Child car seat fitting problems explored: Child seats in five-seat MPVs

Five-seater MPVs

Small MPVs aim to combine the road manners and running costs of a medium car with the versatility of a full-sized MPV. They usually have more head- and legroom than a medium car, so should be better-suited to family life. Some five-seat MPVs offer the option of two additional seats at the back, if you pay extra. These have been considered within the seven-seat MPV review.

Read the results of our crash testing, which is tougher than the R44.04 regulation requires, combined with our unique ease of use tests for over 130 .

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For the small MPVs we looked at, we found the space in the front of all three cars suitable for belt-secured seats, although none has Isofix mounts in the front. Rear space, access and adaptability varied, however, showing there's plenty to think about when choosing a family car. That's just one reason why we always recommend you try a seat in your car before buying. 

Citroen C3 Picasso

Citroën C3 Picasso

When we road tested the C3 Picasso we were impressed with its spaciousness for a supermini-based MPV. Here’s how it fared when we tested it for child car seat installation.

Citroën C3 Picasso summary

  • Number of seats: 5    
  • Number of children: 3
  • Number of pairs of Isofix mounts: 2

Front seat

The C3’s front passenger seat doesn’t have Isofix mountings, but the airbag can easily be disabled using the vehicle key. This means you can use a seatbelt-secured universal forward- or rearward-facing child car seat up front.

 

Citroen C3 Picasso seat positions

Second row seats

Citroën doesn’t recommend using the middle seat in the second row for child seats, which limits the number of children you can carry to three.

There’s plenty of space in front of the rear bench though, providing good access for placing the seat in the car and the child in the seat.

The Isofix mounting points are easily accessible and the top-tether anchor points are easy to reach from inside the car; they are located on the vehicle's headlining. The only downside is that the tether belts obscure the driver’s rear view in this position.

The rear seatbelts are very short, which could compromise the installation of bulkier seats, in particular rear-facing ones. 

Ford C-Max

Ford C-Max

You buy an MPV for its space and ability to carry people and luggage. For carrying adults, we found the rear seats of the Ford C-Max disappointingly snug, but what’s it like for carrying children?  

This test was carried out using the outgoing C-Max, before the new (Sept 2010) model was launched.

Ford C-Max summary

  • Number of seats: 5    
  • Number of children: 3*
  • Number of pairs of Isofix mounts: 2

*Fits 4 children if using the front seat and a backless booster in the middle position (not recommended)

Front seat

There are no Isofix mounts on the front passenger seat, but you can secure a universal child seat using the adult seatbelt. However, before you can, you’ll need to have a passenger airbag deactivation switch installed by a Ford dealer. And, according to the carmaker’s specifications, you can’t do this if the car is fitted with the front and rear park assist system.

 
Ford C Max seat positions

Second row seats

You can have Isofix mounting brackets fitted on the two outer rear seats of the C-Max, but again they are optional and need to have been specified when the car was ordered new. If you do have them, the shape of the seat makes access to them difficult.

With the Isofix option, the top-tether anchor points are located on the boot floor. This is less convenient than a roof-mounted tether point, as you can’t fit the tether from inside the passenger compartment, and it takes up space in the boot. One advantage is that it doesn’t interfere with rear visibility.

For belt installation, the adult seatbelts are plenty long enough to enable the fitment of the bulkiest rear-facing seats. 

However, the presence of underfloor rear storage compartments in front of the rear seats, means you won’t be able to use a child car seat that has a support leg to resist rotational movement in a front crash.  
Renault Kangoo

Renault Kangoo

Renault’s Kangoo is a utilitarian ‘baker’s van’ MPV that aims to provide versatile family motoring and value for money.

Renault Kangoo summary

  • Number of seats: 5    
  • Number of children: 4
  • Number of pairs of Isofix mounts: 2

Front seat

There’s ample space in the front for a child car seat, but there are no Isofix mounts, so it’s only suitable for a universal child seat secured using the adult seatbelt. Before you fit the seat, it’s essential to disable the airbag, using the switch on the side of the dashboard.

 
Renault Kangoo seat positions

Second row seats

The Kangoo has sliding side doors, which provide superb access, and there is plenty of space in front of the second row of seats, so it is easy to get child seats secured. Isofix mounting brackets are fitted on the two outer seats as standard. 

There are third tether attachment points in the boot, which means that fitting the tether strap has to be done from inside the boot and takes up storage space. This isn’t as convenient as roof-mounted tether points, but on the plus side the straps don’t interfere with rear visibility.

The car is wide enough to fit three group 2/3 seats with integral backs across the second row.

The adult rear seatbelts are reasonably long, so you shouldn’t have trouble fitting bulky rear-facing seats. However, buckle access is quite poor.

The Kangoo has underfloor storage compartments, so it won’t suit seats that use a support leg to resist rotational movement in a front crash.

 Thinking of buying an MPV to carry your family, but need to know more?

 

Definitions

• Universal child seats have universal approval and can normally be used in most cars without major problems.

• No of seats: is the maximum number of seats recommended for use by adults.

• No of children: is the number of seats recommended for use by children.

• No of pairs of Isofix seat mounts: indicates number of Isofix seats that can be fitted.

Diagram colour coding

Red = Seat not suitable for carrying a child

Amber = Seat acceptable for carrying a child

Green = Seat well suited to carrying a child

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