Listen to this article

Modern vehicles are safer than ever thanks to advanced technologies that control wayward motions on the road, and failing that, deploy systems to help protect people inside. Evaluation of these features usually focuses on driver-assist tech and front-seat safety, with rear-seat safety more or less an afterthought.

Now, Consumer Reports is taking a deep dive on the back row with a new set of rear-seat safety scores. Focusing on six specific categories including car seat fit, booster seat use, rear occupant alerts, rear belt reminders, rear head restraints, and advanced rear restraints, CR found that overall safety for back-seaters isn't as big a priority for many manufacturers.

Toyota Sienna
shop now

save over $3,400 on average off MSRP* on a new Toyota Sienna

shop now

"The rear seat has to take into account all kinds of passengers who sit there, from infants and teens to adults and ride-sharing passengers of all ages," said Dr. Emily Thomas, automotive safety engineer at Consumer Reports. "But our analysis shows that many automakers don't put the same safety features in the rear that they do in the front."

As an example, Consumer Reports notes that only around 40 percent of new vehicles have seat-belt pretensioners and load-limiters for the rear seats. 30 percent of those vehicles have seat-belt reminders for rear passengers to buckle up. And just over 25 percent feature side airbags designed to specifically protect passengers' midsections in a crash.

Evaluating 35 new vehicles separated into 2021 and 2022 model years, Consumer Reports created a list of the best and worst rides for rear seat safety. No vehicle earned a perfect score, but the Toyota Sienna minivan ranked the highest for 2021 at 69, with either good or very good ratings across all six categories. The worst-ranked 2021 model was the Genesis G80 at just 24, with poor ratings for rear occupant alert, belt reminders, and advanced restraints.

Gallery: 2021 Toyota Sienna: First Drive Review

Only 10 vehicles for 2022 were evaluated, with the Nissan Pathfinder leading the pack at 66 with good, very good, and a single excellent rating for head restraints. The Volkswagen Taos finished last at 31, receiving poor ratings for belt reminder and advanced restraints.

Here's a breakdown of the current top-five and bottom-five rankings for 2021 and 2022 model-year vehicles. Consumer Reports says the study will include more vehicles as its data collection expands.

2021 Model Year

Vehicle Overall Score
Toyota Sienna 69
Nissan Rogue 66
Ford Bronco Sport 61
Cadillac Escalade 61
Ford F-150 XLT 61
Mercedes-Banz GLA 32
Hyundai Elantra 31
Hyundai Ioniq 30
Acura TLX 28
Genesis G80 24

2022 Model Year

Vehicle Overall Score
Nissan Pathfinder 66
Honda Civic 66
Mitsubishi Outlander 52
Acura MDX 48
Kia Carnival 38
Chevrolet Bolt EUV 36
Genesis GV70 35
Hyundai Tucson 33
Hyundai Santa Cruz 32
Volkswagen Taos 31


"The message from our new rear-seat safety testing is not that vehicles with lower scores are unsafe, but that they do not offer the same comparative margin of protection as those vehicles that earn higher marks," said Thomas.

Got a tip for us? Email: