Each year, an average of 37 children die from hyperthermia after being left in a hot car. At CSFTL, we keep this sobering statistic near to our hearts, doing anything and everything we can to prevent any more of these deaths. We’ve chatted with hyperthermia expert Jan Null, we promote awareness on every social media outlet we can find, we talk relentlessly about simple ways to prevent this tragedy.
What does hyperthermia have to do with a car seat?
Evenflo introduced SensorSafe as one way to help parents stay alert to the dangers of hyperthermia. Evenflo describes it as:
SensorSafe Technology works by alerting a caregiver that a child is present in the vehicle upon reaching their destination. Additionally the technology will also alert the caregiver if the chest clip becomes unbuckled during the trip.
Evenflo debuted its SensorSafe technology when it released their Advanced Embrace with SensorSafe to the market. We have been hoping that they would bring this potentially life saving technology to other seats in their lineup, and now they have! Evenflo recently added SensorSafe to its popular Titan 65 (also known as the SureRide) convertible car seat, providing another level of safety to an already well loved car seat.
While we welcome the addition of this technology to a seat that we find extremely versatile, we encountered quite a number of issues with the SensorSafe features of the seat while writing this review. At each point, the manufacturer worked with us to resolve the issue by troubleshooting, then sending replacement parts.
We worry quite a bit that families will face the same issues we did without knowing they were happening. Let’s take a closer look at the seat and the technology.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Rear facing weight range: 5-40 pounds
- Rear facing height range: 19-40 inches tall
- Forward facing weight range: 22-65 pounds
- Forward facing height range: 29-54 inches tall
- Lowest harness position: 6 inches tall
- Highest harness position: 19 inches tall
- Two buckle slots: 4 and 6 inches.
- Lower anchor limit: 55 pounds both rear and forward facing
- Inside width at widest point: 13.5 inches at the thigh area
- Inside width at narrowest point: 11 inches at the hips
- Outside width at narrowest point: 20 inches at the sides, 18 inches at the seat pan
- Crotch strap & pan depth (without insert): 5 and 7 inches
- Seat pan depth: 12 inches
- Shell height: 26 inches tall
- Weight: 11 pounds
- SensorSafe chest clip and receiver
- Expiration: 6 years
- Harness pads
- Infant inserts
- Crotch buckle comfort padding
- Buckle holders
- Cup holder
This ADVANCED SensorSafe Titan 65 is very similar to the original Titan 65/SureRide in almost every way. The key difference is the addition of the SensorSafe chest clip and receiver. This version of the car seat includes soft padding and harness pads. The installation and ease of use of the ADVANCED SensorSafe Titan 65 mirrors its cousins the Titan 65 and SureRide 65.
SensorSafe is a two part safety system, comprised of a special chest clip and a receiver which is attached to a port inside the caregiver’s vehicle. The port is a small plastic plug, and is located under the steering column in newer vehicles.
This receiver is intended to be used in vehicles 2008 and newer, but sometimes an older vehicle will have an appropriate port as well. For questions regarding vehicle compatibility, call Evenflo directly.
The chest clip and receiver connect with each other using wireless technology, and the receiver will chime to notify driver that there is a child in the back seat. It will even alert the driver in the event the child opens their chest clip.
In order to install the SensorSafe receiver in the vehicle, caregivers need to locate the correct port for the receiver and plug it in. The receiver is designed to make a tone immediately the next time the vehicle is turned on.
In this 2010 Honda Odyssey, the port is under the steering column.
SensorSafe has been designed to activate after the vehicle has been driven for 30 seconds at 5 MPH or more. It will chime within two seconds of parking and turning off the engine, alerting the parent to the presence of a child buckled in the back seat. In addition, SensorSafe will chime if a child opens their chest clip, as long as the car is on and has been in motion for at least 30 seconds at 5 MPH or more before the chest clip was opened.
Not only is this a significant safety feature that can prevent accidental vehicular hyperthermia (heat stroke from being left in a vehicle) but SensorSafe can help parents of harness Houdinis, as well. While escaping from a harness in the car is generally a behavioral issue that needs to be addressed like any other unwanted behavior, it is helpful to have a car seat that can quickly alert parents to a potential problem.
There is also an automatic “sleep mode” that will turn the chest clip mechanism off after it has been buckled for 12 hours. It can be activated again by unbuckling and re-buckling the chest clip. Since children won’t be sitting in a car seat for more than a few hours at a time, the sleep mode shouldn’t be a safety issue, but it is important to leave the chest clip unbuckled when the car seat is not in use to preserve the life of the battery within it.
When I reviewed the Evenflo ADVANCED Embrace with SensorSafe about a year and a half ago, I found that my first receiver plug did not work. The second worked perfectly, however, which led me to believe that the first plug was a dud, or a fluke.
Because I wrote that review, I know how the SensorSafe system is supposed to work, and unfortunately, it seems like there are still bugs to be worked out of this technology.
Concerns Around SensorSafe
The receiver plug went into place as it should, and beeped to let me know that it was active once I turned on the vehicle. However, after over a week of use, we found that the SensorSafe technology was not working as designed. The SensorSafe receiver, meant to chime after the vehicle is turned off after a drive, only did so a handful of times during the couple of weeks I was testing it. It did not alert properly every time it was used. We reached out to Evenflo, and discussed the situation, and are sending back parts of the seat to be tested. Evenflo representatives are confident that there are issues with the seat we were given for this review, and that the problem I experienced is isolated.
Vehicular hyperthermia kills children: an average of 37 American children die each year because a parent or caregiver has inadvertently left them in the vehicle or they’ve climbed back into a parked vehicle. This product is designed to chime when the chest clip is buckled and the vehicle is turned off after a ride so that the driver is reminded of the child’s presence in back.
If it does not work reliably, and parents are counting on it to work, that is a rather significant issue.
Additionally, the receiver is meant to chime if the chest clip is opened during a ride. Again, we could not get this to work appropriately. I know that it can work, because when I did the review for the Advanced Embrace with SensorSafe, I took the chest clip off of the seat and opened it while my husband was driving to get the chime to activate.
If this worked properly, parents of kids who are attempting to escape from the harness may be able to catch their child in the act, and ideally would be able to fix the situation more quickly.
After working with representatives from GoodBaby, the parent company of Evenflo, I did eventually receive a new chest clip and plug-in device. I immediately put the plug in the vehicle and the chest clip on the car seat and these replacement parts worked beautifully when I tested them. I made sure to leave the chest clip un-clipped when it was not in use, and then used it normally for several trips over the course of the next few days. I am encouraged that the new parts seem to be working properly, but still concerned that the first set appeared to be installed properly, but did not function as designed. I am not sure that average parents would know to test or troubleshoot an item like this. While Evenflo is working hard to address and correct any errors, the fact that I happened to get two that didn’t work on two different seats isn’t reassuring.
This version of the ADVANCED SensorSafe Titan 65 has the same padded infant insert that we’ve seen on the other SureRide/Titan 65 seats. The fabric is smooth and seems very resilient, but also soft and comfortable.
The included harness pads are a nice addition to this version of the seat. Harness pads are available for purchase directly from Evenflo for SureRide/Titan 65 seats that did not come with them originally.
The head support, body pillow, and buckle cover are all optional accessories, and may be used or not as caregivers see fit.
The recline mechanism is a stand that flips down for rear facing, and is stowed back for forward facing. When it is moved out for rear facing mode, it locks into place with a tab on either side. If a rolled towel is necessary to achieve the proper recline for rear facing, it goes under the stand.
The flexible cup holder is allowed in forward facing mode only. It clips right onto the seat’s shell, then the cover is adjusted over it. In the manual, Evenflo reminds parents and caregivers to be mindful of the items a kiddo is given in the car, with specific warnings against heavy containers and hot liquids.
These little pockets near the hip area of the cover can be used to hold the buckle out of the way when kiddo is getting into the seat. The storage spots can also be used to insulate the metal parts of the crotch buckle when the seat is parked, so they may not be as hot when kiddo gets back into the car.
The recline indicator for rear facing is an embossed line on both sides of the seat. It must be parallel with the ground in rear facing mode. A helpful tip for parents is to color over this line with a metallic permanent marker, or perhaps try a small piece of colored tape, in order to make the line more visible.
Rear Facing: Lower Anchor installation
Upon opening a brand new ADVANCED SensorSafe Titan 65, the lower anchors are threaded through the forward facing belt path and stowed on the storage clips at the top on either side of the seat.
The lower anchor connector strap is attached to the shell under the padding with a white plastic strap — don’t cut this strap! To switch the lower anchors from the forward facing belt path to the rear facing belt path, move the webbing from the forward facing belt path into the rear facing belt path. The cord is flexible and will easily move from side to side, allowing the lower anchor connectors to be switched from one mode to the other.
Once the lower anchors are in the rear facing belt path and the recline stand is out, simply attach the lower anchors to the vehicle’s lower anchors, and tighten. Double check that the recline line is level with the ground, and you’re good to go!
Vehicle Seat Belt Installation
To install the ADVANCED SensorSafe Titan 65 with the vehicle seat belt, place the lower anchor connectors on the storage loops at the top of the seat. Stow the tether anchor on one side or the other, since it won’t be used in rear facing mode. In this photo, I’m using a lap and shoulder belt that locks at the buckle and rolled towel positioned under the recline stand to achieve the recline required for rear facing.
Not sure how your vehicle’s belts lock? Check out our Lock It Up article.
Pro tip: Need more leverage? Try standing behind the seat and putting pressure on it from behind as you pull the belt snug when installing.
Fit to Child:
Our newborn Huggable Images doll is 7 pounds and fits the ADVANCED SensorSafe Titan 65 perfectly. The harness is well below her shoulders on the first setting and she gets a good fit. I didn’t have to remove any padding, but all of it is optional, so it is okay to remove one or more pads to help create a better fit.
There is a newborn harness setting specifically designed so that newborns and smaller babies get a snug fit. It is a separate set of loops on the harness itself and is necessary for newborns.
Because there is a single required recline, the seat is not incredibly compact front to back. It did, however, fit in my third row with the second row seat pulled forward just a little.
There is also a newborn crotch buckle routing, which involves pulling the crotch buckle down through the inner setting and attaching it on the inside of the outer setting.
This setting is not required for children who weigh less than 10 pounds, but it does provide a good fit for a little one like our Huggable Images baby. Once the child weighs 10 pounds, the crotch buckle setting must be moved back to the first slot without the newborn routing.
2.5 Years Old
Our toddler model 2.5 years old, weighs 23 pounds and is 34 inches tall. She is happily rear facing, and she’ll remain that way as long as possible, because it is much safer for her than forward facing.
She is using the third harness setting, which places the harness well below her shoulders. There is plenty of room for her legs to cross comfortably and she can place them as she desires. She has a lot of room for growth in the ADVANCED SensorSafe Titan 65 and it will almost certainly last her in rear facing mode for a couple of years to come.
In the United States, the bottom four harness slots can be used for rear facing, but in Canada, the fourth slot from the bottom is not allowed for rear facing.
Forward Facing Mode
The ADVANCED SensorSafe Titan 65 has a 55 pound child only lower anchor weight limit, which is perfect for certain vehicles, like those with inflatable belts, and perhaps in some three across setups. While the vehicle belt and lower anchor installations are equally safe when used properly, parents sometimes prefer using the lower anchors, so sometimes having a high weight limit for the lower anchors is very handy. Remember to always use the tether anchor when installing a forward facing seat, as it significantly increases the child’s safety.
The top harness slots are an astounding 19 inches tall, which makes the Titan 65 an ideal budget friendly option for harnessing taller kids longer. In the US and Canada, the top two harness slots are only for forward facing, which is noted in the manual and on the back of the seat itself. In the US, the fourth slot up can either be used rear or forward facing, but in Canada this slot is a forward facing only harness position.
Because the Titan 65 has a lower anchor weight limit of 55 pounds, I was able to keep it installed that way for each of my forward facing models. Using the lower anchors is fairly easy for the Titan 65, and I appreciated having the option to use them for larger children.
I did also install it with a lap only belt in an older vehicle, by threading the belt through the belt path and pulling the end of the belt tight. This method is the same as airline installation. The Titan 65 and its sibling the SureRide are both popular travel seats because they’re FAA approved, incredibly lightweight, narrow enough to fit well on the vast majority of airline seats, and they accommodate tall children in harness mode.
In the third row of my 2010 Honda Odyssey, the tether anchor is on the rear sill which is the inside of the back hatch near the door opening. One can see in the photo that the tether anchor strap was not long enough to reach in this position and was too short by several inches. The tether anchor is vital to the safety of a forward facing child and is mandatory by law in Canada. Evenflo does offer a tether extender, for situations like this one in which it is necessary. There are four other seating positions with tether anchors in this vehicle, so moving it to another spot would probably be a good solution in my situation.
5 Years Old
Our five year old model weighs 39 pounds and is 43.5 inches tall. She normally rides harnessed in a different seat, because like many young five year olds, she is just not ready to use a booster full time.
Our five year old is using the second to last harness slots, and has a lot of room for growth in the Titan 65 with SensorSafe. She says that the seat is comfortable, but doesn’t like the shape of the chest clip. She prefers her regular seat, which she’ll continue to use in harness mode until she’s ready for a booster.
7 Years Old
This seven year old model is short and small for her age at just 45 pounds and 45 inches tall. She used the second to last harness slot and had ¾ of an inch – or more – to go until she outgrew it. The Titan 65 could easily last her years longer at this point because she is petite.
She had nothing bad to say about the seat and found the harness pads comfortable. Since she’s seven, and does well in a booster, she probably will not use the Titan 65 with SensorSafe regularly, but it is good to have a harnessed backup seat just in case.
9 Years Old
Yes, you read that correctly. The Titan 65 fits our nine year old model who is 52.5 inches tall and weighs 54 pounds. The top harness slots are above his shoulders, and he physically fits in the seat. There are a couple of reasons why a parent or caregiver would need to harness a child this age or size, one being learning or behavioral differences which can make boostering simply not a good option.
The Titan 65 is an unsung hero of harnessed seats, allowing parents of children with special considerations to ride harnessed longer without making a huge dent in the budget.
There was not a lot of harness left for our nine year old, and larger boned children, or heavier children, may outgrow the Titan 65 sooner than this model will. His shoulders just fit, with a little room on either side. While he didn’t like being harnessed, he didn’t actually mind the seat itself, and felt it was comfortable.
He rides in a high back booster full time, and we would not switch back to a harnessed seat unless necessary. Kids his age do still need boosters for a few more years, at least. He will be using one until 11 or 12 – yes, boosters are for BIG kids!
While the Titan 65 is not the most narrow seat on the market, it is fairly compact side to side. I successfully installed it along with a BubbleBum and a narrower booster, the Safety1st Store N Go. There isn’t a one size fits all seat or combination for three across, so it is important to take into consideration the ages and sizes of the kiddos in the vehicle, vehicle type and size, location of tether anchors, belts, and lower anchors, and more.
The Titan 65 is a popular travel option because it is lightweight, has tall top harness slots, and fits very nicely on airline seats in forward facing mode. It may be more of a challenge to get it installed at the proper recline for rear facing on all airline seats, but it is possible on some.
In the manual, Evenflo notes that the chest clip MUST be unfastened before take-off to comply with FAA regulations, as the SensorSafe device is electronic. There are also very detailed instructions for installing the Titan 65 on the plane, which uses a lap only belt with a locking latch plate, similar to the lap only belt shown above.
It is really important that kids who would be harnessed at home are harnessed on an airplane. Even, and especially little ones who technically could be lap infants should be harnessed. Though the FAA permits it, holding a baby on your lap isn’t a safe practice and should be avoided. We have a wealth of information about traveling with kids of all ages and sizes in our Travel Archive.
Important Information: Where to Find
Manual Storage: Not located on the seat itself, so remember to keep it in a handy place! Evenflo has cleverly stamped its phone number on the back of the seat with a reminder to parents and caregivers to call if the manual is lost.
Date of manufacture and expiration date: Both of these are listed on the sticker located on the inside of the right pillar on the back of the seat. ADVANCED SensorSafe Titan 65 expires 6 years after the manufacture date.
FAA Approval: The ADVANCED SensorSafe Titan 65 is FAA Approved. The notice is written in red on a sticker on the bottom of the seat.
Manufacturer Contact Information: Evenflo lists their contact information on the stickers and embossed the information on the shell at the back of the seat.
Parents and caregivers will also note that this seat is made in the United States, which is also stamped on the seat at the top of the back of the shell.
Locking Clip Storage: The ADVANCED SensorSafe Titan 65 doesn’t come with a locking clip, used to lock a lap/shoulder belt in some situations. There is a space on the back of the seat to store one, however, should it be necessary to have handy. Locking clips generally aren’t necessary in the US and Canada now, because all vehicles made after 1996 have belts that lock in some way for car seat installation, but for parents and caregivers with older vehicles, or for those who are considering travel outside of the US/Canada, a locking clip can be necessary. Evenflo should provide a locking clip when contacted.
While I love the ease of installing and using the ADVANCED SensorSafe Titan 65 , and I’m impressed at its physical range and overall capacity, I find the issues with SensorSafe troubling. This is a safety device, and if it was functioning properly, it could be a lifesaving piece of technology. I really feel that it needs to be perfected, and I don’t believe that has happened yet.
It’s worth noting that the harness release button is exposed and faces the child. While we’re not overly concerned about this, nor is this unusual, if your child is particularly drawn to harness release buttons, this may be worth taking into consideration. Our 2.5 year old model could almost reach it with her hands, and it is likely she could eventually reach it with her feet. It is impossible to say that she’d try to escape, but something like a flap of fabric on the cover could prevent children from being reminded that it is there, and from gaining access to it.
The ADVANCED SensorSafe Titan 65 is still a fantastic option for rear facing most kids until age two or longer, is a great long lasting harnessed seat, and is often a popular choice for travel. The issues I’ve experienced with the first SensorSafe chest clip and plug don’t change the versatility and usability of the seat itself, and Evenflo has been committed to work through reported problems on a case by case basis. I did receive working parts and representatives from Evenflo worked hard to make sure the system was working properly for me. When all of the bugs are worked out, I think the SensorSafe technology has the potential to be a life saving technology that is fairly user friendly, and very simple to understand.