2015 Dodge Challenger: Car Seat Check

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When it comes to child-safety seats, the 2015 Dodge Challenger is a car that allows parents to have their cake and eat it, too. Not only does this muscle car offer a 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 engine for starters but also its roomy backseat can fit most styles of car seats. We were also able to fit three across the backseat.

Not everything is perfect with the Challenger and car seats, however. In our tests, we found that a rear-facing infant seat, which takes up a lot of backseat space, doesn't work well with the front passenger seat. The front seat is designed to fold and slide forward for better backseat access, and then the seat has to be pushed all the way back to lock the seatback into place. From there, you can slide the seat forward to create more legroom for backseat passengers. However, the infant seat is so long that it prevents the front passenger seat from sliding back and locking into place.

We tried to work around this setup, but ultimately decided that the Challenger and infant seats don't mix. Oddly, we didn't run into this problem when we tested the 2012 Challenger. If you have an infant, use a rear-facing convertible seat in the Challenger instead, which thankfully doesn't take up as much legroom as the infant seat. In our photo, we used the infant seat to illustrate that three average-sized car seats fit across the backseat.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Three, but if parents are using a rear-facing infant seat, it's likely too long to fit in the Challenger's backseat.

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By Jennifer Newman | September 25, 2014 | Comments (2)

2015 Cadillac ATS: Car Seat Check

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When last we tested the Cadillac ATS two years ago, we took note of how its large backseat would help make the compact luxury sedan attractive to family shoppers. But we also noted that they'd have to be willing to face some frustrating car-seat installation. The ATS returns for 2015 in a somewhat better position to carry precious cargo — though, unfortunately, some of that old baggage has returned with it.

In the "new-and-improved" column is the addition of a coupe body style to the model's lineup, as well as revised front-end styling punctuated by the redesigned Cadillac crest. That's in addition to a healthy torque boost of 35 pounds-feet to its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine for a total of 295 pounds-feet at nearly double the rpm. For our purposes, removable head restraints and reduced interference by seat bolsters were also pluses. In the other column, however, the return of those Latch anchors buried in a hard-to-reach spot in the leather seats was an unwelcome one.

Check out Car Seat Check below for our full assessment.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Matt Schmitz | September 23, 2014 | Comments (2)

2014 Dodge Journey: Car Seat Check

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The Dodge Journey is a midsize crossover that can seat five passengers in two rows or seven with the addition of the optional third row. The Journey is one of a few cars that offer integrated booster seats. For 2014, the optional booster seats, which are in the second row's outboard seats, cost $225. Our test car didn't have the booster seats, which we tested in an earlier model year and liked, but it did have the optional third row.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

How many car seats fit in the third row? Two, but parents should only install booster seats back there.

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By Jennifer Newman | September 19, 2014 | Comments (0)

National Seat Check Saturday Is This Weekend

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If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were to tell you that heart disease is the leading cause of death in men, you may or may not adopt the Mayo Clinic's recommended preventive measures such as quitting smoking, getting more exercise and eating a heart-healthy diet. But if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were to tell you that car crashes were the leading cause of death for children age 1 to 13, you'd almost certainly take every reasonable precaution to protect those who depend on you to keep them safe. Well, you'll have just such an opportunity this weekend during National Car Seat Check Saturday.

Related: Child Passenger Safety Week: Protect That Precious Cargo

The event, which wraps up Child Passenger Safety Week, invites parents, grandparents and caretakers to have their child-safety seats inspected by certified car-seat technicians. This weekend, schools, hospitals, fire and police stations, retail stores, banks, car dealerships, civic buildings and other locations will be offering car-seat inspections on National Car Seat Check Saturday. You can find a participating location by going to NHTSA's Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator.

By Matt Schmitz | September 18, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Audi A3: Car Seat Check

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The 2015 Audi A3 ditches its hatchback design for the sleek lines of a sedan. With its redesign, the 2015 A3 has grown 7.5 inches in length. That extra room helped make it easy to install our child-safety seats in this compact sedan.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Jennifer Newman | September 11, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Hyundai Sonata: Car Seat Check

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The Hyundai Sonata has a new look — both inside and out — for 2015. This midsize family sedan leaves its curves behind in favor of sharper angles. For families with young kids, this redesigned Sonata made easy work of car-seat installation thanks to its exposed Latch anchors, and it managed to improve on its previous generation's scores. The 2015 Sonata nearly fit our three child-safety seats across its backseat. Narrow car seats might allow parents to fit three across.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Jennifer Newman | September 9, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Infiniti QX70S: Car Seat Check

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Last year, Infiniti's sporty two-row crossover dumped its FX prefix for a QX, and thus the FX37 became the QX70. Now, for the 2015 model year, the QX70 has dropped its low-selling 5.0-liter V-8 engine offering, opting instead just to go with the more popular 3.7-liter V-6.

We last tested the QX70 more than a year ago when it went by the different moniker, though some of our complaints about legroom, Latch anchors and tether anchors feel the same. Still, the luxury crossover's letter grades generally went unchanged, and in the case of the rear-facing convertible seat even improved from a C to an A. Find out how well it made the grade below.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Matt Schmitz | September 4, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Acura MDX: Car Seat Check

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With a 2014 redesign under its belt, it's no surprise that the Acura MDX is unchanged for 2015. What has changed is the child-safety seats we use for our Car Seat Checks. We were able to fit three car seats across the MDX's second-row bench, but there wasn't enough room between the booster seat and rear-facing infant seat for easy buckling access. Because the second row's middle bottom seat cushion is shorter than the outboard seats, about 30 percent of the infant seat base was hanging off the front of the seat. It's recommended that at least 80 percent of a child-safety seat is touching the car's seat. Parents should keep an eye on proper fit when installing car seats in this middle seating position.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two; three could fit if using narrow car seats

How many car seats fit in the third row? Two

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By Jennifer Newman | August 28, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 Land Rover Range Rover: Car Seat Check

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It doesn't get much more posh than the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover. This ultraluxury SUV wraps its passengers in comfort with its supple leather seats and head restraints that are as soft as pillows. With room for five, our test car had a long wheelbase, which adds 7.9 inches to this already large SUV's length. Some may argue that this isn't a family car, but our policy is to test cars that arrive in our Chicago headquarters that have a workable backseat, and the Range Rover certainly meets that criterion.

The Range Rover nearly fit three child-safety seats across its backseat, but the seats were too close together for a child in a booster seat to reach the seat belt buckle. Using narrow car seats in the backseat might be an option for parents of three kids interested in this SUV.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Jennifer Newman | August 21, 2014 | Comments (1)

2015 Honda Fit: Car Seat Check

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Families will find a lot to like in the five-seat subcompact hatchback's 2015 Honda Fit, as it improves on its predecessor's already-roomy cabin and boasts a generous 52.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo space with the rear fold-flat seats down. However, the new Fit still isn't a great fit when it comes to installing car seats; in fact, it's gotten even more unfit in some categories. The last time we performed a Car Seat Check on the Fit was the 2013 version (there was no new 2014 model), with which we had some trouble — particularly with the seat belts' floppy bases, front passenger legroom and driver visibility due to the middle-seat tether anchor's position.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Matt Schmitz | August 14, 2014 | Comments (1)

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