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

Seven-seat MPVs

Large MPVs are the most popular choice for families, so we've selected several of these. 

We found a few surprises here, including a top-selling model in which you can't carry a newborn baby in the front seat because it's not possible to disable the airbag, and another that does not have top-tether points for use with Isofix seats. 

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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Chevrolet Orlando

Chevrolet Orlando

The Orlando is Chevrolet’s first MPV for some time, so we were keen to find out how well-suited it was to carrying families.

Chevrolet Orlando summary

  • Number of seats: 7    
  • Number of children: 6*
  • Number of pairs of Isofix mounts: 2

*with restrictions

Front seat

Chevrolet prohibits the transportation of older children (Groups 2 and 3 - from around four years upwards) in the front passenger seat, but the seat can be used for group 0+ and Group 1 seats (infant carriers and toddler seats), as long as the airbag is disabled. This is easy to do using a key-operated switch, supplied as standard.

 

Chevrolet Orlando

Second and third row seats

There is a limited amount of forward-facing space available in the second row. The third tether points are quite well positioned on the backrests, and just about accessible from the cabin, as long as the rear shelf has been removed. The seatbelts on the outer seats in the second row are rather short, so you may have some difficulty installing larger rearward-facing seats here.

There is enough space for three child seats in the second row, but only if you use booster seats without backrests, which don't provide as much side impact protection as a full back seat. 

Two extra seats in the third row come as standard for this vehicle, but Chevrolet says owners are not permitted to use infant carriers (Group 0 or 0+) in these seats.

Citroën Berlingo Multispace

Citroën Berlingo Multispace

The Berlingo is Citroën's van-based, budget MPV. We test how well its utilitarian interior suits carrying family members.

Citroën Berlingo Multispace

  • Number of seats: 7*    
  • Number of children: 6*
  • Number of pairs of Isofix mounts: 3

*Only with third row seats, which are a paid-for optional extra

Front seat

The front passenger seat is suitable for carrying children using child car seats secured with the seatbelt, but this seat has no Isofix mounts. Disabling the airbag is straightforward, using the key operated switch, which is fitted as standard.

 

Citroen Berlingo

Second and third row seats

The vehicle has sliding rear doors, which make access to the second-row seats very easy. There is plenty of space in front of the second row, which also helps with installation. 

Third tether points are positioned towards the base of the seat backrests, so attaching the straps is only possible if you get out of the car and go round the back. The Isofix anchor points are easily accessible, but if you're using the adult seatbelts, those on the outer two seats in the second row are very short, so it may not be possible to fit a bulky rear-facing seat. 

There is enough space for three child seats in the second row, but buckle access is poor, and underfloor rear storage means you shouldn't use a seat with a support leg in this position. The third row seats are an optional extra, which needs to be ordered when the car is ordered new. Space is limited and access is quite difficult.

Ford Grand C-Max

Ford Grand C-Max

When Ford launched the original C-Max, it was hard to see much difference from a slightly-expanded Focus estate, but the latest Grand C-Max shows a real difference, with an optional third row of seats and more space all round.

Ford Grand C-Max summary

  • Number of seats: 7*    
  • Number of children: 6*
  • Number of pairs of Isofix seat mounts: 3

*Only with third row seats and airbag disabling switch, which are paid for options

Front seat 

It is possible to transport children on the passenger seat with universal child seats, secured with the seatbelt. However, this relies on you having a deactivation switch for the passenger airbag fitted by the dealer beforehand, at extra cost.

 

Ford Grand C-MAX

Second and third row seats

The vehicle has sliding rear doors, making access easy, and there is plenty of forward-facing space in the second row to aid installation. Third tether points are down at the base of the seat backrests, so that attaching the straps is only possible from the back of the car. The seatbelts on the outer seats in the second row are rather short, so you may have trouble fitting rearward facing seats in these positions. 

There is enough space for three child seats in the second row, but only by using booster seats without backrests, which don't offer as good side impact protection as full back seats.

Underfloor rear storage means you shouldn't use a seat with a support leg in this position. If in doubt, please consult your dealer and follow their recommendations for both the seat and the vehicle.

The third row seats are an optional extra, which needs to be ordered when the car is new. Space is fairly limited and access is quite difficult.

Mazda 5

Mazda 5

The Mazda 5 has unusual styling for an MPV, but we test it out here for practicality when carrying a family.

Mazda 5 summary

  • Number of seats: 7    
  • Number of children: 6*
  • Number of pairs of Isofix mounts: 2

*Front passenger airbag cannot be disabled, hence restricted use for carrying children

Front seat

Mazda prohibits using this seat for rearward-facing seats because there is no switch to disable the airbag. If you do decide to use it for older children in forward facing seats, we recommend you position the seat as far away from the airbag as possible.

 

Mazda 5

Second and third row seats

The Mazda 5 has sliding rear doors giving very good access to the second row,and there is a great deal of space in front of the second row for installation. The third tether points are down below on the backrests, so can only be accessed from the back of the car.

There is enough space for three child seats in the second row but only by using booster seats without backrests, which won't provide the same levels of side impact protection as would be offered by a full back seat. 

The third row seats are an optional extra, which needs to be ordered when the car is new. Space is fairly limited and access is quite difficult. 

 

Peugeot 807

Peugeot 807

The Peugeot 807 is truly a full-sized MPV and this shows in the ratings achieved in this test. It is capable of carrying six children.

Peugeot 807 summary

  • Number of seats: 7    
  • Number of children: 6 
  • 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 and. Before you fit a seat here, it’s essential to disable the airbag using the vehicle key. 

 

Peugeot 807 seat positions

Second and third row seats

The second row of seats is wide enough to fit three full sized booster seats with backs. 

There’s also plenty of space in front of these seats, plus a large sliding door, which gives easy access for children and seats. Isofix mounting points are fitted to the two outer seats and are easily accessible, but there are no top-tether points, so you can only mount the seat on two points unless you opt for seats with a support leg to resist rotational movement in a crash.

The adult seatbelts are long enough to accommodate bulkiest of rearward-facing seats. 

There are two additional seats in the third row, which can be used to fit universal front- or rearward-facing seats using the adult seatbelts. However, access to these is restricted.

 

Peugeot 5008

Peugeot 5008

The 5008 is Peugeot’s latest compact MPV and it can carry six children.

Peugeot 5008 summary

  • Number of seats: 7    
  • Number of children: 6
  • Number of pairs of Isofix mounts: 3

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. The airbag can be disabled using the vehicle key. 

 

Peugeot 5008 seat positions

Second and third row seats

In the second row, the cabin is wide enough to carry three full-sized booster seats with backs. There’s plenty of space in front of this seat row too, allowing easy access for seats and children.

Isofix mounting points are fitted to all three second-row seats. The mounts are easily accessible, as are the top-tether points, which are located on the top of each backrest. However, underfloor rear storage means seats it's not advisable to use a seat with a support leg, and buckle access is poor.

For belt installation, the adult seatbelts are of reasonable length, but it's worth checking carefully that they'll be long enough, especially for a bulky rearward-facing seat.

There are two extra, fold-down seats in the boot that can be used for universal front- or rearward-facing seats, secured using the adult seatbelts. However, gaining access to buckle the child into the seat is difficult.  

Renault Grand Scénic

Renault Grand Scénic

When we road-tested Renault's stalwart Grand Scénic, we found high levels of safety, lots of comfort and great practicality.Here we assess how well it accommodates six children.

Renault Grand Scénic summary

  • Number of seats: 7    
  • Number of children: 6
  • Number of pairs of Isofix mounts: 3

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. It's easy to disable the airbag using the switch on the dash.

 

Renault Grand Scenic seat positions

Second and third row seats

Isofix mountings are fitted on all three second-row seats as standard and there are third tether attachment points in the boot. This means you have to fit the tether strap from the boot, which isn’t very convenient and it takes up boot space. On the plus side, it doesn’t interfere with rear visibility.

The Grand Scénic has underfloor storage compartments, so you won’t be able to use seats that rely on a support leg to resist rotational movement in a front crash.

The second row adult seatbelts are long enough to fit even the bulkiest of rearward-facing seats, but buckle access is poor.

There are two additional fold-down seats in the boot that can be used with universal front- or rearward-facing seats, secured using the adult seatbelts. However, access to these seats isn't easy. 

 

Toyota Verso

Toyota Verso

The Toyota Verso competes head-to-head with Renault’s Grand Scénic and the Vauxhall Zafira. We see what happens if you fill it with its full quota of children.

Toyota Verso summary

  • Number of seats: 7    
  • Number of children: 6
  • 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. It's possible to disable the airbag using the vehicle key.

 
Toyota Verso

Second and third row seats

The second row of seats is wide enough to take three full-sized booster seats with backs. And there’s plenty of space in front of this seat row too, allowing easy access seats and children.

Isofix mounting points are fitted on the two outer seats as standard, but the seat design makes them difficult to access.

Third tether attachment points are at the base of the backrests, so you’ll need to fit the straps from inside the boot. This isn’t as convenient as roof-mounted tether points, but the straps don’t interfere with rear visibility.

The Verso has underfloor storage compartments, so it you cannot use seats that use a support leg to resist rotational movement in a front crash.

For belt installation, the adult seatbelts are of reasonable length, but it's worth checking carefully that they'll be long enough, especially for a bulky, rearward-facing seat. Also, buckle access is quite poor.

There are two additional seats that fold down in the boot. These can be used to install universal front- or rear-facing seats, secured using the adult seatbelt. However, it's not easy to get to the buckles of these seats to secure the seat and child in place. 

Vauxhall Zafira

Vauxhall Zafira

The Vauxhall Zafira has been hugely successful since its original 1999 launch, thanks to its adaptable seven-seat layout. But is it as child-friendly as it claims? For this study, we assessed the car in 2010, though a new model was launched in early 2012, which has different features.

Vauxhall Zafira summary

  • Number of seats: 7     
  • Number of children: 4*
  • Number of pairs of Isofix seat mounts: 2

*Fits 5 children if using backless boosters (not recommended)

Front seat

You can’t disable the front passenger airbag on the Zafira, which is disappointing as it means you can’t install a rearward-facing child seat there at all. And there are no Isofix mounts on this seat, so the only seat you could install is a belt-secured, forward-facing seat for an older child. However, we wouldn’t generally recommend carrying any child in front of an active airbag because they are optimised to protect adults. If you have to use a forward-facing child car seat in front of an active airbag, always move the adult seat to its rear-most position.

 

Vauxhall Zafira seat positions

Second and third row seats

There’s plenty of space in front of the middle row, giving good access to the Isofix mounts, which come as standard on the outer two seats. The top-tether anchor points are located at the base of the backrest in the boot, which means they can only be fitted from the boot – not as easy as roof-mounted tether points. The one advantage of this is that they won’t interfere with rear visibility. 

The second row seatbelts are reasonably long and should be able to secure most seats, including rearward-facing ones.

There are two additional seats that unfold from the boot, and can be used with universal front- or rearward-facing seats secured with the adult seatbelts. However, it's not easy to buckle children into these seats.

 

VW Touran

Volkswagen Touran

The VW Touran rivals the Renault Grand Scénic and Vauxhall Zafira, although it is pricier new. We see how well it copes with six children.

VW Touran summary

  • Number of seats: 7    
  • Number of children: 6
  • Number of pairs of Isofix seat 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 seat belt. The airbag can be disabled using the vehicle key.

The cabin is easily wide enough to carry three full-sized booster seats with backs. And there’s plenty of forward space too, allowing easy access when placing the seats in the car and the children in the seats.

VW Touran seat positions

Second and third row seats

Isofix mounting points are fitted on the two outer seats as standard and are easily accessible once you remove the seat cushion. The third-tether attachment points are located at the base of the backrests, so you’ll need to access these from the boot, which isn’t as convenient as a roof-mounted tether point. On the plus side, the straps don’t interfere with rear visibility.

The Touran has underfloor storage compartments, so it’s not suitable for seats that rely on a support leg to resist rotational movement in a front crash.

The adult seatbelts are long, so you shouldn’t have trouble fitting even the bulkiest of rearward-facing seats. Access to the buckles is awkward, though, because of the seat base design.

There are two additional seats that fold down into the boot, which you can install universal front- or rearward-facing seats in, securing them using the adult seatbelt. However, gaining access to buckle the child into the seat is difficult.

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

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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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