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  1. #1
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    3 car seats - what car/suv/truck?

    I have an infant and a toddler with a third on the way. I currently have an Escalade with 2 captains chairs in the middle and third row. But there is no storage behind the third row. Am now trying the infant and toddler in the very rear of vehicle (is this safe?) so that new baby can be in captains chair in 2nd row along with DH and I'll chauffeur. Wouldn't it be better to get a decent size car or smaller SUV (or even a truck) with only 2nd row with all three in a row and a decent size trunk space ... or have I lost my mind?

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  3. #2
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    It is perfectly safe to put child restraints in the third row of a vehicle, as long as the seats can be installed correctly according to the vehicle and child restraint owner's manuals.

    As for storage space and better seating arrangements, there may well be better options. For example, an 8-passenger Sienna is very flexible and has more cargo room than many full size SUVs. Also:

    http://www.suvsafety.info

  4. #3
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    I have a Chevy Venture and I love it!
    It has 3 'captains chairs' that fit across the middle row to form a bench, or you can take any of the three out. I can fit three car seats across, no problem.

    The rear bench also fits three across, and you can remove it for more cargo area. Even with the rear seat in I can still fit a (bulky) double stroller in the rear cargo area, or several bags of groceries.

  5. #4
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    I'm not sure I'm the minivan type - what about the Toyota Avalon? Anyone have thoughts on it? Comfortable enough for 3 car seats across the back? Enough storage space in trunk?

  6. #5
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    The Avalon is relatively wide and should be a good choice. It also has very good safety ratings, though the IIHS has not yet completed a side impact test.

    A top minivan will be the most convenient and quite possibly the safest choice, too. Since you don't want a minivan, a 3-row SUV or wagon may also be a good option. Models like the Acura MDX, Volvo XC90, Toyota Highlander and Ford Freestyle are good choices for safety and can have a 3rd row option. The Pilot should be good, too, though it hasn't been retested by the IIHS for the 2006 year, yet. Wagons like the Mazda5 and Chrysler Pacifica should be reasonable options as well. Putting a child in the third row is not a safety issue. That would make it easier to fit two restraints in the second row and leave access to the third row as well. Keep in mind that some models do lack side curtain airbags for the third row of seating.

    If you opt for a sedan, look for a wide back seat, of course. Hip room is a good place to start. As a very rough guideline, anything under 52" or so is probably going to require careful selection to get 3 child restraints to fit in the same row and may still be difficult to fit. For example, some very safe models like the Ford Five Hundred and Acura TL claim to have almost 54" of hiproom in back and may give you a little more flexibility. Even some safe, smaller models like the Chevy Malibu and Mitsubishi Galant have close to 53" and might work OK, depending on your child seats. Full size models like the Chrysler 300 and others may claim close to 56" or more, which should usually work pretty well. In comparison, the 2006 Avalon also claims just over 56" so it should also be among the better models for three across carseats. Of course, the layout of the seats, seatbelt and LATCH anchors is also important so you'd have to verify the fit of your child seats in person. Some vehicles do have 3 separate sets of LATCH anchors for child restraints and that can be handy.

    Good luck!

  7. #6
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    I own a Chevy Tahoe with caption chairs. I have both my girls in the 2nd row but time to time I do put them on the 3rd row. As far as safety it is perfectly safe to place a child in the 3rd row as long as the child restraints are installed & used properly everytime.

    Just from experiance putting 3 across in a car will be a tight fit but it also will not allow an adult to be able to be in the back to tend to the new baby if that is what you are wanting.

    With your current SUV have you thought about putting the new baby & your middle child in the 2nd row and the oldest in the 3rd row. Then remove the other half of the 3rd row bench. Of course this is if your 3rd row is the 50/50 split bench.

    If you still wanting an SUV have you thought about a Suburban? It has the 3 row seating plus a huge cargo area.
    Jenny
    Senior CPS Tech-Instructor & Mommy of 2 girls
    K1 12 yrs old- 61" & 100lbs in vehicle seat belt
    K2 10 yrs old- 59" & 92lbs in vehicle seat belt

  8. #7
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    I've been researching everything I can. I really like the Avalon for a car option. But I think I ought to drive a van just to see if I'd like it. I see a lot of great ratings on both the Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey. Does anyone have any input on which may be better, etc?

  9. #8
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Most minivans are competitive today. The Quest, Odyssey and Sienna the safest models, provided you make sure to equip the Quest and Sienna with available stability control. Models from other manufactuers all have various advantages, often including a price lower than Honda and Toyota for a similar vehicle.

    We shopped recently for an 8-passenger model, only available on the Odyssey and Sienna. You can find a good comparison here:

    http://www.epinions.com/content_208641101444

    Good luck!

  10. #9
    Carseat Crazy my3girls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    I'm not sure I'm the minivan type -
    I totally understand this! But when my third child was on the way, we started looking into them. We bought a Grand Caravan (longer with more storage area than the reg Caravan) and I can honestly say there are times I forget it's a van, except when I back up! At first I felt like I was driving a school bus, since there were so many rows of seats, but recently when the van was in the shop and we all tried to squeeze into my dh's Camry, I was hating it! Plus there is just so much more floor space for stuff like diaper bags and coats (our family doesn't wear them while driving around, just need them for when we get there) I really like the look of the Mazda5, doesn't seem to van-y to me. Good luck!!

  11. #10
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    Three across in an SUV?

    I, too, am not quite ready to go the minivan route. Do you know of any SUVs that would accommodate 3 car seats across AND that have a 3rd row to handle more passengers (thinking down the road here). Was looking at Volvo's SUV (though we couldn't get 3 car seats in the back and I don't know if the SUV would be any wider), the Honda Pilot and the Chevy Tahoe. Any thoughts?

  12. #11
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    We had a Honda Odyssey (2001), traded it for a 2005 MDX a while back. We had a hard time deciding between the Pilot and MDX, however the Pilot doesn't allow for Navi and DVD at the same time, plus there were a few other features it was lacking. However, the Pilot is wider in the 2nd row (and seats 3 in the back row).

    I wouldn't go with the Volvo SUV (we looked at that too) as it has even less space in the rear than the Pilot/MDX. Even if you could get 3 across in the 2nd row, and want to put a double stroller in the back, you might be hard put with the Volvo. Our MDX will fit the MBUD & P3 and plety of shopping bags if the 3rd row is folded in the floor. Pilot and Tahoe are probably the same. Not to mention, everyone that I know that has a Volvo has complained about repairs and shop time.

    We are now looking at the 2007 or 2008 Surburban. Reason is although we can get a tight 3 across in carseats in the 2nd row in the MDX (with right combo), you then would have to access the back row through the tailgate, or take out a carseat (which is hard being since it is tight). Same for the Pilot. After seeing a rear ended crash of a Pilot/MDX (Tahoe would be the same as it is virtually the same configuration), I don't feel super comforable with the kids in the 3rd row now (not a lot of buffer between 3rd row and the rear). Plus if you have the 3rd row up, it is not possible to get some double strollers (like MBUD) in the back. I can get my PP P3, but little shopping bags then.

    The 2007 Surburban has been completely redesigned. It is on par, if not better than the Acura in some ways (missing bluetooth though). It isn't out till May I think, but the new 2007 Tahoe would give you an idea of the fit & finish. The Surburban would have more room between the 3rd row and back (better buffer in case of an accident & more room for strollers, bags, etc). I think I'll feel better then utilizing the 3rd row for kids. Plus, with the wider 2nd row seats, if you do keep three carseats in the 2nd row, it would be (in theory) easier to pull out and put back with a bit more space. The gas mileage is supposed to be better too this year.

  13. #12
    CPS Technician Victorious4's Avatar
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    The Acura MDX has a very spacious middle row (I fit a Britax Husky/Regent outboard next to our Parkway - center - with Boulevard onthe other side, quite easily) ... the 3rd row was a bit more room compared to the Toyota Highlander. It got about 20 miles per gallon with standard front seat side airbags (not sure about curtain airbags for the back, though) & has great reviews for customer satisfaction & repairs in the long-term ... but, it is pricey
    TIFF ~ doula & all hours childcare provider
    SCARLA: winter '02 . . . Jr. Roller Derby level III
    BEAR: spring '11 ... Recaro Sport + Clek Oobr
    RAHNE: summer '17 ... MicoMax30 + RadianRXT
    childcare: 0-7yrs... Contender + Frontier Clicktight
    {emergencies: Scenera Next, Highback, Topside}

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by papooses
    The Acura MDX has a very spacious middle row (I fit a Britax Husky/Regent outboard next to our Parkway - center - with Boulevard onthe other side, quite easily) ... the 3rd row was a bit more room compared to the Toyota Highlander. It got about 20 miles per gallon with standard front seat side airbags (not sure about curtain airbags for the back, though) & has great reviews for customer satisfaction & repairs in the long-term ... but, it is pricey
    The newer Acuras 2004 & 2005 definitely have side curtain airbags in the back. Not sure about the older models, but acuramdx.org is a great site to find out on their forums. The 2004 Honda Pilot did not, but I think the 2005 or 2006 might (check out hondapilot.org). That is one reason we initially looked at the MDX vs the Pilot. I really wanted curtain airbags in the back.

    Good to hear about the the 2nd row configuration you had....we have had 2 Roundabouts on the outboard sides. We couldn't get a good fit sbs w/one in middle & one on outboard, which means an infant seat would have to be in the middle (difficult to reach), or different carseat for 1 of the RAs. Just so happens DD has outgrown her RA, so I'm hoping a Safeguard and RA might go next to each other better and put an infant seat on the outboard drivers side. I think the MDX is wide enough for 3, just needs the right combo as it is not as wide as maybe a Surburban.

    Otherwise, although pricey, it is an excellent car. No complaints in the fit, finish or reliablity. We had a 2004 MDX that a friend bought off of us that we really didn't want to sell, but needed a commuter car for dh (Civic) due to the amount of travel he has now (went from a 4 mile door to door commute to over 40 miles) and they really wanted a used MDX. We still have the 2005 MDX though and love it. I'd look for a used 2004-2006 if that makes it more affordable.

  15. #14
    CPS Technician Victorious4's Avatar
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    Good to know about the side curtain airbags

    Also, just wanted to clarify that the Husky was installed with the seatbelt (headrest removed) ... BLVD was RF outboard with LATCH & the Parkway buckled next to the BLVD It didn't work to have teh Parkway buckle next to the Husky & it was difficult to buckle the Parkway with the BLVD FF (might have been impossible to buckle any other booster, though).

    The 3rd row could only accessed this way from the trunk, LOL

    I wish we'd decided to sell my vehicle & keep the MDX *SIGH*
    Last edited by Victorious4; 03-29-2006 at 12:41 PM.
    TIFF ~ doula & all hours childcare provider
    SCARLA: winter '02 . . . Jr. Roller Derby level III
    BEAR: spring '11 ... Recaro Sport + Clek Oobr
    RAHNE: summer '17 ... MicoMax30 + RadianRXT
    childcare: 0-7yrs... Contender + Frontier Clicktight
    {emergencies: Scenera Next, Highback, Topside}

  16. #15
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    question for three captain chairs

    Did your van come with the three captians chairs or did you order them? I was interested in getting that for my van..
    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    I have a Chevy Venture and I love it!
    It has 3 'captains chairs' that fit across the middle row to form a bench, or you can take any of the three out. I can fit three car seats across, no problem.

    The rear bench also fits three across, and you can remove it for more cargo area. Even with the rear seat in I can still fit a (bulky) double stroller in the rear cargo area, or several bags of groceries.

  17. #16
    CPS Technician Victorious4's Avatar
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    I've seen a lot of these lately ... last I remember, though the Venture does not crash test nearly as well as the Sienna (which has an 8 passenger, 3 captains chairs in the middle row, option) -- plus, Toyota certifies their used vehicles so you still get a good warranty....
    TIFF ~ doula & all hours childcare provider
    SCARLA: winter '02 . . . Jr. Roller Derby level III
    BEAR: spring '11 ... Recaro Sport + Clek Oobr
    RAHNE: summer '17 ... MicoMax30 + RadianRXT
    childcare: 0-7yrs... Contender + Frontier Clicktight
    {emergencies: Scenera Next, Highback, Topside}

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