Car Reviews

Car seat test | Mazda CX-5 vs. Toyota RAV4 vs. Subaru Forester vs. Honda CR-V

Awhile again, I wrote up a baby automobile seat take a look at evaluating the Subaru Forester with the Honda CR-V Hybrid. In that take a look at, I nonetheless solely had one little one, and thus one automobile seat. Although each automobiles fared effectively within the take a look at, I discovered the CR-V to have a slight edge over the Forester, largely as a result of I preferred its capability to cover the decrease anchors in a extra visually interesting means with out sacrificing accessibility. However that was additionally earlier than I seen an oddity concerning the middle prime tether within the Honda (extra on that in a bit).

Now, nonetheless, I’ve two children. My now 6-year-old son, Wollie, nonetheless makes use of a forward-facing Britax high-back booster seat. My 1.5-year-old daughter, Lola, nonetheless, rides in a rear-facing little one seat. Whereas smaller and lighter — and thus simpler to maneuver by way of an open automobile door — it takes up extra fore/aft house within the row. Just lately, I additionally had back-to-back loans of two direct rivals to the automobiles I in contrast within the first take a look at. As such, it appeared acceptable to carry out a comparability of the Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4, whereas conserving in thoughts a number of the classes discovered when testing the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester.

Left: Mazda CX-5; Proper: Toyota RAV4

In each the CX-5 and RAV4, placing Lola behind me would imply I’d needed to transfer the driving force’s seat ahead greater than I’d like, so I merely put the front-facing chair behind me, and put the rear-facing seat behind the often empty passenger seat. Apparently sufficient, although the RAV4’s rear seating space is definitely smaller, and thus my son’s face was nearer to my shoulders, he loved related legroom in every automobile. The entrance seatbacks within the Toyota have a pointy inward curve that carves out what additional house it will possibly for an grownup’s wants — or a baby’s dangling legs.

Clockwise from prime left: Mazda CX-5; Toyota RAV4; Subaru Forester; Honda CR-V

On the passenger aspect in entrance of the rear-facing seat, the Mazda had the benefit over the Toyota. The highest of that automobile seat traces up with the highest of the seatback, the place it couldn’t benefit from the RAV4 seat’s curve. You’d assume, then, {that a} entrance passenger would get pleasure from extra legroom within the CX-5 than the RAV4 if sitting in entrance of a rear-facing seat, however the extra upright posture of the RAV4’s entrance seating place and the form of the sprint imply that you simply’re extra more likely to be bumping your knees in opposition to the Mazda’s glove field. This shocked me. As for the Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V, room wasn’t a problem for a passenger in entrance of a forward-facing seat.

So, to summarize, by way of house for little one seats I’d put the Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V on the prime, adopted by the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5.

So what about set up? So far as getting the seats into the automobile and maneuvering round them by way of the set up course of, the CX-5 has the clear benefit over the RAV4. The door opens good and vast, and also you’ve bought a great quantity of house surrounding the seat to succeed in over and manipulate the seatbelt or connect the decrease LATCH tethers. Moreover, the RAV’s door simply doesn’t open as far. Whereas the CX-5’s door approaches a 90-degree angle from its closed place — as do these of the Forester and CR-V — the RAV4’s offers you a smaller wedge with which to work. Not solely is that a large drawback for putting in automobile seats, it’s additionally a more durable time for adults to get in or out of the Toyota’s second row.

The second a part of the set up equation is the precise fastening of the seats. Just like the Honda CR-V, the Mazda CX-5 hides its decrease anchors behind a slit within the seats. It’s not tough to seek out them, although, particularly with the house to maneuver your physique and arms across the seat within the automobile. The RAV4 simply has uncovered anchors between the cushion and seatback. It’s inelegant, positive, however they’re additionally simple to seek out as you’re reaching round blindly over a automobile seat. The Forester’s are related, however have a Velcro flap protecting them, which don’t actually do a lot to cover the anchors, for higher (serving to to entry them) or worse (they appear unhealthy).

Clockwise from prime left: Mazda CX-5; Toyota RAV4; Subaru Forester; Honda CR-V

As for the variety of decrease anchors, every automobile has two for every outboard seat. The Forester and CR-V every have a single extra decrease anchor for the middle seat, and may borrow the opposite anchor from a neighboring seat. The CX-5 and RAV4 don’t have devoted middle anchors, however each have the power to borrow decrease anchors from outboard seats to safe a middle automobile seat utilizing the LATCH system. Most automobiles don’t supply this functionality. A single anchor can’t be used concurrently by two seats, however, after all, you may all the time use the seatbelt to safe seats subsequent to 1 one other the place the LATCH anchors received’t suffice.

For the highest anchors, they’re on the again of every seat within the Mazda, Subaru and Toyota, making it best to entry them from the rear cargo space. The middle one is greater than the others within the Mazda, which doesn’t actually make a distinction except you’re attempting to succeed in it from the second row, wherein case it’s simpler to entry. Oddly, the Honda’s prime anchor isn’t on the seatback in any respect, however slightly within the ceiling above the cargo space. The Toyota’s are all on the identical peak about midway down the seatback, as are the Forester’s.

Apparently, this RAV4, being the Journey trim, had a rubber cargo mat protecting the anchors, so one would both must un-Velcro the mat to connect the tether, or truly minimize out patches of the rubber to reveal them. The opposite testers both had no such cargo space safety, or, as with the Forester, the safety on the seatback already had cutouts to reveal the tether anchors. RAV4 trims in addition to the Journey or TRD Off-Street additionally wouldn’t have protectors to cope with. I’m not taking the cargo mat under consideration for my total rating, however thought it was price noting.

Toyota RAV4 cargo cowl says, “Cur alongside dotted line.”

So after all the pieces is claimed and finished, the Honda CR-V could be the automobile seat champ right here if it wasn’t for the situation of placing a front-facing seat within the middle place. As such, I’ve to offer the glory to the Subaru, which presents easy accessibility to all anchors, has doorways that open vast for straightforward set up, and supplies ample legroom each for the kid and the grownup sitting in entrance of them. After them, the RAV4 simply sneaks previous the Mazda CX-5. Whereas it’s simpler to put in the seats within the Mazda, dwelling with them as soon as they’re in place is only a contact higher within the RAV4. In case you swap seats out and in of your automobile usually, although, you’ll positively desire the Mazda to the Toyota.

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