Vehicle manufacturers make strides on LATCH ease of use

June 6, 2019

Nearly three-quarters of 2019 vehicles have LATCH hardware that rates good or acceptable for ease of use, as automakers continue making improvements that help parents and caregivers properly install child restraints.

The results mark a shift from 2015, when IIHS launched its LATCH ease-of-use ratings. At that time, a majority of new vehicles rated poor or marginal.

Today, 23 vehicles earn the top rating of good+, 31 are rated good, and 87 rate acceptable. Forty-nine vehicles are marginal, and only four earn a poor rating. Among automakers, Toyota and Subaru are standouts for LATCH ease of use, while U.S. automakers lag behind. Installation in pickups remains tricky, compared with other types of vehicles.

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

But even with LATCH, installation isn't always simple, and errors are common. The Institute's ratings are based on ease-of-use criteria that have been shown to minimize mistakes.

"With child restraints, a good, tight installation is critical but can be difficult to achieve," says Jessica Jermakian, an IIHS senior research engineer. "Thanks to these recent improvements in vehicle LATCH hardware, we expect more children will be riding in correctly installed seats."

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 — the place where the seatback meets the bottom seat cushion — 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 in the middle 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).

Of all the manufacturers, Subaru and Toyota are tied for the most good+ ratings. Seven of Subaru's eight vehicles earn the designation. Of the 25 rated vehicles from Toyota and its luxury Lexus brand, seven earn a good+ rating and another seven earn a good rating. Neither Ford nor General Motors have a single model with a good or good+ rating. In Fiat Chrysler's lineup, one vehicle — the Jeep Cherokee — has a good+ designation.

No pickups earn a rating higher than acceptable, and 14 out of 20 are rated marginal. The main problem is the tether anchors. Because the rear seat of a pickup is right up against the back wall of the cab, there aren't many options for where to locate them. In most pickups, the tether must be routed through a loop near the head restraint and then attached to another loop or anchor, typically in an adjacent seating position.

"When we've done studies observing people installing child restraints, we've seen that the tether anchors in pickups are a real point of confusion," Jermakian says. "We're continuing to work with manufacturers to come up with solutions to this issue."

LATCH clip

Pickups like this one (shown with head restraints removed) typically require child seat tethers to be fed through a loop at the top of the vehicle seat (above) and then attached to a loop or anchor above an adjacent seating position. This complexity makes it hard for pickups to earn good LATCH ratings.

LATCH

2019 LATCH ratings

Listed rating is the highest available for the most popular seat covering within the vehicle class.


G ood+

Vehicle meets good rating criteria and has additional LATCH-equipped seating positions.

  • Acura RDX
  • Audi Q7
  • Honda Accord
  • Honda Insight
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Jeep Cherokee
  • Lexus RX
  • Lexus UX
  • Mazda 3 hatchback
  • Mazda 3 sedan
  • Mazda 6
  • Subaru Ascent
  • Subaru Crosstrek
  • Subaru Forester
  • Subaru Impreza sedan
  • Subaru Impreza wagon
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Subaru Outback
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Toyota Camry
  • Toyota Corolla hatchback
  • Toyota Prius
  • Toyota RAV4

G ood

  • Audi A4
  • Audi A4 Allroad
  • Audi A5 Coupe
  • Audi A5 Sportback
  • Audi A6
  • Audi e-tron
  • Audi Q5
  • Audi Q8
  • BMW 2 series
  • BMW 3 series
  • BMW X5
  • Hyundai Nexo
  • Lexus ES
  • Lexus IS
  • Lexus NX
  • Lexus RC
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
  • Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
  • Mitsubishi Mirage
  • Nissan Altima
  • Nissan Kicks
  • Nissan Maxima
  • Nissan Rogue
  • Nissan Sentra
  • Toyota C-HR
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Toyota Prius Prime
  • Volkswagen GTI
  • Volkswagen Passat

A cceptable

  • Acura ILX
  • Acura MDX
  • Acura RLX
  • Audi A3
  • BMW 5 series
  • BMW i3
  • BMW X1
  • BMW X2
  • Buick Encore
  • Cadillac XT5
  • Cadillac XTS
  • Chevrolet Colorado extended cab
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Chevrolet Spark
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Chevrolet Trax
  • Chrysler 300
  • Dodge Challenger
  • Dodge Durango
  • Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Ford Edge
  • Ford Explorer
  • Ford Flex
  • Ford Taurus
  • Genesis G90
  • GMC Acadia
  • GMC Yukon XL
  • Honda Civic coupe
  • Honda Civic hatchback
  • Honda Civic sedan
  • Honda CR-V
  • Honda Fit
  • Honda HR-V
  • Honda Passport
  • Honda Pilot
  • Honda Ridgeline crew cab
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Hyundai Elantra GT
  • Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
  • Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid
  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Hyundai Santa Fe XL
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Hyundai Veloster
  • Kia Forte
  • Kia Niro
  • Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid
  • Kia Optima
  • Kia Rio sedan
  • Kia Sedona
  • Kia Sorento
  • Kia Soul
  • Kia Sportage
  • Lexus GX 460
  • Lincoln Continental
  • Lincoln MKZ
  • Lincoln Nautilus
  • Mazda CX-3
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mazda CX-9
  • Mercedes-Benz GLC
  • Mini Countryman
  • Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
  • Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
  • Nissan Frontier extended cab
  • Nissan Pathfinder
  • Nissan Titan crew cab
  • Nissan Versa
  • Ram 1500 extended cab
  • Subaru WRX
  • Toyota Corolla sedan
  • Toyota Prius c
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Toyota Tundra crew cab
  • Volkswagen Golf
  • Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
  • Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
  • Volkswagen Jetta
  • Volkswagen Tiguan
  • Volvo S60
  • Volvo S90
  • Volvo XC40
  • Volvo XC60
  • Volvo XC90

M arginal

  • Acura TLX
  • Alfa Romeo Giulia
  • BMW X3
  • Buick Envision
  • Buick LaCrosse
  • Cadillac CTS
  • Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • Chevrolet Bolt
  • Chevrolet Camaro
  • Chevrolet Colorado crew cab
  • Chevrolet Cruze
  • Chevrolet Malibu
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 extended cab
  • Chevrolet Sonic
  • Chevrolet Suburban
  • Chevrolet Volt
  • Chrysler Pacifica
  • Dodge Charger
  • Dodge Journey
  • Ford Escape
  • Ford F-150 crew cab
  • Ford F-150 extended cab
  • Ford Fusion
  • Ford Mustang
  • Ford Ranger crew cab
  • Genesis G70
  • Genesis G80
  • GMC Canyon crew cab
  • GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab
  • GMC Sierra 1500 extended cab
  • Hyundai Kona
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Kia Cadenza
  • Kia Stinger
  • Lincoln MKC
  • Lincoln MKT
  • Mini Cooper 2-door
  • Nissan Frontier crew cab
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Nissan Leaf Plus
  • Ram 1500 crew cab
  • Toyota 86
  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Toyota Tacoma crew cab
  • Toyota Tacoma extended cab
  • Toyota Tundra extended cab
  • Toyota Yaris sedan
  • Volkswagen Atlas

P oor

  • Ford Fiesta hatchback
  • Ford Fiesta sedan
  • Infiniti Q70
  • Jeep Compass

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