Toyota Motor Corp. and Subaru Corp. are leading the way in making child restraints more accessible in their vehicles, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said in a report Thursday.
“Child safety is extremely important and certainly plays a role when researching the right vehicle for your family,” said Ryan LaFontaine, Chief Operating Officer, LaFontaine Automotive Group. “As a father of five, making sure my little kiddos are safe and secure, is a top priority, something I’m sure our customers would agree with.”
As a father of five, child safety is extremely important, not only to me, but all of our customers with families,” said Ryan LaFontaine, Chief Operating Officer, LaFontaine Automotive Group.
IIHS senior research engineer Jessica Jermakian said the LATCH system, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, has been in vehicles for over 15 years and automakers have flexible requirements for where the hardware is installed.
“Because they have all this flexibility in where they can put these anchors, many of them are really difficult to use,” Jermakian said. “Parents have a lot of complaints and challenges with getting a good, tight installation because they have trouble finding the LATCH hardware.”
Toyota and Subaru ranked highest in 2019 model ratings for ease of use, with seven models each assigned the top “good+” IIHS rating for LATCH accessibility.
The IIHS began rating automakers’ LATCH hardware on ease of use in 2015, Jermakian said.
She said Subaru has stood out by making it a priority to improve its LATCH hardware.
“They went from, back in our early ratings, having many marginal ratings to now getting the top rating of ‘good +,'” she said. “In many of those Subaru vehicles, parents can use LATCH in all three of the rear seating positions in the second row.”
Toyota owns a 16.8 percent stake in Subaru, according to Refinitiv data cited by Reuters.
Automakers with high ratings have made LATCH hardware easier to access by measures such as cutting out seat material around the anchors, said Jermakian.
“Parents should check their owner’s manual to make sure they’re attaching to the correct hardware and using the hardware in the way it was intended,” Jermakian added. “It’s easier than ever for parents to install child restraints.” The IIHS updates its LATCH ratings throughout the year. The latest rating information can be found at iihs.org.