3 Across Installations: Ford C-Max, Which Car Seats Fit Well?

The Ford C-Max is one of the many new family-focused hybrids to hit the US market in recent years. Based on the Ford Focus and designed to replace the Ford Escape hybrid, it competes with a range of small cars sold in the US, including the aforementioned Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Kia Soul, Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda 3, Dodge Dart, Toyota Prius, Scion xB, Volkswagen Golf / GTI, and Subaru Crosstrek. In the hybrid segment, its small car competitors are the Prius, the Chevy Volt, and the now defunct Honda Insight. It’s relatively affordable and gets good mileage. But how does it do on car seats?

That’s what I decided to find out. On paper, the C-Max is a good, safe, family car. It seats five (a seven seater exists outside of the US but hasn’t been brought to this market yet), has good frontal and side crash test scores, features ESC and side airbags, and has an acceptable small overlap score. But there are many vehicles out there that look better on paper than they are in practice. I wanted to make sure the C-Max wasn’t one of them when it came to fitting 3 car seats across the back row.

Before we dive into which seats did and didn’t work in the C-Max, though, why not join me for a quick read of what’s important to do and when (and why!) when it comes to car seat ages and stages.

For me, car seat safety starts with rear-facing. It’s the safest position we know of, and the longer our kids rear-face, the safer they’ll be, regardless of what kind of vehicle they travel in. I recommend keeping children in rear-facing infant or convertible seats as long as possible (ideally until 4!), then keeping them harnessed in forward-facing seats for several years more (ideally until 8!), and then only switching them out of booster seats when they pass the 5 step test (which typically happens between 10 and 12). The goal is to keep kids in the safest kinds of seats for as long as possible to increase their odds of surviving serious car crashes.

With that all in mind, I got to work with my seats to create what I believe to be the most detailed 3 across guide for the Ford  C-Max on the Internet. If you find the list helpful when shopping for car seats, you can shop through my Amazon link below. I’ll add more seats as I test them over time.

You can access the complete 3 across guide for every vehicle here and the complete list of recommended seats here. The Canadian car seat guide is here. 3 across car seat images are taken by yours truly or are courtesy of Wikipedia.

cmax - 2012 - publicdomain2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 Ford C-Max (C344)

Guaranteed 3 across installations:

Clek Fllo (x3).

Clek Foonf (x3).

Diono Radian RXT (x3).

Diono Radian R120 (x3).

Diono Radian R100 (x3).

Chicco KeyFit 30 (x3).

Combi Coccoro (x3).

Chicco KeyFit 30, Diono Radian / RXT, Chicco KeyFit 30.

Tips and Tricks:

The first US generation of the C-Max is just over 172 inches long and 72 inches wide. In other words, it’s neither a very long nor very wide car. The width hurts you when it comes to 3 across installations while the length makes it difficult to fit rear-facing seats without robbing precious leg room from front row occupants.

You can get around the leg room issue with my rear-facing convertible leg room comparison guide, and you can get around the width issue by using the seats I listed above. You’ll absolutely want to use the seat belts instead of the LATCH system, as the LATCH anchors are spaced wide apart, which keeps you from making the most of your rather limited back seat room. If you’ve only got one or two seats to install at a time, however, feel free to use the LATCH system.

If you find the information on car safety, recommended car seats, and car seat reviews on this car seat blog helpful, you can shop through this Amazon link for any purchases, car seat-related or not. Canadians can shop through this link for Canadian purchases.

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