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  1. #1
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    Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    I am a first-time dad-to-be and I am just realizing how complicated car seats can be!  I have some questions that I hope somebody here can help me with.  My immediate question is about infant seats but any advice about seats for bigger children would be appreciated too.  

    Our cars:
    2006 Subaru Legacy wagon (this will be the primary kid hauler)
    2007 Subaru Impreza wagon or Honda Civic sedan (soon to be purchased, occasional kid hauler)

    All of these cars have a common "feature": a hump in the middle of the back seat cushion, since the seat is really designed for 2 people.  Subaru recommends against putting a car seat in the middle unless it fits snugly to the contour of the seat cushion (don't know about Honda but I assume it is the same deal since the seat design is similar).  But at the same time the center is supposed to be the safest place so that's where I would like to put the seat.

    Are there seats that work well with this kind of middle seat hump, or do I really need to use the left or right rear seats?  If anyone can recommend seats that fit well in these cars that would be great.  I'm particularly concerned about using the outboard seats in the Impreza because it doesn't have side curtain airbags.

    Thank you for any help or advice you can give.

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  3. #2
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    I had a 2000 Honda Civic till last year and my son was always installed in the middle. He had a cosco eddie bauer infant seat and it fit fine, I think they all would as the base width is pretty comparable with them all. He then used an Eddie Bauer 3-in-1 Cosco seat. I had to take the base off of it but then it installed both rear facing and forward facing wonderfully. You will want to avoid any seats with really wide bases, or make sure the base is removable. The britax seats have pretty narrow bases and should work great in the middle seat too. I think the civic has lap/shoulder belt in middle now so it won't matter, but I did have to flip the plate on the lap only belt over to keep the belt from loosening but that is allowed.

    Janet

  4. #3
    CPS Technician Splash's Avatar
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    I have a 2006 Forester and my father has a 2007 Legacy wagon. The problem is not with the hump, it's with the belt. You cannot use the lower anchors in the middle, and an install with that seatbelt is very difficult. The way it is designed, and the massive distance between the two belt anchors, makes it hard to install a seat there.
    I have had success (moderately easy, actually) with my son's Graco SafeSeat1. I had to use the built in lockoff (which I would on that seat anyway, it's sooo nice) but it installed well. The lockoff fixed the seatbelt problem, and the hump was no big deal.
    I could easily install his Boulevard rear facing IF I were allowed to use the lower anchors. With the belt, it's impossible. But IF I were allowed to use the lower anchors (which Subaru forbids), then I would get a rock solid install rear facing with his Britax Boulevard. The hump is not an issue, the belt is. I CAN, however, install it FORWARD facing in the center with the belt, but it's a lot of effort. I don't mind it, since it's not something I would be doing on a regular basis.
    I have not tried the BV rear facing in my father's car, but the back seat is pretty much identical to mine, so I would think the results would be the same.
    The hump is a non issue. The belt, on the other hand, is a nightmare.

    I'd buy yourself a Graco SafeSeat1 and install it in the center with the belt. It installs easily and is a very nice and safe seat. A bonus is that you can use it to 30 pounds, or head within an inch of the top shell, whichever comes first. My son, who is a giant, did not outgrow it until about 16 months. I know people who have their two year olds still in them.

    Whatever seat you go with, I would not get one without a built in lockoff. A locking clip does not fix the belt problem in that car. The problem isn't so much the tipping (which a locking clip fixes), but the fact that the belt anchors are so far apart.

  5. #4
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    Hi there,
    I have a 2006 Legacy wagon. (Which one do you have, BTW?) The hump is indeed an issue for center installation. When I got the car, I had a rearfacing Roundabout and a frontfacing Marathon, neither of which fit especially well in the center. I actually didn't get far enough with the installation to figure out whether the buckle stalk would also be a problem. (It was a huge problem in my 1999 Forester, but that didn't have a hump. I don't know whether the newer Foresters have such a large hump in the middle.) It was evident that the outboard installations would be more secure, so I ended up installing my two seats in the outboard positions and got great fits for both seats.

    By all means, see if you can get a good installation in the center, but a great installation in one of the outboard seats is preferred over a mediocre installation in the center. And I can definitely get great installations with my two Britax seats, both RF and FF, in the outboard positions of my Legacy. I wouldn't worry too much about the center position. It's unclear whether it really provides much of a safety advantage. It's true that a child in the center is further away a side impact, but apparently this is outweighed by the advantage of being in an outboard position when there's a side impact on the *other* side of the car. And anyway, a rearfacing child in the back seat is probably the safest person in the car.

    Also, as you probably know, the 2006 Legacy has *awesome* safety ratings. Its crash test scores are almost as good as they get, and even without electronic stability control, it rates extremely high on the Informed for Life scale. (If you don't know about it, Informed for Life is a wonderful website. It ranks cars according to a weighted scale of crash test results and the likelihood of that crash happening. Since it sounds like you are still deciding on your second car, check it out. You do have to pay attention to how they get the results for a given car. For instance, the 2007 Legacy sedan is rated higher than the 2007 Legacy wagon. This struck me as odd, since they are virtually identical cars, and I emailed to ask why. The reason is that the NHTSA tested the sedan for rollover, but not the wagon, presumably because Subaru is discontinuing the Legacy wagon for 2008. The sedan got a terrific score for rollover resistance, even without electronic stability control, which raised it in the rankings. The wagon, by contrast, was given the average score for a passenger car without ESC, since there are no actual NHTSA results for it. But presumably in real life, the wagon would perform similarly The low boxer engine in the Subaru really improves its rollover scores. I still wish they'd offer VDC in more of their cars, though.)

    By the way, if you have a seat that can be tethered RF (like the Britax convertibles), the best tether location for a Legacy wagon is the inside leg of the seat in front of you. You will have to remove the plastic housing around it, but you can safely tether it to the seat post without affecting the mechanism of the seat.

    As for side curtain airbags for rear passengers, that was a requirement for me, but my oldest child is in a booster seat now. It's unclear how much they help younger children in seats, particularly rearfacing seats. If you really like the Impreza, and it's only an occasional kid hauler, I wouldn't worry about it *too* much. But it also depends on how long you plan to keep the car. When is the Impreza up for a redesign? Have you checked out www.cars101.com? It's the best source of information I've seen on what Subaru is coming out with. (I watched it like a hawk before I bought my 2006 Legacy wagon, because I wanted to see if they were going to put VDC on the 07 wagons. They didn't, so I bought the 06.)

    When's the baby due?


    Edited to add: Just saw Splash's reply. Sounds like the Safeseat might be a good choice for the Legacy, if it installs well in the center. Still, I wouldn't worry too much about an outboard installation in that car, if that works best for you.
    Last edited by twokidstwodogs; 03-07-2007 at 09:31 AM.
    DD#1 (7 y, 5 mo, 54 in, 68 lbs ) Clek Olli
    DD#2 (4 y, 2 months, 43 in, 42 lbs) Britax Marathon

  6. #5
    CPS Technician AdventureMom's Avatar
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    We had a Subaru Outback and were able to get a Britax Marathon installed quite snugly over the center hump. This was a seatbelt install, obviously, since there are no LATCH anchors for that position. We had it FF with a tether. It wasn't quite as tight as the outboard positions, but it was quite snug - good enough for me and I'm pretty picky... I could not get any other seat to install there very well at all - the other ones we tried there were: Radian80, Safeguard Childseat, Recaro Young Sport, and Evenflo Triumph... I think the way the Britax bases are not solid across the bottom help them grip the seat better and kind of straddle each side of the hump.

    Hope this helps!

    DS|2002|FF in Britax Frontier 85 and Graco TurboBooster
    DD|2007|FF in two Britax Frontier 85's

  7. #6
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    Adventuremom, what year is your Outback? I know that the Legacy/Outbacks were redesigned in 2005, though I don't know how it affected the seat. The hump in my 06 Legacy really interfered with the Marathon installation. It would not be easy to get it in well, that's for sure. Of course that could just be user error on my part!
    DD#1 (7 y, 5 mo, 54 in, 68 lbs ) Clek Olli
    DD#2 (4 y, 2 months, 43 in, 42 lbs) Britax Marathon

  8. #7
    CPS Technician AdventureMom's Avatar
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    We had an 07 Outback... I sat in the seat with both knees in it to get it tight - then did the best trick that I know of: got it as tight as I could, then unbuckled it, let it retract a click or two, then reaaalllly pushed it to buckle it again. One trick that Splash mentioned is to use the LATCH anchors (even the two inner ones from the outboard LATCH positions) to get it as tight as possible, then do the belt installation and unhook it from the LATCH (using the LATCH as a tool). Hope you can get it tight enough - we were able to and it did work well.

    DS|2002|FF in Britax Frontier 85 and Graco TurboBooster
    DD|2007|FF in two Britax Frontier 85's

  9. #8
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    Thank you all for the suggestions!

    Quote Originally Posted by twokidstwodogs View Post
    Hi there,
    I have a 2006 Legacy wagon. (Which one do you have, BTW?)
    We have a 2.5i SE wagon with manual transmission and love it.

    (If you don't know about it, Informed for Life is a wonderful website. It ranks cars according to a weighted scale of crash test results and the likelihood of that crash happening. Since it sounds like you are still deciding on your second car, check it out. You do have to pay attention to how they get the results for a given car...
    I just found the Informed For Life site last week. I think it would be extremely useful except for this mistifying policy of using the average whenever data are missing for a specific model, which makes it much less useful than it would otherwise be. I think they have a calculator that you can use (for instance to put in the same rollover rating for the wagon as for the sedan) but I havn't tried it yet. Crashtest.com is another one, a little less detailed than Informed for Life, but when they don't have data for a car they don't just pull something out of the air.

    I still wish they'd offer VDC in more of their cars, though.)
    Me too. I am hoping that since IIHS now only gives Top Safety Pick designations to cars with stability control that there will be more public awareness and therefore market demand for this feature. But I don't know how many people pay attention.

    As for side curtain airbags for rear passengers, that was a requirement for me, but my oldest child is in a booster seat now. It's unclear how much they help younger children in seats, particularly rearfacing seats. If you really like the Impreza, and it's only an occasional kid hauler, I wouldn't worry about it *too* much. But it also depends on how long you plan to keep the car. When is the Impreza up for a redesign?
    The Impreza will be redesigned for 2008. It gets good IIHS side impact scores as-is (http://www.iihs.org/ratings/tsp_archive.html), though, even without the side curtain airbags (it does have head/chest side bags for the front). In most cars, the rear outboard passengers would hit their heads on the window in a side impact. But in the Impreza, the C-pillar is further forward, beside the rear passenger's head. This allows it to act as a kind of helmet. I'm just concerned that for a short (toddler-sized) passenger the head may be by the window and therefore unprotected.

    When's the baby due?
    Not until November. I probably wouldn't be thinking about car seats yet except that I'm in the market for a new car at the moment, and I don't want to get one that is kid-unfriendly.

  10. #9
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    Quote Originally Posted by AdventureMom View Post
    We had an 07 Outback... I sat in the seat with both knees in it to get it tight - then did the best trick that I know of: got it as tight as I could, then unbuckled it, let it retract a click or two, then reaaalllly pushed it to buckle it again. One trick that Splash mentioned is to use the LATCH anchors (even the two inner ones from the outboard LATCH positions) to get it as tight as possible, then do the belt installation and unhook it from the LATCH (using the LATCH as a tool). Hope you can get it tight enough - we were able to and it did work well.
    Now I am intrigued! I am going to have to go try this again in my car! (Actually, I'm fine with my current installation, particularly since DD would not be able to buckle herself into her booster with a seat installed next to her.) But I want to go figure out what I did wrong last time. I know I was trying the RF seats first; maybe I had just run out of patience by the time I got to the FF installation.
    DD#1 (7 y, 5 mo, 54 in, 68 lbs ) Clek Olli
    DD#2 (4 y, 2 months, 43 in, 42 lbs) Britax Marathon

  11. #10
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    Quote Originally Posted by baj View Post
    Me too. I am hoping that since IIHS now only gives Top Safety Pick designations to cars with stability control that there will be more public awareness and therefore market demand for this feature. But I don't know how many people pay attention.

    The Impreza will be redesigned for 2008. It gets good IIHS side impact scores as-is (http://www.iihs.org/ratings/tsp_archive.html), though, even without the side curtain airbags (it does have head/chest side bags for the front). In most cars, the rear outboard passengers would hit their heads on the window in a side impact. But in the Impreza, the C-pillar is further forward, beside the rear passenger's head. This allows it to act as a kind of helmet. I'm just concerned that for a short (toddler-sized) passenger the head may be by the window and therefore unprotected.
    Hey, how did you quote the various parts of my message separately in the same post? Did you insert the commands yourself, or is there a button I'm missing? I've been wanting to know how to do that.....

    I think that Subaru's rally base is part of the problem about VDC. I often see Subie diehards railing against ESC, though I have no idea why, since it can be disabled if someone feels like doing doughnuts in the snow. (And those people should stick with their STi's anyway!) They've obviously already figured out how to incorporate VDC into their AWD system on the Tribeca, Outback, and Legacy. How hard can it be to extend it into the rest of the line? I was really mystified by the fact that it was still offered only on the Legacy sedan in 2007, until I learned that they are discontinuing the wagon in 2008. (Sob!) The lack of VDC almost kept me from buying the car, and I'm sure they lose other buyers who aren't already predisposed in favor of them like I am. It's a shame, because Subarus are otherwise such great family cars--uber-safe and fun to drive to boot. And did you know that Subaru rates its LATCH system to 60 pounds? Nearly all the other manufacturers just go to 40 or 48 lbs.

    It's certainly impressive that Foresters and Imprezas can get those crash test results without side curtain airbags in the rear, but I do know what you mean about wanting them anyway. The C-pillar issue is an important one; although one would expect children in harnessed seats to be better protected, one must take into account the fact that they are positioned quite differently than the adult dummies in the crash tests. That was one of the things keeping me from buying another Forester when I was car shopping last summer. I was surprised at how few wagons had them at the time. Maybe the Impreza will get them in the redesign. Does the Civic have them for rear passengers?
    DD#1 (7 y, 5 mo, 54 in, 68 lbs ) Clek Olli
    DD#2 (4 y, 2 months, 43 in, 42 lbs) Britax Marathon

  12. #11
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    Quote Originally Posted by twokidstwodogs View Post
    Hey, how did you quote the various parts of my message separately in the same post? Did you insert the commands yourself...
    Yep, I just put manually put in the quote tags.

    They've obviously already figured out how to incorporate VDC into their AWD system on the Tribeca, Outback, and Legacy. How hard can it be to extend it into the rest of the line? I was really mystified by the fact that it was still offered only on the Legacy sedan in 2007, until I learned that they are discontinuing the wagon in 2008. (Sob!)
    I agree on all points. Objection to VDC is especially hard to understand because Subaru's system (according to Consumer Reports anyway) is tuned to let things get pretty far out of hand before it steps in. And like you said you can turn it off anyway. And I am disappointed that the Legacy wagon will be no more. The Outback is not that different, and given the lack of affordable midsize wagons in the US market that is what I would probably get in its place. But I would rather have a lower, better-handling car than a few inches of extra ground clearance that I will never need.

    Does the Civic have them for rear passengers?
    Yes, it does (and it needs them because the rear passenger's head is not protected by anything but the window). But I would really like a hatchback/wagon, and I think the Impreza is slightly safer overall (good in all IIHS ratings and heaveier than the Civic), and like I said this car would be used to haul kids only rarely if ever. That's why I was hoping to be able to put the child in the center, so the lack of rear air bags would not make any difference at all. I think I am still leaning toward the Impreza, and will plan to replace it if the lack of airbags becomes a problem (meaning the child is tall enough to have his/her head by the window, sitting in an outboard seat, and actually ever riding in this car vs. the Legacy).

    Thanks again everyone!

  13. #12
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    Quote Originally Posted by baj View Post
    But I would rather have a lower, better-handling car than a few inches of extra ground clearance that I will never need.
    My feelings exactly. I also wanted something easier for my dogs to jump into and my kids to climb into. I guess the Outback just appeals to more buyers. On the other hand, maybe if they had actually advertised the Legacy wagon and (crazy idea!) offered one with VDC, it would have sold better. (DH refers to it as my soccer mom race car. I have the GT version, and that thing has zip!)

    Quote Originally Posted by baj View Post
    I think I am still leaning toward the Impreza, and will plan to replace it if the lack of airbags becomes a problem (meaning the child is tall enough to have his/her head by the window, sitting in an outboard seat, and actually ever riding in this car vs. the Legacy).
    Once you figure out how to install the seat in your Legacy, can you take it to the Subaru dealer and try it in an Impreza? If the Impreza's interior is the same as the Forester's, which is probably is, then Splash's suggestion of the Safeseat might be good. Or you could try something like a Roundabout. Your baby will undoubtedly outgrow it before 40 lbs, but if you can swing a higher weight seat later on, it might be a good choice for the Impreza for now. It's incredibly easy to install and, at the 45 degree angle, would interfere less with the front seats than a Marathon would. RF installations do tend to be more difficult, but keep in mind that RF infants and toddlers are extremely well-protected in side impact crashes--better than adult passengers. So even if you can't get a good RF install in the center of an Impreza, you could put the baby outboard and then move center when going FF. I know it's not ideal, but if the baby's not going to be there much, it's probably a reasonable compromise. If you do have to go to the outboard position, you could get extra protection with a seat like a Britax Boulevard.
    DD#1 (7 y, 5 mo, 54 in, 68 lbs ) Clek Olli
    DD#2 (4 y, 2 months, 43 in, 42 lbs) Britax Marathon

  14. #13
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    Quote Originally Posted by AdventureMom View Post
    We had an 07 Outback... I sat in the seat with both knees in it to get it tight - then did the best trick that I know of: got it as tight as I could, then unbuckled it, let it retract a click or two, then reaaalllly pushed it to buckle it again. One trick that Splash mentioned is to use the LATCH anchors (even the two inner ones from the outboard LATCH positions) to get it as tight as possible, then do the belt installation and unhook it from the LATCH (using the LATCH as a tool). Hope you can get it tight enough - we were able to and it did work well.
    Thats a great way to make the seat secure tightly. But one question: why unhook the LATCH anchors? Wouldn't they be added protection? (I do undertand that SUBARU forbids only using the LATCH in the center position.)

    I have a '05 Impreza Wagon with a Graco ComfortSport seat installed front facing in the outboard position. But I'm considering moving it to the center (front facing), but not sure how secure it will be (haven't tried it yet). Anyone tried this seat in the center?

    Thanks

  15. #14
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    I have had the Graco CS in the center of a 07 Honda Civic w/ no problems, FF and RF. (and also a BLVD).

    ETA: I DID have issues with the top tether being too long, since it tethers right behind the head rest and I had to remove the headrest to make the seat fit correctly.
    Last edited by sunnymw; 06-11-2008 at 02:32 PM.

  16. #15
    Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus Defrost's Avatar
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    Quote Originally Posted by twokidstwodogs View Post
    Hey, how did you quote the various parts of my message separately in the same post? Did you insert the commands yourself, or is there a button I'm missing? I've been wanting to know how to do that.....
    After you hit the "quote" button to reply, you can highlight areas of text and then just hit a button to add the quote tags. It's directly above the window where you type your reply, a little to the right of the center, and it looks like a cartoon speaking bubble. (I just discovered it myself!)

    And since I'm replying anyway; OP, I think it's great that you're thinking ahead. You're already thinking like a great Daddy!
    Debbie, CPST-I
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    Thomas (18) * Sam (17) * Patrick (15) * Macha (13)
    Safely secured with seat belts - everyone, every ride!

  17. #16
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    Re: Seats for cars with hump in middle rear seat: Subaru Legacy and Impreza, Honda Civic

    I have a 95 2 door civic and have gotton the following ff Graco Cargo, Evenflo Bolero and Graco Nautilus in the middle hump locking latch plate lap only belt. I also installed my Graco Snug ride without the base this was before I knew all about car seats it was tight but not sure of the recline. Im pretty sure it would fit if done right as well. I just cant get anything on either side when the seat is in the middle. I only have one dc so its no big deal.

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