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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello,

My wife and I have decided on the Ascent for our next car. A LARGE part of this decision is based on the ability to place a car seat in the center 2nd row seat, when equipped with the bench seat. We walked away from an imminent Highlander purchase once we decided that this was a requirement.

However, I just came across a great post from a forum member who went to the Detroit auto show, and apparently there is a single LATCH anchor in the center seat, placed right in the middle.

Questions:
1. Does anyone know how this will work with an infant car seat base?
2. How will access to the 3rd row be?

Thank you,

Jon

EDIT:

I found this website, which has pictures of the Ascent 2nd row. It looks like, for this buyer, that Subaru has designed themselves out of a sale.
http://thecarseatlady.com/vehicles/suv/subaru-ascent/

The VW Atlas would be the next choice if not for the ridiculous fuel mileage. Bumping to an Audi Q7 or Ford Expedition may be our options.
 

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So the bench does have 5 LATCH placements. Two for each side seat and one directly in the middle. I have no idea what to make of this placement. The third row only has 2 LATCH on the driver side. Both second and third rows have 3 anchors of the back side of each. I am certainly scratching my head along with you on this one.

Acsess to the third row isn't bad, as the rear doors are noticeably larger. You could get an infant in and out of the third row...not necessarily easily, but you can do it. I would not want to do it every day.

BTW, I did check out the Atlas as well at the Auto Show, and I have to say I was quite impressed. I am defiantly going to give it a closer look. But like a lot of people, I have lost some faith in VW. And I think its more expensive..?
 

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I found this website, which has pictures of the Ascent 2nd row. It looks like, for this buyer, that Subaru has designed themselves out of a sale.
You are being redirected...

The VW Atlas would be the next choice if not for the ridiculous fuel mileage. Bumping to an Audi Q7 or Ford Expedition may be our options.
That is an interesting and very helpful website.

I'm a little confused about your alternates to the Atlas. I agree it's thirsty in V6/AWD trim but your alternatives are not only more expensive but get comparable or worse fuel economy.
 

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BTW, I did check out the Atlas as well at the Auto Show, and I have to say I was quite impressed. I am defiantly going to give it a closer look. But like a lot of people, I have lost some faith in VW. And I think its more expensive..?
I cross shopped an Atlas V6 4Motion Premium against the Ascent Touring. If strictly speaking MSRP, the VW is in the neighborhood of $3K more expensive.

I also was intrigued by it but that VW value retention and overall lack of confidence in the brand killed it for me.
 

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We currently have a 2008 Tribeca, which has a bench second row and third row. I have 3 small kids (now 6, 4, and 2 - but we have had her vehicle for the birth of the two youngest).

We have no problem using the baby car seat (rear facing) in the middle seat of the second bench, utilizing the seat belt method. We then generally keep the third seat of the middle bench down to access the third row.

All of this should be even better with the ascent, with more room in each row and wider doors.

I would have no concerns on any level with taking the approach you desire in the ascent. I’m fact, we will be doing the same with ours when it arrives.
 

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Questions:
1. Does anyone know how this will work with an infant car seat base?
I have customers that have put 3 seats or 2 seats and a booster in the back of an Outback. Keep in mind LATCH stands for Lower Anchor and Tethers for CHildren, so it's both top AND bottom systems. It may not be considered ideal, but when they do so in the Outback, the seat in the middle simply shares lower anchor points with the outside seats. Also, with the split rear seats, this design still allows the passenger side of both bench seats to be down and you could still get 3 carseats in the car, two on the center bench using three lower anchors and one on the third bench.

On the actual NHTSA FAQ page, it says:
"Some vehicle manufacturers allow the inboard lower anchors from the seating positions nearest to the doors to be used to create a center rear LATCH seating position, but require that consumers check with the child safety seat manufacturer before doing so."

Also, for the rear seat, again from the NHTSA page:
" For maximum protection, NHTSA recommends using a top tether with forward-facing child seats whether you decide to use the vehicle seat belt or the lower anchors to install your child’s safety seat as long as it is permitted by both the child safety seat and vehicle manufacturers."
 

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Based on my experience, it's generally less safe and convenient to put infant/NB on the center of the seat. It's an orthodox conclusion but I'm against the majority on this topic. If I can do a "feasibility study" on it, I can convince parents the best location is behind the driver seat.
 

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Agree with Carl's comments above. My understanding was that you are supposed to be able to put 3 car seats across in the 2nd row.

And regarding the LATCH issue... worst case scenario, you can always still use a seatbelt to belt in the car seat for the middle seating area.
In point of fact, we did that very thing when we had our first child - used the seatbelt in the middle of the rear row of our sedan BECAUSE there was no LATCH anchors there and we wanted the baby in the middle so as to in theory provide greater cushioning / crumple space in the event of a side impact. In all honesty, I wouldn't let that be a deal killer for me... A properly installed car seat (LATCH or with seatbelt) is still safe...
 

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Latch i s only used for a short time anyway. Between the weight of the seat and the child you hit the 60lb limit pretty quickly. As a parent who hauls 2+ kids and I switch between our 2010 Outback and our Sequoia often so moving seats happens often Latch is not as easy to use over the standard seat belt. However!! Inside tip flip the seat belt clip so the release button is inside vs outside against the seat base. Kids climbing arpund and into seats, the dog and fumbling Grand parents have easily released the outward facing seat belt clip making for an interesting discussion a few miles down the road when its clear the kids car seat is no longer strapped in.
 

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The giant Britax convertible seat my kids went into at 3yrs weighed 25lbs just the seat. So to pick any vehicle based on your perception of Latch point is very short sighted. A 3yr lease vehicle chances are your kid and the seat exceed the LATCH weight limit by yr three anyway.
 

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The single LATCH connection in the center of the second row doesn’t make sense. In fact it could even be a safety issue if a parent thinks they only need to use one. I wonder if it’s just because the Ascent we’re seeing at the shows is a pre-production model, and there are really supposed to be two of them.

In any case, as others have said, using the seat belt is always an option, and supports more weight than the LATCH connections.
 

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The single LATCH connection in the center of the second row doesn’t make sense.
If you'll notice in the picture, it's not dead center on the middle, but offset more to the passenger side. So, with the split second bench seat, you could have the passenger side outboard seat folded down because you need it for storage, you can still put a car seat in the center position, sharing the inside anchor point with the drivers side outboard seat position.
 

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Ah I see, that’s interesting. Strange that they didn’t just add one more LATCH though. I wonder if any of the other Subarus have this fifth LATCH.
 

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All current Subaru's only have 4 latches across the back seat. If 3 seats are needed the center position can share.
 

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The center seat location should only use Latch if its the proper width ie not too wide. The LATCH points should be near identical width as the seat base. If the LATCH points are wider than the seat base you should use the car belt not the LATCH system.
 

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Also, realize that the LATCH anchor point is (from what I can tell based on personal experience looking for the darn thing in several different makes and models of cars) is basically a U or C-shaped metal bar that has been physically bolted into the rear seat (sub)frame. Because of the way the LATCH system clips in, it *IS* possible to have more than one seat clipped into an anchor point. I'm not sure what the regulations are regarding the actual design or size of the attachment point are, but in theory, you could have a slightly wider anchor bar that gets shared between the middle and side positions for just this reason <shrug>. That's an engineering design question, though...

Furthermore, as others have said, the seat belt method is still equally viable (and in theory safer). I suspect the LATCH system came into being more for convenience as it is a quicker method of car seat installation compared to looping a seatbelt through. The top tether attachment point is present for three seats across the second row, and if your seat has a top tether (which I think all of them now do), then you should be utilizing that as well when appropriate.
 

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Shared LATCH on a 60lb limit?
I've always wondered about this. Every car has different limits but if a pair of LATCHes are rated the same then sharing one of them potentially means that one will fail before the other one in a crash. Talk about spinning carseats, yikes.

I realize that LATCH is very convenient to use, but a seatbelt is designed to handle the full weight of an adult — greatly in excess of the weights LATCHes are tested at. I always use a seatbelt to secure my carseats now, unless there is a side chance it could be released by accident by a neighboring adult. I never know whether I might carry a bigger kid in my car (as a guest) at some point.

A more relevant question is whether all the seatbelts can ratchet, but if you've ever rented a car in the UK (and presumably the rest of Europe as well) you'll find that ratcheting seatbelts are very rare — as are LATCHes. In other words, carseats are usually loose in European cars. Evidently EU safety guidances are quite different to ours, or maybe their seatbelt regulations are tougher.

In any event, the Ascent not having center LATCHes makes no difference to me because I would rather use the seatbelts to secure any carseat.
 

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All US spec cars use ratchet seat belts.

Also a tip regarding preventing released car seat belts on kids seats. Flip the clip so the release button faces the seat base vs facing out away from the seat base. This prevents grand parents from unintentionally releasing the wrong belt or the dog or kids walking/climbing over seats etc. In my case the dog was our seat belt release bandit. I flipped the catch around no more issues. Still easily released but it takes a very intentional effort to release them.
 

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Also a tip regarding preventing released car seat belts on kids seats. Flip the clip so the release button faces the seat base vs facing out away from the seat base. This prevents grand parents from unintentionally releasing the wrong belt or the dog or kids walking/climbing over seats etc. In my case the dog was our seat belt release bandit. I flipped the catch around no more issues. Still easily released but it takes a very intentional effort to release them.
That's a great tip for preventing accidentally-released car seat belts. Now my carseat kung-fu is complete!

All US spec cars use ratchet seat belts.
I was in a rental Dodge Grand Caravan just this past week and was surprised to see that the seatbelt of the center seat in the third row was not ratcheting. I was experimenting with carseat placements for an upcoming road trip and thought at first I was using it wrong. But no: every other seatbelt in the car was ratcheting, except for that center 3rd-row seat.

I was actually a bit shocked to experience this, as the seatbelt in the center seat of my Outback '15 is ratcheting (I have three Diono RXTs installed in the back). Anyone try out the center seatbelts in the Ascents yet?
 
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