A woman holding an infant while standing next to a car

Children and hot cars can be a fatal combination. On average, there are 39 heatstroke-related deaths each 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 (BuickCadillacChevrolet, and GMC vehicles), HyundaiKiaNissan, and Toyota—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.

The auto industry has committed to introducing rear-seat reminders that include a combination of auditory and visual alerts in essentially all cars and trucks by the 2025 model year. 

More on Car Safety

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 straight from the factory and standard across all trims, says Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations 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, Stockburger 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: Buick/Cadillac/Chevrolet/GMC

GM rear seat reminder

GM’s Rear Seat Reminder notes whether a rear door was opened up to 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 needs to be reactivated for each new ignition cycle. If the driver stops and turns off the engine, the system requires the rear doors to be opened and closed to be reactivated. 


Honda

2021 Honda Odyssey CabinWatch rear seat minder

Honda is introducing an innovative camera-based system on the 2021 Odyssey minivan that combines a traditional rear-seat reminder system with a chime and dashboard warning, with a camera view of the back seat. For vehicles equipped with Honda’s CabinWatch system the system also shows the back seats on the central infotainment screen, providing another cue for the driver. This feature launches on the high-end Touring and Elite trims. CR has not experienced this system yet, but we welcome the creative approach to monitoring the back seat for children or pets. Honda says the system can also be retroactively applied to similarly equipped 2018-2020 Odysseys via an over-the-air update.  


Hyundai

Hyundai rear occupant alert screen for their rear seat reminder

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 a text to the owners if they subscribe to Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics service. 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. 


Kia

2019 Kia Telluride rear occupant alert screen

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 a text to the owners if they subscribe to Kia’s Uvo infotainment system. 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

Nissan Rear Seat Reminder

When the engine is turned off, Nissan’s Rear Door Alert shows a warning in the instrument cluster and makes a single-tone chime if the rear door was opened before the trip, before the driver’s door was opened. This scenario would suggest something, or someone, was placed in the back seat before the driver got in. 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.

Nissan has announced that this system will be available on all its four-door trucks, sedans, and SUVs by 2022.


Toyota

Toyota Highlander Rear Seat Reminder screen

Toyota’s Rear Seat Reminder function notes whether a rear door was opened within 10 minutes of the vehicle being turned on, or at any time after the vehicle has been turned on. A reminder message is displayed in the instrument 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 needs to be reactivated for each new ignition cycle. If the driver stops and turns off the engine, the system would require the rear doors to be opened and closed again in order to be reactivated. 

Currently the system is available as standard equipment only on the Toyota Highlander.


Select a brand from the pull-down menu below. 

Guide to Rear-Seat Reminders by Brand

YearModelTypeTrimStandard / Optional
Buick2020EnclaveDoor LogicAllStd.
Buick2020EncoreDoor LogicAllStd.
Buick2020Encore GXDoor LogicAllStd.
Buick2020EnvisionDoor LogicAllStd.
Buick2020Regal GSDoor LogicAllStd.
Buick2020Regal SportbackDoor LogicAllStd.
Buick2020Regal TourXDoor LogicAllStd.
Buick2019EnclaveDoor logicAllStd.
Buick2019EncoreDoor logicAllStd.
Buick2019EnvisionDoor logicAllStd.
Buick2019LaCrosseDoor logicAllStd.
Buick2019RegalDoor logicAllStd.
Buick2019Regal TourXDoor logicAllStd.
Buick2018EnclaveDoor logicAllStd.
Buick2018LacrosseDoor logicAllStd.
Buick2017LacrosseDoor logicAllStd.
Cadillac2021EscaladeDoor LogicAllStd.
Cadillac2020CT4Door LogicAllStd.
Cadillac2020CT5Door LogicAllStd.
Cadillac2020CT6Door LogicAllStd.
Cadillac2020CT6-VDoor LogicAllStd.
Cadillac2020EscaladeDoor LogicAllStd.
Cadillac2020Escalade ESVDoor LogicAllStd.
Cadillac2020XT4Door LogicAllStd.
Cadillac2020XT5Door LogicAllStd.
Cadillac2020XT6Door LogicAllStd.
Cadillac2019CT6Door logicAllStd.
Cadillac2019CTSDoor logicAllStd.
Cadillac2019EscaladeDoor logicAllStd.
Cadillac2019XT4Door logicAllStd.
Cadillac2019XT5Door logicAllStd.
Cadillac2019XTSDoor logicAllStd.
Cadillac2018ATS (sedan)Door logicAllStd.
Cadillac2018CT6Door logicAllStd.
Cadillac2018CTSDoor logicAllStd.
Cadillac2018CTS (V series)Door logicAllStd.
Cadillac2018EscaladeDoor logicAllStd.
Cadillac2018XT5Door logicAllStd.
Cadillac2017CT6 (2017i)Door logicAllStd.
Cadillac2017EscaladeDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2021ColoradoDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2021SuburbanDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2021TahoeDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2021TrailblazerDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2020BlazerDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2020Bolt EVDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2020CamaroDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2020ColoradoDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2020EquinoxDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2020MalibuDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2020Silverado 1500Door LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2020Silverado 2500Door LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2020Silverado 3500Door LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2020SparkDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2020SuburbanDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2020TahoeDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2020TraverseDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2020TraxDoor LogicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019BlazerDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019BoltDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019ColoradoDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019CruzeDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019EquinoxDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019MalibuDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019Silverado 1500Door logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019Silverado 1500 LDDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019Silverado 2500HDDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019Silverado 3500HDDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019SparkDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019SuburbanDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019TahoeDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019TraverseDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019TraxDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2019VoltDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2018Bolt EVDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2018ColoradoDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2018Cruze (hatch)Door logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2018Cruze (sedan)Door logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2018EquinoxDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2018MalibuDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2018Silverado (4dr)Door logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2018SuburbanDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2018TahoeDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2018TraverseDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2017Bolt EVDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2017ColoradoDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2017Cruze (hatch)Door logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2017Cruze (sedan)Door logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2017MalibuDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2017Silverado (4dr)Door logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2017SuburbanDoor logicAllStd.
Chevrolet2017TahoeDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2021CanyonDoor LogicAllStd.
GMC2021YukonDoor LogicAllStd.
GMC2020AcadiaDoor LogicAllStd.
GMC2020CanyonDoor LogicAllStd.
GMC2020Sierra 1500Door LogicAllStd.
GMC2020Sierra 2500Door LogicAllStd.
GMC2020Sierra 3500Door LogicAllStd.
GMC2020TerrainDoor LogicAllStd.
GMC2020YukonDoor LogicAllStd.
GMC2020Yukon XLDoor LogicAllStd.
GMC2019AcadiaDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2019CanyonDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2019Sierra 1500Door logicAllStd.
GMC2019Sierra 1500 LimitedDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2019Sierra 2500HDDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2019Sierra 3500HDDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2019TerrainDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2019YukonDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2019Yukon XLDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2018AcadiaDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2018CanyonDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2018Sierra (4dr)Door logicAllStd.
GMC2018TerrainDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2018YukonDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2018Yukon XLDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2017AcadiaDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2017CanyonDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2017Sierra (4dr)Door logicAllStd.
GMC2017YukonDoor logicAllStd.
GMC2017Yukon XLDoor logicAllStd.
Hyundai2020PalisadeDoor logicAllStd.
Hyundai2020PalisadeMotion detection, door logicSEL, LimitedOpt.
Hyundai2020Santa FeDoor logicAllStd.
Hyundai2020Santa FeMotion detection, door logicSEL, SEL Plus, LimitedOpt.
Hyundai2020SonataDoor logicAllStd.
Hyundai2020Sonata HybridDoor logicAllStd.
Hyundai2019Santa FeDoor logicSEL Plus, LimitedStd.
Kia2020SeltosDoor LogicAllStd.
Kia2020TellurideMotion detection, door logicAllStd.
Nissan2020AltimaDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2020ArmadaDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2020KicksDoor logicSV, SRStd.
Nissan2020LEAFDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2020MaximaDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2020MuranoDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2020PathfinderDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2020RogueDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2020Rogue SportDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2020SentraDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2020TitanDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2020VersaDoor logicSV, SRStd.
Nissan2019AltimaDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2019ArmadaDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2019LeafDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2019MaximaDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2019MuranoDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2019PathfinderDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2019RogueDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2019Rogue SportDoor logicAllStd.
Nissan2019Titan (4-dr.)Door logicAllStd.
Nissan2018PathfinderDoor logicAllStd.
Toyota2020HighlanderDoor LogicAllStd.

Keeping Kids Safe From Hot Cars

Just how hot can the inside of a car get? On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports expert Emily Thomas, Ph.D., shows host Jack Rico how rapidly interior temperatures can rise—and what you can do to protect your kids.