The Highlander was redesigned for 2014 – and now has 3 seats in the 3rd row. The 2nd row now has two options:
8 seater model: 3 person bench in the 2nd row
7 seater model: 2 captain’s chairs in the 2nd row
In the 8 seater model, the use of the lower anchors in 2P will prevent a person from sitting safely in 2C as the lap belt anchor for 2C is located directly above the lower anchor for 2P – which can cause the LATCH installed car seat in 2P to pull the lap belt up into the belly on the person sitting in 2C.
Also, 2P and 2C are very narrow and getting 2 car seats securely installed side by side here (even with both using the seat belt) is not possible in most cases.
The Highlander was redesigned for 2008 and is now only offered as a 7 seater model. However, since the itsy-bitsy 2C can be removed, the Highlander can easily be turned into a 6 seater if you want the feel of captain’s chairs in the middle row but since 2D and 2P are connected to each other at the floor area, it isn’t as easy to walk through as captain’s chairs where they are truly separate.
2C is extremely narrow and has a prominent plastic covered hinge making it inhospitable to most car seats and boosters (we’ve had luck with the Cybex Aton2 and Clek Foonf rear-facing in 2C).
The 3rd row continues to lack tether anchors which makes it unsuitable for forward-facing car seats, and it is not deep enough for most rear-facing car seats – so it will be best suited for kids in boosters or older kids/adults in seat belts.
The Highlander was redesigned for 2004. It is now available as a 5 seater or a 7 seater (2 seats in the 3rd row). Please note that the 2nd row is different in the 5 and 7 seater models!
The best change for 2004 is that there are now lower anchors for 2D & 2P, and tether anchors for all 3 seats (2C didn’t have a tether anchor in the prior model years).
The head restraint for 2C was also changed and it is now integrated into the vehicle seat back and flush with the seat back (so won’t interfere with forward-facing car seats or high back boosters).
The 5 seater model’s 2nd row is well designed for car seats and has no seat belt overlap.
The 7 seater model’s 2nd row has significant seat belt overlap between 2D and 2P – but the flexible buckle for 2D will make it such that you can still get 2 seats side-by-side in 2D & 2C so long as you pick narrow seats and stagger the direction (one rear-facing, one forward-facing).
The 3rd row is not suitable for forward-facing car seats as it has no tether anchors – and isn’t deep enough for a rear-facing car seat – so it is best used by kids in boosters or older kids/adults. There are adjustable head restraints in 3D & 3P that should offer good protection for kids in backless boosters & older kids/adults in seat belts.
The Highlander was first introduced for 2001 as a 5 seater model. It has LATCH (lower anchors and tether anchors) for 2D and 2P, but no lower anchors and no tether anchor for 2C. There are adjustable, removable head restraints for all 3 seats.
There is significant overlap between the seat belt hardware for 2C & 2P, which will make fitting 2 car seats side by side (in 2C & 2P) challenging, but not impossible with the right combination of narrow seats and with the seats opposing directions (one rear-facing, one forward-facing).
The seat belt buckle for 2C is on a long piece of seat belt webbing – you may find the need to twist the buckle stalk (up to 3 full revolutions) to shorten it in order to get some car seats installed tightly – as shown here.