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Good News for Families! Installing a Car Seat Is Getting Easier

2019 Mazda3

As most caregivers of tiny humans likely know, installing car seats can be tough. The good news, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, is that it’s getting easier. In IIHS testing, roughly 73 percent of model-year 2019 vehicles tested have Latch hardware that rates good plus, good or acceptable for ease of use — a big shift from when the agency launched its ratings in 2015 and most vehicles earned a poor or marginal score.

Related: Search Cars.com’s Car Seat Checks

In IIHS testing, 21 vehicles earned the agency’s top rating of good plus, 33 earned the good rating and 88 were deemed acceptable. Of the ones for which scores weren’t great, 49 scored marginal and four earned a poor rating. Repeat automakers on the good plus and good lists include Subaru and Toyota; IIHS said U.S. automakers lag behind.

You can check out the full list from IIHS, but 2019 models earning the very top score of good plus include:

  • Acura RDX
  • Audi Q7
  • Honda Accord
  • Honda Insight
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Jeep Cherokee
  • Lexus RX
  • Lexus UX
  • Mazda6
  • Subaru Ascent
  • Subaru Crosstrek
  • Subaru Forester
  • Subaru Impreza sedan and wagon
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Subaru Outback
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Toyota Camry
  • Toyota Corolla Hatchback
  • Toyota Prius
  • Toyota RAV4

In order to score well in IIHS testing, the lower anchors can be no more than three-quarters of an inch deep within the seat bight, have enough clearance around them for maneuvering and require connection force of less than 40 pounds. Top tether anchors, which often sit on a seatback or in the cargo area, cannot be situated at the very bottom of the seatback, under the seat, on the ceiling or on the floor, and cannot be close to other hardware, like a cargo hook.

Why are the ease-of-use ratings important? If installing a car seat is difficult, the likelihood that it’s done incorrectly goes up, which put kids at risk in a crash. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that 59 percent of car seats are not installed correctly. What’s worse, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, more than 2,600 children younger than 13 are involved in a car crash daily — one child every 33 seconds.

Cars.com’s Car Seat Checks

At Cars.com, we test how car seats fit in approximately 100 new vehicles each year, checking for Latch anchor ease-of-use, as well as how much room the vehicle offers passengers. We have three certified child passenger safety technicians who install and write our Car Seat Checks, and our editor techs underwent 40 hours of training and participate in car seat check events sponsored by the police and Department of Transportation in the Chicago area, where Cars.com is based. Read more about our process.

Tips

Even with accessible Latch anchors, car seats can still be confusing. When you get a new car seat, make sure to read its manual, as well as the section on car seats in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Next, register your car seat. This allows the car-seat manufacturer to alert you when there’s a recall.

Finally, ask for help. If you’re at all unsure whether you’ve installed your child’s car seat correctly, schedule a car seat check in your area.

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Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

 
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