Model 3 with Kids

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danzgator

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#1
Originally, I had hoped to pick up my Model 3 in Fremont with my family and drive back to Florida on a family road trip. I knew it would be tight, since it was a smaller car than our Model S, but felt we could make it work if we packed minimally. If the cargo room was insufficient, we could always store some luggage on the back seat floor because none of the kids feet come close to touching the floor yet.

My wife was skeptical that we could make it work, since we have to use narrow base car in the Model S and she had to have the passenger seat in a slightly uncomfortable position with the baby's rear facing car seat. To solve the rear facing car seat issue, I researched and found that the manufacturer of the car seat made an angle adjuster: https://us.diono.com/product/radian-angle-adjuster/ So, that issue was solved in the Model S.

I compared all of the passenger dimesnsions of the Model S to the Model 3 and they are practically identical (there may be an incorrect exterior dimension here, I don't remember if I adjusted, but that's inconsequential to this analysis):

img_3484-png.4935


There is 1" less shoulder room, but I didn't see that as a deal breaker split between 3 seats. So, I convinced my wife that it would work with our narrow based car seats and the angle adjuster on the rear-facing seat.

As most of you know, the family trip didn't pan out. However, based on my experience sitting in all of the seats myself, it felt to me that all of the Model S dimensions were close to maintained in the Model 3.

Up until today, I've tried to keep the kids out of the car because they want to touch and kick everything, and rub snot and drool on everything. However, tonight, I committed to taking the Model 3 to a local event so that local Tesla owners could check out the Model 3.

I woke up early this morning to get the car seats installed and ran across a few problems that I want everyone with kids to be aware of.

First, there are only two latch connections. Not a huge deal, but I just think everyone should be aware that there are no latch points for the center seat.

Second, even with the angle adjuster, a rear facing car seat will put the front seat in an uncomfortable position for most. Compare my seat, set-up for me (5'-8") to the passenger seat. I left about a 1/2" space between the back of the car seat and the front seat to allow for flex when weighed down.

img_7262-jpg.4931


This is manageable if the passenger is short, or if you're just running a couple errands nearby, but not for long road trips.

Third, the width of the back seat is not big enough for three narrow based car seats. Again, these are seats that work in the Model S. I even tried moving seats around and using different seats that work in the MS, but no configuration worked to allow for 3 car seats.

img_7261-jpg.4932

img_7269-jpg.4933

(pardon the gross seat)

Honestly, unless your kid is 6+ and is super skinny, I don't think they'd fit between two car seats without a booster:

img_7265-jpg.4934


Although Tesla says that the car fits 5 adults, and I'm sure it can for short distances, I don't know that I would take 3 kids much farther than 30 min to an hour in the backseat. Even if none of them were in car seats.

I don't want anyone to take this as a Model 3 or Tesla hater post, that's not what I do. See my prior posts and you will see that I'm just here to help and try to inform people. Since there are not Model 3's to see in showrooms, I want buyers with kids to know what they are getting into. I think the Model 3 would work fine for a family of 4, but a family of 5 would be tough to make work as your primary vehicle. As a secondary vehicle, it would be fine most of the time, as long as you didn't need three car seats in the car at the same time.

*Mods: I know there is a Model 3 Review thread, but I felt this was important enough that it needed a standalone thread. If you disagree, feel free to move to the Review thread.
 
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MelindaV

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#2
Second, even with the angle adjuster, a rear facing car seat will put the front seat in an uncomfortable position for most.
I assume by ‘uncomfortable’ you mean the seat needs to be more upright compared to reclined? If so, I just wanted to add that some (ok, me at least) like car seats upright and find it uncomfortable to be reclined.
And yes, the size chart you included was the early one released with errors. Should be 82.2 w/mirrors and 76.1 folded.
 

danzgator

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#3
I assume by ‘uncomfortable’ you mean the seat needs to be more upright compared to reclined? If so, I just wanted to add that some (ok, me at least) like car seats upright and find it uncomfortable to be reclined.
And yes, the size chart you included was the early one released with errors. Should be 82.2 w/mirrors and 76.1 folded.
LOL, I put the exterior dimension disclaimer in there because I knew you'd correct me again!

The passenger seat has to be pushed pretty far forward and has to be pretty upright for the rear facing seat with angle adjuster to clear. I think you could get it completely vertical or even a few degrees reclined, but you'd have to have the seat way forward. Unless you're shorter than 5'-0" (guesstimate), either you're legs are going to be uncomfortable or your back, your choice.
 

MelindaV

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#4
Ok, so is the rear seat legroom number not right on the chart then? It shows only a ¼” difference between the S and 3, so don’t see how that little would make that big of a difference to your front passenger room with the car seat installed between the two vehicles. Seems like a negligible difference if the car seat works comfortably in the S, it should be the same, but with the front seat ¼” more forward in the 3.
@RiggerJon previously posted photos of a typical rear facing car seat behind the 6’+ driver seat with inches to spare, so just curious of the disconnect. Not familiar with the car seat you are using and if it takes considerable more room front to back than the one @RiggerJon showed, so that could be the issue, but just wanted to point out that because your specific equipment may not work does not mean others wouldn’t.
 

danzgator

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#5
Ok, so is the rear seat legroom number not right on the chart then? It shows only a ¼” difference between the S and 3, so don’t see how that little would make that big of a difference to your front passenger room with the car seat installed between the two vehicles. Seems like a negligible difference if the car seat works comfortably in the S, it should be the same, but with the front seat ¼” more forward in the 3.
@RiggerJon previously posted photos of a typical rear facing car seat behind the 6’+ driver seat with inches to spare, so just curious of the disconnect. Not familiar with the car seat you are using and if it takes considerable more room front to back than the one @RiggerJon showed, so that could be the issue, but just wanted to point out that because your specific equipment may not work does not mean others wouldn’t.
I'm not sure what number is off. I agree, it should be the same if you just compare the MS/M3 numbers in a vacuum, but it does not work in reality for whatever reason. You can see in the picture the position of the driver seat compared to the passenger seat, it is substantially further forward, inches. I can take a tape measure to both cars at some point and try to figure it out.

Can you please send me the picture @RiggerJon so that I can compare? All I know about my seat is that I researched in depth what the best car seat was that fit in the Model S, and that's how I got to the Diono Radian R100. It's a high quality expensive seat, and it's substantially smaller than most rear facing seats. I assume that there are rear facing seats that are closer to vertical than this one, but since I've already added an angle adjuster to get this seat closer to vertical, I don't know how much more vertical you could go and have it be safe.

I'm no car seat expert, but this says that rear facing car seat need to be 30-45 degrees, so doubt you should go much more vertical than 30 degrees with the car seat.

Rear-facing carseats should be reclined to between 30 and 45 degrees depending on the carseat manufacturer instructions...
http://www.carseatsite.com/reclineangle.htm
 

danzgator

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#6
Ok, so is the rear seat legroom number not right on the chart then? It shows only a ¼” difference between the S and 3, so don’t see how that little would make that big of a difference to your front passenger room with the car seat installed between the two vehicles. Seems like a negligible difference if the car seat works comfortably in the S, it should be the same, but with the front seat ¼” more forward in the 3.
@RiggerJon previously posted photos of a typical rear facing car seat behind the 6’+ driver seat with inches to spare, so just curious of the disconnect. Not familiar with the car seat you are using and if it takes considerable more room front to back than the one @RiggerJon showed, so that could be the issue, but just wanted to point out that because your specific equipment may not work does not mean others wouldn’t.
New theory-I think the Model 3 back seat is substantially more flat and bench-like than the Model S. The Model S back seat slants back from your knees to your back, which would make a rear-facing car seat more upright.
 

danzgator

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#10
I think it was part of this, but can't find the pix with the rear facing seat on the base
That's a base for an infant car seat, not a rear facing seat. Those are much smaller and are only good up to +/- 20 lbs, or when you're physically unable to curl a baby in a carrier. When they hit /- 20 lbs, you have to switch to a rear facing car seat until they out grow it and are over 2 years old. So, there's a 1.5 year minimum after the car carrier that you need a rear-facing seat.

I also disagree with the statement that an adult could fit in between two car seats. I can almost guarantee that my car seat bases are slimmer than the ones in Bonnie's Tweet. These are some of the slimmest bases, if not the slimmest bases out there. Look at the room between these two narrow base car seats. There's barely over the width of the fold down armrest available, which is only wide enough for one cup holder. But, at least you could lean to the side, if you had one rear facing seat. If you had two forward facing, you'd have to lean forward (assuming you could even fit your butt between the two seats).

img_7265-jpg.4938
 

VATesla4Me

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#11
This is one of the very reasons for the popularity of Minivans and SUVs in the US. The advancement of child safty laws (e.g. Car sear requirements) makes it very difficult. Certainly my Mom could not have managed the logistical feats of amazement (e.g. 4 of us in a VW Bug (1970s)) if she had to have abide by modern laws. Maybe the Y will be much better for this type of activity if one cannot or will not get an X or S. Still I would think a small family would be fine if not a bit cramped at times in a 3.
 

NJturtlePower

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#13
There is almost nothing I hate more than rear-facing car seats! :mad: They suck and do not fit well in any sedan, even full-sized ones. Luckily, I have big boys and the 2nd will grow out of this position in a few months (that and I get my wife to take them in her SUV most the time ;)) , well before my Model 3.

 

Michael Russo

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#15
I have memories of my parents throwing me and my sister (ages 4 and 3) in the bed of the pickup truck for a cross-state trip from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.

"Safety" was my dad telling us to sit up against the cab of the truck. ;)
Ah, but @garsh , that was in the last century... ! :D
 
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#17
Thanks for posting, although this is bummer news. We have 2 kids (3.5yo and 1.5yo) but need this car to potentially handle a third car seat during its life. From the measurement numbers and from the opportunity I got to sit in You You's car when he was in Denver during his road trip, I was under the impression it could be done. Hmmm.

Regarding front-to-back space, if the Model 3 back seat is more flat, than it would cause a rear-facing seat to recline back more, leaving less room. That makes sense. However, I don't see why you couldn't angle it more to have the seat be more vertical. I understand your reference to safety recommendations between 30-45, but if the Model S allows the seat to be more vertical because of the slanting backseat and that is considered "safe", I'm not sure why you couldn't mimic that in the 3 and have it also considered safe. Also, are your other car seats rear-facing? Would it help if you installed the rear-facing in the center and the forward-facing or boosters on the outside to fix the front-to-back spacing issue? This would also help the side-to-side spacing.

I will be following this thread closely, as this is largely the hinging point of getting the Model 3 or not.
 

oey192

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#18
Whether or not 3 car seats can fit on the rear bench, he confirmed there are only attachments for two. Are there ways of securely fastening a third child seat in place without the necessary LATCH attachment points?

(I have never installed a child seat so pardon my ignorance)
 
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#19
Whether or not 3 car seats can fit on the rear bench, he confirmed there are only attachments for two. Are there ways of securely fastening a third child seat in place without the necessary LATCH attachment points?

(I have never installed a child seat so pardon my ignorance)
Yes, you can use the seat belt, which was the method for several years before LATCH connections. LATCH is convenient, but I'm not sure its any more safe.