All About Integrated Car Seats | A Parent’s Guide

“Let me just get the car seat really quick!”

Have you ever heard those words from a grandparent, step-parent, aunt, or uncle, who wants to take your child for a ride? With many modern car seats, there is no “really quick” involved. Removing a car seat from one vehicle and then safely installing it into another vehicle that may or may not have the proper latch system or backseat size takes a bit more time than many expect.

Switching off when someone babysits or wants to spend time with your children is often a hassle. That’s why integrated car seats have been introduced in a select number of vehicles. Before you decide to give one a try, consider some critical information about their recommended use and safety.

What is an Integrated Car Seat?

An integrated car seat is a full-functioning child seat built directly into a vehicle.

The first integrated car seats were introduced in the 1990s. Volvo and Dodge were the first to release deigns, including a luxury model that placed the car seat on a platform in the front passenger seat in rear-facing position. That design was a big hit with parents who wanted to sit in the back seat and ride face-to-face with their child.

Integrated car seats were met with a lot of controversy. Many parents embraced them right away due to the convenience and cost savings. Other parents and some experts questioned the safety of seats that weren’t removable.

Integrated Car Seat Pros

  • Affordability — You don’t have to buy a car seat because it comes with your vehicle, assuming you only have one or two in a car seat or booster seat at a time. Select vehicles are designed with two integrated car seats or boosters.
  • Convenience — It’s difficult to get a car seat to fit safely and easily onto a backseat, but the problem is erased when the seat is designed for your car.
  • Preparation — Whether you have young children or not, you will always have a car seat or booster seat on hand if a little one needs to take a ride. That’s a great consideration for grandparents, babysitters, and others who occasionally may drive with a child.
  • Escape-Proof — Many parents report that their children have more trouble getting out of an integrated car seat than a convertible car seat. That doesn’t mean escapes aren’t possible, but it’s always good to make it a bit more challenging for little ones who don’t yet understand road safety.

Integrated Car Seat Cons

  • Limited Moveability — Some integrated booster seats aren’t removable. Taking the full seat out and attaching to a stroller or cart isn’t possible. If you have an accident, first responders cannot remove the full seat to prevent moving your child’s neck or spine. That doesn’t mean the seats are unsafe, but it’s something to consider.
  • Designed Positioning — You can’t choose where you place your child when their seat is built into the car.
  • Added Expense — Integrated car seats and booster seats aren’t always standard car features. They may cost a few hundreds or more to add into a new vehicle.

Which Cars Have Built-In Car Seats?

Volvo concept design for swiveling integrated infant seat. Courtesy of Dexsgner.com

There are no cars that currently offer built-in infant or convertible car seats.

Most integrated car seats are actually booster seats. They’re designed for older children able to sit upright in a seat that utilizes the car’s seatbelt. While some dealers like Volvo are creating lines of car seats designed to go with their vehicles, there aren’t any infant or convertible car seats built directly into the car today.

The closest thing to an infant or convertible car seat built into a car was the luxury design for the Volvo XC90 Excellence. It features a platform instead of a front passenger seat with a swivel rear-facing baby seat built on the platform. Parents can sit in the backseat facing the baby, creating a more comforting ride for everyone. The child seat swivels toward the door to make removing and inserting a baby easier and safer.

The swiveling child seat model has yet to move past the concept phase. It isn’t an option when customizing a new XC90 Excellence today.

Related post: What age should your child be an infant seat? Forward facing? Booster? Find out with our car seat timeline!

Do Any Cars Have Built-In Booster Seats?

volvo integrated booster seats
Built-in booster seats in a Volvo. Courtesy of Carsguide.com

Select Volvo and Dodge models offer built-in booster seats, including:

  • Volvo XC90 — One built-in booster seat on the center seat of the second row. Suitable for children 33-80 pounds.
  • Volvo XC60  — Two built-in booster seats on the outer seats of the back row. Suitable for children 33-80 pounds.
  • Volvo V90 Cross Country — Two built-in booster seats on the outer seats of the back row. Suitable for children 33-80 pounds.
  • Volvo V60 (2018 model) — Two integrated booster seats on the outer seats of the back row. Suitable for children 33-80 pounds.
  • Volvo XC70 (2016 model) — Two integrated booster seats with dual positions. Located on outer seats of the second row. Suitable for children 33-80.
  • Dodge Journey (select models) — Two integrated booster seats placed on each side of the second row. Suitable for children 48-89 pounds.

The Grand Caravan is no longer in production, but there are some older models that did include a built-in booster seat. If the vehicle was previously in an accident, the seat may no longer be deemed safe for use. Make sure to obtain the history of the vehicle and have it inspected by the dealership to ensure your child is safe when purchasing a used vehicle.

Integrated Car Seats FAQs

Volvo V90 interior
Volvo V90 interior
What age does my child have to be to ride in a built-in booster seat?

Child booster seat laws vary by state. In general, your child can move to a booster seat after surpassing the maximum weight and height capacity of their forward-facing car seat. Children often make the transition to a booster seat after turning four or five, but smaller children may remain in a forward-facing car seat longer.

Do built-in booster seats expire?

There is no set expiration date for an integrated booster seat, but Volvo has released the following recommendations regarding their integrated booster seats:
– Only authorized Volvo dealers should repair or replace an integrated child seat.
– Owners should never modify an integrated car seat, and additions are discouraged.
– Replace the seatbelt, backrest, and seat cushion if the seat is subjected to a heavy load. In some cases, the entire seat may need replaced.
– Replace the integrated child seat if an accident occurs while the seat cushion is in lowered position. Even if the seat appears undamaged, it may no longer provide maximum protection for the child.
– Replace the seat cushion when it appears heavily worn.

Wrap Up

What will the future bring for the built-in car seat? Perhaps one day we’ll see the idea of a built-in infant or convertible seat make it past the design concept phase. On the other hand, the bulkier seats required for smaller babies may never seem feasible for a family vehicle. After all, babies grow quickly and are in a booster seat in five years or less.

Those bulkier seats are harder to tuck into the back of a car seat and hide. Parents may no longer need them after four or five years, so perhaps they just aren’t meant to exist as a permanent feature of a car.  

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