The center of the back seat is the safest place of the car
Studies show kids are 43% safer if they ride in the center instead of the side
What does a “normal” center seat look like?
2010 Honda Accord Sedan Center: 15 inches wide
What car seats might work in a narrow center seat?
If you or a parent you are helping have a vehicle with a narrow center seat, we at The Car Seat Lady recommend trying the Graco Snug Ride 35 (if you need an infant seat) or the Britax Marathon / Boulevard (if you need a convertible seat). We find these two seats to fit in narrow situations where other seats won’t. However, there are some centers that are too narrow for even these seats. While the First Years True Fit Premier has a narrower footprint than the Britax, the head area of the First Years is wider and often won’t fit rear-facing in the center of the vehicle without forcing the driver to sit too close to the steering wheel (the contours at the top of the Britax tuck themselves nicely between the two front seats).
For reference, the footprint of the Graco Snug Ride 35 is 9.25 inches and the Britax approximately 13 inches.
Get ready to watch the center seat disappear! Note: All of these center positions have top tether anchors (for forward-facing car seats) – which means that someone who made the car thought it would be possible to install a car seat in this position. I’m wondering what they were smoking?
It gets narrower…
2010 BMW X5Center: 9.5 inches “wide”
Best part: if you can find a forward-facing car seat that is narrow enough, the head rest is fixed and angled forward which prevents the car seat from resting flush against the back of the vehicle seat, and thereby prevents a tight installation
2010 Infiniti EX35Center: 9 inches “wide”
(check out the dual hinges the center is sporting – this center is a car seat nightmare)
2010 Nissan Cube
Center: a svelte 8 inches
Worst part for a car seat: the seat belt & buckle are 5 inches forward of the bight!
wait – it’s almost non-existent here…
2010 Toyota Highlander – back view
My bottom hurts just looking at this center seat
2010 Toyota Highlander – front view
I didn’t get to measure as I lost my tape measure,
but the center is probably about 6 inches “wide”
Wait… it did disappear!
2011 Mini Cooper Countryman
Finally, a wise decision – if you don’t have room for a center seat, don’t tease us with 8 inches of a seat that is unusable for a car seat or a human body