Fitting 3 Car Seats in a Corolla?

greenbeanmama

New member
Howdy all! We just found out we're expecting again (surprise!), and we'll be needing to make our current car work for a while longer (until the expected baby is about six months old). So, three car seats in a Corolla - can it be done? Please say yes!

Currently, my son (5 years, 41 pounds) is FF in a MyRide 65. My daughter (2.25 years, 30 pounds) is FF in a Comfort Sport. Honestly, the Comfort Sport should probably be replaced soon, as it's been in constant use for almost five straight years, and it's showing some signs of wear (and I just plain don't like it!). Because our babies get big fast (both were 20 pounds by four months old, and tall as well), we figured we'd just skip the infant carrier and go for a convertible seat. I know the MyRide can go rearfacing if we need it to, and I want all three in five-point harnesses. I was assuming that my son would be in the middle seat, simply because he could crawl into his seat easier than I could lean over to the middle seat to put in an infant. But then I thought that, because of the wide "wings" on car seats, that maybe the baby should be in the middle, even if I have to do acrobatics to get them into the seat (yes, I know the middle is the safest for the baby).

So, if we're looking at buying two new car seats that have to all fit in a dinky little Corolla, what should we be looking at?
 
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Keeanh

Well-known member
The short answer is yes, you can get 3 seats in a Corolla.

The My Ride works great with Radians, especially if they're in the same direction. You could try the My Ride and a Radian rear-facing, and then maybe a Maestro, another Radian, or the new version of the Maestro (the Evenflo 300 something?) forward-facing.

Ideally, your oldest would be in the middle since the forward-facing child is the least protected. But I think the determining factor will be how the seats fit in the car.
 

kam1011

New member
We have an aveo and we haven't been able to fit any of the combination seats in that car three across. I tried them all :( We have a turbobooster, MyRide65, and Radian, driver to passenger. The MyRide works perfectly in the middle because the base is super small and the shell of the seat sits up higher than the other seats and the two outboard seats sit under it a little. We used to have a Coccoro before the MyRide, but really the MyRide fits better. Since you said you want them all harnessed, I would suggest trying two radians.
It IS totally possible, you just have to play.
 

cupcakepirate11

Active member
I have fit three across in my corolla (not dinky just...loveable Heheh) I would say just get two radians and put the myride in the middle rear facing or two radians rearfacing on either side of the myride forward facing in the middle! A cocorro is also narrow but does not last as long.
 

mommyfrog

Active member
My sister has two Radians and a classic Marathon in her Corolla. It works with the Marathon on one side or in the middle. I bet you could do Radian, MyRide, Radian.
 

greenbeanmama

New member
Oh good! My own research was saying that two Radians would be the way to go, but I just wanted to make sure before we actually spent the money on them! (We're trying to follow the Dave Ramsey plan, and right now all our "extra debt money" is going into the "golly-we-need-a-bigger-vehicle" fund, but we won't be able to actually purchase a different car for about a year, being a one-income family and all...). At least we have a plan now. Thank you!
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Hi there! Glad you found us. :)

I had many a 3-across in our Corolla (see my signature pic...) May I ask what model year? Ir can influence rear-facing recommendations because of advanced airbags. :)

Also, do you intend to rear-face your 2 year old again? Or keep her forward facing? Ideally the least protected child (youngest forward-facer) would go center, though practically sometimes that just doesn't work.

Also, your children's seated torso heights would help us know how much time they are likely to get out of seats. To get that, sit them cross-legged against a wall, mark the top of the shoulder, and then measure from there to the floor. Thanks!
 

greenbeanmama

New member
Our Corolla is a '99. Lots of miles, but still runs great! No latch system at all though, so everything will be installed with seat belts. My husband is tall and needs the passenger seat as far back as possible, while I'm not short but can have the driver's seat pretty far forward and still drive just fine.

My son's seated torso height is 15.5 inches. My daughter...she's being stubborn and won't get measured right now. I'll try again later!

The only reason she got turned forward facing was because Grandma put her in her cousin's seat (which was FF), and she refused to get in her car seat after that without a huge fit. She's only been FF for about three months now, and she hates her seat ("It's too tight! It's too tight!" "Sweetie, they're as loose as they can safely be. Do you want me to make them tighter?" "No!") So, I'm really hoping a new seat will somehow not be "too tight" for her. I am not opposed to putting her RF again - it would be a matter of convincing her to go along with it. But she loves babies, so maybe she'd do it once the baby comes.

I don't suppose there's anyone located in central Iowa that has a Radian that we could try in our car before we spend money on them, is there? I've been going through friends and friends-of-friends, and I don't think anyone we know owns a Radian that we could test-drive...
 

greenbeanmama

New member
Oh, the other thing I forgot to mention is that the back seat in this Corolla is not flat - the middle seat is slightly raised compared to the two side seats. It's not an issue with two car seats on either side, and when the Comfort Sport was RF, it sat just fine in the middle seat (no moving, sliding, etc - really tight). The MyRide was too wobbly sitting there. Will this be a problem with three car seats back there?
 
C

CorollaMom

Guest
Hi all,

From those of you who were able to fit 3 across in your Corollas, I would like to know what year your Corollas were/are. We are planning to have our third sometime in 2013 (DV) and we have a 2001 Corolla. I just did some measurements of the back bench, and I have no idea how I am going to fit 3 car seats across. I have a feeling the newer model Corollas are bigger than greenbeanmama's '99 and my '01.

Ideally, for our Corolla, I'm thinking of having 2 Radians FF on the outsides and a Britax Marathon RF in the middle. But the Radians are 17" (W) and the Britax is 18" (W). I measured 52" from door to door. 17" + 17" + 18" = 52". That means the Radians are not going to be centered on the seat or on the car LATCH anchors for that matter, and the 3 seats are going to be so tight against each other that I'm afraid something will break.

We are not committed to keeping the Corolla, but it's been a very reliable car requiring little maintenance over the past 7 years we have owned it so my husband would like to keep the car if we can (especially with gas prices being so high!).

What I need to know about your Corollas:

1) the year
2) what 3 car seats you used across the back (brand and model)
3) what arrangement your car seats were in (i.e. outside or middle, FF or RF)

Thanks!
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Welcome to the boards! Mine was an 03.

That said: the math does not always add up the way you think it should because seats can overlap! It's called "puzzling" and you'll hear about it a lot here. I really got a TON of three-acrosses in my Corolla. Some of them should NOT have fit by the numbers. The widest part of a Radian is at the shoulders- so they puzzle really well with many rear-facing seats. It's also ok for the seats not to be centered, and you can use seatbelt instead of LATCH to install (and should, for gaining more room in a three across!)

That said, I wouldn't recommend a Marathon for the baby as they don't fit well from birth- and a third Radian could fit really well in between two other Radians (or a Radian and another seat- how old and large are your older children?)

Here's a list of 3-across seats members of this board have gotten in a Corolla. You can see, it's a lot! http://www.car-seat.org/search.php?searchid=4585559 (Hopefully that link works. ;) )
 

aept

New member
A ff radian and a rf britax didn't fit well together side-by-side for us in our '03 Corolla. The widest "hip" area of the britax shell ends up bumping into the wider "shoulder/trunk" area of the radian.
I agree that 3 radians might fit best: ff, rf, ff or rf, ff, rf depending on how you want your middle child to be positioned.
I am not as familiar with the slightly older corollas, but currently we drive a Prius with 51-52 inches of rear " hip room" - I can't remember the exact stats - so I know there is hope!
 

mamakc

Active member
I was able to get an evenflo maestro /rf radian/ maestro in my 2000 corolla with the inner cup holders removed on the maestro's. Hope that helps. I can provide pics.

-Krista
DD~5~Monterey & Dreamtime
DS~3~Complete Air 65 LX & Maestro
DN~1~Complete Air LX
 

Ryan Pep

New member
Ketchupqueen

I found this old post and was hoping you could help me as I will be in the same pickle soon.
I have 2 daughters ages 4 and 2. The 4 year old is currently forward facing and the 2 year old will be forward facing by the time the new baby is born.
The new baby will be in a Chicco Key Fit 30 rear facing seat
What 2 forward facing seats should I get for my daughters so we can fit all 3 seats in the back of a 2006 Corolla?

Any help is greatly appreciated.
 

Ryan Pep

New member
Hello.
I honestly don't really have a budget for the seats. Whatever we need to do to fit all 3 seats in the corolla! The Radians seem to be a comfortable price point if those will work. I prefer not to have my 2 year old rear facing too much longer if possible. Thanks again for your time and input!
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Radians should work, then, or Harmony Defenders. Once the baby outgrows the Keyfit (how old is the Keyfit?) you may want an Angle Adjuster for the Radian I'm assuming baby would move to, to help it take up less room. They aren't the easiest install either rear- or forward-facing, but they are compatible in the end.

FYI, it is safest to rear-face as long as possible, so if you want more reading on that, let us know. :)
 

Ryan Pep

New member
The key fit is 4 years old and the base has an expiration date of 2017.
Are the radians convertible from rear facing to forward facing?

I feel like my 2 year old is getting uncomfortable rear facing as her feet touch the back seat causing her to bend her knees? Is it best to keep her rear facing until she reaches a certain height?
Also if we keep the 2 year old rear facing, who should sit where in the back seat?
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Children are much more flexible than adults, and actually having a place to put your legs up is much more comfy than having them dangle with no foot support once forward-facing. :) Children will prop up, cross, frog out their legs and that is all fine. The only exception is children with a brittle bone disorder- otherwise rear-facing is safer for children's head, neck, spine, AND limbs. Once forward-facing the limbs fly everywhere, which is why broken arms and legs are among the most common injuries for forward-facing children.

It is safest to rear-face until the seat is outgrown by height (head approaching too close to the shell of the seat) or weight (the Radian RXT and R120 go to 45 lbs. rear-facing, and soon Diono is coming out with 50 lb. rear-facing limits on their new line.) There's no set height where moving to the next stage is safe, rather, it goes by age. NHTSA recommends that children rear-face through the fourth birthday or longer, or until the seat is outgrown, then forward-face in a harness until at least five to seven years (around the time the harness is outgrown.) Then children need a booster until between 10 and 12 when the child fits the adult belt alone. 2 is a bare minimum recommendation to forward-face, but continuing to rear-face as long as the child fits or at least until 4 is safer. :)

Ideally, we'd recommend the least-protected child goes in the most-protected position in the vehicle. In the ideal world this would mean that if both kids are forward-facing and the baby rear-facing, the 2 year old would be in the center because the youngest forward-facer is least protected by the seat. However if the 2 year old is rear-facing, the oldest becomes the least protected by the seat, followed by the baby (since children within the same stage of seats are ranked from youngest to oldest in terms of least safe to safest, barring medical conditions) and then the 2 year old would be the most protected child.

However, that's the ideal. In reality, it's highly impractical to have a forward-facing child in between 2 rear-facing seats. I would instead recommend that you place the seats where everyone can load most conveniently and where you can get good installs. I would probably end up, if this was my family, with the 2 year old rear-facing behind the driver with an Angle Adjuster to make sure it was not touching the front seat (unless you don't have advanced airbags, in which case it may touch), because we do a lot of street parking and I'd want the oldest to be able to climb in the seat on the curb side while I buckled the younger one. So I'd buckle the baby in the seat, plop it in the middle, walk the 2 year old around and buckle while the oldest climbs in and gets ready to be buckled. When the baby got older I'd probably switch the baby outboard so I could buckle the baby in a Radian while the older two climbed in their seats center and passenger side. But that's what would work for me- it may not be what works for your family. As long as the children are in properly installed and used seats, they are very safe, regardless of position in the vehicle. :)
 

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