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IIHS: Toyota, Subaru top for child car seat ease of use

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said the industry has vastly improved since it started rating car seat installation ease of use in 2015. (Image courtesy of IIHS)

Toyota and Subaru earned top marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for the way their cars can handle child seats.

The insurance industry-funded safety body said the two Japanese brands tied for the most "Good+" ratings, which is the highest ranking a vehicle can earn on the federal government's hardware scale. Overall, the industry has improved vastly since the IIHS started rating car seat installation ease of use. In 2015, a majority of new vehicles were rated "Poor" or "Marginal." Today, 21 vehicles total earn "Good+" ratings, 33 feature "Good" ratings, and 88 are "Acceptable."

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Between Toyota and the Lexus luxury brand, the automaker offers seven vehicles with a "Good+" LATCH rating. They are:

  • Lexus RX
  • Lexus UX
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Toyota Camry
  • Toyota Corolla hatchback
  • Toyota Prius
  • Toyota RAV4

At Subaru, the automaker also boasts seven vehicles with the highest rating for car seat use. They are:

  • Subaru Ascent
  • Subaru Crosstrek
  • Subaru Forester
  • Subaru Impreza sedan
  • Subaru Impreza hatchback
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Subaru Outback

To earn the top rating, a vehicle must meet six criteria. Lower anchors can be no more than 3/4 of an inch deep where the seatback meets the seat cushion; lower anchors feature a 54 degree or greater clearance angle; the force required to attach the seat is fewer than 40 pounds; tether anchors are present on the rear deck or middle of the seatback; and the tether anchor area does not feature other hardware that could be confused as the tether itself. Finally, the "Good+" rated vehicles must also provide extra LATCH-equipped seating positions.

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On the other side of things, not a single American automaker sells a car rated "Good" or "Good+." The IIHS said part of this is likely due to the fact pickup trucks are more difficult to fit LATCH requirements with.

For the complete list of 2019 LATCH ratings, visit the IIHS website.

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