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Throwback Thursday: Seatbelt Installs

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This morning, I educated a client on installing their Chicco Keyfit infant seat.  With little effort, they had it installed perfectly with LATCH.   Fifteen years ago, I started my first website with a page on the LATCH system and how it would revolutionize carseats by making them easier to install.  The Keyfit is a fine example of this revolution.

This afternoon, I listened to a great online webinar presented by SafeRideNews, publishers of the excellent LATCH Manual.  The best part of this manual is that it helps certified technicians and instructors wade through the insurmountable information in owner’s manuals, plus everything omitted from those manuals, and condenses it all into nice tables and charts.

In condensed form, this information is still over 230 pages long.  In fact, a typical parent has little chance in the real world of understanding relevant limits for using LATCH on a forward-facing carseat and even a few rear-facing ones.  I expect that most of those who manage to use LATCH correctly will not realize when they must switch to a seatbelt. Even with newer government standards, understanding when to use LATCH can still be mind-boggling for an experienced technician who owns the LATCH manual.  So much so that I am hesitant to install a forward-facing harnessed carseat with LATCH ever again, unless a seatbelt is not an option for any reason.

Back in 2000, I hoped that LATCH would make technicians obsolete.  Today, a technician has to have an advanced degree in LATCH in order to be able to correctly instruct parents on how to use lower anchors and/or top tethers.   I never thought I would miss locking clips and the good ‘ol days before LATCH was prevalent.

Quiz time:  What is quicker?  Installing a Britax Frontier with a long seatbelt path, or figuring out when you can use it with LATCH in a random vehicle that arrives at a checkup event?  If you’re not sure, then perhaps you agree with me that LATCH has become a complete debacle, at least for forward-facing carseats.

Carseat Tom-foolery

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A couple blasts from the past, back in the old days when we were a bit less serious all the time!  Perhaps these are more suited to Throwback Thursday, but instead I re-visit them for some foolish fun this April 1st.  And for those who may take offense, we do not (usually) condone the use of duct tape for installation of carseats.  Normally, we prefer nails, screws and glue…

Carseat Install on a Moped:

Patented Super Secure Duct Tape Installation:

2015 Kia Sedona Minivan Video Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety

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2015-2016 Kia Sedona Minivan Review

2015KiaSedonaThe all-new Sedona is a big improvement for Kia’s new “Multi-Purpose Vehicle.”  It’s arguably the sharpest looking minivan on the market with a tastefully upgraded interior and exterior.  It is also more flexible for families than before.  For example, all trim levels offer three full LATCH seating positions, two in the 2nd row captain’s chairs and a third on the passenger side of the back row.  The third row center seat has a 4th top-tether location as well.  The Slide-N-Stow feature in the 8-passenger trim offers the easiest 3rd row door access in any minivan.  There’s a lot to like with the new Sedona, but does it stack up to the family favorite, Honda Odyssey?

Let’s start with some basic information and features. Please note that since this video was made, the NHTSA awarded the 2015 Sedona a 5-star overall safety rating.  The IIHS updated its ratings methods for 2015, requiring an auto-brake front crash prevention system for its 2015 Top Safety Pick “Plus” award.  The new Sedona did very well in all the IIHS crash tests but did not earn the “Plus” award, since it lacks such a front crash prevention system.  Visibility is decent, with a standard rear-view camera on all but the lowest trim level.  SX versions get the nicer Surround view monitor.  Our Sedona also came with the accessory tablet holder is a handy feature, but it protrudes and is very hard so it seems like a potential risk to a child in a frontal crash.

In Part II of the video, we discuss some of the aspects of the second row in the 8-passenger trim as well as the third row that is common to both 7- and 8-passenger models.  In the 8-passenger trim, the second row should fit various 3-across carseat configurations, as the middle seat is wide enough for some carseats.  Since there is no LATCH or tether in the middle, that seat is best suited for a booster seat or a seatbelt installation of a narrow, rear-facing carseat.  The seat cushion and seat back side bolsters may affect placement of wider carseats in the second row.  In the third row, the middle seat is quite narrow and 3-across will be a challenge, but might be possible with a selection of very narrow carseats/boosters.

Photo Gallery:

A Maxi-Cosi RodiFix booster and a Britax Frontier 90 combination seat (below, left) work well in the 7-passenger lounge captain’s chairs.  A Graco 4Ever carseat fits in the third row.

2016 Honda Pilot Preview: Chicago Auto Show

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The 2016 Honda Pilot, Bigger and Better for Kids?

You may have seen some previews of the all-new Honda Pilot already, so we’ll focus on carseats for this quick preview.  We reviewed the current generation Honda Pilot and found it to be arguably the best midsize SUV in terms of carseats and child seating flexibility.  How does the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot compare?

As for styling, gone is the rugged, boxy appearance.  This is good or bad, depending if you prefer the sleeker, minivan-like styling of the new model.

2016HondaPilotFront 2016HondaPilotRear 2016HondaPilotSide

While the current model is an 8-passenger SUV, the 2016 version will have 7-passenger and 8-passenger trim levels. The fully loaded 7-passenger model on display had the optional captain’s chairs with an aisle/console between (below, left).  A 3-seat 2nd row bench will also be standard.  The easier, push-button mechanism to slide/tilt the 2nd row chairs forward is quite similar to the current Acura MDX (below, right).  Honda says it gives 2.5 more inches of access room at the bottom.  Lower step-in height makes access easier for the little ones, too.

2016Pilot2ndrowchairs 2016Pilot3rdrowaccess

The third row remains a 3-seat bench.  It appears to be similar in width to the current Pilot, but has an update in the design.  Specifically, the passenger side seat with LATCH appears to be a hair wider, at the expense of the narrow middle seat. The passenger side seatbelt buckle stalk is also revised, also an improvement for installation of wider carseats.  The problem is that the hardware for folding the 40/60 bench is taller and more pronounced than before, likely making carseat installation even more difficult in the narrower middle seat.  On the plus side, Honda has resolved some of the seatbelt crossover issues which may make it easier for an smaller adult, teen or pre-teen to ride in the middle next to a narrow carseat.

2016Pilot3rdrowbench

 

In the 7-passenger model on display, there are a total of 3 LATCH positions for the two 2nd row captain’s chairs and the third row passenger seat.  As for top-tether anchors,