2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport: Car Seat Check


Mitsubishi's smallest crossover is also the runt of the compact crossover class. The 2014 Outlander Sport is several inches shorter than competitors such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, so it offers much less legroom. This was a big issue when installing child-safety seats, but it wasn't the only problem. Awkward top tether anchor placement also made installing the forward-facing convertible difficult.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Jennifer Geiger | April 24, 2014 | Comments (1)

Recall Alert: 16,655 Baby Trend Car Seats


Car Seats Affected: Approximately 16,655 Baby Trend Trendz Fastback 3-in-1 child-safety seats, models FB60070 (Granite) and FB60408 (Jellybean), which were manufactured between October 2011 and July 2013

The Problem: When this combination car seat is used with its five-point harness, it can become difficult to unlatch the harness buckle. The buckle can become stuck, so it cannot be opened by depressing its release button. If this occurs, it could be difficult to remove the child from the car seat, increasing the risk of injury in an emergency.

The Fix: Baby Trend will provide registered owners with replacement buckles once they’re available.

What Owners Should Do: The car-seat manufacturer will contact registered car-seat owners, but it hasn't provided the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with notification or buckle availability schedules. For more info, owners may call NHTSA's safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov.

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By Jennifer Newman | April 15, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Buick Encore: Car Seat Check


Space is at a premium in the 2014 Buick Encore, a compact crossover, but surprisingly, its smaller dimensions didn't negatively affect child-safety-seat installation. While we did have to move the front passenger seat forward to fit our rear-facing car seats behind it, our tester still had enough legroom to sit comfortably. That's in part due to the Encore's dash design, which is upright rather than jutting out into the cabin.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Jennifer Newman | April 15, 2014 | Comments (0)

Common Car Seat Mistakes That Parents Make


Installing a child-safety seat isn't rocket science. That's what I thought until I saw the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's campaign that said the majority of parents believe their car seat is installed correctly, but in reality it's only a small fraction of them.

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As the mother of three, I've been installing and buckling up car seats for more than five years. I thought I had car seats figured out, but certified car-seat technicians must take a 40-hour course before they begin volunteering at car-seat checks (find one near you). I recently had my three car seats checked by a friendly car-seat technician who confirmed that most people install their car seats incorrectly ... myself included. I thought I had my three car seats installed as tightly as possible, but the car-seat technician showed me how loose they were by tugging at the seats' belt paths, where they each moved more than the inch that's recommended.

By BreAnn Ahara | April 14, 2014 | Comments (0)

Are Built-In Booster Seats Worth the Extra Cost?


After years of wrestling with child-safety seats, most booster seats seem like they'd be easy to install, but depending on the car, they may not work well with a particular seat belt or seat configuration. Sometimes the booster covers a recessed seat belt buckle, or the car's seat is too bolstered and the booster is pushed at an angle.

Car Seat Basics: Beyond the Booster

There's a solution for this: an integrated, or built-in, booster seat that's tailor-made for the vehicle it's in. In the 2014 Dodge Journey, all I had to do was tug on a strap at the front of the seat bench and the booster popped up. I pressed down on it to snap it securely into place, and it was ready to use: No fighting seat belt buckles or contending with seat bolsters. Built-in booster seats are only available on a handful of models. If you're considering a car that offers this feature, there are a few things to think about.

By Sara Lacey | April 11, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Chrysler 300: Car Seat Check


Editor's note: This Car Seat Check is repurposed from our test of the 2013 Chrysler 300, but our results apply to the 2014 model.

Chrysler's largest car is classy and comfortable, and families looking for a sedan that easily accommodates three child-safety seats should add it to their shopping list. The 2013 Chrysler 300 has a roomy backseat and three sets of Latch anchors — one more set than most sedans offer — making it extra versatile when it comes to installing car seats.

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By Jennifer Geiger | April 10, 2014 | Comments (0)

$40,000 3-Row SUV Car Seat Challenge: the Highs and Lows


Large families basically have two choices when it comes to what to drive: a three-row SUV or a minivan. Both have their merits and handle cargo and passenger room differently. During Cars.com's recent $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge, I spent a few days getting to know seven of the contenders in the midsize crossover class, driving them, climbing in and out of them, and installing car seats in their second and third rows.

Read the Full $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge

Although they all have to offer a large amount of room in order to fit that third row, it's obvious that not all SUVs are created equal. When it comes to car seats, there were some very clear winners and losers, with the Honda Pilot and Hyundai Santa Fe leading the pack, and the Chevrolet Traverse and Mazda CX-9 bringing up the rear.

By Jennifer Geiger | April 9, 2014 | Comments (1)

2014 Land Rover LR2: Car Seat Check


Editor's note: This Car Seat Check is repurposed from our test of the 2013 Land Rover LR2, but our results apply to the 2014 model.

Land Rover's five-passenger SUV gets a minor exterior face-lift and a major powertrain one for 2013. The previous model's six-cylinder is replaced by a new 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder this year. Although Land Rover calls the LR2 a compact SUV, it was able to comfortably accommodate two child-safety seats in the second row without hogging too much of the first row's legroom.

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By Jennifer Geiger | April 8, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 1.3 Million Evenflo Car Seats


Car Seats Affected: More than 1.3 million Evenflo convertible and combination child-safety seats are being voluntarily recalled by the manufacturer. The affected seats were built between 2011 and 2014. They are select Evenflo Momentum, Chase, Maestro, Symphony, Titan 65, SureRide, SecureKid, Snugli All-in-One and Snugli Booster models.

The Problem: The car seats’ harness buckle could become difficult to unlatch if food or drink gets into it, causing a safety hazard during an emergency exit of a car. This is the same problem that affected 4.2 million Graco car seats, which were recalled in February and March.

The Fix: A replacement buckle kit is available to affected owners who have registered their car seats, but the car-seat manufacturer says that the recalled car seats are crashworthy and can be used while waiting for the replacement kit — as long as the car seat’s original buckle is able to unlatch. Parents also can clean the buckle by submerging the unlatched buckle into a cup of warm water and agitating it; don’t use any soap or cleaning solutions to clean it. Be sure to depress the buckle’s red button several times when it is submerged. Parents should not get the buckle’s harness straps wet when cleaning the buckle. After cleaning the buckle, shake out excess water and allow it to air dry.

What Owners Should Do: To find out if your car seat is affected by the recall and order the replacement buckle kit, go to www.buckle.evenflo.com or call 800-490-7591.

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By Jennifer Newman | April 7, 2014 | Comments (0)

13 Infant Car Seats Earn Best Rating in Consumer Reports Crash Tests


Of 34 infant safety seats crash-tested by an independent lab hired by Consumer Reports, only 13 of those rear-facing car seats earned the highest score of best. Sixteen infant seats earned the midlevel better rating and five received the lowest rating of basic. The infant seats tested had a fixed base and a removable baby carrier.

19 New Booster Seats Earn IIHS' Best Bets Title

While some parents may believe that paying extra for an expensive car seat will keep their child safer in a crash, Consumer Reports' crash-test results show that added cost doesn't equal increased safety. The infant seats tested range from $55 to $440. The $55 seat — the Evenflo Discovery 5 — earned the better rating, but the Orbit Baby Infant Car Seat G2 (photo above), which rings up at $440, received the basic score.

By Jennifer Newman | April 3, 2014 | Comments (1)

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