2014 Ford C-Max Energi: Car Seat Check

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The Ford C-Max Energi hatchback is a fun-to-drive hybrid that Cars.com reviewer Aaron D. Bragman said "delivers comfort, style and efficiency," but warned that it "compromises cargo capacity." That's not all that the 2014 C-Max Energi has had to compromise.

Parents who purchased the C-Max Energi hoping for convenient car-seat installation might be disappointed with it. Although the 2014 version earns a couple of A's for the easy install of our booster and infant seats, the rest of its report card looks like the answer sheet of a high school student guessing on every question of a multiple-choice test: C, C, C ... see what we mean below.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Matt Schmitz | October 14, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Audi Q3: Car Seat Check

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The all-new Audi Q3 is a subcompact crossover, a new class of cars that's growing quickly with competitors such as the BMW X1, Buick Encore, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and the Jeep Renegade. Although it's small on the outside, the Q3 made good use of its interior. With seating for five, this tiny SUV managed to easily handle all of our child-safety seats with ease.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class: Car Seat Check

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The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class underwent a growth spurt during its recent redesign. The sedan grew more than 3 inches in length. Backseat occupants might notice the increase because it translates to nearly 2 additional inches of rear legroom; we certainly noticed this during our Car Seat Check when installing our rear-facing child-safety seats. Our results only apply to the C300 sedan; the C-Class coupe has yet to be redesigned.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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

2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited: Car Seat Check

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With its rear doors and an additional 1.6 inches of rear legroom, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited seems like it's the family-friendly version of the smaller Jeep Wrangler. However, the Wrangler Unlimited's looks are deceiving. The Unlimited's bottom backseat cushion was nearly too short to properly fit our rear-facing infant seat's base; at least 80 percent of any car-seat base should be on the seat cushion.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two, but three car seats nearly fit.

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By Jennifer Newman | October 3, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Buick LaCrosse: Car Seat Check

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The Buick LaCrosse full-size sedan returns for the 2015 model year with some well-executed tweaks worthy of what Cars.com reviewer Mike Hanley referred to as the brand's "product renaissance." A quiet cabin, upscale interior, simple dashboard layout and commensurately simple-to-use multimedia system are noteworthy improvements. But the LaCrosse didn't need much improvement in terms of child-safety-seat installation. We gave the 2014 LaCrosse high marks in nearly all areas, with the only drawbacks being floppy seat-belt buckles and fixed head restraints. Can the 2015 model measure up to that standard? Read the Car Seat Check below and find out.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Matt Schmitz | September 30, 2014 | Comments (0)

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)

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