SUV's - Family Vehicles, or not?

So many people get caught out by the advertising of the good old family SUV - 7 seater.

So a 7 seater should fit 7 people right?

If only it was this easy! Hopefully this makes it a little easier of what to look out for when you are looking for your next vehicle - especially if you are planning more than 2 children. 

Most of us make the dangerous mistake of not reading a car manual. We might read how to connect our phone to the Bluetooth, or how to adjust the clock after daylight saving. We might even go as far as reading the manual to check if we are using the cruise control accurately or not.

But not many read the section on child restraints. There will be a whole part of your manual dedicated to this. In this part it will have restrictions, cautions, information and installation assistance.

Can you install in the centre of the back seat?

Can you have child restraints in the third row?

Can you use isofix sharing in the middle placement?

Are there automatic locking seat belts?


Weekly I get parents coming asking about anchor points in the third row as their family is expanding and they need to fit everyone in. Unfortunately a lot of our vehicle manufacturers do not allow child restraints in the rear row. Or they might allow boosters, but not harnessed seats. Some even go as far as having height and weight limits for passengers in the rear/3rd row.

The rear row of people movers or 7 seater SUV's are danger zones for many reasons. They might restrict car seats in the rear because of the risk of a rear ending accident.

As the rear row can sometimes be elevated as well, the risk of head strike on the interior walls is elevated with a child. When a child is in a seat they are lifted for seat belt positioning - they are they even closer to the internal interior due to the raised rear row. Thus manufacturers make the restriction of seats in the rear row.

Buckle up all the seat belts in the car as well. Do they sit nicely beside each other or do they overlap? We have lots of SUV's on the market in NZ that have overlapping belts. While these might not seem a problem - EU and US standard car seats do not allow installation beside another seat if there is an overlapping seat belt - this generally means that doing that 3 across seating plan that you thought solved all your problems might not be doable now!

I cannot put an exhaustive list on here - that would take hours - but I do advise to read your car manual. I certainly am not the professional on all vehicles in NZ either, I find these things out by excessively reading manuals and getting to play in lots of vehicles.

If you are buying a new vehicle and have children, or plan to expand your whanau then check out the section of the vehicle manual on child restraints. Doing this simple thing could save you a lot of money in the long run!

As always - if in doubt check it out! Ask a local tech for advice. Or contact us and we can try to assist best we can!

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