3rd row car seat options?
July 18, 2012 3:46 PM   Subscribe

3rd row seating/car seats in a mid-sized SUV/Wagon?

Mom and dad just moved to the area, and they are hoping to carry grandkids (3 total currently) and a compliment of adults (up to 4) places when they visit. We're trying to find a vehicle that closes in on the following:

Can safely house 3 car seats for infants to toddlers - latch connectors, top tethers/etc, only lapbelts when absolutely necessary.
At least 1-2 seats rear facing.
Side curtain airbags for the 3rd row.
Can safely house 4 adults.
Is not a full sized SUV, Minivan, Van

We've looked at the Highlander, the X5, Pilot (currently largest vehicle on the list), Volvo XC90.

We're interested in folks experience if they've ever had to stick adults or car seats in the third row of seating and if they have specific recommendations beyond go bigger or take a second vehicle (we live 15 minutes away, we may do the 2 modest sized vehicle thing).
posted by iamabot to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Mercedes E-Class Wagon. W210 or W211 series. Will accommodate adults in the third (rear-facing) row of seats - helps if they're under six foot though. I don't think there are airbags in the rear either.
posted by jonathanbell at 3:54 PM on July 18, 2012

A Toyota Sienna is roomy and some models have a 3rd row.
posted by Cranberry at 4:10 PM on July 18, 2012

The Honda Odyssey and the Mercedes GL class really seem like the only options for the number of people you want to carry. I know you say you don't want a full sized SUV or minivan, but getting 3 carseats and 4 adults in a vehicle is no small feat. Have you actually taken the 3 car seats and tried to install them in the vehicles you've looked at? Remember that you need at least an inch of space between each car seat.

I say go bigger. If you're carrying that many people you're also likely to be carrying lots of stuff - strollers, diaper bags, toys. No room to do that in a Highlander.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 4:23 PM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If you want to fit 7 people in a car at the same time, you need a minivan.

You could probably fit a booster seat in a third row, but not bigger car seats. Certainly not infant seats or rear-facing car seats. I doubt you can find a small SUV where you can fit more than two car seats in the back (not third) row. I frequently sit in a back seat between a toddler car seat and a booster, and it's not comfortable---and I'm a very petite woman. No way could you fit three. (you *might* be able to squeeze three boosters, but that's not relevant to your question. )

So even if I misunderstood and the question is just about transporting the three kids at the same time or transporting 4 adults and no kids I still think that to transport three kids you shod be looking at a minivan (Siena/Odyssey-type thing).

We just looked at this issue for two kids. The third row having cars that we saw were the Toyota Rav 4, the Hobda CRV (I think), the Mazda 5, and the Kia Sorento. It was an optional add-on for all but the Mazda. It was not comfortable in any of them, and with the third row engaged, there is utterly no cargo space.

They're going to have to compromise on something.

(are all three grandkids in one family? How do they usually travel? If not---if they're not used to honchoing car seats---know that car seats are really bulky, and it's hard to fit them into tight spaces.)
posted by leahwrenn at 4:57 PM on July 18, 2012

I have a Highlander and it won't work for you guys. I think you'll have to go bigger.
posted by Maisie at 7:13 PM on July 18, 2012

Response by poster: Grandkids are split between my minion who is likely to be the child most often in the car, and my sisters two kids who will probably be up every month or so. The thinking is 2 adults up front, 2 kids and an adult in the middle (hah!), 1 kid and 1 adult in the back. I just don't see how it works either. We'll probably end up with two vehicles doing the shuffling and then it doesn't matter so much.

Assume everyone is well aware of the hell of shuffling carseats around and that we'll have plenty of car seats available to make things work so no one has to fly with one (we have a couple, parents have a couple on standby).

For the time being unless we tell the folks to go bigger it looks like there is no vehicle we've left off our search (minivans/vans/fullsize suv's are out) outside of maybe some of the bigger wagons.
Thanks for the input everyone!
posted by iamabot at 10:18 PM on July 18, 2012

Not a minivan, wagon, or full-size SUV....have you looked at the Ford Flex?
posted by Ardea alba at 9:26 AM on July 19, 2012

My parents have a Toyota Highlander 2012. The third row isn't bad, though there is almost zero trunk space if you put them up. The Highlander is bigger than the RAV4. I don't think more than 1 car seat would really fit back there (maybe 2, but it would be difficult to get in and out). I think 2 adults can sit in the back just fine, but not 3 for long distances, anyway. You can fit 2 in the second row. Minivans are way easier to put car seats in and easier to get in and out of than the Highlander.
posted by bluefly at 12:32 PM on July 19, 2012

*You can fit 2 car seats in the second row.
posted by bluefly at 12:33 PM on July 19, 2012

For car seats, take a look at the three models made by Diono. We have the RXT and it's narrow enough to fit three together on one bench seat. It can be used rear-facing from birth and converts to a booster for older children.
posted by mingshan at 12:57 PM on July 19, 2012

Just get a Chrysler Town and Country or the Dodge variant. Those things are seriously awesome. Have them check one out before poo-pooing it because it's "a minivan". It's like riding in a private jet. Some friends and I just did exactly the setup you describe, and it worked fine. (Actually, one adult and two kids in rear bench seat. We could have crammed another kid in the middle seat if it was a bench also, but this model has buckets in the second row.) Plus all kinds of shit in the "trunk" area.

I've never seen a sport-ute type of thing with a third row seat that was any good for people over 5' / 100 pounds. Unless you are talking about Expeditions or Suburbans.
posted by gjc at 6:41 PM on July 19, 2012

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