The Buick Encore and its GM twin, the Chevrolet Trax, are two of the best selling new entries in the hotly contested US small SUV and crossover market. Known abroad as the Opel Mokka and Vauxhall Mokka, it competes in the US with a range of compact and subcompact crossovers like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, Ford Escape, Jeep Compass, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tuscon, Jeep Renegade, and Jeep Patriot. The Encore / Trax does very well from a safety standpoint on paper, boasting good small overlap, moderate overlap, and side crash scores, as well as a good roof score, side airbags, and ESC. But how does it do as a family vehicle?
For me, a successful family vehicle is one that can fit 3 car seats across the back row. Not every family has children, and not every family has 3 of them, of course, but this is a question that comes up time and time again on the Internet, and I’m on a quest to answer it for every vehicle sold in the United States.
Given the small size of the Encore / Trax, I knew it was going to be a challenge to fit 3 car seats across the back, but with the success I’ve had in a number of other small cars and SUVs, I was more than willing to give it a try. The bad news is that there aren’t too many seats that will fit side to side or front to back. The good news is that there are several that will, and they aren’t all expensive ones. Before we take a look at which seats would and wouldn’t work, it’s worth reviewing some essential elements of car seat safety.
The safest configuration we know of when it comes to vehicle safety is rear-facing. This goes for adults as well! Rear-face your infants, toddlers, and preschoolers for as long as possible (ideally until 4!), before forward-facing them in harnessed convertible or combination seats (ideally until 8!). Once they outgrow their harnessed seats, it’s best to keep them restrained in high-back boosters until they’re physically and psychologically ready to use adult seat belt systems (which typically happens between 10 and 12). We want our little ones in the safest positions we know of for as long as possible to give them the greatest advantages in a collision.
With these guiding principles, I made it my job to figure out which car seats were most likely to work in the Encore I had available. All of the information below applies equally to the Encore and the Trax, which are more or less identical in their back seat configurations. It’s my goal to make this list the most thorough 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 courtesy of Wikipedia.
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 Buick Encore / Chevrolet Trax
Guaranteed 3 across installations:
Clek Fllo (x3).
Clek Foonf (x3).
Diono Radian R120 (x3).
Diono Radian R100 (x3).
Diono Radian RXT (x3).
Chicco KeyFit 30 (x3).
Combi Coccoro (x3).
Tips and Tricks:
The current and only generation of the Buick Encore / Chevy Trax is just under 169 inches long and just under 70 inches wide. To put it simply, it’s a very compact crossover. This means that not only will you struggle with side to side installations; you will also find it a challenge to get front-to-back space.
Using your seat belts instead of the LATCH system will be essential to make the side to side issue work with the seats I’ve listed above, while consulting my list of convertibles that leave you leg room will help with the second issue of front-to-back space.
For example, if you’d like to use one of the Radians, you’ll definitely want to consider the angle adjuster, or you’re not going to have much front-passenger space, and it’ll be a less than enjoyable experience for tall drivers or passengers.
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.