit issues involving head restraint or seat contouring. Easy access to the third row. 

B: Plenty of room. One fit or connection issue. Some problems accessing third row when available.

C: Marginal room. Two fit or connection issues. Difficult to access third row when available.

D: Insufficient room. Two or more fit or connection issues.

F: Does not fit or is unsafe.

About’s Car Seat Checks

Editors Jennifer Geiger and Jennifer Newman are certified child safety seat installation technicians.

For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30 infant-safety seat, a Britax Marathon convertible seat and Graco TurboBooster seat. The front seats are adjusted 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 and convertible seats are installed behind the front passenger seat.

We also install the forward-facing convertible 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; a child sitting in the booster seat must be able to reach the seat belt buckle. If there’s a third row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible. To learn more about how we conduct our Car Seat Checks, go here.

Parents should also remember that they can use the Latch system or a seat belt to install a car seat, and that Latch anchors have a weight limit of 65 pounds, including the weight of the child and the weight of the seat itself.

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