Please Note! BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and has moved to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
Fitting Two+ Car Seats into a Car
Berkeley Parents Network >
What/Where to Buy >
Car Seats >
Fitting Two+ Car Seats into a Car
I was wondering whether there is an alternative option to the
minivan or SUV for 3 kids in carseats? Does anyone have
experience with the CR-V? Does that fit 3 kids comfortably? Is
there room for other stuff? Is it still considered an SUV? Any
other options that are environmentally friendly?
I can't believe not everyone in the world owns a Subaru Forester.
It's hugely affordable, gets great gas mileage, has all the air
bags in the base model, and fits five people comfortably. I'll
never buy anything else. Subarus are the safest station wagons
on the market, according to Consumer Reports, and you can't beat
a Japanese car for affordable maintenance. I have the manual
transmission and love it. I feel totally safe on the road.
We are expecting our third child this summer, which will mean
we will soon be shuttling around 3 children under the age of 4
years old (!). I work part-time and my husband and I alternate
drop-off and pick-up at daycare depending on our schedules.
Right now we have a family minivan (which I use for shuttling
the kids and family trips) and a compact car (which my husband
drives short distances to BART but also allows him to drop-off
and pick-up the kids when needed) both of which can accomodate
two carseats. We can't fit three carseats in the back seat of
our compact car and still close the door, so we know we'll have
to trade-in for a bigger second car, but the idea having two
gas-guzzling, monstrous minivans is depressing. Is there a non-
minivan/non-SUV vehicle out there that can accomodate three
carseats? Does anyone know of a ''regular car'' wide enough to
fit three carseats in the back row, or else are there narrower
carseats out there that will fit three-in-a-row? Or do we
*have* to get something with three rows of seating? Again, it
would be a ''back-up'' car usually used for short distances,
but still would have to be able to hold three car-seats if
-Used to drive a Geo Metro
Our other car is a Geo Metro, too! Three carseats is totally do-
able, the trick is to get the right car seats. We have been
driving with our three kids under age 5 in a 2001 Ford Focus for
a year now. I have had good luck with Graco seats. Our back
seat is 48'' wide so if each car seat is 16'' we're good to go.
We currently have two high-back boosters and a rear-facing
convertible seat, but we have also had one booster, one forward-
facing covertible and one infant seat. I bought several of
these seats at Sears, one of the stores was nice enough to let
me take two new seats out to the car to make sure they fit
before I purchased them. You can do it!
Mom of three
How close will your eldest child be to age 4? And is he or she
over 30 pounds? You could try using two convertibles and one
booster seat in your current car -- boosters are generally
narrower. I wouldn't put a 3-year-old in a booster by
preference but for the ''backup'' car that might be a reasonable
But if that doesn't work, yes, there are cars that can fit three
carseats. Camry, Accord and similar size sedans often can.
There are also some carseats that are narrower at the base than
others. Check the measurement chart at
For what it's worth, our VW Passat stationwagon can fit 3 car
seats in the back seat. Maybe the Passat sedan can also?
We had #3 (all under 4 y) on the way when buying a car and took
three Britax roundabouts to the dealer when looking. We decided
on the Ford Escape Hybrid and all three seats fit. We still have
the baby in a Graco infant seat and that scenario works too. We
are happy with the arrangement for short trips, but wish we had
a minivan when taking longer road trips so Mom could get in the
back seat too. And, it's a great car!!
I have seen 3 carseats in the back of some volvo stationwagons
(the cross county?)
Also, I have just purchased a Sunshine Kids Radian 65 and
Radian 80 to help our backseat issues out. They are alot
narrower so they take up less room that way. They look like
they would be not so great for rearfacing since they go to 65
and 80 lbs they are very tall, but I am using them forward
facing so I don't know for sure. Hope this helps.
You didn't mention whether you checked the archives -- there are several useful
pages. Try ''Fitting Carseat into Various Types of Autos,'' which includes ''Fitting
Two+ Car Seats into a Car.''
I've put three car seats in the back of our Toyota Camry no
problem. And one of them is a Britax Marathon.
Check out the Mazda 5 - it is a lot smaller than a minivan, but
can seat six (in three rows, so three car seats will fit). It
is a pretty tight squeeze if you actually have six adults, but
since it is the size of a smallish car, it fits in tight
parking spaces, has a tight turning radius, drives well, fits a
lot of stuff if you only have 3 or 4 in the car, and it costs
I'm expecting twins in September. I have a 16-month old now.
We have to get a new car to accomodate all three car seats, but
I'm wondering if big SUVs (ie pilot) or minivans are my only
options. Does anyone out there have three car-seats in a non
suv/minivan? What car? How is it working out?
We did three car seats with no problem in our Honda CRV for 4
years with a nanny share. One Britax Roundabout and 2 Cosco
seats, which aren't as wide. And the CRV gets great gas mileage!
Although my girls are now well beyond child seats, we easily got
three full size seats across in our Camry wagon; the seats of our
old wagon don't appear any wider to me than those of the current
sedan. (Installing them was a bit of a gymnastics act, though!)
I've also seen three seats installed in an older Volvo wagon; two
of those were full size, with the third an infant.
If you want a car, as opposed to a yank tank SUV, I think you'll
easily be able to find one that holds three safe seats. Creative
shopping for the seats might help, too; try lining three of them
up on the floor and measure the total width with a tape measure.
We've been able to manage 3 carseats in the back seat of a small
Toyota corolla when 2 are regular carseats and the 3rd is a
portable car seat. The portable car seat doesn't work for
infants, but your toddler could certainly use one. It's very
small and not bulky. Our toddler sometimes doesn't like not
being ''elevated'' in it; it definitely diminishes her ability to
see out of the window, and isn't as comfy as a regular carseat
for sleeping in (a pillow to lean on helps a lot), but we've
used this arrangement quite a few times . I think ours is called
a tote n' go. You can google it.
--Totin' 3 from time to time
My kids are 6,4 and 2, and I've had them in the backseat of a
Ford Focus station wagon since they were 4, 2 and 0. We
started off with two carseats and a booster seat, now have two
boosters and a Britax roundabout. Christian at Rockridge Kids
got them in there, and I go back every time the arrangement
It's been fine until this year. The Focus is very roomy with
lots of storage space in the back. However, now that playdates
and field trips are more a part of our lives, I'm getting ready
for the mini-van. Also, you can only accommodate two adults,
and that's occasionally been inconvenient.
This keeps coming up...should archive it!
Mom of 3
We have a Mazda5 and love it. It is basically like the station wagons they
have when we were kids that had a ''way back'' third row seat. But in this
faces forward and has seat belts and so is actually safe.
It's got a high roofline like a Forester and sliding doors like a minivan,
but it is a car,
not a minivan, and not much bigger footprint-wise than our old Honda Accord.
has a total of 6 seats, three rows of two each. It works great for our
family of four,
because we usually leave the third row folded down, which gives us a big
area. Then if we need extra seats to carpool or for parents visiting, we pop
third row. The back row is split fold down, so you could have the third
the back row and still have some cargo space. With all six seats up, there
is only a
tiny cargo area in back - big enough for a few grocery bags or a small
nice thing is there are also lots of nooks and crannies, including under the
storing all the junk you keep in your car all the time.
You would need to put a fairly self-sufficient kid in the back, though, as it
is hard to
get someone in and out from that space.
It's reasonably priced, drives nicely, parks easily, and as gas just went to
gallon, I am really thankful we didn't buy the Honda minivan we were on the
I don't know why the car companies aren't falling all over themselves to make
cars like this for all of us who don't need or have space to park a minivan
want the extra gas expense driving one, but need to take more than four
passengers at least some of the time.
Love my Mazda5
If you can afford it, and you have the space to park it, you
will hug yourself for buying a minivan. And your back will
thank you. I borrowed my sisters suv and having to hoist myself
up to get the kids in and out of the car was a real pain in the
back. As is bending over and crunching in with our sedan.
only have two kids now but often carpool my sons friends and
the thought of getting them all into our sedan is not a
pleasnat one.(But it IS possible-I drove 3 two year olds around
in 3 roundabout britax carseats for nearly 2 years.- So no an
suv or minivan is not your only option.) I'm really not sure
why minivans get such a bad rap, they are such a huge
convenience(sp?) for young families. Sure they use more gas,
but they haul more people. It is so great to have when my
family visits. It is great for even short road trips. I also
love it for the ''hang out'' option. Now if my baby is asleep,
etc. I can hang out in the minivan while I wait for my sons
class to finish etc. In my other car it felt so cramped and
public (it is a breeze nursing in the minivan).
We lived with
one car for nearly 10 years (my husband rode his bike 3 miles
to work). So I do not feel guilty at all for owning a minivan.
Life with 3 kids will be hectic enough -enjoy the luxury of a
minivan -if you can. (p.s. we bought a used minivan to see if
it was right for us. You can get a nice one for 10-12K, and
upgrade if you decide to. My husband swears he'll never pay 30K
for a minivan, (I personally love the thought of a brand new
one loaded with all those family happy features)but my friend
who use to be in car sales says with minivans (unlike SUVs)you
get every penny out of them with family friendly features,
where as you spend the same amount for a suv just to get
the 'look'. (This could be wrong, but I believe it.)
We just had our second child and with two car seats in the back
of our Toyota RAV4, we now have no room for passengers in our
car (other than the front seat.) We need a new car anyway and
decided we want to find a car that is wide enough to allow two
car seats plus a passenger in the back seat. We are hoping to
avoid a minivan or a huge SUV though. Does anyone have a
recommendatiuon? Any station wagon recs? Thanks!
We were in your exact same situation - two kids in car seats, wanting reasonably comfortable seating for additional passengers who aren't squeezed in between the car seats in back, but down on the minivan idea because of high gas prices and difficulty parking in tight spaces. We bought the Mazda5, which is great but hard to describe - it isn't really a minivan - it's more like a wagon in size, but with sliding doors and a tall interior cabin kind of like a Forester. But there's a third row of seating! Six seats in all - two per row. The deal is, though, with the third row seat up, there's only a tiny cargo space - I can fit my Maclaren stroller and a diaper bag and a few coats back there, or 2-3 grocery bags, but no more. With the third row folded flat, you have station-wagon-like cargo space. So for our family of 4 it's great. Mostly it is just 2 adults, 2 kids in car seats, and loads of room for gear. But when family visits, or we want to carpool, we can make it a 6!
We have a Volvo V70. It fits a infant carseat, Britax Marathon
which is huge, and a small size adult comfortably. It was much
better when we use a booster seat and the infant seat. Miranda
Help! What kind of car is good for two toddler car seats (for
two 2 year olds) and for one infant seat? Since all the kids
are so young, we don't want to put anyone in the third row of a
minivan out of reach of the driver. Is there a car with room
for 3 car seats in the second row that someone can recommend?
We have a 1998 VW Passat Stationwagon and it will fit 3
toddler-sized carseats in the back seat.(We used to have to do
this for playdates). It's snug (all the seats touched each other
door panels) but everybody gets strapped in and the door closes!
We have a Volvo Cross Country station wagon v70 (1999), and it
also fits three Britax Roundabouts across the back. It is snug,
but it works.
I love my volkswagon vanagon, I currently have it set up with
only the back bench and have two roundabouts and a britax
wizard for my two toddlers & baby.. and there's still room! I
feel like a bus driver, but I love that it's not a ''minivan''. I
don't know if the newer eurovan is as weide, but mine is a 1991
vanagon and it's perfect. Good luck finding something!
I am expecting my 2nd child and have been wondering how to
position two carseats in the backseat of my VW wagon. I
currently use a Britex Roundabout in the center of the seat with
my son who will be 3 in October. By the time #2 comes, my son
will be in a booster carseat (any recomendations for that is
certainly needed) and I plan to use an infant carseat (the type
that has a ''permanent'' base and removable infant carrier).
Which child goes in the center of the bench seat? Please let me
know how you handled this issue.
We recently faced the same question, and were told by a nurse at
Alta Bates that the baby's car seat should go in the middle,
with the 3 year old's seat on the side.
When our second child was born, our first was two. We put
the baby's car seat in the middle and the toddler's carseat
on the side behind the passenger. This has worked well for
First of all, the 2-year old (now 2 1/2) likes to look out the
window. She can also ask to have her window rolled up or
down, so it makes sense to put her by the window.
Moreover, the 2 1/2 year old can tell us when the sun is in
her eyes or when it gets too hot in the back. Being in the
middle of the car (in a Passat wagon), the baby's carseat is
better protected from the elements so we don't worry about
him getting the direct sun or too much wind. Another
advantage for the 2 1/2 year old to be near the window is
that she can use the arm rest to store her various things,
like snacks or books. Also, since the baby came along the
number one child has learned to climb up and down from
her car seat. She can do so because the carseat is by the
door and on the sidewalk side of the car. This is a great
help when I am holding the baby and fun for her!
i found it impossible to put the infant carseat base safely in
the middle when the toddler seat was next to it. i ended up
with both carseats on either side of the back seat (leaving the
middle as a buffer zone). it was a honda accord.
You didn't say if you already tried putting 2 carseats in the
backseat already, but when I tried putting 2 in our Honda
Accord, they didn't fit side by side. I had to put one by each
door (we have since bought a minivan...) There was simply too
much bulk to place an infant carrier right next to a Britax
Roundabout. Also consider the strain on one's back leaning into
the middle of the car, lifting a kid in and out.
My solution was to put the toddler's seat on the driver's side,
where I can quickly and easily take the toddler out, in
traffic. Then I put the baby's seat on the passenger side, so
after the toddler was safely strapped into the stroller, or
safely sitting in the front passenger seat waiting for me, I
could take more time with the baby, putting her into a sling or
Baby Bjorn, or the double stroller with her sister. Hope this
helps, and congratulations!!!
this page was last updated: Jul 21, 2008
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network