Which Luxury 2 Row SUVs Are Best For Child Car Seats? We Put Them to the Ultimate Car Seat Challenge

Child Car Seat Challenge

We tested our car seats in these luxe SUVs and this is what we found.

It’s the new parents dilemma: Do you need to give up your luxury car just because you have kids?

Of course not! But do consider this: A luxury SUV. You’ll still enjoy the benefits of a luxury car as well as the ease of getting your kids in and out of the car, flexible cargo space and plenty of room for strollers and gear.

So now you have to figure out which luxury SUV offers the best fit for child car seats and the best fit for your life. Which are best for rear-facing car seats; do they compromise front seat legroom? Will three seats fit across the rear seat? And, does having two car seats installed mean that you can’t accommodate anyone else?

We are asked this all the time. So, we asked 5 women (who collectively are moms of 12 kids) to bring their experience to the New York Auto Show and put the show’s SUVs to the child car seat test. Our testers are Karen ProctorLauren ConlonTomika Bryant, Kimberley Smith, and Dani Schnakenberg. Plus a little help from me

This is what our testers had to say after the car seat challenge, too.

Related: Which 2 row popular brand SUVs are the best for child car seats? 

Car Seat Challenge

Lauren testing out the middle seat.? Lauren Conlon

So… Which Luxury 2 Row SUVs Are the Best? 

We bought 6 top-selling car seats from Target (two infant carriers with bases, two toddler seats, and two high-back booster seats) and installed them in nearly every SUV at the show.

Here we tested out luxury brand two-row SUVs. We know that minivans are built for this and we know that sedans, while required to accommodate child car seats by law, are not as ideal as SUVs (ask my chiropractor!). Last, we were not able to test every SUV, but we tried to get a good representation of each brand.

What We Tested

  • We evaluated the ability for a full-sized adult and the seats to fit into the car for installation
  • We looked at the ease of locating the LATCH system
  • We noted the ease of installing the seats
  • We noted the room between seats once they are installed (when installing two);
  • We noted when installing a rear-facing child car seat impacts front-seat passenger space
  • We considered the ability to install three across a middle row and still get the doors closed
  • We also noted:
    • Lower anchor locations – these are U shaped metal loops built into the seat bight (the space where the seat and seat back meet) for attaching the car seat’s anchor clip; these are used INSTEAD of the vehicle’s seat belt
    • Tether locations – tethers are a metal hook built into the seatback or shoulder for attaching the car seat’s tether strap; these are used IN ADDITION to the anchor or seat belt and help to prevent whiplash or snapback in the event of a crash

Which is Best: Latch Systems or Seatbelts?

All child passenger car seats can be installed using a vehicle’s seatbelt; LATCH systems should not be used in addition to a seatbelt–use one or the other but not both. LATCH systems are also only to be used when the weight of the child and the weight of the car seat are less than 65 lbs. combined; otherwise, a seatbelt must be used. Last, keep in mind that a tight squeeze in the middle seat may compromise a child’s ability to buckle his or her own seatbelt when using a booster seat. When installing car seats, make sure seatbelt buckles are accessible to passengers who need them.

Cars, Not Car Seats Were Tested

A bit of a disclaimer here: We are not certified car seat technicians. We are parents, caretakers and car reviewers. So we looked at each SUV and how the manufacturer accommodated the car seat installation puzzle. We looked at the space we had to work with, the placement of a LATCH system and the ease of getting the seats in and out of each model. Also, we did not remove headrests, which owners may need to do to ensure that a forward-facing car seat or a booster seat fits against snuggly against the seatback. 

We then took notes of each SUV and each model’s benefits or drawbacks when installing a child passenger car seat.

We hope this guide will help you narrow down your new car decision, but we do recommend that you take a car seat with you when taking a test drive; try installing it and placing the baby in the seat if possible to make sure that the car’s ergonomics work for you. After all, it’s so much easier to return a $300 car seat than a $50,000 car.

2019 Acura Rdx Luxury Suv

A side view of the 2019 Acura RDX.? Scotty Reiss

Acura RDX

  • Two-row mid-size SUV
  • Two outboard anchors and three tethers
  • Accommodates two child car seats
  • Anchors are easy to find, tucked behind a leather panel
  • Three seats will fit across the rear seat
  • The middle seat is best for a rear-facing infant seat
  • The middle seat is tight for a passenger when two seats are installed
  • Legroom is average so installation room is also average

Related: We took a spin in the Acura RDX and this is what we learned

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Luxury Suv

The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q4.? Scotty Reiss

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

  • Two-row mid-size SUV
  • Two outboard anchors and three tethers
  • Accommodates two child car seats
  • ISOFIX Anchors and latches were easy to reach and install
  • Only two seats will fit
  • The middle seat is tight for a passenger and too small for a third seat

Related: Ah, Italian design. You get me. Our test drive in the Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Audi Q5 Luxury Suv

The 2018 Audi Q5 luxury SUV.? Scotty Reiss

Audi Q5

  • Two-row mid-size SUV
  • Two outboard anchors and three tethers
  • Accommodates two child car seats
  • ISOFIX anchors and latches were easy to reach and install
  • Rear-facing seat space is very tight; when installed behind the driver, the driver is forced to sit very close to the steering wheel

Related: Audi Q5 is for drivers who love to drive but need to have their crew along for the ride

2018 Bmw X3 Small Luxury Suv

The 2018 BMW X3: This small luxury SUV is filled with beauty and comforts but family friendly, too.? Scotty Reiss

BMW X3

  • Two-row compact SUV
  • Two outboard anchors and three tethers
  • Accommodates three car seats
  • The middle seat is tight for an adult when outboard car seats are installed
  • Legroom is average so seats are fairly easy to install
  • Rear-facing seats fit best installed in the middle or behind the passenger’s seat
  • The passengers seat may need to be moved to accommodate a rear-facing car seat

Related: BMW X3 packs a lot of luxe in a petite package

The Sleek, Stylish, 2017 Buick Encore Premium Awd.

The sleek, stylish, 2017 Buick Encore Premium AWD.? Shannon Entin.

Buick Encore

  • Two-row compact SUV (one of the smaller SUVs we tested)
  • Two outboard anchors and three tethers
  • Accommodates two child car seats
  • We could not install a rear-facing seat behind the driver; only front-facing installation worked
  • There was not enough space for a passenger or third car seat when two outboard seats were installed
  • A rear-facing seat can only be installed on the passenger’s side or in the center (if it’s the only car seat)

Related: This little cutie packs all the luxuries of its larger siblings, but in a smaller package

Cadillac Xt5

The 2017 Cadillac XT5’s side view is sleek and muscular.? Scotty Reiss

Cadillac XT5

  • Two-row mid-size SUV
  • Two outboard anchors and three tethers
  • Accommodates three child car seats
  • There was room for an adult to sit between the car seats (though the fit was snug)
  • A rear-facing seat did not fit in the center seat
  • There was enough room to install seats and for front-seat passengers to be comfortable (we didn’t have to move our seats up to accommodate the child car seats)

Related: Meet Cadillac’s most popular SUV and see what out is that people love so much

Child Car Seat Challenge Kia Sorento

The Infiniti QX50 is as elegant on the inside as it is outside. ?Scotty Reiss

Infiniti QX50

  • Two-row compact SUV
  • Two outboard anchors and three tethers
  • Accommodates two child car seats
  • Room between the car seats is limited
  • A rear-facing seat fit in the center seat as long as it’s the only seat
  • There was enough room to install child car seats and for front-seat passengers to be comfortable 

Related: We took the Infiniti QX50 for a spin and this is what we loved about this design-forward SUV

The F-Pace Jaguar Crossover

The side view of the Jaguar F-Pace shows off its aerodynamics. ? Scotty Reiss

Jaguar F Pace

  • Two-row mid-size SUV
  • Two outboard ISOFIX anchors and three tethers
  • Accommodates two child car seats
  • ISOFIX anchors have a cover that detaches and could be lost
  • When two car seats are installed the middle seat is small; there is no room for a third child seat or an adult
  • 40/20/40 folding seats for additional cargo space

Related: The Jaguar F-Pace, a Luxury Crossover with Bespoke Power and Style

Jaguar I PACE

  • Two-row compact SUV
  • Two outboard ISOFIX anchors and three tethers
  • Accommodates two child car seats
  • Seats are 60/40 split-fold
  • There was no room for and adult in the middle seat between the car seats
  • A rear-facing seat fit behind the driver’s seat

Related: Why the Jaguar I-Pace is  the most awarded SUV of the year

Lincoln Corsair

  • Two-row mid-size SUV
  • Two outboard anchors and three tethers
  • Accommodates three child car seats
  • Center row seats slide forward or back and recline
  • Ample rear legroom made installation easy
  • Rear-facing seats can be accommodated in any seat
Lincoln Nautilus

The 2019 Lincoln Black Label Nautilus in Burgundy Velvet.? Lillie Morales

Lincoln Nautilus

  • Two-row mid-size SUV
  • Two outboard anchors and three tethers
  • Accommodates two child car seats
  • Latches are easily accessible
  • The middle seat is small, not big enough for a third seat or adult passenger
  • The best place for an infant seat is behind the passenger seat

Related: Our review of the luxe and fun to drive Lincoln Nautilus

Porsche Cayenne

  • Two-row mid-size SUV
  • Two outboard anchors and three tethers
  • Accommodates three child car seats, but it’s a snug fit
  • The middle seat can fit an adult but it’s tight
  • Seats fold in a 40/20/40 configuration
  • A rear-facing seat behind the driver is a tight fit and the driver may need to sit closer to the steering wheel than is comfortable
Volvo Xc60 Hybrid Plug In Suv

A side view of the Volvo XC60.?Scotty Reiss

Volvo XC60

  • Two-row mid-size SUV
  • Two outboard anchors and three tethers
  • Accommodates three child car seats, but it’s a snug fit
  • The middle seat can fit an adult, but tightly
  • Legroom is average meaning room to install car seats is average

Related: We took the XC90 for a test drive and this is what we learned

Looking for the best 3 row SUVs? We evaluated those too! Our full story is coming soon!

A Girls Guide To Cars | Which Luxury 2 Row Suvs Are Best For Child Car Seats? We Put Them To The Ultimate Car Seat Challenge - Luxury Cars

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss