Question SUV or minivan



We have a 4yr old, 2yr old and are welcoming a newborn in March. We're in the market for a new SUV/minivan. Can anyone here comment on their experience with 3 in carseats? We were looking at crossovers and it seems that even those with a third row, you have to flip the second row up to access them. That's not going to work if the 2nd row has carseats installed. It looks like the only option is an SUV with 2nd row captains chairs, but there aren't too many small SUVs equipped with those. If anyone has a setup like that I would love to hear what type of vehicle and how you like it. Also, if anyone has a minivan with 3 or more carseats installed, what configuration do you use? Would most here recommend a minvan over an SUV?

Even if we could fit 3 across in a second row SUV, I thought it would be kind of cumbersome to lift the baby carrier up and over the other car seat from the middle location. As well as 3 kids being next to each other. :)

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Admin - CPST Instructor
Staff member
How heavy are your kids, what seats are they in now, and are they rear or forward facing?

Assuming your two year old is rear facing for optimal safety, and your four year old is forward facing, I'd put the four year old in the middle and the two year old and baby on the sides. Rear facing is so much safer than forward facing that you put the less safe child in the most protected position. In this case, NOT the newborn, but the four year old. That also makes it easier to lift the infant seat in and out, and doesn't have the two year old next to the baby (who is more likely to poke and prod, in general).

Another option for a third row is to have the child in the back climb in through the trunk.

Can your four year old buckle themselves in?



New member
What about the Mazda5? It's a "mini minivan." Second row is 2 captain's chairs with some space between them that might work to have the 4 year old climb back to buckle up. You could also load rear-facing child through the hatchback into the third row. The redesigned 2011 Mazda5 is coming out in February.

I don't specifically have experience with three-across, but love my Mazda Tribute (basically identical to the Ford Escape), I have plenty of room for two adults in the outboard seats when using a Radian rear-facing in the center seat, and it seems like it would be a great option for three-across.

Car-Seat.Org Facebook Group

Forum statistics

Latest member

You must read your carseat and vehicle owner’s manual and understand any relevant state laws. These are the rules you must follow to restrain your children safely. All opinions at Car-Seat.Org are those of the individual author for informational purposes only, and do not necessarily reflect any policy or position of Carseat Media LLC. Car-Seat.Org makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. If you are unsure about information provided to you, please visit a local certified technician. Before posting or using our website you must read and agree to our TERMS.

Maxi Cosi is a proud sponsor of Car-Seat.Org!Graco is a Proud Sponsor of Car-Seat.Org!Nuna Baby is a Proud Sponsor of Car-Seat.Org!

Please  Support Car-Seat.Org  with your purchases of infant, convertible, combination and boosters seats from our premier sponsors above.
Shop travel systems, strollers and baby gear from Britax, Chicco, Clek, Combi, Evenflo, First Years, Graco, Maxi-Cosi, Nuna, Safety 1st, Diono & more! ©2001-2020 Carseat Media LLC