My very first car seat was an Evenflo. While I have owned many brands over the last 6 years and 3 children, I’ve always had a soft spot for the brand that introduced me to child passenger safety. The Evenflo Symphony DLX showcases my favorite Evenflo features in one eye pleasing, easy to use child restraint. From the well padded, soft fabric, to the Infinite Slide harness, and the SURELATCH connectors, the Evenflo Symphony DLX is well designed, easy to install and easy to use seat that’s been really fun to play with for this review.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Rear-facing: 4-40 pounds, 40 inches tall
- Forward-facing: 22-65 pounds, less than 50 inches tall
- Highback Booster: 40-110 pounds, 43.3-57 inches tall
- 8 year expiration
- Steel-reinforced frame
- Lowest harness position: 6 inches tall (with infant insert)
- Highest harness position: 17 inches tall
- Highest booster position: 19 inches tall
- SURELATCH self ratcheting lower anchor connectors
- Lower anchor compatible in booster mode
- Infinite Slide harness
Meet the Seat
The Evenflo Symphony DLX is a 3 in 1 multimode seat. This means that the Symphony offers rear facing and forward facing modes with a five point harness, plus a third mode — a high back belt positioning booster mode. Coming in at a solid 21 pounds, it isn’t light weight, but that also means it isn’t as prone to tilt as some other models may be. Included is a two piece comfort insert that can be used in rear facing mode only. The head padding is secured with hidden velcro, and the body insert simply lays in the seat.
In rear facing mode, the Symphony isn’t the most compact option on the market, but in the highest allowable rear facing setting there is still room to have the front seat in this 2009 Toyota Sienna all the way back. The Symphony is 20 inches at its widest point, due to its dual cup holders. The width may mean the Symphony is not the right seat for you if you have other child restraints you need to puzzle it with. The cup holders may be a plus for some families.
Rear Facing Stats:
- Height: 19-40 inches tall
- Weight: 5-40 pounds
- Age: Birth +
- Fit Restrictions: Top of child’s head must be at least one inch below the top of the child restraint headrest in any of its three lowest positions.
- Lowest Harness Position: 6 inches with insert
- Seated Height Max: 22 inches
- Crotch Buckle Depth: 6 inches with insert
While the design of the base would make it nearly impossible to use pool noodles to adjust the recline, the rear facing recline mechanism is adequate for most vehicle seats. It’s fairly easy to manipulate the seat into a more, or less, reclined state by pressing on the seat while holding the recline handle.
The lower anchor connectors are clearly labeled for rear and forward facing positions, though one does need to be careful when switching to avoid getting the webbing entangled in the harness.
Fit to Child: Rear Facing
This newborn Huggable Images model is 7 pounds and 17 inches long. With the insert, the Symphony fit our model well with the harness at the lowest position. The insert was a bit awkward to position behind her and pushed her head forward a tad, but other than that, it’s a good fit.
This model is 6 months old, weighs 18 pounds, and is 26 inches long. For baby Anders, the fit was better without the insert. The harness was right below/at shoulders when in the 2nd to lowest position.
Our toddler model is 2.5 years old. Freya weighs 21 pounds and is 32 inches tall. The Symphony fit her well with the harness right below/at her shoulders. The head support was on the 2nd position.
Forward Facing Stats:
- Height: 28-50 inches
- Weight: 22-65 pounds
- Age: At least one year old*
- Fit Restrictions: Top of child’s ears are below the top of the child restraint headrest in its tallest position and harness at child’s shoulders.
- Highest Harness Position: 17 inches
Switching between modes is fairly easy. The Symphony has clear labeling and well written instructions in the manual. There are three recline settings. Setting 1 is the required setting for rear facing. Settings 2 and 3 can be used forward facing with the harness, and setting 3 is required for booster mode.
When installing forward facing I used the seat belt and top tether. The seatbelt install was simple and fuss free, and the tether was easy to adjust and secure to the tether anchor. The seat allows for ample forward facing leg room in the Sienna in the second row. Leg room was diminished some in the narrower third row, but would still be comfortable for most children.
Belt Positioning Booster Stats:
- Height: 43.3-57 inches
- Weight: 40-110 pounds
- Age: At least four years old CSFTL recommends that children be at least 5 years old before moving to a booster seat
- Fit Restrictions: Proper seat belt fit
- Highest Belt Guide Position: 18 inches
When switching from harness to booster mode, the harness is stored by wrapping it around the back of the seat, through slits in the cover, and buckling the chest clip. You do need to remove the crotch buckle in booster mode as well, but this is simple to do, and overall it was easier to convert to booster mode than some other options on the market. The shoulder belt guide was easy to thread and allowed the belt to retract freely in both rows of the Sienna. The Symphony is wide, but buckling the booster wasn’t terribly difficult.
The Infinite Slide harness is hands down my favorite Evenflo feature, and all versions of the Symphony have it. The concept is simple, position so the red tabs are at the child’s shoulder and tighten the harness to that the straps pass the “pinch test”. If you’ve got the harness too high, it will pull down when properly tightened. For my daughter, who has a condition which affects joint strength in her shoulders, the Infinite Slide harness means I no longer have to switch between convertible seats while she grows into the next slot, as the harness tends to slide right off once the harness is below her shoulders.
Evenflo also includes SURELATCH connectors on the DLX model of the Symphony. This feature allows for an easy lower anchor install. Just attach the connectors to your vehicle’s lower anchors, compress the child restraint, and the connectors self ratchet for a secure install.
SURELATCH is a dream in both the second and third row of my Toyota Sienna, but it should be noted that if you have a vehicle with very deep set lower anchors, or a high seat bight, SURELATCH may be more difficult. The good news is the seat belt install for the Symphony is also very simple, and the SURELATCH connectors can be stored in either the rear facing or forward facing settings on the provided d-rings. There is also a storage ring for the tether, which must be stored when installing rear facing. For those parents who prefer to use lower anchors, the Symphony has a 2014 change-compliant child weight limit of 40 pounds.
The Symphony is not the right seat for every child. While it will fit average newborns very well (a nice, and kind of rare feature for a convertible seat, let alone a 3 in 1 combination seat like this one!), its limitations for rear facing are its biggest drawback. Most kids will outgrow the Symphony rear facing by seated height (22″) or standing height 40inches) well before they reach the NHTSA recommendation of their fourth birthday.
The 17 inch top slots for forward facing mode are comparable to other convertible and multimode car seats currently on the market. For some kids, that limit will be sufficient to get them to a safe booster age. The Symphony is an IIHS Best Bet booster, so for those children who can use the seat safely from birth to booster, it functions well in all three modes. This is a rarity among multimode car seats.
Other Important Notes:
- The Symphony 65 DLX expires 8 years from the date of manufacture
- Evenflo requires replacement after any crash
- LATCH limit is 40 pounds child weight
- You may use LATCH in booster mode
Overall the Symphony DLX is well designed and easy to use, despite it’s limitations. This seat is a great option for smaller than average children, foster parents or day care providers who need one seat that fits multiple ages and stages, and is quick to convert, or just a fun seat to add to your collection. If you happen to collect car seats. (Hey, it’s not THAT strange.)
In late 2014, Evenflo released a new set of features called SureSafe Installation on the Symphony exclusive to Walmart stores and Walmart.com. These features include new quick release lower anchor connectors. The connectors can now be released from the vehicle’s lower anchors with just a pull of the strap. It also features lower anchor attachment guides. These attach to the vehicle’s lower anchors before installation to help access the lower anchors. The last feature is the buckle pocket. The buckles can be tucked in these pockets to keep the harness out of the way. The Evenflo Symphony SureSafe is currently only available at your local Walmart store or Walmart.com.
Evenflo has offered to give away a Symphony DLX to one of our lucky readers! Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. The contest is open to residents of the United States.
Giveaway is now closed, congrats to the winner!
Can’t wait for the giveaway to be over? Purchase your own Evenflo Symphony on Amazon.com
Evenflo was generous enough to provide the Symphony DLX used in this review, CSFTL was not otherwise compensated. Opinions, as always, are ours alone.