2 FF car seats in SUV 3rd row?


Janet Matta

I have 3 kids in car seats (all Diono Radians), a 5 year old and 4 year old who are forward facing and a 14 month old who is rear facing. We are car shopping and I'm looking at the Kia Telluride, the Volvo xc90, and the Mazda cx90, all with captains chairs in 2nd row. My ideal configuration would be to put both FF kids in the 3rd row of any of these vehicles, with the rear-facing in one of the captain chairs, leaving the other captain chair empty (for mom when I need to dole out snacks or entertain etc).
I am not interested in doing 3 across, the 4 and 5 year old fight when pushed shoulder to shoulder and it's just too tight/challenging.
However, none of these vehicles has two full sets of LATCH in the 3rd row. So can I put 2 FF car seats in the 3rd row of all of these vehicles despite the lack of LATCH? Is it safe?
Any other safe 3-row vehicles I should be looking at as an alternative to these?
Thank you!


CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Hi! You don't need lower anchors to safely install a car seat. It is really important for forward facing kids to have a TETHER anchor, but you can install with seatbelt and top tether. Lower anchors not needed.
A few other things are going to be important though- Diono seats are notoriously tricky to install in many vehicles, especially forward facing. If you want to keep them (though it's worth noting that most 5 year olds will be close to outgrowing the harness by seated height, with shoulders usually close to going over the top harness slot), take your seats along to the dealership and try them out. Another issue is the shallow third row in many SUVs. Even if you can install a forward facing seat without a child's knees being too close to the second row for safety, a booster often won't fit later- and boosters need to be 100% on the vehicle seat. Some also have side bolsters that make problems for car seats and boosters, or seatbelts anchored to the side of the vehicle pillar and forward, so no adult or booster rider can safely ride there (and it often causes car seat install issues too.) And you'll need to check that head restraints either don't interfere with boosters and car seats, or are removable.

So checklist:
-top tether anchors in at least the outboard 3rd row positions if not all rear seating positions
-no seatbelts anchored forward of the vehicle seat
-no problematic bolsters or non removable head restraints
-enough leg room to be safe with or without a booster or car seat, and a deep enough seat for a booster
-work with Dionos if you want to keep them (though this could be negotiable- seats are cheap to replace compared to a vehicle.)

Good luck finding something that works for you. If you have trouble, you may want to look at minivans; some (though not all) are better on those issues.

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