Recommendation for 5YO in center of old truck with stick shift


New member
I'm looking for a backup seat mainly for my son (5 1/2, 47 lbs., about 43" tall), which will be used in a secondary vehicle, a 1983 Chevy pickup and perhaps my husband's 1996 Jeep Cherokee. I would just jump right on a Frontier but I have some issues. I have seen a Nautilus (regular not elite I think) in a vehicle, messed with it and was not real keen on it for two reasons. 1. Shallow seat depth might be uncomfortable in the long run like for a booster, and 2. Made in China.

Issues needing consideration:

This truck has a single-row bench seat only AND it's a stick shift. I wanted to use the Radian XT passenger side RFing (for now) for DD, moved in and out of my other vehicle (which is what I have been doing with her Intera, which she has outgrown as of right now and it's going to expire soon anyways). The Radian XT works great for DS in the middle, I can shift (BARELY) with that seat FFing.

The biggest issue is shifting into reverse with DS's FFing seat. I can BARELY shift into reverse with the FFing Radian XT in the center, so I think the Frontier 85 is out for that position because I believe I saw that it's much deeper overall than the Radian which barely fits. Please correct me if I am wrong, and I will joyfully go buy a Frontier. The Radian XT I have now measures about 17" by my measurement, front to back at the base. The only reason I am able to shift is the seat is not real deep and it's swept back enough that I can just barely get the gearshift into reverse.

Of course I COULD put DS in the passenger position in a Frontier and FF DD in the center in the Radian. I'm not sure how well that will work with the Frontier because the passenger shoulder seat belt has to be tightened with a clip. Do any of you see that as a real irritating install with a Frontier? It's not easy with the easy to install RFing Intera she had been using because the clip has to be pretightened and then you just have grunt and push to get it in the lock. She will be three in August, she's 31 lbs. and 36". I am not extremely thrilled about FFing her but I am not thrilled with the other choices either. I wish DH would let me sell that truck, I used to love it but now, <sigh>.

I don't think it's an issue with most seats, but I also need to make sure anything I buy for FFing use will be fine without support behind it because my seat backs are low in that vehicle.

This is what I'm working with now:

Primary vehicle 1996 Suburban
DS - Safeguard Child Seat
DD - Radian XT (RFing)

What I do is I keep ONE backup seat, and if I need to transport both kids, I move DD's seat. That has worked well for me. Moving the Safeguard seat is an ordeal, and although I LOVE that seat, I don't like to move it!

I really want a seat I can get the most use out of, I know another Radian would quickly be outgrown by DS. So I guess unless you guys have any other suggestions, I'm stuck with either a Nautilus for DS in the middle of the old truck and DD RFing in passenger seat, or a Frontier for DS in passenger seat and FFing DD in middle.

Any other options? Comments?




Moderator - CPSTI Emeritus
It sounds like your best bet will be to move DD to the FF Radian in the center and get either the Nautilus or the Frontier85 for your DS. I don't think the install will be as bad as you think, even with the locking clip, because the Frontier allows the long-belt-path, which is usually easier to manage in tight situations (since the buckle ends up beside the carseat instead of behind it.) I just can't imagine any other carseat leaving you with enough room to shift if the Radian is already tight.

The Frontier85 doesn't come with a locking clip, though, so you'd need to call Britax about that.


CPST Instructor
Can anyone with that truck confirm the belt length before she buys a fr85? In both my Saturn sl and chevy suburban, the belts are not long enough for LBP on the fr85 or regent.


New member
Thank you both for your replies, and Luvmy4monkies surely if I do decide to buy a Frontier I will make sure the belt path will work with the length of that belt. Thank you for mentioning that!

The better news is, after discussing this mess with my husband again, and again reminding him that eventually we will HAVE to replace this truck, he is now considering buying a crew cab truck. Yay!


Well-known member
Just dropping in with the reminder that the Nautilus cannot overhang the vehicle seat at all, so something to check if you are considering it.

Don't forget to use the SafeStop for DD if she is in the Radian FF (must be used FF to 40lbs).

Woohoo for DH considering a different vehicle! It sounds like this one is not meeting your needs. I would be a little concerned if the gear shift was that snug next to a child - you mean beside him, right, and not directly in front of him? I am having a hard time imagining the setup. That said, a new vehicle would be nice. We have a 2004 Silverado ext. cab and it is so easy to get even big, wide seats installed side by side in the rear bench. :D

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