Some trims of the new Ford Expedition SUV will, in fact, not baby, as the inclusion of rear-seat airbag seatbelts are not compatible with many of today’s popular car seats for kids.
I learned about this issue from a review of the new Expedition from The Car Connection, which pointed it out:
Optional on every Expedition Max model except the Platinum where they’re standard, the inflatable rear safety belts pose an issue for those who need to haul young kids: they aren’t compatible with some popular, top-rated car seats. Key brands like Chicco say their car seats should not be installed in seats with inflatable seat belts.
Some brands like Britax that accommodate inflatable rear seat belts can have issues fitting or strapping in safely with these airbag-equipped belts. I was unable to correctly and safely get my daughter’s approved Britax car seat strapped into the second-row of the Expedition Max with the airbag-equipped seatbelts.
In general, wrapping small explosives around the plastic housing holding your child is fairly clear-cut in whether it’s a good or bad thing. But Ford has actually done a lot of work, specifically around car seats, to make the seatbelts safer.
Here’s a quote from a 2011 Consumer Reports article about the technology:
The belts inflate across the chest using compressed gas stored in a small canister. Once a small charge breaks the seal of the canister, the gas deploys the airbag. This is a cold gas system. It actually feels cold or cool to the touch, not hot, as a pyrotechnically charged front airbag system would be.
The bag is designed to stay inflated for about 6 seconds, unlike a front-seat airbag which deflates immediately. As a result, the inflated belt offers the potential to maintain its benefits during longer crash events, such as rollovers.
Obviously the good news is those of you planning on kids or with kids who require car seats, you can just buy a lower Expedition trim that doesn’t have them.
When Ford announced the new Expedition, it claimed plenty of car seats would have no issue. Cars.com has a pretty extensive list of specific car seat models that have allegedly been approved for use with inflatable seatbelts, but you should still check in with the manufacturer to be sure it’s safe.