ARLINGTON, Virginia — The 2015 BMW 5 Series, Volkswagen Passat and Mercedes-Benz GL-Class are the only three vehicles out of 102 models that earned an overall "good" rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's first LATCH evaluation for child-restraint installation hardware.
The three vehicles have LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) that met five criteria to receive the highest rating.
The criteria evaluate ease of use, including lower anchors that are no more than three-quarters of an inch deep in the seat crease, along with easy-to-identify anchors and anchors on the seatback and not on the floor or ceiling.
For an "acceptable" rating, two LATCH positions must meet two of the three requirements for lower anchors and at least one of the two tether anchor requirements.
The ratings only measure ease of use.
"Even if you're not in the market for a new vehicle, our ratings can be a helpful source of information about a vehicle you already own," said Jessica Jermakian, an Institute senior research scientist, in a statement. "We're essentially providing you with a map of where child seats can be installed most easily in your vehicle, including the specific hardware available for each seating position."
Of the other vehicles tested by the Institute, 44 featured LATCH hardware with an "acceptable" rating.
More than half of the vehicles evaluated were "poor" or "marginal."
"Most vehicles get low marks," the Institute said, calling the first results "worrisome."
"The poor-rated vehicles run the gamut of vehicle types from minicars to large pickups," said the Institute. "Most glaring is the Toyota Sienna. As a minivan, it's commonly bought to ferry children."
Edmunds says: This new rating system provides critical information for parents and caregivers who are concerned about proper child-restraint installation in their vehicles.