Parents are often searching for the automotive holy grail: a car that's not a minivan and can fit three child-safety seats across the backseat. It's a short list. In the nearly two years that Cars.com editor Kelsey Mays, Cars.com photographer Ian Merritt and I have been installing car seats into test vehicles, we've come across only a handful of cars that can hold three car seats across a backseat.
We recently tested the 2012 Mercedes-Benz M-Class and it fit three car seats in it. To be considered a fit, there must be enough room between the booster seat and infant-safety seat for a child's hand to reach the seat belt buckle.
As we come across more cars that fit three child-safety seats, we'll add to this list. For now, here are the cars from our Car Seat Checks that can fit three car seats in the second row:
If you have three or more kids in car seats, consider a minivan. They excel at hauling families and all their gear and can be quite luxurious as we found out in the Ultimate Minivan Shootout .
For Car Seat Checks, the front seats are adjusted to a comfortable position for a 6-foot driver and a 5-foot-8 passenger. The three child seats — a high-back booster seat, convertible car seat and rear-facing infant-safety seat — are installed in the second row. The booster seat sits behind the driver's seat, and the infant and convertible seats are installed behind the passenger seat. We also install the infant seat in the second row's middle seat with the booster and convertible in the outboard seats to see if three car seats will fit. If there's a third row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible.