The new protocol was created to better reflect current car conditions, including increasing the speed of the test from 30 miles per hour to 35 mph, adding a surface that more closely represent an actual vehicle environment to determine the effect of the car seat or the child's head coming into contact with it during a crash and a seat bench that more accurately depicts the backseat cushion size, shape and stiffness of the average car.
Developed over 2.5 years, the new test studied research on child injuries in car crashes, analyzed crash test videos from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Transport Canada, and consulted with child-passenger and automotive-safety experts.
In addition to the crash tests, Consumer Report also tested the ease of use and "fit to vehicle" for each car seat and combined all the tests into one overall rating.
Studies show car seats often are installed incorrectly. Read the 5 most common car seat mistakes to help ensure your child is safe.
Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.