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Does anyone know of a good resource to see safety stats/specs on 3rd-row seating? In other words, I know safecar has stats on front and side impact ratings, etc, but I've yet to see a site that describes safety for passengers sitting in the third row of specific SUVs.

For instance, I've been looking at Jeep Commanders lately (used), but I'm interested in how safe it is to have a child (w/ carseat) strapped in the third row, not just for Jeep Commanders, but for several third-row-seating makes/models.

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You won't find anything official like for the front and side impact ratings. Those are industry standard tests that are mandated and applicable to all vehicles, I am not aware of anything similar for the third row. Because those tests are very expensive nobody is going to do them without someone forcing them to.

If I was looking I would use the side impact results as a close approximation, the structure of the side of the vehicle should be somewhat consistent. But also use a bit of common sense as well. Those little rear facing seats that pop up in the back of your Volvo station wagon might not be as good as real seats.

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I recently went looking for information on the subject and had to address the national vehicle safety office, luckily I worked there when I was in university! The truth is that nobody has ever performed a safety test on the third-row seats, in any vehicle. Those third-row seats are outside the vehicle passenger compartment which is designed to withstand impact, and inside the crumple zone, which is designed to crush in order to reduce the G-forces on the passenger compartment. The passenger compartment is everything between the two axles, and the crumple zones is everything outside the wheelbase. Based on that information I refuse to let my children ride in the third-row seats.

Go to a junkyard and look at a few wrecks. Look at the damage in the third-row seating area, and compare it to damage to the passenger compartment. You can make your decision there.

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