When you need to move the kids from place to place, these car-seat-friendly vehicles are worth checking out.
Whether you're looking to start a family or adding to your existing clan, finagling car seats in and out of your vehicle has likely (or will shortly) become a routine part of your day-to-day life. Having a vehicle designed with families of young children in mind can make all the difference. If you're in the market for a car-seat-friendly ride, you'll want to check out our list of top-selling cars with LATCH systems and our list of top-selling vehicles that can accommodate three car seats.
All vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2002 come equipped with a Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system for car seats. Specifically, these systems are made up of hooks, anchors, and straps built into the vehicle seating that allow rear-facing car seats to be secured not just to the anchors located at the head rest, but at the seat bottoms as well. The purpose of the LATCH system is to help reduce the likelihood of a car seat becoming dislodged or tipped in the event of a collision.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) identified a list of 2016 vehicles with “acceptable” LATCH system ratings. From that list, we identified the top-ten, best-selling vehicles at CarMax.** Certain vehicles may have unrepaired safety recalls. Click here to look up a specific vehicle.
With the Honda Civic, families will love not only the included LATCH system for rear-facing car seats, but the surprising rear-seat space that can comfortably accommodate taller adults as well. And with more than 15 cubic feet of trunk space (in most trims), there is plenty of storage for diaper bags, toys, and other necessities for traveling with little ones.
Available in five different trim options, ranging from the base LX to the luxurious Touring edition, the Civic also comes standard with all-powered accessories, a rearview camera, Bluetooth® for phone and audio, and an infotainment system complete with Pandora® integration. The 2016 Honda Civic, with a 1.5-liter V4 engine, has an excellent fuel economy at an estimated 42 mpg on the highway.*
The Toyota Camry is also known for its spacious cabin and generous rear-seat space, ideal for lugging infant car seats in and out. The Camry delivers a quiet, smooth ride that's perfect for those times when you've got somewhere to be, but don't want to wake a sleeping baby. The 2016 Camry, with a 2.5- liter V4 engine, reaches an estimated 35 mpg on the highway*--pretty impressive for a sedan of its size.
The Camry has six trim options available in addition to a hybrid version for those interested. Families will also enjoy the standard keyless entry, rearview camera, and touchscreen infotainment system. All trims also come standard with voice control, Bluetooth® connectivity, and Siri® Eyes Free that will be useful for those with Apple® devices like iPhones®.
Those looking for a smaller sedan with a surprisingly roomy interior won't want to overlook the Hyundai Elantra. The backseat is especially roomy not just for car seats, but for growing children as well. With nearly 15 cubic feet of trunk space, this smaller sedan boasts an impressive trunk capacity for its size. Parents will also enjoy the adventurous, sporty design and excellent fuel economy of the 2016 Elantra. For example, the 2016 GT, with a 2.0-liter V4 engine, gets an estimated 32 mpg on the highway.*
Offered in four trim options, including a budget-friendly "Value Edition," the Elantra delivers an impressively smooth and peaceful ride, even at highway speeds. And for those wanting a little more push behind the pedal, the Sport trim offers a more powerful engine and fun driving experience.
A LATCH-friendly back seat isn't the only thing to love about the Chevrolet Cruze. This sleek and stylish sedan boasts not just a spacious interior, but a stylish one with its curved lines and artistic design. Even the base trim of this sedan is outfitted with a generous seven-inch infotainment system, as well as smartphone integration, that will keep growing children entertained on even the longest of car rides.
With four trim options to choose from, families can select the package that best suits their needs. Even the basic L trim includes decent standard features, such as Bluetooth®, a rearview camera, and smartphone integration for compatible Android® and Apple® devices. Many will also enjoy the standard 4G, LTE, and WiFi hotspot that when activated, allows for easy Web access no matter where the road leads.
If you're a fan of the Honda Civic but are looking for a little more room, the Honda Accord may fit the bill. With slightly more interior and trunk space, plus an overall more luxurious cabin, the Accord is great as both a family vehicle and a workday-commute car. Families will also enjoy the powerful yet quiet engine, which is available in both four and six cylinders.
The Accord is also a great option for families who want something a little more sporty and edgy, especially the EX-L trim, which comes standard with a V6 engine and 278 horsepower. Even the base trim includes some nice standard features, such as full power accessories, touchscreen infotainment, and Pandora® connectivity.
Seeking out some great SUVs for car seats? The Chevrolet Equinox is a top-seller. Its rear seating offers an astonishingly generous amount of space in both the second and third rows, even for taller adults. And even with a car seat in the second row, the third row can be easily folded down to create more than 63.7 cubic feet of storage.
This SUV comes in four trim options, ranging from the base level L to the fully-equipped LTZ. Standard features in all trim levels are premium cloth upholstery, Bluetooth® connectivity for phone calls, and even an available, in-vehicle WiFi hotspot. For an SUV, the Equinox fares well in terms of fuel economy. The 2016 Equinox with a 2.4-liter V4 engine, offers an estimated 31mpg on the highway*.
Boasting numerous trims to choose from (five, to be exact) and a super quiet ride, families will love the Ford Explorer not just for its rear-seat space, but its standard MyFord Touch® interface and sleek design as well. If you opt for a trim level with sliding second-row captain's chairs, this vehicle will be versatile enough to change with your family's needs.
As one of the most long-standing SUVs on the market, the Explorer is available in five trim levels, including a Sport option with a turbocharged engine for a more exhilarating drive. All trims come standard with privacy glass, a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, and voice controls. The 2016 Ford Explorer 2WD FFV with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, gets an estimated 24 mpg on the highway*, but for families who need some additional space, this SUV is a great choice.
Active families looking for a balance between a rugged and car-seat-friendly vehicle may find the Jeep Cherokee to be a great choice. The standard 17-inch wheels deliver a quiet ride in even rougher terrain, and the rear seating in this SUV is among the most generous on the market with a high-mounted bench and easy adjustment options.The Jeep Cherokee is one of the most versatile vehicles on the market, available in not just four different trims, but with several add-on packages as well. Standard equipment on all trims includes keyless entry, Bluetooth® connectivity, and an impressive six-speaker sound system. This rugged SUV also comes with a standard nine-speed automatic transmission for smooth acceleration.
If the Toyota Camry seems a little bigger than what you need for your family, consider the smaller Toyota Corolla. For example, the 2016 Corolla with a 1.8-liter V4 engine, gets an impressive fuel economy of an estimated 38 mpg on the highway* and surprisingly spacious rear seats. You may find it hard to believe that this vehicle falls into the category of a small sedan. This is a great car for smaller families and daily commutes.
For a compact sedan, the Corolla packs quite a punch in terms of performance and handling, especially in the Sport trim. Standard features include all-powered accessories, Bluetooth® connectivity, and a voice control system. However, the voice control only offers Apple® integration, so this feature is best for those with iPhones® rather than Android devices.
With four trim levels to choose from and an accessible interior, the Kia Optima boasts a solid fuel economy. For example, a 2016 Optima with a 1.6-liter V4 engine gets an estimated 37 mpg on the highway.* Its quiet ride is perfect for families. Some of the trims on this vehicle even include laminated front windows to reduce wind noise, perfect for helping the baby sleep through longer car rides without a fuss. Trunk capacity of nearly 16 cubic feet also makes this among the roomiest in its class.
With the Optima, drivers will enjoy the seemingly endless packages and features available, including a Premium Technology package that integrates a unique 360-degree parking camera, automatic braking, lane departure warning, and more. This vehicle also comes with a turbocharged engine option for drivers who want a little more pep behind the wheel. The standard four-cylinder engine cranks out 245 horsepower.
Looking for the best cars for a family of five? Larger families will benefit from checking out our list of the top-selling vehicles that can accommodate three car seats in a row. CarMax has compiled this list based on our own sales data** and information from U.S. News & World Report and cars.com data.
In 2017, US News and World Report identified a list of “great vehicles that seat three car seats across.” From that list, we identified the top-ten, best-selling vehicles at CarMax.**
With reclining seatbacks and bolstered seats, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a car-seat-toting parent's dream. The design of the rear seats makes it easy to secure even high-back boosters, and most rear-facing seats can fit without the need to sacrifice front passenger leg room in the process. Three moderately-sized car seats will easily and comfortably fit in the second row of this family-friendly SUV.
The 2014 Grand Cherokee comes in four trim options, ranging from the basic Sport to the premium Limited edition. All come standard with all-season tires for a smooth, quiet ride in just about any conditions. Different package options, such as the Comfort Package, offer an upgraded audio system, leather upholstery, and more. A nine-speed automatic transmission also comes standard on all trim levels.
Finding a pick-up truck that can fit three car seats across may seem like a challenge, but the 2013 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew Cab has you covered. Most rear-facing car seats can be easily accommodated in the spacious second row without having to move the front passenger seat forward. It also features easy-to-use and rugged LATCH connectors for seamless use with rear-facing seats.
This Ford F150 is available in regular, extended, and SuperCrew cab options — and while all have enough room to fit three car seats, the SuperCrew has the most room available by far. Engine options vary from a basic V6 at 302 horsepower to an upgraded, twin-turbocharged V6 or 6.2-liter V8. Overall, a great truck for large families!
The 2015 Dodge Ram 1500 is another pick-up truck that's surprisingly roomy for families of up to five, so long as you opt for the crew cab or extended cab. The rear seats themselves are bolstered to hold larger car seats tightly in place, and even with three car seats in the second row, there is plenty of space between them for easy maneuvering. The 2015 Dodge Ram 1500 is another great option for larger families looking for space without sacrificing ruggedness and hauling functionality in the process.This full-size pick-up truck is available in six trim levels, making it one of the most versatile trucks on the market. All trim levels come standard with durable vinyl upholstery and floor covering, six-speaker sound system, and a class IV receiver hitch. And with engine options ranging from a V6 to 5.7-liter V8, this truck packs quite a punch.
For those in the market for SUVs that fit 3 car seats, the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee does not disappoint. Whether you're working with a rear-facing infant seat, convertible, booster, or combination thereof, you'll be pleasantly surprised. This SUV features an easy-to-use LATCH system and reclining second-row seats that provide extra space for larger car-seat configurations. Most car seats can easily fit in the second row without hindering front passenger leg room, making this a great choice for families.This Grand Cherokee has six different trims to choose from, with standard features across-the-board including a leather-wrapped steering wheel, touchscreen infotainment system, keyless operation, and Bluetooth® connectivity. Drivers will also enjoy the high torque in the V6 engine, making the Grand Cherokee a great vehicle not just for family use, but for heavy lifting and towing as well.
The 2018 Honda Odyssey received Kelly Blue Book’s “Best Family Car in the World” award. And, a used Honda Odyssey won’t disappoint. Families will love the versatility of the 2014 Honda Odyssey, with a third row that can accommodate two car seats comfortably and a second row that will fit up to three seats! The second and third rows also feature convenient, removable head restraints to allow for easier installation of bulkier, forward-facing convertible seats. Overall, a great minivan for families of up to eight.Available in five trim levels, this Odyssey also comes with lots of standard features for families to enjoy. Some of these include a rearview camera, rear privacy glass, zone air conditioning and heating, and text-to-speech integration. This is certainly one of the most well-equipped minivans on the market!
Yet another pick-up truck falling into the category, the 2016 Nissan Frontier boasts two seats of durable LATCH anchors that parents will find easy to use, as well as plenty of space between car seats – even with up to three installed at once. While you may need to move the front passenger seat forward an inch or two to accommodate larger car seats (such as front-facing convertibles), passengers will still have plenty of leg room.
With five trim levels available, drivers can choose the option that's right for them. All 2016 Frontiers come decently equipped with a six-speaker sound system and Bluetooth®, though you'll need to select the SV trim or higher to enjoy other features like power locks and windows. This is a great, basic truck for larger families who don't need lots of frills and tech features.
When it comes to one of the best SUVs for two car seats or more, the 2014 Honda Pilot does not disappoint. With three rows of seating, this SUV is versatile enough to install car seats in the second or third rows. The third row will easily accommodate two, and the second will fit up to three. The head restraints in the second and third rows are also removable, which is great for creating more space for installation.The Pilot is available in four trim options, with standard features including an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen and rearview camera. Interestingly enough, all Pilots come with the same engine, a 3.5-liter V6 at 250 horsepower.
The 2015 and 2016 Dodge Challengers continue to impress parents with their ability to accommodate up to three car seats at once! Both models feature three sets of LATCH anchors, as well as plenty of space for both booster seats and forward-facing convertibles. You may need to move the front passenger seat forward a bit to accommodate a larger car seat, but if you're looking for a coupe that will work for your growing family, look no further.
The Dodge Challenger comes in a wide range of seven trim options, ranging from the basic SXT all the way to the fully-equipped SRT Hellcat. All come with keyless operation and entry, Bluetooth®, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a five-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Drivers will also enjoy the power under the hood, with even the base V6 engine offering 305 horsepower.
You expect a minivan to be spacious enough for larger families, but the 2013 Toyota Sienna really goes above and beyond in this regard. With two captain's chairs in the second row and ample bench seating in the third, this minivan is spacious enough to accommodate three car seats in addition to four more passengers. Even taller passengers will enjoy plenty of front passenger leg room without the need to move their seats up in this vehicle.The Sienna comes in five trim options, though it's worth noting that the SE, LE, and XLE are the most spacious with seating up to eight passengers instead of seven. Drivers will enjoy the user-friendly controls and stylish interior, as well as the luxurious upholstery offered in even the most basic trim options. All trims come with a 3.5-liter V6 that packs decent power and acceleration for a car of its size.
The 2015 Dodge Charger is one of the best cars for 3 car seats, and is one of the only sedans with this distinction. And for those with rear-facing infant seats and convertibles, there should be no need to move the front passenger seat forward. Parents will also enjoy how easily accessible the three sets of tether anchors are in this sporty yet family-friendly sedan.
With seven different trims, drivers can find the Charger configuration that best suits their family's needs. Standard features across all trims include zone heating and air conditioning, keyless operation, a five-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and Bluetooth®. Even the base V6 engine packs plenty of power, though the premium SRT Hellcat offers an incredible supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine for a sporty ride.
Looking for more? Check out our 2017 list of the 20 Best SUVs with 3 rows and other related articles below:
- The 16 Most Popular Used Cars for Families on the Go
- Top 10 Minivan Features for Families
- 10 Best Compact SUVs
- AWD vs. 4WD: Which to Choose
- SUV Buying Guide: Top Compact, High-Mileage, and Third-Row Seat Models
- Top 10 Cars & SUVs for Winter
- Which Car Type is Right for Me?
* Based on EPA estimates for vehicles when sold as new. See fueleconomy.gov. Fuel economy may vary for reasons like driving conditions and vehicle history.
**CarMax sales data as of September 2017.
Unless otherwise noted, information relating to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.