Question best vehicle 2 extended rear-facing seats


New member
I am just starting to look for a new vehicle and wanted some advice. DD is 1 ½ yo and I have another one on the way. My starting point is that I would like to have both car seats extended rear-facing as long as possible. I have been looking highest-limit seats (e.g. Britax Advocate 70, Radian XTSL.) These are big and require lots of leg room in the second row. I would like a vehicle with a 3rd row for additional (adult) passengers, but would want the car seats permanently installed in the second row and would not want to have to remove the car seats to access the 3rd row. This would mean, I think, having captain’s chairs in the 2nd row without a middle console or having seats that have the ability to slide rather than fold to access the 3rd row. I also want AWD/4WD since I sometimes need to be able to drive in the snow. And, I want great safety ratings, a vehicle with a relatively low center of gravity or at least not super-tall, room for 3 in the 3rd row, and cargo room to go on a family trip. (I know, lots to ask!)

So far, I’ve looked at the Ford Flex which might work if there were no center console in the second row. The problem is that then only 2 people can sit in the 3rd row and would need to squeeze between the seats to get there. A Honda Odyssey would be perfect, except that there is no AWD option (oh why??). I’ve been thinking about a Toyota Sienna with AWD, though the 2011 re-design gets some criticism, and I’m still not sure about Toyota after the recall. Thoughts on other options would be greatly appreciated – e.g. Acura MDX, Volvo XC90, Chevy Traverse, Buick Enclave, Honda Pilot, any others?

To summarize my dream car –
- room in 2nd row for two extended rear-facing car seats with highest weight/height limits
- access to 3rd row without removing 2nd row car seats
- not too tall
- great safety ratings
- room for 3 in 3rd row if possible
- cargo room for a family trip (with 3rd row folded)

Thank you in advance!


New member
I think your biggest obstacle is going to be getting adults into a third row seat past rear facing seats in the second. A van with the captain's chairs scooted together would be your best bet. As you've found, only the Toyota offers AWD.

You may get by with a Honda Pilot. If you can get the car seats on the "60" side and still flip the "40" side. I'd guess you could only do that with 2 Radians. I know for sure you can't do it with a RF radian and a Vivo booster. The third row in the Pilot doesn't offer a lot of leg room though. Definitely check to make sure it works. When I looked (at 2011) the cupholders in the doors stuck into the space where a car seat would go.

Would you be open to putting your kids in the third row when you have adults with you? You can remove the headrests and load kids through the hatch. It's much easier than it sounds. It would really open things up.

I have a Flex with 2nd row bench. RF seats don't work well in the middle of 2nd row because of the plastic parts on the folding mechanism. Other than that, car seats have installed well. I have all kinds of combos with 2 RF seats, a Frontier and a booster and adults. Loading through the hatch is actually pretty easy.

One thing you might want to check on is if there are head rests in all seating positions. I believe shoulder belts are now standard. The Chevy Traverse and Buick/GMC clones don't have headrests in the middle of 2nd and 3rd rows. It wouldn't be safe for an adult passenger there.
Last edited:


New member
Thank you for the info!

I hadn't thought of that issue with the head rests. I had seen that fixed head rests can be an issue with installing some of the taller seats FF. So I guess the best is adjustable head rests all around for safety for adult passengers and flexibility for car seats.

Just curious - Why did you choose the Flex? Any complaints?

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