2015 Hyundai Sonata: Rear-Facing Convertible Car Seat Fits Well in the Center, Can't Use LATCH
March 27, 2015
If you only have one child and you don't have a bad back (that would be aggravated by repeated stooping), it's easy to make a case for buying a midsize sedan like our 2015 Hyundai Sonata. There's so much room to spare in here, even compared to most small crossover SUVs and the rare compact minivan like my Mazda 5.
Given all the room in the Sonata, I chose to install my kid's larger-than-average convertible car seat in the rear center position. Hyundai gives you a LATCH setup only in the rear outboard positions, but as usual, I was tempted to use the inboard lower anchors for a center installation. Fortunately, Hyundai lays out what is and isn't OK very clearly in the Sonata's owner's manual.
So I knew I'd have to use the seatbelt to install the car seat since I didn't want to put it on the side and take away the front passenger's legroom. Here's one user-friendly touch if you were going to use LATCH: these plastic covers over the lower anchors. Instead of using removable covers that you're likely to misplace as in VW Group vehicles like our long-term Volkswagen GTI and Porsche Macan, Hyundai went with these permanently attached covers. You just press and hold them to access the metal bars. Nice execution.
Although I got this First Years True Fit C680 SI snug enough (within the 1-inch wiggle tolerance) with a seatbelt installation, I don't love the fit in here. The center position has vinyl (leatherette, I suppose?) rather than cloth and that makes it easier for the seat to slide around while you're trying to pull the seatbelt tight. I used a rolled-up towel more to add grip than to achieve the correct angle.
Also, the seatbelt receivers (female end of the buckle) in the outboard positions are rigidly mounted compared to the flexible receiver in the center position. The upshot is that there's no way to extract the passenger-side receiver and buckle the outboard seatbelt with this particular car seat installed. Its footprint is just too wide.
There's of course no such problem on the driver side.
Because of these issues, I'd keep shopping for a different car seat if I owned a Sonata. I'd certainly go for a narrower seat (maybe a Diono Radian) to allow use of the passenger-side rear outboard seat.
One thing that won't be a problem with any rear-facing convertible car seat you install in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata is front legroom. My very wide car seat fits easily between the front seats. Even a longer-legged adult will still be able to sit comfortably in either the driver or front-passenger seat.
Erin Riches, Deputy Editor @ 5,423 miles