2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel: Rear-Facing Convertible Car Seat Fits Well
March 24, 2015
Since I drove our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel over a weekend, it became our family vehicle and I installed the larger of my two convertible car seats in its backseat.
As still I'm relatively new to parenthood and car seats, I was surprised to find three sets of LATCH anchor points in the backseat. It makes sense, though, given that a loaded crew cab is likely to be a multi-use family vehicle. Then, I glanced at page 18 of our Ram's owner's manual, and for a second or two, thought I might not be able to use LATCH to install my car seat.
This is one of the first owner's manuals I've seen that spells out when you can and can't use LATCH this clearly. I'm guessing the "full bench seat" refers to the non-split-folding rear seat (order code: CFM) that's standard in Ram 1500 Work Trucks and, from what I can tell, short-bed SLTs. Our Ram, of course, is a Laramie and has the "split bench seat" (order code: CSX), so a rear center LATCH install is OK provided the combined weight of your child and car seat is under 65 pounds.
I found it easy to get the car seat at the desired angle for a rear-facing installation without using a pool noodle or towel. This was probably at least partly due to the squishiness of the seat-bottom cushion in the center position. One thing I don't love is how the seat-bottom tapers inward in that position allowing my daughter's very large car seat to hang off the edge slightly. The seat is still very secure and tight. I just don't like how it looks. Most likely, this wouldn't be an issue if you installed this car seat forward-facing, because it would be positioned at a more upright angle, plus I'd have the paddle-shaped anti-rebound bar (that's peculiar to my discontinued First Years True Fit seat and a few other car seats like the Clek Foonf) folded under the seat. The anti-rebound bar, in case you're wondering, is basically the equivalent of using a top tether in a rear-facing car seat installation.
Another thing you'll notice is that the rear center latch setup is off-center in our Ram 1500, so that a car seat in this position will be more to the passenger side of the cab. This not only allows you to fold up the "40" section of the rear seat (on the driver side) with no problem, it also provides plenty of room for an adult to ride in the driver-side rear position.
And although I didn't photograph it, there's plenty of room to spread out a changing pad on the 40 section and do a quick diaper change. The flatness of the seat-bottom cushion helped keep my little girl from rolling into the seatbelt hardware, and the elevated height of the rear bench prevented me from hurting my back. There are even a couple of coat hooks mounted in the headliner over the seat-back cushions, and I found it convenient to attach the waterproof bag I use for our cloth-diapering waste to one of these.
One consequence of the off-center LATCH arrangement, though, is that the front passenger seat has to be scooted forward a bit (whereas if the car seat was perfectly centered, you could position the front-passenger seat however you want). With the very tall seat height you get in a full-size truck, though, the front-passenger seat can still be very comfortable for an adult of 5 feet, 10 inches, and my knees don't touch the dash.
Overall, there's a lot to like about our 2014 Ram 1500's provisions for car seats, and I could see it being very useful for families who need the capabilities of a full-size truck and have two or even three kids in car seats.
Erin Riches, Deputy Editor