Car Seat Compatibility
Just about any car can accommodate a car seat—but some vehicles require less contortion than others.
“Having easy access to a back seat will make it easier to safely secure your child in the back seat every trip, every time,” says Angela Knudson, a community impact lead for AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah and a certified child passenger safety technician.
If you’re a first-time parent or grandparent, try watching installation videos on Safe Kids Worldwide or other outlets to get a sense of the process of placing a child in a car seat inside the vehicle and harnessing them in, Knudson suggests. “Think through if those motions are conducive to the vehicle you're considering.”
Or, if you have a car seat already, bring it along to your test drive for a hands-on test of how easy—or challenging—it is to install. (Don’t have a car seat yet? Try borrowing one from a friend so you can get a general sense of the process of getting it in the vehicle.) If you find the LATCH system difficult to use, keep in mind it’s considered just as safe to use the seat belt to install the car seat when done correctly.
Always check the manuals of both the car and the car seat to make certain that the two are compatible, Knudson says. Cars with side airbags may require the car seat to be placed in a specific location in the vehicle. If the car has an inflatable seat belt, you’ll need to check which car seats can be used with that feature.
“Be mindful that some vehicle manufacturers have very specific guidance on placement of car seats in the vehicle,” Knudson says. If you’re intent on placing the car seat behind the passenger seat, for instance, you’ll want to confirm that you can do so with the vehicle (and car seat) that you have in mind.