Volkswagen Atlas 2018

3-Across Recipes

in the

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Ever tried to figure out a 3-across scenario by going to Target or Babies R Us and bringing out a dozen car seats and after several hours ending up sweaty and frustrated, but still unsure of how to fit 3-across. We knew there had to be a better way… so we created our “3-across recipes”. Like a recipe, it will tell you exactly what you need to do to fit 3-across. No guessing which seats may work – we’ll tell you which ones will definitely work and even whether to use the seat belt or lower anchors (because often times only one way will work in a 3-across).

This page shows how to do 3-across in the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas. We also show you which seats to use in the 2nd row to preserve 3rd row access.

Abbreviations in this article: RF = rear-facing, FF = forward-facing, 2D = 2nd row driver’s side, 2C = 2nd row center, 2P = 2nd row passenger side

2nd Row

Important Notes about 3rd Row Access:

Miscellaneous Notes for Car Seats in the 2nd Row:

3 Rear-facing:

Scenario #1:

3D:   3C:   3P:

3 Forward-facing:

Scenario #1:

3D:   3C:   3P:

Scenario #2:

3D:   3C:   3P:

Scenario #3:

3D:   3C:   3P:

2 Rear-facing, 1 Forward-facing:

Scenario #1:

3D:   3C:   3P:

Scenario #2:

3D:   3C:   3P:

1 Rear-facing, 2 Forward-facing:

Scenario #1:

3D:   3C:   3P:

Scenario #2:

Scenario #3:

Scenario #4:

2 Forward-facing, 1 Booster:

Scenario #1:

Scenario #2:

Scenario #3:

1 Rear-facing1 Forward-facing, 1 Booster:

Scenario #1:

Scenario #2:

3D:   3C:   3P:

1 Forward-facing, 2 Boosters:

Scenario #1:

Miscellaneous Notes:

3rd Row

Notes for all 3rd row scenarios:

The 3rd row of the Atlas only has 2 seats… so clearly no 3-across is happening there. Keep in mind there are no lower anchors back here – so all seats will be installed with a seat belt. There are tether anchors in this 3rd row which makes it a suitable spot for a forward-facing car seat.

Rear-facing seats:

The 3rd row of the Atlas was deep enough for a rear-facing car seat. We used the Clek Foonf in the 3rd row as it installed nicely thanks to the Clek’s built-in seat belt locking devices. Foonf takes up less room into the seat in front than Fllo, which is why we put Foonf in back to allow more room for the 2nd row.

Here’s one, of many, examples of a set up for 3 extended rear-facing kids: Foonf in 3D with seat belt, Graco Extend2Fit in 2D with LATCH, Clek Fllo in 2C with seat belt.

While there is enough room to fit some of the infant seats in the 3rd row (its tight, but works) we don’t know who in their right mind would want to do this and break their back lifting the seat in/out every time… so we didn’t focus on this set-up as it seems highly impractical.

Forward-facing seats:

However, the 3rd row is challenging for forward-facing car seats as the seat belt buckles are very far forward of the bight (seat crease) and are rigid. seat belt buckles. The Britax Frontier Click Tight (and its sibling the Pinnacle Click Tight) are clear winners for families looking to put a forward-facing kid in this 3rd row. The installation was dreamy with the seat belt (thanks to the click tight) and the tether strap (see image below).

Important note: We do not find that all click tights are created equally. The Frontier & Pinnacle Click Tights offer very easy seat belt installations in nearly any vehicle – and we highly recommend them. The Marathon/Boulevard/Advocate Click Tights (the convertible seats) we find to be much more difficult to install than their Frontier & Pinnacle cousins – specifically closing the click tight plate can be very difficult on the convertible seats, and we often reach for other convertible seats that have seat belt locking devices that are easier to use.

The Chicco MyFit also installed securely in the 3rd row, but required significantly more technique and brute force to get the seat tightly installed compared to the Britax. A lot of the other forward-facing-only seats that we tried did not install securely and wiggled like a loose tooth no matter what we tried – this included the Harmony Defender and Cosco Finale to name a few. This incompatibility was due to the seat belt buckle being forward of the seat crease and angled toward the front of the car.

Leg Room… While there is quite good leg room for adults in the 3rd row (as a 5’1″ adult with the 2nd row pushed all the way back I had room between my knees & the 2nd row AND my thighs were almost completely supported to my knees on the vehicle seat cushion (unlike other 3rd rows where your knees are up by your nose). My feet tucked nicely under the 2nd row seats.

However, this is a different story for kids in car seats back there. For an adult in the 3rd row the leg room was decent – but this relied on the adult’s knees bending at the edge of the vehicle seat and the adult’s feet tucking under the 2nd row seat. For kids in forward-facing car seats their knees won’t go to the edge of the vehicle seat, and their toes are going to be pointing forward, not anywhere near able to tuck under the 2nd row seat. You may find it necessary to slide the 2nd row up considerably in order to allow sufficient leg room for the child in the 3rd row. You could ask the child who is harnessed to sit cross-legged or with their knees up (this is not a good idea for kids sitting in a booster seat). Here’s what it looked like with a Britax Frontier CT & Chicco MyFit installed in 3D & 3P respectively with the 2nd row pushed all the way back (same as it was in the above picture with the 5’1″ adult sitting in the 3rd row). There is just 3 inches of room between the end of the MyFit and the 2nd row seats, and 5 inches for the Frontier CT. 

In some 3rd rows the top of the car seat/booster hitting the roof can be an issue that prevents the seat from being used to its full capacity. The Atlas roof was just tall enough to allow the Britax Frontier Click Tight (in 3D) to be in its tallest setting. The MyFit (in 3P) is in its highest setting which is slightly lower than the Frontier’s and therefore also worked well. 

Visibility: With 2 large car seats in the 3rd row as shown above, you’ll lose more visibility than if you were to have adults back there using the vehicle’s head restraints (which we removed to allow the Britax & Chicco to install properly against the back of the vehicle seat). Here’s what it looked like in the rear view mirror with the Britax & Chicco in the 3rd row and their head rests up in their highest settings.

Boosters:

Boosters – when unoccupied – can be a projectile that can fly around and hurt someone else (like your kid in the 2nd row) during a crash. Many boosters feature lower anchor connectors (either a strap or rigid LATCH) to connect themselves to the lower anchors in the vehicle to prevent this projectile possibility. Since there are no lower anchors in the 3rd row of the Atlas, this is not an option. If the booster has a tether strap AND allows the tether strap to be used in booster mode, then you can use the tether strap to prevent it from being a projectile. Otherwise, you’ll need to have the child rebuckle the booster when they climb out so the seat belt holds it in place while it is unoccupied.

 

A big thank you to Volkswagen for loaning us a 2018 Volkswagen Atlas for a few days so we could complete this project! Volkswagen did not reach out to us – rather, we reached out to Volkswagen and asked them if we could borrow an Atlas. Volkswagen had no say in any part of this project. This project, like all that we do, is completely independent of manufacturer input. As always, our opinions are our own – based on our experience & expertise.