Smallest car with big center seat

Persimmon

Active member
I'm planning on getting a new car at the end of this year, and I'm hoping to get DS4 back into the center seat and keep him there. Right now he is outboard in my 09 Forester because the hump in the center floor and close proximity to the back of the center console encourages him to put his feet up, and I am worried about him submarining. I want something with advanced safety features (emergency braking, blind spot detection), but am hoping to keep it as small as possible. My budget is no more than $35K. Used, low milage is OK. Is that possible? I keep cars for a long time (I bought the Forester new) so the center seat belt needs to be a good fit for older kids. Right now DS4 is 7 y.o., 52 lbs, 51 inches, so roughly 50% height and weight with a long torso. If I can't figure anything else out, I'll get an Outback. He fits in the center there now, but I am not sure how the belt fit is for later. It also has a center hump in the floor. DS3 is 5'10" so no help testing for fit there. I was hoping Subaru's 2018 replacement for the Tribeca was going to be a similar size but no such luck.
 
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TechnoGranola

Forum Ambassador
I hope someone has a suggestion for you. But one of the ways they keep cars small is by making the centre seat small (and useless). There is push to have the rear seats nice and large just like the front seats, so comfy for those outboard rear occupants. Which makes the centre seat as small as the front console in the front row. ;) And the smallness usually means a hump below that centre seat as well. Mine doesn't have a huge hump on the floor, but I wouldn't know if it was large enough to affect anything since I can't fit a kid centre with having another kid outboard.
 

Persimmon

Active member
I hope someone has a suggestion for you. But one of the ways they keep cars small is by making the centre seat small (and useless). There is push to have the rear seats nice and large just like the front seats, so comfy for those outboard rear occupants. Which makes the centre seat as small as the front console in the front row. ;) And the smallness usually means a hump below that centre seat as well. Mine doesn't have a huge hump on the floor, but I wouldn't know if it was large enough to affect anything since I can't fit a kid centre with having another kid outboard.

I am finding this to be true! And if people only have one person in the backseat, they usually just sit OB, so I can see why they would design them that way.

I saw the pics for the 2018 Buick Regal TourX wagon and the center seat looks nice and big. They haven't released pricing yet, but it appears that with the advanced safety features it will be out of my price range. I am not sure I want a Buick either since I don't really know anything about them, and I need my car to last at least to 100K without a lot of repairs. The only repair that I have ever had to do on my Forester besides replacing worn out things/maintenance is replacing a broken power steering belt. I live in Texas so the extreme heat is hard on those type of things though. Oh, and a tire pressure sensor went out also. I'm spoiled.

If I have to give up and go OB, I need to investigate the 2017 Honda CRV since they made it bigger. The advanced safety features are standard on all but the lowest trim (Go Honda!). We have a lot of camping in our future since DS4 is in cub scouts, but I guess I could just get a roof rack and box. There will be big boys riding back there a lot as DS4 gets bigger, so that also makes the Outback attractive. I'll have to sit in the back of the CRV and see how it feels. I would get 3 more mpg with it as I mostly do city driving.

...but I really want DS4 center. We live in the land of giant vehicles with cattle guards, and I'm afraid a side impact wouldn't go well.

ETA: I guess I should also be asking which cars, no matter the size, have a good center seat belt/head rest fit for kids (young and old).
 
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sirrahn

Active member
DH's Prius has no center hump in the backseat floorboard and as long as the front seat armrest is slid forward, the console doesn't encroach into the legroom there either. Plus having the armest on top makes it pretty high for feet propping. It's had a major redesign so it could be different, but from what I can tell from looking a pictures online, the new design appears to be similar.

It is not our favorite car for putting 3 big kids in back, but it's fine for two and sitting in the middle isn't a problem. DD2 fit nicely there in the seatbelt when she first got out of her booster. Ours is a 2010 and has had zero issues other than a couple of recalls and we've spent nothing on it other than regular maintenance.
 

ca2003

New member
No kids yet but we test drove a 2017 CRV and it was really nice and and felt roomier than I expected. I can't remember if there was any weird seat belt crossover for the middle seat.

We ended up with a Kia Cadenza which is a full size car and does have headrests in all rear seating positions with a decent sized center seat.
 

steph

New member
I have a 2016 Outback and there is a hump. Not sure how high it is compared to the forester. But I would assume you would have the same issue with him propping his legs up.

DS rides outboard so I can't really comment on how comfortable the center is. I will say I've managed to fit 2 Nuna Pipas (center and outboard) with room for DS still. Below is a pic (Excuse the crumbs, its a never ending battle ;) but you can see how much room he has with two Pipas installed).

I love my Outback. Seriously my favorite car out of all I've owned (had a Pilot prior and a A4 prior to that). I am super curious about their new SUV just cause we might eventually need more room as the babies get older but you can't beat the safety ratings on the Outback....or the drive.


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Persimmon

Active member
I have a 2016 Outback and there is a hump. Not sure how high it is compared to the forester. But I would assume you would have the same issue with him propping his legs up.

DS rides outboard so I can't really comment on how comfortable the center is. I will say I've managed to fit 2 Nuna Pipas (center and outboard) with room for DS still. Below is a pic (Excuse the crumbs, its a never ending battle ;) but you can see how much room he has with two Pipas installed).

I love my Outback. Seriously my favorite car out of all I've owned (had a Pilot prior and a A4 prior to that). I am super curious about their new SUV just cause we might eventually need more room as the babies get older but you can't beat the safety ratings on the Outback....or the drive.

Thanks for posting the pic! I'm back to the Outback being the front runner. It's looking like I can't keep DS4 in the center forever without getting a bigger car than I want/can afford and that also has advanced safety features. I do need something bigger than a CRV though. Since side impact was a concern for me, I looked into the crash results some more. I was amazed how well the Prius performed. The Outback seems like the overall best bet. I've heard from another member here that I could probably fit DS4 in the center still for a little while at least. The plan is to hold out for 2018 refresh.

If DS's1-3 were all still living at home, I would seriously consider the Subaru SUV. Here are some pics. The third row seats look nice and flat for car seats.
 

steph

New member
If I remember today I'll have DS sit in center and take a pic for you (now that my car is cleaned out ;) ).

I saw the outside pic of the new Subaru SUV but not the inside. It looks awesome!! I will be curious to see how it drives. One thing I love about the Subaru is how it's more like a crossover so it's not higher off the ground like a SUV. But it sounds like they are trying to build all their cars on the same chassis? So maybe that means they will have similar drives? When is the release date, I could find anything on it? Or is it still a secret?

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Persimmon

Active member
The latest I've heard about the Ascent release date is:
"Just after Subaru’s press conference at the 2017 New York International Auto Show, president and chief operating officer of Subaru of America Tom Doll confirmed that the Ascent will go on sale sometime in 2018 as a 2019 model. He also strongly hinted that the production Ascent will debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November."
 

steph

New member
Okay here is DS in the center. One with his legs on either side of the bump and one with them on it. He is 11 and probably around 80lbs and 4'11"? (He goes for his wellcheck next week). Ignore the landscaping, it's going in next week ;).



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Persimmon

Active member
I've been down due to a flu-like cold and somehow missed your post! Thanks for taking the pictures. That was very thoughtful. When he puts his feet on the hump it seems to tip his hips up. Ugh, I just need to give up on the middle seat and accept that DS4 is going to sit OB. Looks like a lot of leg room OB though. I'm so excited to get the Outback!
 

steph

New member
I've been down due to a flu-like cold and somehow missed your post! Thanks for taking the pictures. That was very thoughtful. When he puts his feet on the hump it seems to tip his hips up. Ugh, I just need to give up on the middle seat and accept that DS4 is going to sit OB. Looks like a lot of leg room OB though. I'm so excited to get the Outback!
Yeah I wouldn't want him riding with his feet up like that. Plus it just looks uncomfy. No issues outboard though.

Have fun car shopping!



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