before our reviewers refine their official positions on a vehicle, their hot takes often make for some juicy reading. in the case of the 2018 bmw 340i with a manual transmission, our experts dinged it for a rubbery shifter, numb steering and questionable value due to its nearly $54,000 as-tested price. but they also lauded the luxury sedan's refined drivetrain, first-rate multimedia system and ride quality — with executive editor joe wiesenfelder saying it made bmw's signature "ultimate driving machine" boast seem like less of a stretch.
driving excitement aside, could it make any credible claim of being the ultimate child-safety machine? we put the fun, affluent-family-friendly bimmer to the test in our latest car seat check.
related: more car seat checks
- latch, grade b: the two sets of lower anchors in the outboard seats are somewhat inconveniently recessed nearly 2 inches into the seat under hinged plastic covers with hard plastic surrounds. the three top tether anchors can be easily found on the rear shelf, also under hinged plastic covers. they're well-marked.
- infant, grade b: this was a relatively easy install, with the seat's skinny, hooklike connectors finding their mark with modest ease despite crowding from the hard plastic anchor port and the seat belt buckle; an average-size front passenger should be comfortable enough in terms of legroom.
- rear-facing convertible, grade b: we found this seat's installation a little easier compared to our previous car seat check of the 2017 bmw 330i and it sat surprisingly flat despite aggressive seat bolstering, but it was still solidly in the so-so category due to difficulty angling the hard, chunky connectors in order to make contact with the latch anchor due to the crowding issue. we were able to move the front passenger seat back for slightly more legroom.
- forward-facing convertible, grade b: again, the chunky connectors made for knuckle-scraping work during the installation. the top tether anchor was easy to connect to and the head restraint posed no interference.
- booster, grade b: this seat installed easily with the head restraint raised, but its base bumps up against the deep bolstering and rides just a bit on top of the seat belt buckles, which are on stable but recessed stalks that could be a little difficult for kids to grasp.
solid indicates an a grade for optimum ease of use and fit. so-so indicates b or c grades for one to two ease-of-use or fit issues. skip it indicates d or f grades.
a: plenty of room for the car seat and the child; doesn't impact driver or front-passenger legroom. easy to find and connect to latch and tether anchors. no fit issues involving head restraint or seat contouring. easy access to the third row.
b: one room, fit or connection issue. some problems accessing third row when available.
c: marginal room plus one fit or connection issue. difficult to access third row when available.
d: insufficient room, plus multiple fit or connection issues.
f: does not fit or is unsafe.
about 's car seat checks
editors jennifer geiger, jennifer newman and matt schmitz are certified child safety seat installation technicians.
for the car seat check, we use a graco snugride classic connect 30 infant-safety seat, a britax marathon convertible seat and graco turbobooster seat. the front seats are adjusted for a 6-foot driver and a shorter passenger. the three child seats are installed in the second row. the booster seat sits behind the driver's seat, and the infant and convertible seats are installed behind the front passenger seat.
we also install the forward-facing convertible in the second row's middle seat with the booster and infant seat in the outboard seats to see if three car seats will fit; a child sitting in the booster seat must be able to reach the seat belt buckle. if there's a third row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible. learn more about how we conduct our car seat checks.
parents should also remember that they can use the latch system or a seat belt to install a car seat, and that latch anchors have a weight limit of 65 pounds, including the weight of the child and the weight of the seat itself.
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