2011 Toyota Highlander: Car Seat Check

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This Car Seat Check was originally published in October 2011 on MotherProof.com.

The 2011 Toyota Highlander is a three-row SUV that appeals to many parents because of its ingenious flexible seating in the second row and its standard third row. The second row has a three-seat bench with a removable center seat that can be stowed in the bottom of the center console. Removing the middle seat creates two captain's chairs and a walkway to the third row. A center console can be easily installed between the captain's chairs.  The Highlander seats eight.

For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide 30 rear-facing infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible child-safety seat and Graco high-back TurboBooster seat.

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The front seats are adjusted to a comfortable position 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 seat and convertible seats are installed behind the passenger seat. We also install the infant seat in the second row's middle seat with the booster and convertible in the outboard seats to see if three car seats will fit. If there's a third row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible.

Here's how the 2011 Highlander did in Cars.com's Car Seat Check:

Latch system: This three-row SUV has only two sets of lower Latch anchors in the second row's outboard seats. The anchors are easy to reach because the seat cushions move out of the way easily. There are three tether anchors in the second row. However, there aren't any tether anchors in the third row, so only booster seats — not forward-facing convertibles — can be used back there.

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Booster seat: Our high-back booster fit well in both the second and third rows (photo above). In the second row, the reclining seatback made it easy to get a good fit, but the outboard seat belt buckles are recessed in the bottom seat cushion, making it difficult for kids to use independently. The middle seat's buckle is floppy, which also is tough for young kids to use. In the third row, the seat belt buckles are on stable bases.

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Convertible seat: The second row's reclining seatbacks came in handy with our convertible car seat. We used this feature to help get a better fit when installing the car seat in both the forward- and rear-facing directions. Both seats fit well in the second row.

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Infant-safety seat: The Highlander's wide, flat seat cushions in the second row also made it easy to install an infant car seat in it. We had plenty of room for this rear-facing car seat.

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Third-row access: The Highlander's second row is split 40/20/40, and the middle seat is removable for easy third-row access. With the second row's middle seat in place, the second-row seats can slide forward to create a narrow pathway. If a child-safety seat is installed in the outboard position, it could be difficult for a child to easily get to the third row.

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Editor's note: For three car seats — infant-safety seat, convertible and booster seats — to fit in a car, our criterion is that a child sitting in the booster seat must be able to reach the seat belt buckle. Parents should also remember that they can use the Latch system or a seat belt to install a car seat.

Comments 

azrinsani

is the third row seat for the new toyota highligher comfortable for adults? the older generation (2003-2007) isn't. Adults have to fold their legs up high.

Will Parker

you never stated if three car seats can fit in the second row properly at one time

I would like to know what Will Parker asked. Will three car seats fit properly in the third row?

xetownx

correction: the highlander seats 7, not 8

For those who've asked, and never received an answer, we tried it last night in a 2011 Highlander. A Graco highback booster, Graco snugride, and Sunshine Kids Radian fit three across in the second row. Might be a little tough for my 6yo to buckle herself in the booster, but I think she can learn to do it. The snugride was in the middle of the second row, so the buckle for the booster was underneath the snugride base, but with her little hands, I think my 6yo will be able to reach in there to buckle/unbuckle herself. I should have also tried the Radian in the middle b/c I just realized this morning we will only be using the snugride for about one year. Then we'll have to have a rearfacing Radian or other convertible seat for the baby.

Jamie

Alison,
when you placed the snugride in the middle did you just secure it with the seatbelt? Did you have a carseat safety check done? We are expecting our third child and trying to address the carseat issue with our highlander. I would like to keep the third row down for stroller storage if possible so really want to find something to work in the second row! Thanks

Dd

Is there three seat belts in the third seat of a highlander 2010

Andrea

Hi there,

I am wondering if anyone else has successfully put three carseats in the second row of the highlander? We are considering buying a 2013 model and I'm concerned about the safety of putting a seat in the middle of second row without a LATCH. Would love to hear what others have done. Thanks!

Jess

Dd- there are only 7 seats total, 2 in the 1st and 2rd rows and 3 in the second row.

Dawn

I have a 2012 Highlander SE (leather seats) - it seats 7 (2, 3, 2) & I have tried my infant car seat in both center as well as 2nd row passenger. For front row seating, the middle was best, however the base slid around quite freely due to no LATCH system in the middle as well as the middle seat sitting lower than the outer 2. I believe the middle is an unsafe install in my model. I currently have the car seat in the 2nd row passenger seat - I feel unsafe due to it being on the side, but it's a much better install. Sitting in the passenger seat is highly uncomfortable for hubby & me (he's 5'11 & I'm 5'9). The passenger seat is pushed forward quite a bit & is not reclined much at all due to the infant car seat touching the back of the passenger seat. Overall, I would NOT recommend the Highlander SE for a family looking for a safe vehicle with a great car seat install.

Claudia

I am trying to put 2 infant car seats in the middle row and then a convertible car seat in the 3rd row of my highlander 2011. Can I put the the convertible car seat in 3rd row if I use the seatbelt to secure it? Thanks!

Anne

For the person concerned about not using the LATCH in the middle, any research you do will find that while the LATCH is preferable to a seat belt, they are both safe when utilized properly. The middle is the safest place for a car seat since the risk of injury from a side-impact is lower in the middle. If you use the seat belt correctly, including the locking clip that many leave off erroneously, it shouldn't shift more than an inch and your child will be as safe as if it were on the LATCH. You can always get it inspected if you feel you can get it as snug as the LATCH position.

http://www.carseat.org/Resources/FAQs.htm

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