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Manufacturers Make Improvements on LATCH Ease of Use

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June 7, 2019—Nearly three-quarters of 2019 vehicles have LATCH hardware that rates good or acceptable for ease of use, according to IIHS.

The results mark a shift from 2015, when IIHS launched its LATCH ease-of-use ratings. At that time, a majority of new vehicles rated poor or marginal.

A properly installed, age-appropriate child restraint can protect a child much better in a crash than a seat belt alone. LATCH, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, is intended to make child restraint installation easier. Child restraints installed with LATCH are more likely to be put in correctly than restraints installed using the vehicle seat belt

Today, 21 vehicles earn the top rating of good+, 33 are rated good, and 88 rate acceptable. Forty-nine vehicles are marginal, and only four earn a poor rating. Among automakers, Toyota and Subaru are standouts for LATCH ease of use, while U.S. automakers lag behind. Installation in pickups remains tricky, compared with other types of vehicles.

In the IIHS ratings system, LATCH hardware is considered good if it meets the following criteria:

  • The lower anchors are no more than 3/4 inch deep within the seat bight — the place where the seatback meets the bottom seat cushion — or slightly deeper if there is open access around them.
  • The lower anchors are easy to maneuver around. This is defined as having a clearance angle greater than 54 degrees.
  • The force required to attach a standardized tool representing a child seat connector to the lower anchors is less than 40 pounds.
  • Tether anchors are on the vehicle's rear deck or in the middle of the seatback. They shouldn't be at the very bottom of the seatback, under the seat, on the ceiling or on the floor.
  • The area where the tether anchor is found doesn't have any other hardware that could be confused for the tether anchor. If other hardware is present, then the tether anchor must have a clear label located within 3 inches of it.

To earn a good rating, two LATCH positions in the second row must meet all five criteria, and a third tether anchor must meet both tether criteria.

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