Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.
Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.
Children and hot cars are a fatal combination. On average, there are 38 heatstroke-related deaths per year. Consumer Reports testing has shown that the temperature in a parked car can rise to dangerous levels on even a mild day. Our experts found that even when it was just 61° F outside, the temperature inside a closed car could reach more than 105° F in just an hour, an extremely dangerous and potentially fatal level for a child.
Many parents comment on social media outlets that such an accidental death would never happen to their child. But research has shown that anyone can forget a small child in a car, especially parents who have a change in their routine or those who are under stress. Just as drivers often find themselves lost in thought and navigating on autopilot, often getting to their destination without remembering details of the trip or missing a turn to run an errand, distracted parents can forget a quiet child or pet.
Several automakers now offer technology to help prevent these heatstroke deaths. Many models from a variety of automakers—including General Motors (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC vehicles), Hyundai, Kia, and Nissan—have systems that can remind drivers that a rear door had been opened on a trip. A simple display in the gauge cluster, typically accompanied by a warning tone, encourages drivers to check the backseat.
Consumer Reports, along with many other advocates of child passenger safety, have pushed for automakers to provide integrated heatstroke prevention systems. And CR hopes to see them proliferate in the marketplace in many more mainstream, affordable vehicles, enabled from the factory and standard across all trims, says Emily Thomas, Ph.D., an automotive safety engineer at Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center.
CR favors systems that are delivered turned on as a default setting, because many parents don't think they could make this mistake, Thomas says. If parents or caregivers have to activate the system manually, it's less likely to be used.
Below are highlights of how these systems work based on our testing and experience. And there's a chart that lists the vehicles that have an available rear-seat reminder system. The chart indicates if the system uses door logic to issue the reminder and/or if it has a motion-detecting sensor.
Of course, whether your car has a reminder system or not, always check the backseat, and never leave children unattended in a vehicle.
GM’s Rear Seat Reminder notes whether a rear door was opened 10 minutes before the vehicle is turned on or anytime after the vehicle is turned on. A reminder message is displayed in the driver cluster after the engine is turned off, accompanied by multitone chimes. This system comes enabled from the factory. The door logic works reliably, but it's activated only once per ignition cycle. If drivers stop and turn off the engine, the system requires the rear doors to be opened and closed to be reactivated.
Hyundai’s Rear Occupant Alert incorporates motion detection and rear-door logic. The door logic technology will be standard in most models by 2022 and the motion sensing will be optional. If either rear door has been opened before or during a trip, the system displays a warning in the instrument cluster and issues a two-tone chime after the engine is turned off to remind the driver to check the rear seat. If the rear door isn’t opened and the vehicle is locked, there are ultrasonic sensors that can detect motion up to 24 hours in the rear cabin. If the sensors detect motion, the vehicle will honk for 25 seconds and send an email or text to the owners if they're BlueLink subscribers. As long as motion is detected, the honking will be repeated, up to eight times. This system comes enabled from the factory. We found that the door logic works reliably but that the motion detection has limitations and is activated only when the vehicle is locked.
Like the Hyundai system, Kia’s Rear Occupant Alert incorporates motion detection and rear-door logic. If either rear door has been opened before or during a trip, the system displays a warning in the instrument cluster and issues a two-tone chime after the engine is turned off to remind the driver to check the rear seat.
Despite the warning, if the rear door isn’t opened and the vehicle is locked, there are ultrasonic sensors that can detect motion up to 24 hours in the rear cabin. If the sensors detect motion, the vehicle will honk for 25 seconds and send an email or text to the owners if they are UVO subscribers. As long as motion is detected, the honking will be repeated, up to eight times. This system comes enabled from the factory. The door logic works reliably, but the motion detection has limitations and is activated only when the vehicle is locked.
Nissan's Rear Door Alert shows a warning in the instrument cluster with a single-tone chime when the engine shuts off if the system has detected that a rear door was opened before the driver’s door was opened. The vehicle will honk the horn if rear doors aren't opened again before the vehicle is locked, or if the rear hatch is opened and closed. The driver can choose to limit the warning to just the visual warning or disable it altogether. This system comes disabled from the factory, so owners need to activate it. The door logic works reliably, but it doesn’t account for situations in which someone enters the vehicle through the driver’s door and turns on the car before placing children in a rear seat.
More from Consumer Reports:
Top pick tires for 2016
Best used cars for $25,000 and less
7 best mattresses for couples
|Year||Model||Type of System||Trim||
|Buick||2019||Regal TourX||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Cadillac||2018||ATS (sedan)||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Cadillac||2018||CTS (V series)||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Cadillac||2017||CT6 (2017i)||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Chevrolet||2019||Silverado 1500||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Chevrolet||2019||Silverado 1500 LD||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Chevrolet||2019||Silverado 2500HD||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Chevrolet||2019||Silverado 3500HD||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Chevrolet||2018||Bolt EV||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Chevrolet||2018||Cruze (hatch)||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Chevrolet||2018||Cruze (sedan)||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Chevrolet||2018||Silverado (4dr)||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Chevrolet||2017||Bolt EV||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Chevrolet||2017||Cruze (hatch)||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Chevrolet||2017||Cruze (sedan)||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Chevrolet||2017||Silverado (4dr)||Door logic||All||Std.|
|GMC||2019||Sierra 1500||Door logic||All||Std.|
|GMC||2019||Sierra 1500 Limited||Door logic||All||Std.|
|GMC||2019||Sierra 2500HD||Door logic||All||Std.|
|GMC||2019||Sierra 3500HD||Door logic||All||Std.|
|GMC||2019||Yukon XL||Door logic||All||Std.|
|GMC||2018||Sierra (4dr)||Door logic||All||Std.|
|GMC||2018||Yukon XL||Door logic||All||Std.|
|GMC||2017||Sierra (4dr)||Door logic||All||Std.|
|GMC||2017||Yukon XL||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Hyundai||2020||Palisade||Motion detection, door logic||SEL, Limited||Opt.|
|Hyundai||2020||Santa Fe||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Hyundai||2020||Santa Fe||Motion detection, door logic||SEL Plus, Limited||Opt.|
|Hyundai||2019||Santa Fe||Door logic||SEL Plus, Limited||Std.|
|Kia||2020||Telluride||Motion detection, door logic||All||Std.|
|Nissan||2020||NV Passenger||Door logic||All||Std.|
|Nissan||2019||Rogue Sport||Door logic||All||Std.|
Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2019, Consumer Reports, Inc.