2012 Ford Explorer: Child Safety Seat Fitment Test
April 04, 2012
If you're buying a Ford Explorer, odds are good that you've got kids. Since that's me (the kid part, little ones), and I've amassed quite the collection of child safety seats, I figured the Explorer would be a good vehicle to subject to my occasional blog post series, the Child Seat Fitment Test. Ford versus Britax, read on.
First up is the Recaro booster seat pictured above. Honestly, boosters fit in just about anything, so that's not really a problem.
The only thing of interest is our Explorer's optional inflatable outboard seatbelts. Chris covered them in a previous post, but in terms of safety seat fitment, they didn't seem to be an issue. There are two main things that are different about them, though. One, the main part of the belt (the part that's inflatable) is thicker, meaning it might be harder to thread through holes on some safety seats (if you're going the seatbelt anchoring route). Also, the automatic locking part of the belt is on the lap belt part, not the shoulder belt, which is opposite of normal.
Next up is a Britax Marathon reversible seat (meaning it can be forward facing or rearward facing). The rear-facing is always harder because it takes up more space. And for the Explorer, I had to move the front passenger seat forward a few inches in order to clear the seat. My wife could still sit in the moved-up front passenger seat OK, but she commented that she wasn't all that comfortable.
The same could be said for the Britax Companion reverse-facing infant seat I also tested out. It takes up about the same amount of room, though the positioning is lower. Even so, I had to move the front seat up a few inches for fitment. This was a little surprising if you go by the assumption that Explorer equals big, and big equals safety seat goodness. But referenced to the Jetta and TSX Sport Wagon tests I did, the Explorer had less space for these safety seats than the Jetta and maybe even the TSX.
Fitting the Marathon seat in the forward-facing position was easier. The key here is securing the safety seat snug against the seatback, and that usually means being able to remove the rear headrests. No problem in the Explorer.
The LATCH anchor points in the Explorer aren't the easiest to access. They're a bit buried in the seat, and the upholstery on the bottom is pretty firm, meaning I had to struggle some to push the seat's anchor in there and get it to click on.
>Without having tested other biggish midsize three-row crossovers (a Durango or Pilot, for instance), I don't want to criticize the Explorer too much about space. Making room for a third row by cutting into the second row is just part of the game. But at the same time, my expectations are a little higher here, and the lack of room for big reverse-facing seats is a little disappointing.
I'll probably test our Camry next.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor