The compact Cybex Aton Q rear facing only car seat has become a popular option, especially for smaller vehicles. We were happy to have the chance to take a closer look at this unique seat!
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Weight range: 4-35 pounds
- Lowest Harness Position: 5 inches with insert folded under the child’s bottom
- Height Range: 30 inches or less and the top of the child’s head is 1 inch or more from the top of the carrier
- Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture
- Handle Position: Must be in upright (“drive/carry”) position in vehicle
- Shell Height: 19 inches
- Weight (carrier only): 11 pounds
- Width at widest point: 17.5 inches
- Front to back, installed with base: 24 inches
- Super Easy and Tight installation with the belt tensioning plate device
- Push button lower anchor connectors
- Adjustable recline foot
- Load leg
- European belt routing
- Linear Side Impact Protection (L.S.P.) system
- Dual range level indicator
- No-rethread harness
Installation With the Base: Lower Anchors
In order to release the lower anchors from their storage compartment and begin installing the Aton Q with the base, fully extend the recline foot. This wasn’t obvious at first.
Next, unfold the load leg, then lower it to the floor. The part of the base near the load leg should not be raised above the vehicle seat by the load leg.
The sequence that worked best for me was:
- Unfold the load leg on the bottom of the base
- Place the base on the vehicle seat
- Use the lever to extend the load leg to the floor
- Then use the recline foot to ensure the correct recline angle as shown in the level indicator. Otherwise, it can get very tricky to extend the load leg but without affecting the recline of the seat.
The next step is to open the belt tensioning plate, then connect the lower anchors, using the lower anchor guides if necessary. Tighten the lower anchor strap, but don’t make it too tight or else the belt tensioning plate will not be able to close. You’ll soon find that there is a “sweet spot” where the latch strap is just loose enough that the belt tensioning plate will still close. Be sure to pull all of the slack to the adjuster side before tightening; there is a tendency for some of the slack to get caught on the other side. Close the belt tensioning plate to complete the installation.
Vehicle Seat Belt
Installing the base with the vehicle seat belt proved to be a bit more difficult. The lap and shoulder belt together are routed through the blue belt guides, and under the the belt tensioning plate.
It takes quite a bit of effort to remove slack evenly along the belt. The manual suggests holding the lap and shoulder belts together and threading them through that way, but I needed an extra hand to use that method because the vehicle seat belt would bunch up.
Once the slack is removed from the vehicle seat belt and the belt is tightened, close the belt tensioning plate, then and lock the seat belt. The seat belt must be locked – the belt tensioning plate is not a lockoff device.
Recheck the level indicator after closing the belt tensioning plate to verify that the recline angle is still correct. I found that it was very sensitive to the slightest change in angle.
The recline foot is fairly easy to use. As a CPST, I am often asked to help install the Nuna Pipa, and I was happy to find that the Cybex load leg is more intuitive to use and adjusts more easily. The level ball must be in the correct range for the baby’s weight. The load leg must not change the angle of the seat, but as mentioned, the level ball is extremely sensitive and will move at the slightest pressure, including from that of the load leg.
We asked Cybex if a pool noodle or rolled towel could be used to recline the base further if the recline foot wasn’t enough to do the trick on a very sloped vehicle seat. They responded that a noodle or towel can be used, but not in conjunction with the recline foot. It has to be one or the other. If a towel, noodle or the recline foot is not enough to adequately recline the seat, Cybex should be contacted for help.
Like the other Cybex car seats and booster seats, the Aton Q features Linear Side Impact Protection (L.S.P.).
It should be extended when the seat is installed in one of the outboard positions. The L.S.P. that is towards the vehicle door should be extended. It should not be used in any other situation and should not be extended towards another car seat or person. It extends when pulled out and retracts with a button.
At roughly 24 inches front-to-back, the Aton Q is extremely compact front to back and would be a good choice for smaller vehicles where interior space is at a premium.
Installation Without the Base
If the vehicle seat belt is long enough, European belt routing is the preferred method for baseless installation of the Aton Q.
Route the belt through both belt guides, which is quite easy since the belt guides are so wide and so clearly visible. Then, after buckling, wrap the vehicle seat belt around the back of the seat and through the black clip. Lock the vehicle seat belt, and ensure that the red level line on the side of the carrier is level to the ground.
If the vehicle seat belt is not long enough to use the European method, or if there is no shoulder belt, the American method is allowed as well, with the shoulder belt laying against the vehicle seat back.I had a bit of trouble taking the seat out of the car after a baseless installation, because the seat belt would get stuck in the back belt guide. I’m sure this is a learned skill; you can pull back on the belt guide to let the belt out more easily.
The Aton Q is stylish and colorful, with a very modern design and substantial canopy which is easy to pull out and retract. There are some areas that seem to be a cause for concern with some parents and caregivers. The handle can be tricky to rotate forward and back, due to the placement of the buttons.
In addition, the release button on the base seems to be a “love it or hate it” feature. It takes two motions to release, which some parents and caregivers appreciate. However some caregivers find that the extra step gets in the way. Also, when placing the carrier into the base, the back end of the carrier must go first. Some caregivers get used to this right away, while others feel it’s an impediment to getting the seat in and out quickly and easily.
Carrier Weight and Harness Adjustment
Another challenge is the weight of the carrier. Weighting in at 11 pounds, it’s at the heavier end of the range we see for rear facing only car seats. We also found that the straps can be difficult to tighten when the headrest is in the lowest positions. It can feel like they don’t go any tighter, but by pulling on the harness from the back of the carrier, they do tighten a bit more. This would only be an issue with the smallest babies.
Fit to Child
I was fortunate while writing this review to connect with CPST-I Angela Negrón, whose own preemie daughter used the Aton Q. Angela’s daughter took the hospital angle tolerance test in the Aton Q when she was 10 weeks old (she was born at 25 weeks), 4 pounds, 10 ounces. Although the harness straps fit her, her head hit at the bottom of the headrest. This can cause head slump, especially in preemies and newborns without head control.Cybex has made a change to the seat since Angela purchased hers. They’ve added EPS foam under the baby’s bottom, and they’ve removed a hard plastic piece behind the headrest flap. We tried our preemie doll in our newer version of the seat. We can see that the doll’s head hits the Cybex emblem slightly above where Angela’s daughter’s head hits it. That’s a positive development, but a key drawback of the Huggable Images dolls is that they don’t have necks! Therefore it’s still important to be aware that there may be head slump with the smallest babies using this seat.
Infant Insert and Chest Clip
The Aton Q does not come with a separate infant insert. Rather, when the headrest is in the lowest few positions, the flap behind the child can be folded under to boost the child up. In addition, the strap covers can be removed to get a better fit.
Some parents and caregivers notice the larger than usual chest clip. This is not a safety issue at all, but sometimes babies tend to draw their arms in, which can even cause the arms to move under the chest clip. Cybex recognizes this issue and will be migrating to a smaller chest clip for the Aton Q, though they don’t have a timeframe for this change yet.
Here we see our little model soon after she’s had a chance to grow a bit. She is still using the insert folded underneath.
Even though this model is bigger than when she modeled this seat as a preemie, the headrest still hits the top part of her head. Again, with the newer version of the seat, she would be boosted up a bit more, but her head would still hit in the middle of the headrest.
The fit on our Huggable Images doll is similar to the fit on our human model. The straps fit nicely, but because the doll has a flatter head (as some babies do!) and of course not much of a neck, the headrest isn’t as much of an issue.
Here is our young model at 20 months old, weighs 20 pounds and is 26 inches tall. She fits quite nicely into the seat and seems to find it comfortable!
Our toddler doll is looking a bit cramped at the shoulders in the Aton Q. He is 30 inches tall, so he’s almost outgrown the seat by height. Nevertheless, this is a moot point since there is not 1 inch of the seat left above his head. He has already outgrown this seat by torso height.
Important Information: Where to Find
The FAA approval is found on a sticker on the side of the carrier. The base is not approved, but one can easily install the carrier without the base at the destination.
The manual is stored in a pocket on the underside of the carrier. When the seat comes out of the box, the manual is in this storage pocket, with a hard plastic cover over it. This has led a few parents to not be able to locate the manual!
The expiration is clearly marked on a sticker on the underside of the base. It is 6 years from the month of manufacture.
The Aton Q is a fun, colorful seat with a generally easy installation, a load leg and European routing. It’s a good fit for smaller cars and smaller babies, though one must check the fit on the smallest of preemies and infants. The no-rethread harness and folding headrest flap lead to easy adjustments. Those looking for a stylish, compact seat may have found the right one for their little in the Aton Q!
Our friends at Cybex are giving away an Aton Q to one lucky reader. Enter below for your chance to win! Please read our terms and conditions before entering.