Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

News of the Multimac has been ebbing and flowing on social media for years. It’s making a resurgence again—for understandable reasons—so we felt we should address it.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Multimac is a child restraint system that includes three or even four seats that are installed at the same time into a standard back seat. Various accessories allow the Multimac to accommodate children from birth to age 12, from rear-facing to seatbelt-ready. The four-seater Multimac means that people who previously would have needed an SUV or minivan (or would have needed to put one child up front in a sedan) can now fit four kids in the back of a standard car.

Does that sound too good to be true? Well, it is and it isn’t. The Multimac does appear to meet standards…in the United Kingdom. It does not meet U.S. standards, and therefore cannot be used in the United States. So, if you’re in Europe, the Multimac might be a great option. If you, like most of our readers, live in America, you’re sadly out of luck.

If you’re an American hoping that the Multimac will eventually be available here, don’t hold your breath. There’s currently no way for the Mulitmac to pass U.S. testing. For one, our standard requires child restraints to be installed with a seatbelt or LATCH. The Multimac is installed with bolts and straps, plus legs that extend to the floor. It would fail U.S. testing by virtue of not being able to be installed on our test sled (that has no floor) and therefore we don’t know how it would fare in terms of meeting injury criteria.

Now let’s talk about cost for a moment. A four-seater Multimac with two rear-facing seats is about £2,000. (That doesn’t include the other accessories you might need, but it’s a starting point.) That translates to about $2,500, which is a big chunk of change to drop on a car seat. On the other hand, that’s slightly less shocking when you consider you’re buying four car seats, and it’s probably a lot less expensive than upgrading to bigger car. So you have to keep it in perspective. (Of course, that doesn’t take into consideration the likely astronomical cost to ship it to the United States…plus the fact that it’s illegal to use here.)

Maybe someday U.S. standards will allow for testing of innovations like the Multimac, but change in federal regulations is typically verrrrry slow. Child passenger safety advocates have long encouraged changes, like adding a floor to the test sled to accommodate seats with load legs, but so far nothing has come of that. If you’d like to see changes, contact your elected U.S. representatives and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to tell them we need to update our standards.

And if you’re in the UK, have fun with your new seat!