For those who have been around the car seat world long enough, Jané is a familiar name. In 2003, Jané brought boosters with lower anchor capability to the US. Jané has been quiet for a while in the car seat world though, in the US anyways. They introduced the Montecarlo R1 to their European market and just now brought it here to the US. Let’s see what this new seat has to offer.
CSFTL Quick Stats:
- High back booster weight range: 30-100 lbs.
- High back booster height range: under 57″
- Highest belt guide position: 20″
- Expiration: 7 years
- Does not become a backless booster
- One recline position
- Three position adjustable arm rests
- Rigid lower anchor connectors
- Aluminum Integral Adjustment System
- Torso wings and head wings adjust in width
- EPS foam in head and torso areas
- Comes with lower anchor attachment guides
The Montecarlo comes out of the box preassembled. I was so excited to see the Flame color in person, it’s much prettier than the pictures online show. Yale or Klein are also available color choices. All are very mature colors for older kids, which is nice. The cover on the Montecarlo is nicely padded and would be a good choice for even the most discerning booster users. The cover is also easily removed for cleaning. It’s held on to the booster with a series of snaps built on to the seat and velcro straps around the head support. The snaps have unsnapped a few times on the bottom front from regular use, but they’re super easy to resnap. The cover is made from a soft polyester blend that is meant to breathe in the summer and help retain heat in the winter. There are vent holes all along the back of the seat and on the side bolsters to help with breathability. Not something you see in most boosters.
The storage spot for the manual is very clearly marked so there are no excuses to not read it! Manage to lose it even with a specially marked spot? No worries. There is a handy QR code on the side of the seat that takes you to the manual online.
While going through the manual, one of the first things I found was the age limit was listed as approximately 1.5-12 years old for the Montecarlo.
Yay on the 12! Our booster seat science post goes over all the whys of using a booster that long. On the flip side, a child should be rear facing until two to four years old and should not be in a booster until at least five. Our harness or booster post goes over what to look for when thinking about switching to a booster.
If you’ve never used rigid lower anchor connectors, trust me, you’ll love them. We don’t know that having them on boosters add any safety benefit, but they are great for those kids who forget to buckle the seat belt over the booster when they get out of the vehicle. Unoccupied boosters can be a projectile in the vehicle like anything else that is loose; lower anchor connectors fix that. Rigid connectors make it that much easier for caregiver to use over the traditional ones. The Montecarlo does come with covers on the connectors to protect them (and the vehicle) if they are not in use. Remove those, slide out the lower connectors, attach to anchor bars, and push booster into the seat. The sliding out of the lower anchors is not an easy task. I find having it done it a few times now that the buttons you push have loosened up some making it easier, but it’s something you’ll need to read the manual for as it’s not necessarily self explanatory.
Another feature is the aluminum integrated into the back support and head support. It gives it structure while still keeping it lightweight. The head support has five positions to fit a variety of children. When positioned correctly, the belt guide needs to be as close to even with the shoulder as possible, but never below. It also has three position adjustable arm rests. Having it in the highest position seems to help make buckling a little easier. The Montecarlo also features a mechanical recline position, which can only be engaged without the child in the seat, so you must adjust prior to the child climbing in. I didn’t see a big difference between the positions but it might be nice if you know you’ll be going on a longer trip and you tend to have a noodle kid when they fall asleep. The torso and head support should do a good job at keeping most kids positioned well though.
The biggest feature of the Montecarlo is the fully adjustable torso and head support; both are lined with energy absorbing foam. This foam is meant to absorb some of the energy from the crash meaning less crash forces are transferred to the child. There are two knobs on the side of the seat, one makes the torso support adjust wider and more narrow and one controls the head support. This makes it a great seat for children of all sizes and can customize the fit to them. I found even with it fully open, this booster is more suited to children with a narrower frame. Also, the torso knob sticks out an odd angle in vehicles with side bolsters. You can see how above it is running into the side of my captain’s chair. This has made the knob loose and hard to use when the seat is installed in this vehicle. If you recline the vehicle seat, you will have better access to the knob. Be sure to put the seat back upright again before moving the vehicle.
This is Olivia showing off the most narrow and the most open head support positions. She’s just over 5.5 years old and right at 50 lbs. and 46″. Her favorite feature was the adjustable head wings. She liked them tight on her head to ‘squish’ her. She fit great in the seat and was on the fourth position (barely) of five with some growing room before she’d need the highest position.
This is Addison, she’s 6.5 years old, 41 lbs. and 45″. She is right on the cusp of being too tall for the bottom position, so the second seems to fit her a little bit better. She had great leg support even though she has such long legs for her height. You can see how torso height can change the length of time a booster can be used when you compare her to Olivia above. Olivia is only 1″ taller but needs the fourth guide position.
Ilana will be 8 in less than a month and still uses a high back booster. She’s 67 lbs. and 49.75″ and using the highest belt guide position with little growing room. You can see it’s a bit shallow for her and I feel kind of pushes her forward. She didn’t complain though and seemed to find it comfortable and chose to use it over her regular booster when given the chance. She did mention she felt a bit squished in the shoulder and arm region because of the torso support but at the same time found it cozy. Eight year old girls might not be the best source of solid information. Unfortunately she has little room left height wise anyways and it does not become a no back booster.
Evan will be 10 in less than two months and still uses a high back booster as well most of the time. He’s 63 lbs. and 51″ and is also using the highest belt guide position. His torso isn’t quite as long so he has a little bit more room to grow than his younger sister. He liked being able to adjust the head wings himself and he too likes the seat to ‘squish’ his head. Silly kids! Again, it’s rather shallow for his legs but with more narrow build, it doesn’t seem as noticeable. He’s also not feeling as tight in the torso area because of his narrow build.
My favorite activity (maybe not favorite) is finding more seats that work in my three across in my third row. With five kids, all in some kind of seat, it’s like a game! We tried the Montecarlo in the back with an Evenflo Sureride and Harmony Folding booster. With its narrow frame (when the torso protection is adjusted inward) and adjustable arm rests, I thought we might have a winner. I was kind of right. It fit nicely and could get buckled, but because of the head wings it could only get to position four of the five settings which meant it did not work for either of the older kids back there. If it were next to a rear facing seat, you would have more flexibility in the torso protection position.
A feature I didn’t have much use for in my vehicle, were the lower anchor attachment guides. My lower anchors are right there, plain sight, you won’t miss them. I’ve worked with some parents in vehicles that where I almost gave up on lower anchors completely and just went to seat belt because the anchors were so hard to access. That’s where these little guys can come in handy. You simply attach them to your lower anchors and it helps guide the rigid connectors onto the bars. Releasing the connectors isn’t a concern, it’s just getting them attached in some vehicles that can be tricky.
Overall the kids give it a thumbs up with it probably being most suited to our younger booster user. It really grew on me as we used it. They loved the head wings and the cover was really nice and soft, much more than our other seats. The lower anchors make it easy to install and keep in place when unoccupied and it also seems it would work in a three across situation. It also kept the booster in place nicely. We tried it in our older Cavalier and it was a bit tippy for our newest booster rider. She had a hard time keeping upright, but it would probably be fine for an older, more experienced rider. For the price point though, I was hoping it would be a little deeper and the head support would adjust higher as it does not become a no back booster. The Montecarlo should get most children to around 8 years old, but as kids need boosters for 3-4 years after that, it’s disappointing it would be outgrown so soon. Now if you have a petite child like Evan above, or a smaller torsoed child like Addison, the price may work out better in the end. It also doesn’t have a cup holder. Not a big deal as I find most cup holders on boosters don’t do a good job at holding drinks, but my kids like having a little place to put things when we’re in the vehicle.
Jané was generous enough to provide a Montecarlo for giveaway to one of our readers. Be sure to enter below. Can’t wait to win one? Buy it now! You can find the Jané Montecarlo R1 on Amazon.com. While Jané did provide the Montecarlo for review, no other compensation was provided. As always, opinions were all my own.