2017 Ford Explorer: Car Seat Check

17Ford_Explorer_SO_ES_CSC_Lead.jpg 2017 Ford Explorer | photo by Evan Sears

CARS.COM — With its capable powertrain, ample room and rugged exterior, the Ford Explorer is a hit with many families looking for a third row and the ability to tow boats or campers when properly equipped. In our Car Seat Check, we tested a 2017 Explorer XLTwith seating for seven.   

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 second-row bench has two sets of lower Latch anchors that are easy to access. They sit about 1.5 inches into the seat bight, but the cushions move easily out of the way. The Explorer has an additional set of lower Latch anchors, which are exposed, in the third row.
  • Both the rear-facing infant and convertible seats fit well and installed easily in the second row.
  • The forward-facing convertible was easy to install in both the second and third rows.
  • Our high-back booster fit well in both the second and third rows. In the third row, the seat belt buckles are on stable bases; in the second row, two of the three seat belt buckles also are on stable bases, which are easier for kids to use independently.
  • Both sides of the second-row bench tumble forward to create a large pathway to the third row.

What We Don’t Like

  • The second row’s tether anchors are at the seatbacks’ base. They’re difficult to find and not clearly marked, so parents might not realize they need to use this important anchor. The third-row tether, which sits at the seatback’s base, also isn’t clearly marked.
  • With the 60/40-split folding second-row bench, only the smaller part of the seat slides forward and back. The larger portion is fixed in place.
  • Of the five seating positions in the second and third rows, only one has a floppy seat belt buckle, but we’d rather see that be a stable buckle.

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, Jennifer Newman and Matt Schmitz 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 shorter 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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