Car seats are vital for keeping little kids safe in vehicles until they are big enough for modern tech to accommodate them. Cars.com recently tested 56 models to see how they handled this critical task. The categories for the evaluation included the latches, a rear-face infant seat, a rear-facing convertible, a forward-facing convertible, a high-back booster seat, and third-row access (if applicable).
We checked the study’s results to see what were the worst performers. Cars.com gave vehicles letter grades. We converted the results to numbers so that we were able to average the figures to see how they ranked. Our figures are just like you remember from your school GPA where a 4.0 represents straight A’s, and being closer to that figure is better.
Gallery: Cars.com Car Seat List 2023
Worst Two-Row SUV:
The Hyundai Venue was at the bottom of the pack among two-row SUVs. It even scored a D in the rear-facing convertible category. However, the model received A ratings for the latches and front-facing convertible sections.
The Venue is Hyundai’s entry-level crossover. The automaker packs features like an 8.0-inch infotainment screen and the automaker’s SmartSense safety suite that includes pedestrian detection, forward collision mitigation, and automatic emergency braking. It was initially available with a manual gearbox, but Hyundai dropped this transmission due to a lack of demand.
Best Two-Row SUVs:
Worst Three-Row SUV:
The Toyota Sequoia received C ratings for the third-row front-facing convertible and third-row booster seat categories. It got A grades for the latches, infant, and rear-facing convertible classes.
The Sequoia just entered its third generation for the 2023 model year. It’s a three-row, body-on-frame SUV that can tow up to 9,000 pounds. Buyers can get premium amenities like a 14.0-inch infotainment screen, 14-speaker stereo, heated and ventilated second-row captain’s chairs, and American Walnut open-pore wood trim.
Best Three-Row SUV:
Worst EVs, PHEVs, and Hybrids:
The BMW i4 was among two electrified vehicles to have a 2.6 score. Its lowest scores were two points for the infant, rear-facing convertible, and booster seat categories.
The i4 is available in the eDrive35, eDrive40, and M50 grades in the United States. The eDrive40 with 18-inch wheels is the range champ of the bunch by going 301 miles between charges.
The Kia Niro EV was the other worst performer among the electrified models. It scored C for both types of convertible child seats and the infant ones.
The Niro EV received a positive review from Motor1.com. We gave it an 8.5/10, and the price was the primary issue. Although, child seat usability isn’t something we consider when evaluating a vehicle.
The Best EVs, PHEVs, and Hybrids:
The Kia Carnival was the only minivan in this test, so it’s both the best and worst. The lowest score was a C for the forward-facing convertible seat in the third row. The van received A ratings for the latch, second-row convertible seat, and booster categories.
The latest generation of the Carnival arrived for the 2022 model year as a replacement for the Sedona. The brand added luxuries to the cabin, like offering a pair of 12.3-inch screens, a rear-seat night vision camera, and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Many folks use pickup trucks as their primary family vehicle, so child seats are just as crucial for them as other segments. Of the three pickups Cars.com tested, the Honda Ridgeline was the worst performer. Its lowest score was C in the front-facing convertible category. However, the Ridgeline got A ratings for the latches, infant, and rear-facing convertible areas.
The refreshed Ridgeline debuted for the 2021 model year. It featured a more squared-off front end and a class-leading passenger space for that time. The rear seats could fold up and down to fit cargo of different shapes inside the truck.
If parents of young kids want a sport sedan, they must consider how it handles a car seat. Cars.com ranked the 2023 Lexus IS500 as the worst choice for this job. The vehicle received C grades for infant and rear-facing convertible seats. The latches and front-facing convertible received A scores.
The Lexus IS500 packs a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 making 472 horsepower and 395 pound-feet. The only transmission choice is an eight-speed automatic. It reaches 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds. The car also has an adaptive suspension and a Torsen limited-slip differential. The cabin is essentially the same as other IS trims but has a standard heated steering wheel, different pedals, and a unique startup animation for the instrument panel.
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