2021 Acura TLX Long-Term Update | Child and infant car seat test

·5-min read

The best seat in our long-term 2021 Acura TLX is the driver's seat (though it could be more supportive). It's a fun car to drive. But what if you have a family of four, with two children in car seats?

First, let me explain the reasoning for where I put the car seats. Wollie, who rides in a front-facing Britax Frontier high-back booster seat, often gets dropped off at the curb for school and camp — and I'm often the one doing it — so the passenger side makes logistical sense. I don't want him stepping out into traffic.

The occasions that I put Lola, who rides in a Maxi-Cosi Mico 30 infant car seat, in the Acura are rare. She doesn't have as many activities, and when she does, the whole family is usually involved. In such instances, my wife drives — she easily becomes carsick as a passenger. Plus she's got a bigger vehicle to better accommodate both kids. After all, that's why we bought a Hyundai Palisade. Furthermore, one of us has to get her out of the car, which is usually the driver, so the driver side makes sense for that reason, too.

The passenger seat in front of Wollie sees me with my knees close to, but not touching, the glove compartment. I could eat up a little more of Wollie's legroom to give me some more, but he's got big feet, and nobody likes getting their seat back kicked. Giving him that space looks like this for me (and this is actually my wife's normal seating position ... I just have long, weird legs):

Getting the larger car seat isn't too difficult, I just have to angle it in head-first before setting it in place. Then I have to install it. I've got a little room to work around the seat — or the car seat base — which help keep me from getting sweaty and angry (though the ventilated seats could remedy that after the fact).

The rear LATCH point is a little tough to reach with the booster's headrest in the way. This is actually the most tedious part of installing Wollie's car seat in any car, but in this sedan, I don't have to go around to open the rear liftgate and hope there's no cargo blocking the anchor point. In the TLX, I appreciate that the cover doesn't have to be removed. It's easy to lose those damned things.

I use the seat belt to secure the rest of Wollie's seat, but I use the lower LATCH anchors for installing the infant base. The lower anchors are hidden behind flaps of fabric that aren't held in place by anything. They're a little tricky to find by feel when you're reaching over a seat or base to attach to it, but it's never quite as difficult as I expect it to be when feeling around blind. I appreciate, again, that there are no detachable covers to lose, or attached covers to break. Once Lola's infant base is installed, it usually stays in place for multiple weeks at a time, so it's not something I have to deal with often. As for Wollie's Britax, which gets removed much more often, that seat is super easy to install with the seatbelt, so the lower LATCH anchor ease of use is a moot point.

After having a seat tethered for a couple weeks, the leather looks wrinkled. Not surprising, considered any car seat leaves its mark on pretty much any seat for some time afterward. It goes back to normal, eventually, especially if you have an adult sit on it for a while afterward.

When Lola's not in the car, I'm able to put my seat way back, as is my wont. At 6 feet even, my legs are long compared to my arms and torso. The photo on the left below shows how far back my seat sits normally. The photo on the right shows the amount of space I need to leave with her seat installed. I have to sit about 5.5 inches further forward to accommodate her. The tricky part is, I always have to move the driver seat forward first before I put her in. If I'm in my driveway, I can just set Lola down for a moment. If I'm on the street, I hold the weight of her and her seat in the crook of my arm while I adjust my seat to accommodate her. I love her.

Here's that what the driving position looks like normally, versus with the infant seat in place behind me. Normally, I've have the seat far back, with the steering wheel all the way down and telescoped out as far as it will go. With the car seat behind me, I push the wheel in and up to clear my bent knees.

As dramatic as that difference looks and feels to me, I can still drive an hour or two at a time like that. It feels odd at first, but it's not particularly uncomfortable, especially when using cruise control on the highway. It's navigating parking lots that's a little awkward with that steering wheel right in my lap and my legs more confined.

This wouldn't be a deal-breaker for me if I were considering a TLX as my daily driver. For my purposes, the occasional, minor discomfort isn't a terrible thing, especially with a larger vehicle in our stable. Sitting in front of a rear-facing car seat is almost always a compromise, with large midsize or full-size utility vehicles being the exception. I like the TLX enough — and it is roomy enough that I'd be happy to sit closer on short drives, and swap the positions of Lola's and Wollie's car seat for long drives.

And if I did that, I'd be a lot more comfortable. Here's what the high-back booster looks like behind my normal driving position.

I tried this out for a change, and I had to move my seat up an inch or so to give his clown feet some space, and to make it easier for him to get himself in and out, but that sure beats moving my seat forward almost 6 inches.

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