During the COVID-19 pandemic, families are relying on their cars more than ever. Life since the coronavirus arrived means cars are the way we get our kids to school and back safely, and they’re a way to get out of the house and go on an adventure for a few hours or a long weekend. Cars are our mobile bubbles, and they’re a critical piece of navigating our way through the pandemic.
Cars.com’s annual honor roll recognizes the vehicles that make it easy to correctly install a car seat. Car seat installation and the Latch system can be confusing, especially to sleep-deprived, stressed-out parents (don’t even get me started on using the top tether anchor in a pickup truck).
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The cars and SUVs on the 2020 Car Seat Check Honor Roll received the top grade of A across all categories. Our on-staff certified car seat technicians evaluate the car’s Latch system, making sure the lower Latch and top tether anchors are easy to find and use. We also install a rear-facing infant seat, rear- and forward-facing convertible, and a high-back booster seat into each car. Cars.com’s honor roll is compiled from our Car Seat Checks published between September 2019 and early September 2020.
These vehicles made Cars.com’s 2020 Honor Roll:
Oh, baby … this three-row SUV may be too nice to let the kids into it. If you’re feeling brave or your kids are perfect angels, the BMW X7 will carry you and your children in comfort and luxury. We tested the six-passenger X7, which has second-row captain’s chairs that feature exposed lower Latch anchors.
When it comes to hauling kiddos, the two-row Chevrolet Equinox’s backseat really shines. It’s roomy enough to handle rear-facing car seats or long-legged teens. During the Equinox’s Car Seat Check, our car-seat tech called out the well-labeled tether anchors. If it’s not easy to find, parents and caretakers can overlook this critical anchor that’s used with a forward-facing convertible or combination car seat.
The Hyundai Santa Fe has racked up the kudos from Cars.com editors. From being named Cars.com’s best mid-size SUV of 2019 to being a finalist for 2020 Family Car of the Year, this roomy two-row SUV has continued to shine. One of the areas that puts it near the top among our favorites is how well it handles child-safety seats. The roomy backseat easily managed all our car seats.
If you’re looking to help save the planet while shuttling your kids hither and thither, the luxurious Jaguar I-Pace should be high on your list. This EV can go an estimated 240 miles on a single charge, and it can be quick-charged to 80% capacity in just 40 minutes on a fast-charger. The backseat’s seat belt buckles are on short, stable bases that make it easy for younger kids in booster seats to buckle up on their own.
Jeep’s compact SUV, the Cherokee, aced its Car Seat Check. Its two sets of lower Latch anchors are exposed, rather than hidden between the back and bottom seat cushions. Three tether anchors sit on the base of the seatback; they’re clearly marked for easy connection. The lightly bolstered backseat helped all our car seats find the right fit.
If you’re looking to add a little drama to your driveway, the Lexus ES 350’s newer look will turn heads for all the right reasons. The mid-size sedan’s updated powertrains and modern interior means parents will be happy to get behind the wheel — even if you’re just trying to get your newborn to take a nap.
A full-size sedan, the Nissan Maxima was updated in 2019 with new looks and safety options. The Maxima’s Latch system also received a bit of a makeover — or at the very least, a dye job. The sedan’s lower Latch anchors and top tethers were all colored blue on our model to make them easy for parents to find them.
Nissan’s five-seat SUV, the Murano, is roomy enough that it can fit three child-safety seats across its backseat. In this mid-size SUV, we found removing the rear head restraint helped with the car seat fit when installing both the forward-facing convertible and the high-back booster seat.
Known for its outstanding visibility and its standard all-wheel drive, the Subaru Forester received a redesign in 2019 that increased its classiness thanks to a more upscale interior. The wide backseat, ample legroom and easy-access Latch anchors are a formula for car-seat success.
Who couldn’t use a little ruggedness when it comes to kids? The Toyota 4Runner is just that. It has standard seating for five occupants, or buyers can choose the optional third row to increase seating to seven. In our test of the two-row version, we found that not only could this SUV handle all our car seats, it could handle them all at once. The 4Runner easily fits three car seats across its backseat.
Toyota left no Latch anchor untouched when it redesigned the Avalon for the 2019 model year. The redesigned lower Latch anchors are now easy to find and connect to, which helped this full-size sedan make our 2020 honor roll.
This best-selling compact SUV also has a redesigned Latch system, catapulting the Toyota RAV4 to the honor roll. Our variety of car seats installed easily into the SUV, and stable seat belt buckles means kids should be able to buckle up on their own — even when they’re in their booster seats.
The accolades keep piling up for this three-row SUV. Our Best of 2018 award winner, the Volkswagen Atlas continues to impress us over the years, lately resulting in its winning the 2020 Family Car of the Year award. And its ample second-row bench seat easily swallows three car seats. Talk about a family all-star!
The Volvo V60 is all about family duty. From its exposed Latch anchors and roomy backseat, installing our three car seats was trouble-free. And as a treat for the adults, the V60 is so much fun to drive that you won’t mind that third grocery run of the week.
If a new car isn’t in your budget, check out our best used cars for car seats.
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