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7 Things To Look Out For When Buying A Car For Use With Car Seats

car seats for small cars

Children in Back Seat

Its that time when you are expecting your first baby or you are going to have another. It can be quite a conundrum as to what type of car, you need to go for. The safety of the car is definitely one of the most important things to look out for when deciding on a family car, including things such as crash test scores.

However, there are other things that you also need to take into consideration. For instance, the type of car that would be suitable for your family may be determined by the size of your car seats. You do not want to buy a mini if you use big seats such as the Britax as these would take up too much space.

However, while it is almost impossible to determine the perfect fit for every parent , there are some fundamental aspects that you need to be looking out for when buying that family car. Check out the best car seats for small cars here.

Buying A Family Car For Use With Car Seats​

I am sure that most parents know that SUVs, crossovers and wagons are some of the best cars that you could buy if you have a family with small children. However, while these vehicles are child friendly, they do not offer the same advantages when it comes to transporting your children.

Similarly, economy sedans, minis and coupes might give you some problems if you have some of the larger car seats, though this does not mean that you cannot bring them into consideration if you do not like driving large cars or have a small budget.

While legroom and space in the back are important, there are a lot of things that make a car kid friendly rather than just how much space it has. Whether you are for a mini, coupe, wagon, crossover sedan, you need to be looking out for the following characteristics prior to purchase.​

  • Flat, Wide Seat Bottom Cushions - The flatter the seat of the vehicle, the easier and more secure the installation, as you can more easily fasten the child car seat on a more level vehicle seat. Wagons, coupes, and sport sedans usually make it harder to install a baby car seat due to their many contours. The best seat is one that is more or less parallel to the ground and possesses little if any rake. As much as possible try to find a car that has a flat center seating position as this is where you need to be installing the car seat for optimum safety for the child. Any car with a hump in the middle of the backseat is not the best for car seats. 

Flat Bottom seats

  • Placement of LATCH Point - A good car is one that has the top tether and lower anchors easily accessible. Check for whether the anchors are hidden under upholstery, flaps, slits, little doors or are in plain easy to ghetto places. Some SUVs are designed such that the top tether anchors are positioned on the ceiling which can sometimes block your view through the rear window.
  • Placement of Seatbelt - If you prefer to install your child safety seats with seat belts or just need to install the seat in the recommended center of the car seat position which does not usually have LATCH, you need to look out for receivers and hitches. These can be problematic if you do not try them out beforehand given that if they are too prominent, they make interfere with the proper and snug installation of the child car seat.
lower anchors and tethers

Easy to Reach Lower Anchors

  • Ease of Access - If you have bulky car seats or tend to shift the baby car seats from car to car, you need to get a car that allows you to get the seat in with a minimum of turning and twisting. A child friendly car will usually have a wide door opening which allows you to get the kid in and out of the vehicle in crowded lots without unnecessarily dinging nearby cars. This is where tall wagons, SUVs and minivans are great a they have wide doorways, and good ground clearance which can also reduce back strain when getting the kid in and out of the car.
  • Distance Between the Front and Rear Seats - For the very small children such as young toddlers and infants, a rear facing installation is what you need. This type of installation will typically take up a lot of space and hence you may need a car with enough legroom. Some cars will come designed for ease of aft and fore adjustment for rear seats which makes it easy to slide the seat out of the way when you have to tend to the child's needs and to slide it forward so that you can place a double stroller in your cargo area. 
  • Automatic Retractor Seat Belts - Most modern vehicles will have automatic locking retractor seat belts for the back seat which automatically locks the belt as you pull it all out. A car with such seat belt provides for a snug and safer installation of the car seat, particularly if you like installing with seat belts rather than LATCH. 
  • Fitting Three Across - If you have a big family say a new arrival necessitates the use of three car seats, the question of which car can fit all those car seats will be pertinent. You will either need to find a vehicle that can fit three car seats in the back or purchase smaller car seats. Fortunately there are many narrow car seats such as the Diono RXT and the Maxi Cosi Pria which are designed for small cars such as minis and Honda civics. If you are on a tight budget, you would be better off buying car seats for small cars rather than buying a whole new car. 
Dion r100

Diono with three in the Back

Sheryl Brown
 

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