Installing Child Seats is Getting Easier, IIHS Says

Three vehicles have earned a top rating of good+ on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) LATCH ease-of-use ratings.

The agency launched its ratings of child seat installation hardware in vehicles in June 2015, and at the time, most of the 102 vehicles that were rated scored poor or marginal. Now, 170 current models have been evaluated and most are good or acceptable. This year also marks the first time a vehicle has received a good+ rating with the Audi Q7, Lexus RX and Toyota Prius all earning the highest marks.

LATCH hardware is considered good if it meets several requirements from IIHS, which include the lower anchors being no more than 3/4-inch deep within the seat blight or slightly deeper if there is open access around them; the lower anchors are easy to maneuver around by having a clearance angle greater than 54 degrees; the force required to attach a standardized tool representing a child seat connector to the lower anchors is less than 40 pounds; and if tether anchors are on the vehicle’s rear deck or on the top 85 percent of the seatback and the area where the tether anchor is found doesn’t have any other hardware that could be confused for the tether anchor.

SEE ALSO: 10 Cars That Make the Impossible Task of Car Seat Installation More Impossible

To earn a good rating, two LATCH positions in the second row must meet all five criteria, and a third tether anchor must meet both tether criteria. The good+ rating is for vehicles that not only meet the criteria for a good rating, but also provide additional LATCH-equipped seating positions.

The following vehicles earned a good rating: 2017 Audi A4, Audi A6, BMW 2 Series, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class and Volkswagen Passat.

The vehicles scoring poor include the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab, Ford Fiesta hatchback, Ford Fiesta sedan, GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab, Hyundai Accent hatchback, Infiniti Q70, Infiniti QX50 and Subaru BRZ.

“Frustrating child seat installations have become a familiar rite of parenthood,” says Jessica Jermakian, an IIHS senior research engineer. “Unfortunately, these frustrations lead to mistakes that can have real consequences in the event of a crash. We’re pleased to see automakers taking this issue seriously and making improvements in response to our ratings.”