Consumer Reports’ Rear-Seat Safety Features Score Explained

For years now, Consumer Reports has been an industry-leading company in the world of consumer research, product reviews, and investigative journalism, especially when it comes to the automotive marketplace. The company uses a vast array of categories that contribute to a vehicle’s overall score, and recently a new category for scoring car safety features was added; a rear-seat safety score.

With consumers from all over the country using Consumer Reports every day to educate themselves on a new car purchase, it is crucial to understand what this new score means, and if it is a score that you should consider when searching for a dealer lots for your next car. Here is everything you need to know about Consumer Reports’ new rear-seat safety score.

A rear-facing infant seat in a car.
Rear-Facing Infant Seat | Wiki Commons

The new score expands on crash test results

According to Consumer Reports, throughout the history of the automotive industry, crash test scores have not been the greatest when it came to explaining how safe a car is in a crash situation, other than an arbitrary ranking and score. Both the IIHS and the NHTSA safety scores are good for showing off overall safety on a car’s window sticker to lure in customers, but what do those scores and stars mean, exactly?

This is what Consumer Reports’ rear-seat safety scores aim to expand upon so consumers can be as informed and knowledgeable about their vehicle’s safety as possible. This new rear seat safety score takes both adult passengers and children in child seats into consideration when a score is reported, as well as taking safety-related technology into account if it is present in a car.

What factors contribute to a rear-seat safety score?

Consumer Reports aims to test the factors often overlooked by automotive interior designers, including:

Car-seat fit. This is where different types of car seats are installed to ensure that these cars can be equipped with proper car seats for children.

Rear occupant alert. This is where a car will alert a driver if a child is in the backseat since, unfortunately, dozens of children are left in hot cars every year.

Rear-seat minders. This is where a vehicle will remind rear-seat passengers as well as the front-seat passengers to buckle up.

Advanced rear restraints. These are systems that include seatbelts with automatic tensioners for rear-seat passengers, as well as airbags that support rear-seat passengers.

Rear head restraints. These keep rear-seat passengers’ heads from being subject to whiplash after an impact.

Room for improvement from automakers when it comes to rear-seat car safety features

This new category that is being implemented by Consumer Reports shows us as consumers just how much further we can improve the safety of our rear-seat occupants in our cars. In fact, there are currently no top-scoring vehicles when it comes to rear-seat safety.

There are some new vehicles today that come with advanced safety features, including radar-driven rear seat reminders, but some of these vehicles with advanced safety systems do not even have rear seat belt tensioners.

With every new safety category that is implemented by Consumer Reports, we continue to push the envelope when it comes to making our vehicles as safe as possible. 

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