The verdict: A family favorite, the 2021 Subaru Forester easily accommodates all sorts of child-safety seats. The five-seat compact SUV was last redesigned in 2019, and for 2021, the changes are minimal: The Forester base and Premium trims get standard adaptive LED headlights with an automatic high-beam function. Parents will be happy to learn that all trims add a standard rear seat belt reminder this year.
Does it fit three car seats? No.
Take a look at how the Latch system and each car seat scored below in our Car Seat Check of the 2021 Subaru Forester.
Related: Search Car Seat Checks
- Latch: The Forester has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the outboard seats, plus an additional anchor in the middle position. This extra anchor allows parents to use the Latch system to install a car seat in the middle seat. All lower anchors sit under small flaps; they’re easy to access and use, but you’ll need both hands to install a car seat — one hand to hold the flap out of the way, the other to hook the car seat connector to the Latch anchor. Three top tether anchors sit midway down the seatbacks, and they’re easy to find and use.
- Infant seat: This rear-facing car seat installed easily in the Forester’s backseat. There was no need to move the front passenger seat forward to accommodate it; our 5-foot-8-inch front passenger had enough room.
- Forward-facing convertible: We had no issues installing this car seat. It fit well.
- Booster seat: Our high-back booster fit well in the Forester. The rear seat belt buckles are on stable bases, making them easy to grab. Also, they sit just high enough that a booster seat doesn’t slide over them.
- Rear-facing convertible: This car seat was easy to install, but we had to move the front passenger seat forward an inch or so to fit it correctly in the backseat. This left our tester with just enough legroom to sit comfortably; taller front passengers will need more room to be comfortable.
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: One room, fit or connection issue. Some problems accessing the third row when available.
C: Marginal room plus one fit or connection issue. Difficult to access the third row when available.
D: Insufficient room, plus multiple fit or connection issues.
F: Does not fit or is unsafe.
About Cars.com’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 Chicco KeyFit 30 infant-safety seat, a Graco Contender 65 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. Learn more about how we conduct our Car Seat Checks.
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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