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IIHS News | September 1, 2016Subscribe

Ratings for child seat installation hardware improve after 1 year

ARLINGTON, Va. — Buckling precious cargo into a late-model vehicle has gotten a bit easier in the past year, the Institute's LATCH ease-of-use ratings show.

IIHS launched its ratings of child seat installation hardware in vehicles in June 2015. Out of 102 vehicles rated at that time, the majority were poor or marginal. Today, a total of 170 current models have been evaluated, and most are good or acceptable. Three models — the Audi Q7, the Lexus RX and the Toyota Prius — earn the top rating of good+, a distinction that no vehicle achieved last year.

A properly installed, age-appropriate child restraint can protect a child much better in a crash than a safety belt alone. LATCH, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, is intended to make it easier for caregivers to install child restraints properly. Child restraints installed with LATCH are more likely to be put in correctly than restraints installed using the vehicle safety belt, IIHS research has shown.

Even with LATCH, installation errors are common. The Institute's ratings are based on key ease-of-use criteria that have been shown to minimize mistakes.

"Frustrating child seat installations have become a familiar rite of parenthood," says Jessica Jermakian, an IIHS senior research engineer. "Unfortunately, these frustrations lead to mistakes that can have real consequences in the event of a crash. We're pleased to see automakers taking this issue seriously and making improvements in response to our ratings."

In the IIHS ratings system, LATCH hardware is considered good if it meets the following criteria:

  • The lower anchors are no more than ¾ inch deep within the seat bight or slightly deeper if there is open access around them.
  • The lower anchors are easy to maneuver around. This is defined as having a clearance angle greater than 54 degrees.
  • The force required to attach a standardized tool representing a child seat connector to the lower anchors is less than 40 pounds.
  • Tether anchors are on the vehicle's rear deck or on the top 85 percent of the seatback. They shouldn't be at the very bottom of the seatback, under the seat, on the ceiling or on the floor.
  • The area where the tether anchor is found doesn't have any other hardware that could be confused for the tether anchor. If other hardware is present, then the tether anchor must have a clear label located within 3 inches of it.

To earn a good rating, two LATCH positions in the second row must meet all five criteria, and a third tether anchor must meet both tether criteria.

The good+ rating is for vehicles that meet the criteria for a good rating and provide additional LATCH-equipped seating positions. For a two-row vehicle, that means having a third good or acceptable LATCH seating position. The third position may use either dedicated anchors or anchors borrowed from other positions. In many vehicles that have lower anchors in the second-row outboard seating positions, LATCH can be used in the center position by "borrowing" one anchor from each side. Some vehicles have one dedicated anchor for the center seat and rely on a borrowed anchor for the other side.

For a three-row vehicle to earn a good+ rating, it must have one additional good or acceptable LATCH position (without borrowing) and tether anchors in all rear seating positions. The additional tether anchors must meet at least one of the two tether anchor criteria. If the vehicle has a second-row center seating position, it must have good or acceptable LATCH there (with or without borrowing).

The good+ designation is intended to encourage manufacturers to give parents greater flexibility when seating children in a vehicle. 

"We're especially interested in making it possible for more parents to use LATCH in the second-row center position," Jermakian says. "Parents are repeatedly told that is the safest place for children to ride, so we want them to have the option of an easy installation there."

The second-row center is safest because it's far from the hard surfaces of the vehicle interior and from the striking vehicle in a side crash. However, a properly restrained child is very safe in any rear seating position.

Current LATCH ratings

2016 models unless otherwise noted
Listed rating is the highest available for the most popular seat covering within the vehicle class.

2017 Audi Q7 Lexus RX Toyota Prius
2017 Audi A4 BMW 5 series Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
Audi A6 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
BMW 2 series Mercedes-Benz E-Class Volkswagen Passat
Acura ILX Ford Flex Lexus GX 460
Acura MDX Ford Focus hatchback Lincoln MKX
Acura RDX Ford Focus sedan
Lincoln MKZ
Audi A3 Ford Taurus Mazda 3 hatchback
Audi Q3 GMC Terrain Mazda 3 sedan
BMW X1 GMC Yukon XL Mazda CX-3
Buick Enclave Honda Accord sedan
Mazda CX-5
Buick Encore Honda Civic sedan Mazda CX-9
2017 Cadillac XT5 Honda Civic coupe Mini Cooper Countryman
Chevrolet Cruze Limited Honda Odyssey Mitsubishi Outlander
Chevrolet Equinox Honda Pilot Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
Chevrolet Impala 2017 Hyundai Elantra Nissan Juke
Chevrolet Malibu Limited 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Nissan Maxima
Chevrolet Spark 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Nissan Murano
Chevrolet Tahoe Hyundai Tucson Nissan Pathfinder
Chevrolet Traverse Hyundai Veloster Nissan Versa
Chevrolet Trax Jeep Cherokee Toyota Avalon
Chrysler 300 Jeep Compass Toyota Camry
Chrysler Town & Country Jeep Patriot Toyota Corolla
Dodge Challenger Kia Forte Toyota Sienna
built after 3/16
Dodge Dart Kia Optima Volkswagen Golf
Dodge Durango Kia Sedona Volkswagen Tiguan
Dodge Grand Caravan 2017 Kia Sorento Volvo S60
Ford Edge Kia Soul Volvo V60
Ford Expedition 2017 Kia Sportage Volvo XC90
Ford Explorer Lexus ES 350
built after 8/15
Acura TLX 2017 Ford Fusion Nissan Quest
Audi Q5 Ford Mustang Nissan Rogue
BMW 3 series GMC Acadia Nissan Sentra
BMW X3 Honda Accord coupe
Ram 1500 crew cab
BMW X5 Honda CR-V Ram 1500 extended cab
Buick Envision Honda HR-V Scion FR-S
Buick LaCrosse Hyundai Accent sedan
Scion iA
Cadillac CTS Hyundai Genesis Subaru Crosstrek
Cadillac Escalade ESV Hyundai Sonata Subaru Forester
Cadillac SRX Infiniti QX60 Subaru Impreza
Chevrolet Camaro Jeep Grand Cherokee Subaru Legacy
Chevrolet Malibu Jeep Renegade Subaru Outback
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ext. cab Jeep Wrangler 2-door Subaru WRX
Chevrolet Sonic Jeep Wrangler 4-door Toyota 4Runner
Chevrolet Suburban Kia Rio Toyota Highlander
2017 Chevrolet Volt Lexus CT 200h Toyota Prius c
Chrysler 200 Lexus IS Toyota Prius v
built after 1/16
2017 Chrysler Pacifica
built after 8/2016
Lexus NX Toyota RAV4
Dodge Charger Lexus RC Toyota Tundra crew cab
built after 4/2016
Dodge Journey Lincoln Navigator Toyota Tundra extended cab
built after 2/2016
Fiat 500X Mazda 6 Volkswagen CC
Ford C-Max Hybrid Mini Cooper Volkswagen Jetta
2017 Ford Escape Nissan Altima Volvo XC60
Ford F-150 crew cab Nissan Frontier crew cab  
Ford F-150 extended cab Nissan Leaf  
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab Infiniti QX50
Ford Fiesta hatchback Hyundai Accent hatchback
Subaru BRZ
Ford Fiesta sedan Infiniti Q70

Current LATCH ratings

2016 models unless otherwise noted
Listed rating is the highest available for the most popular seat covering within the vehicle class.


  • 2017 Audi Q7
  • Lexus RX
  • Toyota Prius


  • 2017 Audi A4
  • Audi A6
  • BMW 2 series
  • BMW 5 series
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
  • Volkswagen Passat


  • Acura ILX
  • Acura MDX
  • Acura RDX
  • Audi A3
  • Audi Q3
  • BMW X1
  • Buick Enclave
  • Buick Encore
  • 2017 Cadillac XT5
  • Chevrolet Cruze Limited
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Chevrolet Malibu Limited
  • Chevrolet Spark
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Chevrolet Traverse
  • Chevrolet Trax
  • Chrysler 300
  • Chrysler Town & Country
  • Dodge Challenger
  • Dodge Dart
  • Dodge Durango
  • Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Ford Edge
  • Ford Expedition
  • Ford Explorer
  • Ford Flex
  • Ford Focus hatchback
  • Ford Focus sedan
  • Ford Taurus
  • GMC Terrain
  • GMC Yukon XL
  • Honda Accord sedan
  • Honda Civic sedan
  • Honda Civic coupe
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Honda Pilot
  • 2017 Hyundai Elantra
  • 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Hyundai Veloster
  • Jeep Cherokee
  • Jeep Compass
  • Jeep Patriot
  • Kia Forte
  • Kia Optima
  • Kia Sedona
  • 2017 Kia Sorento
  • Kia Soul
  • 2017 Kia Sportage
  • Lexus ES 350
    built after 8/15
  • Lexus GX 460
  • Lincoln MKX
  • Lincoln MKZ
  • Mazda 3 hatchback
  • Mazda 3 sedan
  • Mazda CX-3
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mazda CX-9
  • Mini Cooper Countryman
  • Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
  • Nissan Juke
  • Nissan Maxima
  • Nissan Murano
  • Nissan Pathfinder
  • Nissan Versa
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Toyota Camry
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Toyota Sienna
    built after 3/16
  • Volkswagen Golf
  • Volkswagen Tiguan
  • Volvo S60
  • Volvo V60
  • Volvo XC90


  • Acura TLX
  • Audi Q5
  • BMW 3 series
  • BMW X3
  • BMW X5
  • Buick Envision
  • Buick LaCrosse
  • Cadillac CTS
  • Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • Cadillac SRX
  • Chevrolet Camaro
  • Chevrolet Malibu
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ext. cab
  • Chevrolet Sonic
  • Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2017 Chevrolet Volt
  • Chrysler 200
  • 2017 Chrysler Pacifica
    built after 8/2016
  • Dodge Charger
  • Dodge Journey
  • Fiat 500X
  • Ford C-Max Hybrid
  • 2017 Ford Escape
  • Ford F-150 crew cab
  • Ford F-150 extended cab
  • 2017 Ford Fusion
  • Ford Mustang
  • GMC Acadia
  • Honda Accord coupe
  • Honda CR-V
  • Honda HR-V
  • Hyundai Accent sedan
  • Hyundai Genesis
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Infiniti QX60
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Jeep Renegade
  • Jeep Wrangler 2-door
  • Jeep Wrangler 4-door
  • Kia Rio
  • Lexus CT 200h
  • Lexus IS
  • Lexus NX
  • Lexus RC
  • Lincoln Navigator
  • Mazda 6
  • Mini Cooper
  • Nissan Altima
  • Nissan Frontier crew cab
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Nissan Quest
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Nissan Sentra
  • Ram 1500 crew cab
  • Ram 1500 extended cab
  • Scion FR-S
  • Scion iA
  • Subaru Crosstrek
  • Subaru Forester
  • Subaru Impreza
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Subaru Outback
  • Subaru WRX
  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Toyota Prius c
  • Toyota Prius v
    built after 1/16
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Toyota Tundra crew cab
    built after 4/16
  • Toyota Tundra extended cab
    built after 2/16
  • Volkswagen CC
  • Volkswagen Jetta
  • Volvo XC60


  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab
  • Ford Fiesta hatchback
  • Ford Fiesta sedan
  • GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab
  • Hyundai Accent hatchback
  • Infiniti Q70
  • Infiniti QX50
  • Subaru BRZ

©1996-2016, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org