i'm prepared for parents with more than one kid to glare with a judging look at the computer screen over the next 400 words it's a look i'm especially familiar with after five months of parenthood. my current kid-hauler is a 2012 subaru impreza hatchback that doesn't recommend installing a child seat in the middle backseat, a position that's reportedly the safest seat in the car.
so when i latched my kid into 's purchased 2018 volkswagen atlas' second row that not only has the middle spot open but is equipped with the coveted middle-seat latch system, well, i felt those first-time parent jitters subside — briefly, anyway, for the length of this trip.
related: best of 2018: volkswagen atlas
the atlas' second row with a middle-seat latch system is uncommon, even among the famliest of family haulers, including 's other long-term test car, the 2017 chrysler pacifica minivan. there are, of course, ways to secure a child seat to the pacifica and other cars' second-row with a seat belt, as that's what's recommended with heavier kids/car-seat combos. but as an anxious first-timer, i don't want to mess with belts and i want the kid in the middle seat. irrational? probably.
our car-seat installation team gave the volkswagen atlas straight a's in its car seat check test, and it's one of the only three-row suvs tested to score 10 out of 10. my chicco keyfit 30 infant seat's latch connector grabs onto the atlas' seat-mounted anchor almost telepathically. there's no digging for the anchor deep inside the seat and finding any number of things besides a metal hook, or holding up a little flap of cloth while locating a deeply hidden anchor. in my usage, i didn't even have to be accurate with the car-seat base connectors' placement — they just slid into place with a solid, reassuring clank.
the latch system, after all, is there to minimize user error during child-seat installation. user error is a good way to summarize the first few months of parenthood, so it was nice to make at least one decision without fear of causing serious long-term emotional scarring. as for the subaru, i recognize that it's overkill to replace a tiny hatchback with a massive three-row volkswagen atlas for just one kid — but you should see all the gear we carry around to grandparent visits. add in the feeling of security and ease of use from the second row — plus all the reasons it was 's best of 2018 — and it's why i'm seriously considering buying ours at the end of testing.
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