Car Seats in the Third Row?

Updated on June 24, 2009
J.H. asks from North Dighton, MA
8 answers

My Husband & I just purchased an Acura MDX. In our car shopping, one salesman suggested that carseats NOT be placed in the third row of a vehicle. While many mid-size SUV's have the complete LATCH set-up for two carseats in the middle row, they are equipped with the tether hook and no lower anchors in the third row. I was wondering what other families have done and if there is any literature or resources you could refer me to about third row safety? Thanks a bunch!

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answers from New London on

Hey J.,

I don't have any reading material for you, but my first thought is that in the middle, they are inherently safer from rear, side and frontal collisions. They're perfectly "cusioned" in the middle for it. I have 3 kids, all on car seat or booster, and they all sit next to eash other in a little row. I'd say an advantage to having them in the middle, too, is that during long car rides, you are able to tend to them easier than if they are in the third row. Just food for thought. :O)





answers from Providence on

Hi J.,

I have a similar vehicle with the same set setup as you are describing. You can use the third row seat with the tether and then the seatbelt with the clip that all car seats have to fasten the top and bottom portion of the seatbelt together (so it is tight enough to only allow less than an inch give for the carseat). This method I have found is one of the trickiest to get as tight as recommended by governing authorities. I would highly recommend taking the seat to your local police department! They will gladly put them in and they have been trained in installation. Call first and see if you need an appointment; some towns work that way.

Good luck; safe driving :)




answers from Boston on

If you only have the one 2 year old you won't have to worry about that right now keep him in the middle seat its closer to you. When he's in a booster seat if you want you could move him to the back I don't know how your middle row works as far as getting into the third row but my durango seat fold down and forward so its easy to get back there and buckle them.


answers from Boston on

hi J.!!!
my husband & I have 5 kids. We have a minivan that we dont really use too much for family travel (its not in the best condition) & an Expedition. Our older 2 sit in the 3rd row with no problems, and our younger 3 sit in the middle row, their chairs all lined up, with no problems. When we first brought the baby home from the hospital, we tried to put out 3y/o's carseat in the third row, but it was such a pain!!! As big as the Expedition is, it was more hassle than anything because of having to lift her over the middle row to the back, and very akward to buckle her in. That lasted about 2 days before we switched her to the middle row. This may be what he was getting at with his suggestion?
Also, in case you should ever need to put anything in the back and put the seat up, then the chair needs to be moved all around.
My opinion, its just easier to have carseats in the middle row.
Hope this helps!!!



answers from Boston on

Most car manufacturing companies do not crash test third row seats. You should look into your particular car to find out if the seats are crash tested. I would not feel comfortable putting my kids in seats that have not been crash tested. Good luck,




answers from Springfield on

I'm a Child Passenger Safety Technician. It is perfectly safe to use the third row given that you do have top tether anchors. (Using either lower anchors or a seatbelt to install a car seat are equally safe provided you can get a good installation)

However, given your child's age (just turned 2) he should be in a rearfacing convertible, NOT a forward facing harnessed seat, so the top tether doesn't come into play for a while yet anyway.



answers from Boston on

Also try posting your question on, they're really great at professional advice. : )



answers from Boston on

We just bought a Subaru Tribeca with the third row, and during our car shopping we were told the same thing you were (we had originally intended to put a carseat in the third row, although at the time we didn't realize that no car manufacturers are putting LATCH systems back there). My understanding is that the warning was simply because using a LATCH system is the safest for your baby. Previously, I was driving a 1996 Ford Escort, and that didn't have LATCH systems anywhere because it was too old. I was never in a car accident and so thankfully did not have to find out how safe the carseats were ... but I would say if you can use the middle row for car seats, it would be safer. If for some reason you can't, it's not like it's dangerous -- just not quite as safe as it would be with LATCH.

We have also realized that getting to a car seat in the third row would be difficult, though, so you might want to consider that as well.

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