2013 Ford Explorer: Car Seat Check

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With its standard three rows of seats, the Ford Explorer is a crossover that begs for family duty. For 2013, Ford added a new top-of-the-line Sport trim to its Explorer lineup. The Explorer Sport that we tested had seating for seven, though second-row captain's chairs, which reduce seating capacity to six, are available.

The Explorer also has optional inflatable seat belts for the second row's outboard seats. These seat belts are safe to use with child-safety seats, according to the Explorer's owner's manual, and just this week, car-seat manufacturer Britax announced that it independently approved the inflatable seat belt for use with its car seats. These seat belts are part of a $595 safety package that includes a blind spot monitoring system.

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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 convertible seat 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. If there's a third row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible.

Here's how the 2013 Explorer did in Cars.com's Car Seat Check:

Latch system: The Explorer has three sets of lower Latch anchors. In the second row, the anchors are in the outboard seats. While they're visible in the seat bight, using them was somewhat difficult because the firm seat cushions block access to them.

The third row has one set of Latch anchors in the passenger-side seat. These anchors stick out from between the seat cushions, making them much easier to use than their second-row counterparts.

There are three tether anchors in the second row and a fourth anchor in the third row. All the tethers are at the base of the seatbacks. In our test car, the seats' thick upholstery partially covered the anchors. We had to push it down to use the tethers, which was an annoyance.

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Booster seat: The Explorer's inflatable seat belt worked well with our high-back booster seat, which fit easily in the second-row seat. The inflatable seat belt buckle is larger than a traditional buckle, but it shouldn't present any problems to kids buckling up independently.

The booster also fit easily in the third row (photo above). There's just enough seat bolstering to keep it in place, and the traditional seat belt buckles are on a stable base and easy to use.

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Convertible seat: The forward-facing convertible fit well in the 60/40-split second row. The seat directly behind the front passenger could move forward and back and the seatback could recline somewhat, making installation easier. The second row's other seats were fixed in place. When we flipped the car seat around to install it in the rear-facing position, we had to move the front passenger seat forward to accommodate the car seat; the front passenger had enough legroom to sit comfortably. We had some troubles connecting to the Latch anchors, too.

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In the third row, the forward-facing convertible was easily connected to the Latch anchors. However, the third row's sizable fixed head restraints pushed our car seat forward a little.

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Infant-safety seat: We also had to move the front passenger seat forward to install this rear-facing car seat. The front passenger still had adequate legroom, though. Installing this car seat took some time and effort because we had to muscle the car seat's hook-like connectors past the cushions to get at the car seat.

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Third-row access: The second-row seats tumble forward to access the third row, but parents won't be able to tumble the seats forward when car seats are installed in the second row. Also, the seats are very heavy. Parents should also check out the Explorer's step-in height, which was quite high. With the rear door open, the Explorer's floor hit our 5-foot-8-inch tester at her knees.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

How many car seats fit in third row? Two

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.

Related
Research the 2013 Ford Explorer

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Comments 

Great article thanks !!

And Ford has a good ideas with this car seat !!

Awesome Blog! We all know that child safety is the most preferred thing with respect to their parents. Infant car seats are best to secure child from road accidents. Your article is valuable for parents who are responsible for child security.

To be honest, I loved the vehicle - until I had to try to put carseats in it. The center seating position in the middle row is basically unusable - unless you plan to use it as the flip-down armrest. It's good for that!

For a family with just 2 kids it could be a decent option if you have one kid in each of the middle row outboard positions. If the infant seat base is placed on the seat that folds and slides forward for access to the 3rd row - then you will probably have the ability to do that. But once you put a convertible in that spot - you will basically lose that access path to the 3rd row.

Also, the middle row seats do not move fore and aft so the only way to create more space in the middle row (for a rear-facing CR) is to take that space away from the front seat driver or passenger. I installed a rf Radian (with the angle adjuster - which made it very upright) behind the driver's seat and I was not able to have the driver's seat in a comfortable position for me - and I'm 5'4".

I had many more issues too but these are the ones I think you need to know right off the bat. The vehicle can work for a family of 4 but just know that space for rf seats is going to be an issue so make sure you try your current seats in it before you consider purchasing. And stay away from the inflatable belts option - trust me on that one. It's great technology for tweens, teens and adults who sit in the middle row but that's not your situation and there are major drawbacks to these belts for younger kids in carseats and boosters.

Wayne Eggert

The child seat is easy enough to install quickly. All you have to do is slide the hook under the latch system instead of trying to hook it from the top..

Elaine Church

I bought the 2013 Explorer because I have a 6 year old granddaughter and two grandsons who are less than a year old. I thought I could take them and their mothers in my Explorer if we decided to go somewhere together. I can't fit the rear facing car seats in the middle bucket seats and have any legroom up front for anyone over 5'3" (me). The rear facing seat won't fit in the back row at all. If I do manage to get the two rear facing seats in the bucket seats, then I can't get anyone into the back. I love my Explorer but it isn't family friendly spacewise.

I'm not sure about Ford Explorers with car seats, especially after the 1995 incidents. That being said I hope to see smaller explorers being produced.

Abe Lampart

Regarding 2 toddlers and a baby, does second row take 2 booster seats and a regular car seat? We have some level of concern about 3rd row in case of a crash from behind. Thank yu.

arica

You can definitely install three across in the second row!!! I have a marathon, radian, and snugride in my second row. I had them installed with the help of a car seat tech!

John Lucchese

i have a 2013 explorer. i have twins on the way and a toddler. I am able to fit them ALL in the second row using the following car seats:
infant twins - UPPAbaby Mesa car seats
2 year old toddler - diono radian rxt

The combination fits perfectly! I am 6'5" and can drive the car with the UPPababy behind my driver seat.

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