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Narrow Car Seats and Compact Cars

babies in narrow car seats

Regardless of whether you are the carpooling enthusiast or you actually have three kids, it can be quite a frustrating experience, trying to fit three car sears into a small car. Needing to ensure that the kids are safe and comfortable you may spent a few frustrating minutes bruising your fingers and hands trying to find let alone clip on LATCH and buckle seat belts between two large car seats. Having smaller car seats of course helps a lot with installation and use of car seats particularly if you are driving a small car.

Cars That May be Alright

If your vehicle is a minivan (such as Caravan, Oddyssey or Siena), full size cat (such as the Impala, Avalon, or the Taurus), midsize SUV (such as the Explorer, Flex, Traverse, Highlander, Pilot, or the Grand Cherokee) or a full sized SUV (such as the Armada, Expedition, Sequoia, or the Tahoe), three seats will be just alright as they will fit in the backseat if you are strategic in your installation. If your car has a third row, you may be even better off regardless of the size or width of your car seat as larger vehicles will take even the largest of car seats such as the Britax or the Graco with no issues whatsoever. For instance, a three row SUV can take 3 front facing convertible installed in one row, or a front facing convertible coupled with 2 rear facing seats for the different ages of your child.

Cars That May Give You Issues

For many of us that have a crossovers, mid size sedans and compact vehicles such as the compact CX-5, Escape, CV, or the RAV4) getting and installing that car seat into the back may prove problematic. A good example of this is our recent attempt to get Britax Marathon front facing convertible, and two boosters; the Evenflo Amp and the Graco Highback into the relatively compact RAV4. Surprisingly we found that by having the convertible in the middle of the car seat and securing it with the shoulder belts, the boosters could be securely installed on the outside. Nevertheless, the installation proved a very tight fit meaning that you would have to assist the kids even the toddler buckle up since the seats were so tight that it would have been impossible for the kids to get the slots to buckle themselves in. However, we employed a neat little trick of sliding the boosters out a bit, buckling them in then sliding them in to close the door. It is not the best solution but it is the only one we could think of.

The Best Options

As you can probably guess, there are very few ways to install three in the back that will not leave you frazzled. One of the best solutions is to fit in a third row of car seat on your CRV or RAV4. You can get a new row of car seats from aftermarket sellers or from an SUV dealership. Alternatively you could opt to buy a bigger vehicle or trade in your small one for something like an SUV or full size sedan which can easily take in three car seats in a row. You could also go for a minivan which can comfortably carry 6 kids and 2 adults with no issues whatsoever. Finally if you have a small car seat and have a small budget or simply do not want to upgrade, Sheryl Brown reviews the best car seats for small cars on this website. These are some of the best rated car seats such as the Diono the Maxi cosi Pria Britax USA Boulevard and the Graco Smartseat, that are narrow enough to fit in your compact car.

How to Choose and Install Your Car Seats

We have found that by properly using your 5 point harnesses, LATCH, and shoulder belt, you can install your small car seats in your small car even more easily. If you can secure every seat using the shoulder belt or LATCH, the child can then find it very easy to just use the 5 point harness though this will need your supervision as these tend to be harder and more complicated than the LATCH or car seat belts. By using the shoulder belts and LATCH to secure the seats in place, you will have more flexibility and can install the seats in either front facing or rear facing mode or a combination of the two. However, if you really have to install the car seat in a small car, try to find one that is 17 inches wide or less as these are certain to fit three in your car regardless of its size.