Cosco Easy Elite Multimode Car Seat Review

The Cosco Easy Elite multimode car seat is a cross between the long-lamented Alpha Omega/Alpha Omega Elite/ 3-in-1 car seat and the new, largely fantastic Grow and Go.  This budget option retails for around $100 and has a lot of nice features as well as a few shortcomings.

Cosco Easy Elite

Cosco Easy Elite

 

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • Rear facing weight range: 5-40 lbs
  • Rear facing height range: 19-40″ or head even with the top of the shell
  • Forward facing weight range: 22-50 lbs
  • Forward facing height range: up to 45″
  • High back booster weight range: 40-80 lbs
  • High back booster height range: up to 57″
  • Lowest harness position: 10″
  • Highest harness position: 16.75″
  • Highest booster belt guide: 18″
  • Expiration:  December of the 10th year after manufacture
  • Lower anchor weight limit: 40 lbs

Features

  • No rethread harness
  • Smooth cover
  • Padded headrest
  • Infant insert

Measurements

  • Shell height: 26″
  • Three position adjustable crotch strap: 4, 5, and 6 inches
  • Width at widest point: 18″

Installation

Large, clear, easy to read labels on the seat show how to install the Easy Elite. The belt paths on the seat are color-coded. There are even QR codes on the seat that connect users to installation instructions.

I installed the Easy Elite in two vehicles. I found it fairly easy to use.

Cosco Easy Elite Label

Cosco Easy Elite Label

The lower anchor connectors are shipped on the inside of the seat in a blue package and users must remove them from the package before installing or using the seat. Either the lower anchors or vehicle belt can be used to install the Easy Elite; the lower anchors may be used until the child weighs 40 lbs.

Cosco Easy Elite lower anchors

Cosco Easy Elite lower anchors

According to the manual, the tether is always required for forward facing use.The tether is essential safety equipment for any forward facing seat because properly used, it can help reduce forward head movement during a crash; using the tether is also required by law in Canada. The Easy Elite has a 2 year minimum for forward facing, which CSFTL applauds.

 

Installation with the Lower Anchor Connectors

Cosco Easy Elite installed using lower anchors

Cosco Easy Elite installed using lower anchors

The Easy Elite has standard hook-style lower anchor connectors, and although they’re considered basic, I found them easy to use. In this vehicle, a 2003 Grand Prix with cloth seats, I could easily use the noodless installation method as demonstrated in our Safety 1st Guide 65 review and stand behind the seat to gain leverage when installing it in rear facing mode.  Remember to only check for movement at the belt path, where the seat should move no more than 1″ side to side or front to back.

Cosco Easy Elite with a rolled towel underneath

Cosco Easy Elite with a rolled towel underneath

Alternatively, a rolled towel or pool noodles can be used to achieve the appropriate recline.  In the photo below, a rolled towel helps achieve the proper recline for a child weighing 22 to 40 lbs.

Cosco Easy Elite installed using lower anchors

Cosco Easy Elite installed using lower anchors

In forward facing mode, installing the Easy Elite with the lower anchors is straightforward- clip them on and tighten. The anchors can be used until the child’s weight is 40 lbs.

Installation with the vehicle belt

Cosco Easy Elite lower anchor storage

Cosco Easy Elite lower anchor storage

When installing with the vehicle belt, and not with the lower anchors, the manual directs the user to store the lower anchors on the sides of seat. There are very visible spots for storage of the lower anchors on the shell.

Cosco Easy Elite rear facing at the 22 lbs and under recline level

Cosco Easy Elite rear facing at the 22 lbs and under recline level

The rear facing installation in a 2010 Honda Odyssey with leather seats required a large tightly rolled towel  to achieve both recline settings.

Cosco Easy Elite accessing the vehicle belt

Cosco Easy Elite accessing the vehicle belt

The manual states to pull the cover up and pull the vehicle belt from the inside of the car seat.

This is a helpful trick for rear facing installations with the Easy Elite. The vehicle belt must be locked whenever installing a car seat in your vehicle. Want to read more about how to lock your vehicle belt? Our Lock it Up article can help with that!

The Easy Elite was a cinch to install both forward facing in the middle of a Pontiac Grand Am with a lap only belt and in the third row of this Honda Odyssey. It’s nice to see that a “basic seat” can be very easy to use.

Fit to Child

Rear Facing

Newborn – Jo, 7 lbs, 19 inches tall

Cosco Easy Elite: Newborn, 7 lbs, 19 inches tall

Cosco Easy Elite: Newborn, 7 lbs, 19 inches tall

Despite its 5 pound and 19 inch minimum limits, the Easy Elite multimode seat does not have a low enough bottom harness setting to accommodate our newborn doll, Jo.

Cosco Easy Elite: Our newborn model is way below the bottom harness slots

Cosco Easy Elite: Our newborn model is way below the bottom harness slots

According to the manual, the harness must be at or below baby Jo’s shoulders, and as the photo clearly shows, the 10″ lowest harness slot is several inches above the shoulders of our Huggable Images doll. Unfortunately, this means that she cannot safely ride in this seat and that this seat is not likely to fit human newborns well either.  There are other convertible seats that will fit newborns at birth.

Toddler: 18 months old, 18 lbs, 29 inches tall

Cosco Easy Elite: 18 months old, 18 lbs, 29 inches tall

Cosco Easy Elite: 18 months old, 18 lbs, 29 inches tall

Maeve is on the small side for 18 months old. She easily fits within the limits for using the Easy Elite in rear facing mode. The harness is just below her shoulders, which means that if she were much smaller she may not fit the minimum height limit.Since the seat’s listed minimum height and weight limits should accommodate a much smaller baby, it is a little disappointing that many babies would not actually fit the seat until closer to 9-12 months of age. The good news is that a toddler of Maeve’s size can remain rear facing for a long time in this seat.

Preschooler: 4 years old, 34 lbs, 39 inches tall

Cosco Easy Elite: 4 years old, 34 lbs, 39 inches tall

Cosco Easy Elite: 4 years old, 34 lbs, 39 inches tall

Saoirse is just under the rear facing limits for the Easy Elite. At four, she’s safe to ride forward facing, but we do suggest that children ride rear facing until they’ve outgrown the height or weight limits of their car seat.

The Easy Elite should allow most kids to ride rear facing until around 3-3.5 years old, if not later, since that’s when average children reach 40″.

Saoirse has plenty of legroom and felt comfortable in the Easy Elite, but she prefers to ride forward facing in her regular car seat. Still, she was very happy to model the Easy Elite for us.

Forward Facing Harness Mode

Preschooler: 4 years old, 34 lbs, 39 inches tall

Cosco Easy Elite: 4 years old, 34 lbs, 39 inches tall

Cosco Easy Elite: 4 years old, 34 lbs, 39 inches tall

Saoirse is back in the Easy Elite, but now she’s riding forward facing. She was happy that the Easy Elite’s headrest was soft and padded, and liked that she had room to cross her legs in front of her if she wanted. A common complaint of newly forward facing children is that their legs dangle, and the open, low profile, seat pan on the Easy Elite can help to accommodate Littles who prefer to cross their legs while in the vehicle. It may also be a nice option, provided the child fits, for parents who have children with braces or splits on their legs who need a wider pan with low sides to accommodate club shoes, leg casts, or similar.

Kindergartner: 5.5 years old, 40 lbs, 42″ tall

Cosco Easy Elite: 5.5 years old, 40 lbs, 42 inches tall

Cosco Easy Elite: 5.5 years old, 40 lbs, 42 inches tall

Eibhlin is on the small size for her age — she’s got more room to grow in the Easy Elite in forward facing harness mode than some larger children may have.

The top harness position is around 16.75″, which means that smaller kids will be able to use the harness until they’re ready to use a belt positioning booster. The angle of the seat when in forward facing mode meant that it wasn’t too upright, and Eibhlin felt relaxed and secure.

At 5.5, some kids are ready to start using a belt positioning booster, but Eibhlin is still riding in a 5 point harness in the car most of the time. She’ll learn what is expected of her while using a booster in the car slowly, and doesn’t mind being in a 5 point harness since she knows it is a safer option for her right now. Learn more about when to switch your Littles from harness to booster.

Booster Mode

Kindergartner: 5.5 years old, 40 lbs, 42 inches tall

Cosco Easy Elite: 5.5 years old, 40 lbs, 42 inches tall

Cosco Easy Elite: 5.5 years old, 40 lbs, 42 inches tall

Since the booster mode on the Easy Elite has a 40 pound minimum for use, Eibhlin only meets the limits by weight. However, the seat also has a 43″ height minimum for use in booster mode, so she’s not quite tall enough to use it yet.

Before switching modes on any car seat,  make sure that your Little meets all of the requirements for using the seat in that next step.

The shoulder belt crosses appropriately over her chest and shoulder.  The seat belt does fit her across her hips, but since she doesn’t meet the minimum height limit for using this seat in booster mode, I believe the belt fit would appear better if she were a little taller.  When Eibhlin gains another inch, she could safely use the Easy Elite in belt positioning booster mode.

The lower anchors and tether anchor cannot be used to secure the seat to the vehicle in booster mode, so this seat needs to be buckled in when there isn’t a child in the seat.

School Aged Child: 8 years old, 50 lbs, 52 inches tall

Cosco Easy Elite: 8 years old, 50 lbs, 52 inches tall

Cosco Easy Elite: 8 years old, 50 lbs, 52 inches tall

At eight, Declan is a pro at using a booster in the car. He is well within the stated height and weight limits of the Easy Elite, but has just about outgrown it by shoulder height.

Cosco Easy Elite: 8 years old, 50 lbs, 52 inches tall

Cosco Easy Elite: 8 years old, 50 lbs, 52 inches tall

The shoulder belt doesn’t have to be in the shoulder belt guide for use in booster mode.  In order for this model to fit in the seat, the headrest is raised to the tallest setting. He feels a little cramped in the Easy Elite and would need another booster option for long-term use.

Even though he’s a big kid and has outgrown the Easy Elite by shoulder height, he still needs a booster to ride safety in the car. Boosters are for big kids! A child Declan’s size could use a backless belt positioning booster if he got a good belt fit and could sit properly for the entire ride.

Features

No Rethread Harness

Cosco Easy Elite: no rethread harness

Cosco Easy Elite no rethread harness

The Easy Elite’s movable headrest easily adjusts up or down for quick adjustments. It is a smooth mechanism to operate and has several settings.

Padded Headrest

Cosco Easy Elite: padded headrest

Cosco Easy Elite padded headrest

The sides of the headrest are very plush and padded, but the cover is actually rather smooth. Even though these sides offered lots of soft cushioning, it still felt very open to our models.

For kids who have sensory concerns, a smooth cover and a soft, but open, headrest can make car rides much more enjoyable.

Infant Insert/Padding

Cosco Easy Elite infant insert/padding

Cosco Easy Elite infant insert/padding

This padding can be used for extra support in rear facing mode, but will not improve the fit for smaller babies.

Important Information: Where to Find

Cosco Easy Elite FAA Approval label

Cosco Easy Elite FAA Approval label

FAA Approval: A sticker on the left hand side shows a helpful image of an airplane, situated next to the FAA approval notice. The Easy Elite is allowed on airplanes in harness mode only, but may not fit well in rear facing mode, especially for children under 22 lbs because of the required recline for children of that size.

Cosco Easy Elite date of manufacture

Cosco Easy Elite date of manufacture

Expiration: The Easy Elite’s expiration date is stamped on the back of the seat, over the spot where a locking clip would be stored (a locking clip does not come with the Easy Elite).

Cosco Easy Elite manual storage

Cosco Easy Elite manual storage

Manual: The manual is stored inside the kickstand. It tucks in tidily to this perfect spot for keeping the manual handy.

Cosco Easy Elite date of manufacture label

Cosco Easy Elite date of manufacture label

Manufacturer information: The sticker on the right side of the seat shows the date of manufacture, model number information, and contact information for the manufacturer.

Overall Thoughts

At under $100, the Easy Elite multimode seat is a budget-friendly option for families with toddlers who have outgrown their rear facing only car seats. It may be more difficult to fit the seat in some vehicles at the reclined level required for children who weigh less than 22 lbs.

While we’re thrilled to see a harnessed seat with a 2 year minimum for forward facing use,  the fact that it does not fit babies at the smaller end of the stated limits is disappointing. The belt fit of the Easy Elite in booster mode is much improved over its predecessor, the Alpha Omega Elite/3-in-1 multimode seat, but it seems that that most kids will outgrow the Easy Elite well before the stated height and weight limits.

Jané Monte Carlo Review — UK Version

When we had a chance to review the Jané Monte Carlo R1 booster, we were also lucky enough to take a look at the UK version of the seat.   The seats are basically the same but have a few key differences that we’ll share in this review.

 

Jané Monte Carlo

Jané Monte Carlo

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • Highest belt guide: 20 inches
  • Lowest belt guide: 13 inches
  • Minimum age: The manual states “from approximately 3 years old (weighing 15kg)”.  Despite this UK-specific standard, CSFTL recommends that boosters be used for children who are at least 5 years old
  • Weight Range: 15-36 kg in high back mode only
  • Does not convert to a backless booster
  • 6 adjustable height positions to accommodate a growing child

Features

  • Red guides to indicate the forward facing belt path
  • Adjustable armrests
  • 1 recline position
  • Adjustable backrest and headrest width
  • Ventilation system in the headwings
  • The option to use with or without ISOFIX
  • Rated “Universal” if using without ISOFIX (compatible with most vehicle seats)
  • Rated “Semi-Universal” if using ISOFIX (Jané recommendeds checking to see if your vehicle is compatible using a vehicle check list on their website – www.jane.es)

 

Seat Assembly

Jané Monte Carlo assembly

Jané Monte Carlo assembly

The Monte Carlo arrives in the box in two parts. The high backed portion of the seat needs to be attached to the lower back before the seat can be installed in a vehicle. Can’t find the manual in the box? The manual actually ships in a neat little storage spot at the front of the booster, and has a sticker to show you exactly where it can be found. This is a great way to ensure the caregiver can find it easily.

The assembly of the seat is very well detailed in the manual. It comes with 4 screws and an Allen key that includes a storage attachment so you can keep it with the seat. Very handy!

ISOFIX

Jané Monte Carlo ISOFIX Guides

Jané Monte Carlo ISOFIX Guides

The seat also comes with ISOFIX guides. What are these, I hear you say? Have you ever struggled to find the ISOFIX points in your vehicle due to how buried they are in the vehicle bight?  And now you’re wondering what a vehicle bight is? Have no fear, see the photos below!

 

 

 

 

Jane Monte Carlo ISOFIX guide

ISOFIX guide

Jané Monte Carlo ISOFIX guide

Jané Monte Carlo ISOFIX guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These nifty guys hook onto them to help you align the ISOFIX arms onto the points with ease. The instructions are very straightforward and easy to follow.  The vehicle I was installing this in, a 2012 Vauxhall Zafira, has very buried anchors, so these guys were very helpful to me!

Is your Vehicle ISOFIX Equipped?

Jané Monte Carlo Headrest

Jané Monte Carlo Headrest

This symbol represents the presence of ISOFIX in your vehicle. The symbol may also contain the word “ISOFIX” so of course it is always best to consult your vehicle manual if you are unsure whether or not your vehicle is ISOFIX equipped. This symbol is in a 2012 Vauxhall Zafira.

The seat itself has diagrams on the side on how to adjust the ISOFIX guides. Plus a handy QR code to scan with your smartphone should you lose the manual! This feature is extremely helpful and well thought out by Jané. The headrest of the seat demonstrates a correctly adjusted headrest and belt fit too, should you need to check when buckling in your child.

Jané Monte Carlo labels

Jané Monte Carlo labels

Now, are you reading this, liking the sound of this seat so far, but your vehicle doesn’t have ISOFIX? Don’t worry, as Jané thought of that too, and have provided caps to place on the end of the ISOFIX arms to protect your vehicle seat. Neat, right?

There is an audible CLICK that can be found when you have successfully aligned the ISOFIX arms to the points. And for extra reassurance, the arms will turn green too. Don’t worry if you can’t align them first time, it took me a few attempts to do this! With practise, this would become second nature when using it.

When you have connected the anchors to the ISOFIX connectors, you don’t need to remind your child to buckle the seat in when not in use. If you choose to use this booster without the ISOFIX, you must remember to buckle it in again after your child has got out. It would be a heavy projectile otherwise.

Fit to Child: 6 Years Old

Jané Monte Carlo: 6 Years Old, 40 lbs, 45 inches tall

Jané Monte Carlo: 6 Years Old, 40 lbs, 45 inches tall

Jané

The model in our pictures is 6 years old, weighs 40 lbs and is 45 inches tall. She has plenty of room to grow, and fit her until she reaches the UK required age of 12 years old to ride without any type of child restraint.

Important Information: Where to Find

Jané Monte Carlo manual storage

Jané Monte Carlo manual storage

Manual Storage: the manual stores under the front of the seat in a handy pocket.

Airline Approval label: because the Monte Carlo is a booster seat, it is not approved for use on aircraft. Although it does not have any verbiage in the manual or on the seat pertaining to this, it does not carry the European TÜV flight approval sticker on the seat. It requires a 3 point seatbelt for installation.

Date of Manufacture: the seat carries a dial clock manufacturing date.

After an Accident:The manual states, “JANÉ recommends you replace your booster with a new one if it has been subjected to a lot of strain in an accident”

Overall Thoughts

This comfortably padded seat will keep your Big Kid riding safely in style. The added bonus of ISOFIX points is a big thumbs up when you are likely to forget to strap it in when your Big Kid isn’t riding in it. From the QR code on the seat, to the clear labelling on the sides, Jané have provided the EU market with a fantastic choice that you can’t go wrong with!

Evenflo SureRide vs Safety 1st Guide 65: A Comparison

The Evenflo SureRide (also the Evenflo Titan 65) and the Safety 1st Guide 65 are two of the most commonly recommended inexpensive convertible car seats on the market. These seats are comparably priced and relatively long-lasting both rear and forward facing. Even lower priced options can be found in the comparison between the Cosco Scenera NEXT and Cosco Apt50.

 

Need some help deciding which one fits your needs? Check out our handy comparison! Remember when shopping for any car seat to take into account the fit to the child, the fit to your car, as well as any extra features that may be important for your situation.  The ‘best’ seat is the one that fits your child, your vehicle, your budget, and that you can use correctly 100% of the time.  Let’s take a look at some differences and similarities between the SureRide and the Guide.

Evenflo SureRide vs Safety 1st Guide 65

Evenflo SureRide vs Safety 1st Guide 65

 

CSFTL Quick Stats: Evenflo SureRide/Titan 65 Safety 1st Guide 65
Rear facing:  5-40 lbs, 19-40″  5-40 lbs, 19-40″
Forward facing:  22-65 lbs, 29-54″ 22-65 lbs, 34-52″
MSRP:  $89.99-99.99 $79.99-99.99
Harness heights:  Lowest: 6.5″, Highest: 19″  Lowest: 9″, Highest: 17″
Lower anchor weight limit:  50 lbs 40 lbs
Expiration: 6 years 8 years
Shell height:  25.5″ 25″
Lower anchor connectors: Titan 65 has push on SureSafe connectors Standard connectors
Recline: One angle for all ages, has foot that aids in proper recline Two lines creating a range of angles depending on weight and age, no recline mechanism

Lowest Harness Height

Evenflo SureRide/Titan 65 Safety 1st Guide 65
The SureRide/Titan 65 has 6″ bottom slots making it a good choice for use with a newborn, especially with the infant insert, if opting to skip the rear facing only seat. The Guide 65 has 9″ bottom slots and tends to not offer a safe fit for average infants until around 3-4 months of age. We would not suggest this seat for caregivers who wish to start their newborn with a convertible car seat.
Evenflo SureRide and Safety1st Guide top harness slots

Evenflo SureRide and Safety 1st Guide top harness slots

Highest Harness Height

Evenflo SureRide/Titan 65 Safety 1st Guide 65
The SureRide/Titan 65 has 19″ top harness slots making it one of the tallest convertible seats on the market. With the 6 year expiration, it may expire before your child outgrows it! The Guide 65 has 17″ top slots, which will allow many but not all children to move directly into a booster seat once the harness is outgrown.

Our article Harness or Booster can help you decide when to make the switch. The Guide’s head rest is close to the top shoulder position and some children may find it uncomfortable as they start to outgrow the seat.

SureRide and Guide top harness slots

SureRide and Guide top harness slots

Lower Anchor Connectors

Evenflo SureRide/Titan 65 Safety 1st Guide 65
While the SureRide has the standard clip-on style connectors, the Titan 65 (at Wal-Mart) has the push-on SureSafe connectors. These feature a strap for releasing the connectors as well as lower anchor attachment guides. The Guide 65 has the standard style of lower anchor connectors.  These are not unsafe by any means, but for a vehicle with recessed lower anchors, might be harder to use.

 

Evenflo Sureride Suresafe connectors vs the Safety 1st Guide j-hook connectors

The SureRide SureSafe connectors vs the Guide 65’s  standard connectors

Recline Mechanism

Evenflo SureRide/Titan 65 Safety 1st Guide 65
The SureRide/Titan has a recline foot that is required to be used when rear facing. Depending on the slope of your seat, you may still need a rolled towel or noodle to help achieve and maintain the proper recline angle. We often use the noodleless installation method to install this seat.  The Guide 65 does not come with a recline mechanism for rear facing installations. This means you must use another way to recline the seat. Our video on the noodleless installation in out Guide to the Guide article is helpful in this situation. This seat can be harder to keep at the correct angle because of its lack of recline foot.

 

SureRide and Guide recline mechanisms

SureRide and Guide recline mechanisms

 

Recline Angles

Evenflo SureRide/Titan 65 Safety 1st Guide 65
The SureRide/Titan 65 has only one recline angle. All rear facing children must use the seat with this line parallel to the ground. Because the SureRide has a tall shell, this restriction can make the seat incompatible in smaller vehicles. When reclined at the required level line, the SureRide takes up the same amount of space as the Guide in the under 22 lbs position The Guide 65 has two recline level lines. Children who weigh between 5-22 lbs and who do not sit independently must use the lower, more reclined line. Children who weigh over 22 lbs and can sit independently can use the more upright top line. When installed at the top recline line, the Guide takes up several inches less space front to back over the SureRide/Titan 65.

The Sureride has one required recline vs the multiple recline levels on the Guide

The SureRide has one required recline vs the multiple recline levels on the Guide 65

Width

Evenflo SureRide/Titan 65 Safety 1st Guide 65
The Evenflo measures roughly 18.5″ wide. Because it has a higher base than some other seats, it sometimes will fit in spaces where other child restraints cannot. At approximately 18″ wide, the Guide is not much more narrow than the SureRide. It does sit lower than the SureRide,  which can help puzzle better when it’s installed next to a seat with a higher base.

 

The SureRide is 18 inches wide, the Guide is 18.5 inches wide

The SureRide is 18.5 inches wide and the Guide is 18 inches wide

 

The SureRide and the Guide65 are both great budget-friendly car seats. When choosing between them fit is the most important factor, but for kiddos who reach the bottom harness position of the Guide 65 either seat is a great choice. After fit, important factors in deciding between these seats are price, longevity, and front to back room. The SureRide is a nice option for older forward facing child because the harness height is too tall compared to other seats.

Hopefully this comparison was able to give you some more insight on which seat is better for your needs.

Similar Seats

Similar seats in this category (lightweight, budget-friendly, convertible seats)

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 Review

Evenflo has introduced some fantastic new car seats in the past year including the Transitions combination car seat and the Advanced Embrace DLX with SensorSafe rear facing only car seat and now, the Babies R Us exclusive Platinum LiteMax 35 rear facing only car seat. The LiteMax is lightweight and offers a superb fit for even small babies.  It features creature comforts that include Outlast fabrics, a padded insert, and padded harness/buckle covers.

CSFTL Quick Stats

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35

  • Weight range: 4-35lb
  • Height range: 17-32″
  • Shell height: 20″
  • Lowest harness position: 5″
  • Weight (carrier only): 9.5lb
  • Expiration: 7 years from manufacture date
  • Handle position: Position 3 required in the vehicle (in US; position 1 in Canada)

Features

  • Temperature regulating Outlast fabric
  • Canopy offering a zip-out panel for extended coverage
  • Padded insert
  • Harness and buckle pads
  • Push-in SureSAFE lower anchor connectors with included optional guides
  • Vehicle belt lockoff
  • Front adjusting harness
  • Buckle pockets for stowing the crotch buckle tongues

 

Installation

The Evenflo LiteMax 35’s base has a seat belt lockoff and push-on SureSAFE lower anchor connectors. The belt guides on the carrier itself make installing without the base fairly easy. The handle has to be in setting three in the US, positioned behind the child’s head, and in setting one in Canada, positioned closer to the child’s feet. Evenflo requires at least 1.5″ of space between the carrier and the vehicle seat in front of it if it’s installed behind a front seat.

Installation With the Base: Seat Belt

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 recline adjuster knob

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 recline adjuster knob

The Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 has an interesting recline adjustment mechanism; one simply twists this knob to make the engage the “foot” on the base.
There are several recline settings on the base, and I did not have an issue achieving the proper recline for any of our models. Sometimes, the knob would stop turning when the foot was between positions — verify that the recline foot is locked in place before starting an installation.

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 recline adjuster foot

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 recline adjuster foot

The base’s recline indicator shows two allowed ranges: one for children weighing 4-20 lbs, and the other for children weighing between 20-35 lbs. Our toddler model is smaller for her age and lighter for her size, and still fits in the Platinum LiteMax 35’s carrier by height. Babies who weigh over 20 lbs would likely still fit in the seat by height. I was able to easily install the base in my vehicle in the appropriate range for a baby under 20 lbs but had to work a little harder to get it installed in the more upright range for a heavier baby.  The sticker next to the level indicator is bright and easy to read.

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 recline indicator

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 recline indicator

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 vehicle belt lockoff

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 vehicle belt lockoff

The Platinum LiteMax 35 version is equipped with a one step vehicle belt lockoff. This lockoff made installation a cinch. The manual specifies that both lap only belts and lap/shoulder belts are to be routed inside the lockoff. The vehicle in this demonstration has a lap and shoulder belt.

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 vehicle belt lockoff

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 vehicle belt lockoff

Open the lockoff by pressing down on it while pushing the tab on the side.  Next, route the vehicle belt through the belt path.

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 vehicle belt lockoff

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 vehicle belt lockoff

 

 

Finally, close the lockoff, making sure that the tab latches securely. Check that there is no more than 1″ of movement side to side or front to back at the belt path. If you’re not sure how your belts lock, check out our article, Lock It Up!

Installation With the Base: Lower Anchors

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 base installation with lower anchors

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 base installation with lower anchors

Installing the LiteMax 35’s base with the SureSAFE lower anchors could not have been easier. Open the lockoff, as for an installation with the vehicle belt. Attach each lower anchor connector to the vehicle’s lower anchor, and tighten the belt.

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 lockoff

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 lockoff

Route any unused belt so it sits inside the lockoff, and then close the lockoff. To remove the seat, simply pull on the red tabs.

The SureSAFE lower anchor connectors are attached to the base under the vehicle belt lockoff, but they don’t interfere with the lockoff in any way when they are not in use. When not in use, they secure to the bottom of the base itself.

Installation Without the Base

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 airplane installation

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 airplane installation

Installing without the base in this Pontiac sedan was straightforward. The belts in this vehicle lock at the latch plate, so all I had to do was thread the belt through the belt path, buckle the belt, then pull the lap portion of the belt tight so the carrier didn’t move more than 1″ at the belt path.  The LiteMax 35’s shell is deep enough so that the belt didn’t touch baby’s legs when the carrier was installed without the base.

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 baseless installation

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 baseless installation

Here are the belt guides for installing the car seat without the base. Many parents find this to be an easy way to use their car seat in different vehicles or for airplane travel. Learn more about the logistics of traveling safely with your littles, in our article. Evenflo provides instructions for installing LiteMax 35 on an airplane on pages 34 and 35 of the manual.

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 handle position 3

In this vehicle and seating position, there was barely enough space between the vehicle seat and the handle of the car seat; Evenflo requires at least 1.5″ of space between the vehicle seat and the car seat when installed directly behind a front vehicle seat. This restriction doesn’t apply to the center seating position. The Evenflo LiteMax 35 may be too large front to back for some smaller or compact sedans because the handle has to be in position 3, which is behind the shell of the seat.

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 installed without the base

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 installed without the base

The driver’s side of the same vehicle had room for the handle to be in the correct position with enough space between the handle and the vehicle seat, but the shape of the vehicle seat made a rolled towel necessary to achieve the proper recline angle.  Only the lap portion of the vehicle belt goes in the belt guides on the seat; the shoulder portion of the belt lies flat on the vehicle seat.

Using the Car Seat

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 harness adjustment

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 harness adjustment

These photos show the underside view of the hip and crotch harness adjustment options. This is currently set for a “small sized baby.” The car seat and insert have multiple crotch, hip, and shoulder harness adjustment options, which help to provide the best fit possible for babies of all sizes.

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 insert

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 insert

The body and head insert is very supportive —  perfect for preemies and newborns. Bigger babies and young toddlers probably do not need the insert.

The manual includes a helpful chart, detailed instructions, and many graphics explaining the guidelines for when and how to change the harness routing. Having many harness adjustment options is great for growing babies but could be confusing for parents, so having clear instructions in the manual is fantastic.

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 harness adjustment

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 harness adjustment

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 harness and buckle pads

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 harness and buckle pads

The included harness pads are very plush without being bulky or cumbersome. I think our toddler model appreciated having a buckle pad as well.

Fit to Child

The Huggable Images dolls are designed to display proper car seat usage, learn more about these indefensible training dolls.

Preemie

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35: Preemie, 4 lbs, 17 inches tall

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35: Preemie Jo, 4 lbs, 17 inches tall

Jo, Huggable Images doll, 4 lbs, 17 inches tall

Jo is using the “small baby” setting. For better chest clip placement, I removed the harness pads, although I could probably have left them in without any changes to the fit. The seat provides her a superb fit.  The padded insert provides support on her sides and no additional padding is needed.

Newborn

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35: Newborn, 7 lbs, 17 inches tall

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35: Newborn Fiona, 7 lbs, 17 inches tall

 

Fiona, Huggable Images Doll, 7 lbs, 17 inches tall

Fiona needed to use the “medium sized baby” setting on the harness, but kept the inner crotch position. I added the harness pads and left the insert in so that she could have support on the sides. She seemed very snug and had a great fit. I was impressed that an average newborn would already be using a “medium” setting – the Platinum LiteMax 35’s size range works well for both tiny and large babies.

 

Toddler

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35: 17 months old, 17.75 lbs, 29.75"

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35: 17 months old Maeve, 17.75 lbs, 29.75 inches tall

Maeve, 17 months old, 17.75 lbs, 29.75 inches tall

Still fitting into the “medium sized baby” category by weight according to the manual, Maeve borders on the “large sized baby” position. At 17.75 lbs, she’s lighter and shorter than an average sized child her age. Babies of an average weight for their height, and size for their age, would need the “large sized baby” setting. She had room to grow by height, with another harness setting above the one she was using and a few inches of shell over her head. I removed the insert since she was feeling a little squished with it in the seat. The Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 is really a plush and padded feeling seat, but still offers enough interior space for toddlers as big as Maeve, which we both appreciated.

Features

v

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35’s Outlast padding

Outlast padding,  Evenflo’s signature temperature-regulating fabric is featured on the Platinum LiteMax 35. This is probably going to be very useful for those with hot natured littles or folks living in hot climates.

 

 

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 SureSAFE lower anchor connectors

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 SureSAFE lower anchor connectors

SureSAFE lower anchor connectors with easy-pull tab for removal. Simple design, but very easy to use. Having the guides is a nice premium touch.

 

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 canopy

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 canopy

Full coverage canopy with extra panel; great for blocking out the sun so baby can sleep peacefully on car rides.

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 lower anchor storage

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 lower anchor storage

Lower anchor storage spots on the bottom of the base; easy to access and utilize. A handy feature, for sure.

 

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 comfort padding

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 comfort padding

Comfort padding on the harness and crotch buckle.

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 lower anchor guides

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 lower anchor guides

Lower anchor guides, included but not required, which can be very handy for vehicles with hard to find lower anchors. In this Pontiac vehicle, one can see why these guides could be very useful.

 

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 canopy velcro

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 canopy velcro

 

 

Velcro on the back of the seat and inside of the canopy helps to keep the canopy in place. It seems more substantial and sturdy than what I’ve seen on other seats.

Important Information: Where to Find

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 manual storage

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 manual storage

 

 

Manual storage: The LiteMax 35 has a storage spot on the bottom of the car seat.

 

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 FAA Approval label

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 FAA Approval label

FAA Approval: The FAA approval notice is in red on the sticker on the left side of the carrier, near the handle. Like many other rear facing only seat bases, the base is not FAA approved but the car seat itself is.

 

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35 Date of Manufacture label

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35 Date of Manufacture label

Expiration: A sticker with the date of manufacture and other manufacturer information is found on the back of the car seat, on the left side

Overall Thoughts

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax35

Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35

I loved so many things about the Evenflo Platinum LiteMax 35: the easy to use, convenient seat belt lockoff, the soft, not-too-bulky padding on the harness and buckle, and it fits both very small and larger children quite well.

The recline level indicator is really easy to read, but some caregivers may have an issue getting the correct recline for babies over 20 lbs. Since most babies outgrow their rear facing only car seats by height before weight, this may not be an issue for some families.

The recline adjustment knob on the base is a little different than many other rear facing only car seats, so caregivers who are used to other brands may have a small learning curve with this feature.

The harness size adjustment options are similar to ones we’ve seen on the GB Asana. This type of adjustment offers a good harness fit for children ranging in size from tiny preemies all the way to smaller toddlers wide range of children but they’re different than most other rear facing only seats on the market.  Using these adjustments will require close attention to the manual. This is true of any child restraint, but could be especially critical for this one.

The handle requirement in the US for the handle to be in position three, combined with the required 1.5″ between it and a front seat when installed behind a front seat, may be an issue in some smaller than average cars.

Parents and caregivers will appreciate the many premium options the Platinum LiteMax 35. From the extended canopy and soft harness pads to the handy buckle pockets, with the Outlast fabric and supportive insert, there are nice little perks from top to bottom. The base is one of the easiest I’ve used, making it clear that the LiteMax 35 a well-designed seat that will fit a wide range of Littles.

Our friends at Evenflo are giving away a Premium LiteMax 35 to one lucky reader. Enter below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Diono Monterey Review

When Diono announced the re-release of the Diono Monterey booster, we rejoiced!  The Diono Monterey is a favorite among many of the CSFTL older Littles. With a variety of both ease of use and comfort features, it’s a great option for when older children are ready to transition to a booster.

 

Diono Monterey

Diono Monterey

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • High-back booster weight range: 40-120 lbs.
  • High-back booster height range: 38-63″
  • Backless booster weight range: 40-120 lbs.
  • Backless booster height range: 38-63″
  • Highest booster guide position: 21″
  • Hook on lower anchor connectors
  • 8 year expiration
  • 2011 IIHS Best Bet in high-back mode
  • Requires vehicle head restraint support in both modes

 

When the Monterey showed up on my doorstep, it was like welcoming an old friend into our house.  The Monterey was the first booster my oldest daughter used and our family has liked the seat ever since.  The Monterey is shipped in two pieces.  Assembling the Monterey is straightforward — line up the back of the booster with the bottom, and snap the high-back portion into place.

 

Features

Lower Anchor Connectors

Diono Monterey lower anchor connectors

 

One of the main features of the Monterey is the ability to use lower anchor connectors to install the seat. Many caregivers appreciate this feature as the lower anchor connectors attach the booster to the vehicle and removes the risk of the seat becoming a projectile in a crash when it’s unoccupied.  There are no weight limits when using the lower anchors with a booster; using them restrains the weight of the booster and not the child.

 

Diono Monterey seat adjustments.

Diono Monterey seat adjustments

 

 

The Monterey features 11 different headrest positions, ranging from 14.5 inches to 21 inches to provide a proper fit as the child grows.  The torso wings adjust width wise to accommodate the broader shoulders of older children. At its most narrow adjustment, the Monterey measures 19.5 inches wide and can expand up to 22.5 inches at the widest.

 

Diono_Montereycupholders

Diono Monterey dual cupholders

 

The Monterey boasts not just one, but two cup holders. They’re can be tucked away when not in use or if you need to install a car seat next to it. Without the cupholders, the seat measures 18 inches wide. With the cupholders out, the seat width increases to 22 inches.
The Monterey’s comfort features can appease even the pickiest of booster riders. With ample padding, soft fabrics, and enough depth to keep even the longest-legged kids supported, the booster is easy to love. The seat depth measures 14 inches while the width at the thighs is 16 inches making it a good choice for bigger kids.

 

Installation and Usage

Using and installing the Monterey is easy.  If lower anchors are not available, the seat can be used without them. Remember to buckle the seat in when it’s not in use thought when the lower anchors are not in use!  To use the lower anchors, loosen the connector strap using the adjustment lever located on the front of the seat, attach the lower anchor connector to the designated points in your vehicle, and pull the straps tight from the front of the seat.  Unlike a harnessed seat, there doesn’t need to be less than one inch of movement side to side when installed. The Monterey does require head restraint support from the vehicle to the top of the child’s ears, even in high-back booster mode.  This may rule out the Monterey as an option for those vehicles with low seat backs and no head restraints.

Diono Monterey lower anchor lever and button

Diono Monterey lower anchor lever and button

 

I did notice the buttons on the lower anchor adjuster straps can get stuck in the adjuster.  If they do, it can make it difficult to release and adjust properly.  When tightening the lower anchors, make sure to not pull them in too far, to ensure they don’t get stuck. Loosen the straps by pressing down on the silver lever and pull the connector straps.

Diono Monterey belt guide

Diono Monterey belt guide

 

One major improvement that came with the re-release of the Monterey was the updated belt guide for the shoulder belt. Before the re-design, the belt guide made it difficult to allow the belt to retract if the child leans forward or when buckling themselves in. This issue has been remedied and the belt retracts freely.

 

Fit to Child

Not only does the Monterey offer a variety of comfort and ease of use features, it also provides a great belt fit for a range of booster riders.  The shoulder belt rests nicely on the collarbone, and the lap belt sits nice and low on the lap.

High Back Mode

Diono Monterey, 5 years old, 52 lbs, and 46 inches tall

Diono Monterey, 5 years old, 52 lbs, and 46 inches tall

 

The first model is 5 years old, 52 lbs, and 46 inches tall.  She’s a newer booster rider, but was pleased with the comfort of the Monterey and especially the cup holders.  She can easily buckle the belt by herself, though I still check to make sure it’s in the correct position. At 5, it’s important to remind kids of the rules of booster riding — sitting still, not wiggling out of place, and staying upright even when asleep.

Diono_MontereyEmmaHBB

Diono Monterey, 8 years old, 56 lbs, 52 inches

 

 

The next model is 8 years old, 56 lbs, and 52 inches. She’s quite the experienced booster rider and was happy to see the Monterey back.  She was pleased with the comfort and softness of the seat’s cover.  Like her little sister, she could easily buckle the seat herself and the booster provided an excellent belt fit. She’s picky about leg support on her seat.  She was happy to discover that the Monterey still provided ample support like the previous version did.

 

Diono Monterey- 10 years and 75 pounds

Diono Monterey, 10 years old and 75 lbs

 

Model number three is 10 years old and approximately 75 lbs and 54 inches. The Monterey fits bigger children quite nicely with ample room for broader shoulders and taller torsos. The Monterey still provides excellent seat belt fit on this older model, seat belt crosses nicely across her collar bone and the belt is low on her lap and not on her abdomen. At 10, she is getting closer to passing the five step test, but she’s not quite there.

 

 

Backless Mode

Diono Monterey backless mode, 8 years old, 56 lbs, 52 inches

Diono Monterey backless mode, 8 years old, 56 lbs, 52 inches

 

The Monterey can also be used as a backless booster. It was sold separately in the past as the Santa Fe, but Diono did not re-release the Santa Fe when they released the Monterey. The similar backless Diono Solana is available. The Monterey provides a great seat belt fit for older children as well when using it backless. Children always require vehicle head restraint support to the tops of their ears when using the seat in backless mode.

 

The model for the backless booster is 8 years old, 56lbs, and 52 inches.  As a backless booster, The Monterey is a lightweight booster which could make it a good option for car pooling or travel.

 

Important Information: Where to Find

FAA approval: Since airplanes only have lap belts, and boosters can only be used with lap and shoulder belts, the Monterey is not FAA approved.  As a backless booster, it would be good to tuck into the overhead bin or below the seat, and use upon arrival at your destination.

Diono Monterey Date of Manufacture sticker

 

Expiration: The date of manufacture along with the model number can be found on a sticker on the bottom of the seat. The expiration is 8 years from the date of manufacture.

Diono Monterey manual storage

 

Manual Storage: The manual for the seat is located on the bottom of the seat. This is a great place to find answers to questions to like replacement after a crash. The Monterey follows the NHTSA guidelines for replacement after a crash.

Overall Thoughts

The Monterey is a long-lasting, well-fitting booster.  Along with providing most children an excellent seat belt fit, it has many ease of use and comfort features and lower anchors. Like our family, many families will get a lot of use out of the Monterey, both in their own vehicles and when traveling.

diono

 

Can’t wait to see if you’ve won?  Purchase the Diono Monterey on Amazon.com.

Diono provided CSFTL with the Monterey for review, but no other compensation was given.Our friends at Diono are offering one lucky winner a Monterey of their own!  Simply enter in the Rafflecopter below.

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Originally written by Kim Robinson. Edits maintained by CSFTL.

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite Review

Britax has recently released an updated, and upgraded, version of their previous model B-Safe rear facing only seat. Some of the features on the B-Safe 35 Elite version are an improvement upon the older version, but many are new. If you liked the B-Safe model, I think you’ll love the B-Safe 35 Elite. Britax has taken great care to make sure that this new seat is easy to use, visually appealing, and long-lasting, too.

 

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • Weight range: 4-35 lbs
  • Height range: up to 32″
  • Shell height: 19.5″
  • Lowest harness position: 5.5,” 4.5″ with insert
  • Two buckle positions: 3.5″ and 5.5″
  • Weight (carrier only): 11.5 lbs
  • Expiration: 6 years
  • Handle position: Allows any locked position in the vehicle

Features

  • Seat belt lockoff on the base
  • Premium push-button lower anchor connectors
  • Easily accessible belt path for baseless installation
  • No-rethread harness
  • Infant insert for babies under 11 lbs

 

Installation

Overall, I found installation with the base to be extremely easy. I didn’t run into any problems in either our Pontiac Grand Am or our Honda Odyssey. I installed it a number of different ways, using both the lower anchors and different types of vehicle belts (but never both the lower anchors and the vehicle belt at the same time as this is not allowed on the B-Safe Elite).

Installation With the Base

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite lower anchor tightening straps

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite lower anchor tightening straps

 

The base has three recline positions and the button to release the recline foot is located in the front of the base, where it touches the vehicle seat. I found that I was able to adjust the recline after I put the base into the car if needed. The base has a handy indicator on each side, making it easy to tell if it is reclined properly. Should it be necessary to use a pool noodle for installation, the recline foot must be in the lowest position. I did not need a pool noodle to help achieve the proper recline in either of my vehicles; I could adjust the foot on the base to make the seat more upright or reclined within the allowed range.

 

 

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite installed with lower anchors in a Honda Odyssey

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite installed with lower anchors in a Honda Odyssey

 

Installation with the lower anchors was fairly straightforward after consulting the manual. For ease of use, there are clear instructional stickers on the base which offer assistance as well. First, one must push the red button at the top of the base, as seen in the photo below, and push the lower anchor connector buttons while pulling them out of their storage spot. Check the recline angle indicator, and make sure that the arrow is in between the two red lines.  Next, attach the connectors to the vehicle’s lower anchors, making sure that  they’re the correct lower anchors for that seating position. Push firmly, making sure that there is an audible “click.” Then, pull on the straps in the middle of the base to tighten the lower anchors. When finished, check that the base moves no more than 1″ (2.5 cm) at the belt path.

 

 

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite seat belt lock off

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite seat belt lock off

For ease when installing the base with a lap/shoulder belt, Britax has added seat belt lockoffs. Simply put the belt through the belt path, push down on the base, tighten the belt, and, while keeping the shoulder portion tight, thread it through the lockoff on the opposite side of the buckle. I did this in both of our vehicles and it was very easy. The lockoff is used in place of locking the vehicle belt, and since it holds the belt tightly, it makes installation a breeze.

 

Never use the lockoff with a lap only belt. Simply route the belt through the belt path, highlighted by a sticker with arrows which says “Seat Belt Route” and lock the belt as directed in the vehicle manual. My lap only belt locks at the latch plate (male end) of the buckle, so I simply pulled on the “tail” end of the belt and put pressure on the base. I found that I got better leverage by pulling the belt back through the belt path. When tight I put the rest of the strap through the belt path so it was out of the way.

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite installed with a lap only belt

B-Safe 35 Elite base installed with a lap only belt

 

If you find that your belt buckle has a long strap and it comes up into the belt path, preventing the base from “clicking” into place, Britax suggests twisting the  female end of the buckle up to three times to help keep the buckle out of the belt path. I didn’t need to do this for my vehicles, but it might be necessary for some. Make sure that you only check for movement at the belt path.

 

 

Installation Without the Base

Installing the B-Safe 35 Elite without the base is a piece of cake thanks to its belt guides. They’re very visible and it’s clear when the belt is in the right place.  When using a lap/shoulder belt, route only the lap portion of the belt through the guides, making sure that nothing is twisted. Check to be sure that the recline line on the stickers on the side of the car seat are level when the car is parked on a flat surface.  Lock the belt, push on the car seat where the child would be sitting, and remove all the belt slack. The shoulder portion will lay against the vehicle seat back. The base should move no more than 1″ (2.5cm) side to side or front to back. Unsure about how your belt locks? We have an article for you!

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite belt path for baseless installation

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite belt path for baseless installation

 

I also installed the car seat baseless with a lap only belt in one of our vehicles. Making sure that the line is level to the ground, I put the belt through the belt guides and pushed down on the car seat where baby would sit. Since this lap only belt tightens at the buckle, I simply had to pull the extra strap and make sure that it didn’t move more than 1″ at the belt path.

 

Using a car seat baseless is not something that everyone does, but it’s perfectly safe when done properly. The base of a car seat system is generally only for convenience. Like many other rear facing only seat bases, the B-Safe 35 Elite’s base is not FAA approved. Since a baseless installation with this seat is so easy, that is not a problem. In fact, you’ll encounter lap belt only seats on airplanes, similar to the one in the photo below. We just flew with our four kiddos, and I think it would have been a little easier, definitely quicker, to install a seat for our one year old with a belt path like the one on the B-Safe 35 Elite. This carrier is a little heavier than some, which may seem like a problem for traveling, but I think that the belt paths and ease of installation on the plane can make up for that. Need more info on flying with Littles? Check out our article!

 

B-Safe Elite 35 carrier installed baseless

B-Safe 35 Elite installed without the base

Usage

The B-Safe 35 Elite has a no-rethread harness, which means that it is not necessary to remove the harness and put it through other slots in the shell when baby has outgrown a harness slot.  This mechanism is adjusted from the back of the car seat and can be done in a few simple steps. Locate the adjuster tabs on the back of the seat, squeeze or push them together, and the harness height mechanism will move freely up or down. Remember that baby’s harness has to be at or below her shoulders, so double-check that it is still in the correct position after moving the harness.

 

Moving the harness adjuster is easy

 

The car seat comes with the harness ready to go for newborns. That’s very handy,  since no one wants to have to make major adjustments when baby arrives. However, a few changes must be made when baby reaches 11 pounds. The insert must be removed, the crotch buckle must be moved to the outer position, and the harness must be switched from the newborn loops to the longer setting. It took me only a few moments to make sure that all of this was done properly for my 16 pound baby.

 

Required harness adjustments for 11lb+

 

The cover is easy to remove and can be hand-washed, like other Britax covers. Even though this particular cover, in the Domino fashion, is dark gray and black, it didn’t seem too hot for my baby. It’s August in Arizona, so sometimes this can be a concern. The cover seemed breathable but sturdy. The canopy is flexible and provides moderate coverage.

Surprisingly, I found that the B-Safe 35 Elite’s base was only 13.5″ wide at its widest point. At the top it’s a little wider, and the widest part is the carry handle on the sides. It was 27.75 ” at its longest, but only 24″ when the handle was placed in another position. Three handle positions are allowed for use in the vehicle, so I’m fairly certain that this seat would fit in many vehicles without much problem. Baseless, the seat was even more compact. In my husband’s Grand Am, when I installed the car seat in the middle, there was plenty of room on the sides, so I think that it could work in a three-across situation well depending upon the other car seats in the vehicle.

 

Fit to Child

Preemie

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite- Jo, 4 lbs., 17 inches

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite- Jo, 4 lbs., 17 inches

Jo- Huggable Images Doll; 4 lbs, 17″

Our preemie doll, Jo, represents the average small preemie baby. With the infant insert, she had a very snug fit in the B-Safe 35 Elite on the second setting. The insert is not required for babies who weigh 4-11lb, but it does provide support for those smaller babies. The comfort pads on the harness seemed a little big for her, and depending upon the size of your preemie or smaller newborn, you may want to consider removing them to improve the fit if necessary. The belly pad kept the buckle off Jo’s belly and left no room between her crotch area and the buckle strap.

 

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite- Fiona, 7 lbs., 17 inches

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite- Fiona, 7 lbs., 17 inches

Newborn

Fiona, Huggable Images Doll; 7 lbs, 17″

This is our newborn doll, Fiona. She is about the size of an actual newborn, weighing in at 7 lbs, and she’s also 17″. She is using the third harness setting and the infant insert, and the harness was at her shoulders. The comfort pads seemed like they might be a better fit for an average sized baby like Fiona. I really like that the chest clip seems to a perfect size for smaller babies, as we can see on both Fiona and Jo. That is a change from the B-Safe model, and I believe that it improves the fit.

 

Toddler

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite- 12 months, 16 lbs., 29 inches

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite- 12 months, 16 lbs., 29 inches

Maeve, 12 months; 16 lbs, 29″

Maeve is a smaller 1 year old, and has a lot of growing room in the B-Safe 35 Elite. Since she’s over 11 pounds, I had to move the crotch buckle out, change the harness setting, and remove the insert. She is using the fourth headrest setting so that the harness is at or below her shoulders. She was not a big fan of the comfort pads, so I removed them. The belly pad is still a really nice addition for a baby Maeve’s size, since it keeps the buckle from pressing onto her and helps to ensure that there’s no gap at her crotch. Unlike our Huggable Images dolls, Maeve can be a bit wiggly when we’re trying to buckle her into her car seat, but since belt guides double as holders for the harness and buckle tongues, I can put them out of the way and get her seated. My husband, like many parents, prefers to loosen the harness every time they put baby in the car, which is fine. He liked that the harness was very easy to tighten and loosen. Maeve normally rides in one of several convertible seats, but seems to really enjoy riding in the B-Safe 35 Elite, so she’ll keep using it for now.

 

 

Features

  • Unique features on the B-Safe 35 Elite covered above are the no-rethread harness system, with six height settings
  • Integrated vehicle belt lock offs on the base
  • Easy to use belt guide on the restraint for baseless installation which doubles as holders for the harness
  • Easy to remove cover
  • Easy to read recline angle indicators
  • Buttons and indicators in red, so they’re easy to locate
  • Lower anchor connector storage spot at the front of the base, which is very visible and convenient
Britax B-Safe 35 Elite lower anchor connector storage

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite lower anchor connector storage

Important Information: Where to Find

FAA Approval: Notice of FAA approval is both inside the manual (page seven) and on the right side of the seat. A large red and white icon of an airplane helps the information to stand out.

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite FAA approval sticker

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite FAA approval sticker

Expiration: Six years from date of manufacture. Stickers with information about the date of manufacture, serial number, and other important information are located on the right side of the carrier next to the harness adjustment mechanism and on the bottom of the base.

Manual: The manual comes attached to the harness, but can be stored in a very handy spot at the back of the base.

 

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite manual strorage

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite manual storage

Overall Thoughts

Overall, I really like this car seat. It would have provided my baby with a fantastic fit at birth, and she can still use it for a while yet. I like that the upgrades to the belt path and lock offs make it easy to install, letting me switch cars easily. The harness adjusts very smoothly, and the harness height adjustment system is pretty fool-proof. While the car seat itself is a little heavy, at around nine pounds, I usually leave it in the car and take baby out of her seat now that she’s older. The carrier is a little more narrow at the shoulders, so I do wonder how the fit would change for a larger toddler, and I think that a chunky baby might seem squished.  If you’re looking for something easy enough for the grandparents to use, and you want a few bells and whistles, I think the B-Safe 35 Elite would be right up your alley. It’s sleek and sophisticated but also plush and comfortable for baby. The major difference between the B-Safe 35 and the B-Safe 35 Elite is the no-rethread harness, but the infant insert is also different in the B-Safe model. There is no safety difference in having a seat with a rethread harness vs. a no-rethread harness, but not having to undo and thread the straps when adjusting them for baby is a convenience feature which can appeal to many.
britaxbsafeelite

Don’t want to wait for the giveaway to end? Need one now? The Britax B-Safe 35 Elite is available for sale at Amazon.com.

 

britaxbsafe35

 

The Britax B-Safe 35 is also available at Amazon.com. While it does have the same height and weight limits, it does not feature the added smaller baby insert or no-rethread harness.

 

 

 

 

Britax has generously offered to partner with us and give away a B-Safe 35 Elite to one lucky person! Enter here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As always, our opinions are our own and are not sponsored by any company or outside entity. However, Britax did furnish a car seat for review purposes and the giveaway.

Clek infant-thingy Review

Featuring sleek lines, Crypton fabric, and great colors and patterns, the Clek Foonf and Clek Fllo are trendy, fun seats that appeal to many. With a starting weight limit of 14 lbs. though, these sweet seats cannot be used from birth. With the recently released infant-thingy, an insert that can be used with both the Foonf and Fllo starting at 5 lbs. and 19″, the Clek convertibles are now an option for those who choose to skip the rear facing only seat.

 

Clek Foonf with the infant-thingy

Clek Foonf with the infant-thingy

CSFTL Quick Stats:

  • Rear facing weight limit: 5-22 lbs.
  • Rear facing height limit: 19-33″

 

The infant-thingy is covered in the same Crypton fabric, in the color Shadow, that most of the Clek car seats and boosters use. Crypton states, on the Clek website, Crypton fabric “provides permanent protection against stains, moisture and odor-causing bacteria; and are free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants.” This fabric on the seats, as well as the infant-thingy, will appeal to those families who are concerned about some flame resistant chemicals used on car seats.

 

 

Clek Foonf without the headres

Clek Foonf without the headrest

 

The first step to use the infant-thingy is removing the car seat headrest as the infant-thingy head support and car seat headrest cannot be used at the same time. The Foonf and Fllo both ship with detached headrests, so if the seat was bought before baby was born, just leave the head rest off and save a step if you plan on using both pieces of the infant-thingy. Removing a Clek convertible headrest can be a bit tricky if the Troubleshooting Tool stored on the back of the seat is not available.

 

 

 

Clek Trouble Shooting tool used to remove the headrest is stored on the back of the seat

Clek Troubleshooting Tool (used to remove the headrest) is stored on the back of the seat

 

Once the headrest is removed, add the infant-thingy. The infant-thingy comes in two pieces, the body support and head support. They can be used together or separately depending on child’s size and parental preference.

The bottom piece is easy to put in: simply thread the harnesses into the hip slots on the infant-thingy. When using the infant-thingy, the hip supports need to go between the infant’s hips and harness. This part was easy to miss and the hip supports sometimes tried to slip, so be aware when harnessing baby that it’s done according to the manual.

Clek infant-thingy manual on using the hip supports

Clek infant-thingy manual on using the hip supports

 

The crotch buckle will need to be threaded through the buckle slot of the body support and then reattach the buckle pad. The buckle pad is required until the child hits 22 pounds; at that point the buckle pad can be removed and the infant-thingy must be removed. When using the body support of the infant-thingy, the closest crotch buckle position to the child must be used. You may use the longer crotch buckle length when using the body support though. When only using the head support, follow the crotch buckle rules of your Clek convertible seat.

Clek convertible using the infant loops on the harness

Clek convertible using the infant loops on the harness

 

Next, thread the harness through the lowest harness slots and attach the harness to the splitter plate using the smaller set of harness loops. The excess harness goes behind the splitter plate, not in front like some seats do, as shown here. This lower harness position will be used until the child’s shoulders are even with the next highest position.

 

 

Head support of Clek infant-thingy attached to the third harness slot above the one in use

Head support of Clek infant-thingy attached to the third harness slot above the one in use

 

The head support of the infant-thingy has plastic clips on the back that are used to attach the support to the seat by threading through the unused harness slots. The head support clips need to be attached to the third set of harness slots above the harness slot currently being used. If the child’s head goes over the top of the head support, the head support may be raised to the next harness position. Once the head is over the top of the head support in its highest position, the head support should be removed and car seat headrest used instead. Remember to add the body support again if the child doesn’t meet the requirements it use the seat without it. The attachment clips in this picture show proper placement as shown in the manual.

 

The bottom harness position of the pre-2015 Clek models is 10.” The 2015 models have an extra lower position, making the lowest 8.” Clek convertibles are unique in that either will be fine for a baby that meets the 5 lbs. and 19″ requirements. Clek does not require the harness to be even with or below the shoulders as long as baby is using the bottom harness position. Other guidelines are the same: harness must pass the pinch test and chest clip needs to be armpit level.

 

Fiona showing the 8inch bottom slots on the Clek Foonf with the infant-thingy in use

Here Fiona showing the 10 inch bottom slots on the Clek Foonf with the infant-thingy in use

 

This is what the 10″ bottom harness slots look like with Fiona, our newborn Huggable Images doll. She is 7 lbs and the height of an average newborn baby. In the Clek seats with the 8″ slots, the picture is the 10″ version, the harness will just be peeking over the black insert. The harness would still be above Fiona’s shoulders, but not as high. Again, this seat can be used with the bottom harness position above baby’s shoulders per the infant-thingy manual.

 

 

 

The rules for using the various portions of the infant-thingy can be a bit confusing. I made a chart to help decide which parts need to be used with the Clek convertibles for infants.

 

Weight Both Pieces Head Support Only Body Support Only Using Car Seat Headrest
Under 11 lbs.  Required No No
11-14 lbs. Optional Required unless child’s head is over the support in highest position Required if head support has been outgrown
Over 14 lbs. but does not meet all requirements to use the seat Optional Required unless child’s head is over the support in highest position Required if head support has been outgrown
Meets all requirements to use the seat Can use until 22 lbs or 33″ or head over the head support Can use until 22 lbs or 33″ or head over the head support Can use until 22 lbs or 33″

 

Fit to Child

Fiona- 7 lbs. newborn using the Clek Foonf with infant-thingy

Fiona- 7 lbs. newborn using the Clek Foonf with infant-thingy

 

 

Here is Fiona again, she’s 7 lbs. and average length for a newborn baby. She fits well in the Clek Foonf with the infant-thingy, the harness is tight and the chest clip is on the chest, but the harness is above her shoulders by a good 2″ at least. As she does not yet weigh 11 lbs., the complete infant-thingy must be used.

 

 

 

This is Fallon. She just turned one and is a petite 18 lbs. and 28.5″. She is the perfect size to use the Clek Fllo any way she wants. She can also use the body support with the car seat headrest or the head support only and no body support. She could also use the complete infant-thingy as she is under the height and weight limit and her head is below the top of the head support. She fit great all three ways even though she too was not impressed with only five harness slots!

 

 

Clek Fllo with Fallon (12 mos., 18 lbs. and 28.5 inches) showing the various ways to use the infant-thingy

Clek Fllo with Fallon (12 mos., 18 lbs. and 28.5 inches) showing the various ways to use the infant-thingy

 

With the infant-thingy, the Foonf and Fllo will be great choices for most babies. The sixth slot on most 2015 models of the Clek Foonf and Fllo offer more fit options, but the five slot seat still works well with the infant-thingy. You can find the infant-thingy on Amazon.com for $69.99.

 

While Clek did provide the infant-thingy for reivew, I recieved no other compensations. As always, all words are all my own.

Britax Boulevard Review

Britax is changing things up with their newest seats, using new labeling and a back to basics approach. Britax kindly provided us a new Britax Boulevard (also known as G4.1) so we could review these fresh features and ideas.  Check out what we’ve found out about their most recent line of convertible car seats.

Britax Boulevard installed

Britax Boulevard installed

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • Rear facing weight range: 5-40 lbs
  • Rear facing height range: 49″ or less
  • Forward facing weight range: 20-65 lbs
  • Forward facing height range: 49″ or less
  • Lowest harness position: 7″ (with insert), 8.5″ (without insert)
  • Highest harness position: 17″
  • Expiration: 7 years
  • Lower anchor weight limit: 40 lbs rear facing, 50 lbs forward facing

Features

  • Seat belt lockoffs both rear and forward facing
  • 2 adjustable crotch strap positions measuring 5″ and 7″
  • 3 adjustable recline settings – 1 rear facing, 2 forward facing
  • Push button lower anchor connectors
  • No rethread harness (10 positions)
  • Anti rebound bar available to purchase separately via Britax (not to be used with the rear facing tether)
  • Rear face tethering available on certain model dates, if stated in the user manual (not to be used with the anti rebound bar)
  • Positioning pillow for children up to 22 lbs
  • Push button lower anchor connectors

Features

Britax Boulevard lock offs

Britax Boulevard lock offs

 

Color coded seat belt lockoffs for both rear and forward facing make seat belt installation very user-friendly. Always use the lockoff closest to your seat belt buckle.

 

 

Britax Boulevard two position crotch strap

Britax Boulevard two position crotch strap

 

Two adjustable crotch strap positions measuring 5″ and 7″ allow for plenty of room for both smaller and larger children. Britax states in their manual that for rear facing the strap needs to be in the inner slot when installing via seat belt and the slot closest to but not under the child when installing via lower anchors.  For forward facing, the crotch strap needs to be in the outer slot for children over 30 lbs. You also use the outer slot if the buckle is under the child when using the inner slot.

 

Britax Boulevard 3 adjustable recline positions

Britax Boulevard has 3 recline positions

 

Three adjustable recline positions make it easy to get installed at the correct angle rear facing. Only position three (fully reclined) can be used rear facing. Position 1 or 2 can be used forward facing, but position one has to be used for children over 40 lbs when installing via lap belt only.

 

Britax Boulevard push button lower anchor connectors and storage

Britax Boulevard push button lower anchor connectors and storage

 

 

Push button lower anchor connectors make lower anchor installation a breeze.  Just push connector on to the lower anchor and pull tight.  The storage area of the lower anchors are on the back of the seat base.  They clip in nicely for out of the way storage when installing via seat belt.

 

 

 

Britax Boulevard harness positions

Britax Boulevard harness positions

 

No rethread harness (10 positions) allows the caregiver to move the harness without uninstalling the seat and rethreading the harness.

 

 

 

 

Britax Boulevard anti rebound bar

Britax Boulevard anti rebound bar

 

Anti rebound bar is available to purchase separately via Britax (not to be used with the rear facing tether).  This is a nice add-on that Britax has recently added to their online store.  This will be discussed a bit more in the updated features section of the review.

 

 

Britax Boulevard rear face tether

Britax Boulevard rear facing tether

 

Rear facing tether available on certain model dates, if stated in the user manual (not to be used with the anti rebound bar).  Some older models that still allow rear face tethering come with a metal d-ring.  Newer models that still allow it will come with a loop on either end of a strap.  The instruction manual shows how to use the connector strap. Many vehicles no longer allow tethering rear facing, so contact your vehicle manufacturer with any questions.

 

 

Britax Boulevard infant positioning pillow

Britax Boulevard infant positioning pillow

 

 

Infant positioning pillow for infants up to 22 lbs.  This insert is required for children up to 22 lbs, at which point, it needs to be removed.  This helps bump small children up so their shoulders reach the bottom harness position.

 

 

Updated Features

Britax has taken a back to basics approach with their newest convertibles and updated several features to make them more user-friendly.

Britax Boulevard descriptive wording

Britax Boulevard descriptive wording

 

Descriptive names for safety features, updated logos and boxes

Britax has moved away from acronyms to spelling out the full features. HUGS, for example, are now referred to as impact absorbing chest pads.  They’ve updated their labels and their boxes to match this change. Britax is also moving away from the white boxes to a brown box that doesn’t show the wear and tear a box goes through in shipping.

 

Britax Boulevard red adjustment levers

Britax Boulevard red adjustment levers

 

Different colored adjustment levels

The recline and head support adjustment levers have also switched from grey to red to make them easier to find and thus more user-friendly.

 

Britax Boulevard lower anchor limits

Britax Boulevard lower anchor limits

 

 

Lower Anchor limits

As of February 2014, car seats must have labels stating the child’s weight limit for the use of lower anchors.  The new Britax seats have these updated labels with the current lower anchor limits clearly listed on the side for both rear facing and forward facing.

Britax Boulevard tether and anti rebound bar

Britax Boulevard tether and anti rebound bar

Tethers and Anti rebound bar

Britax has shortened their tether straps, but do offer a tether extension if needed.  The biggest change they’ve instituted is moving away from a rear facing tether to an anti rebound bar (ARB).  The ARB is available separately via Britax.com.   Many vehicles no longer allow seats to tether rear facing due to occupant detection systems, so Britax has decided the ARB is an easy fix: no more having to figure out if your vehicle allows a rear facing tether or not.  This is a rolling change to the non ClickTight convertibles, so some will still allow you to tether while rear facing; others will not.  If your manual allows it, please make sure to check with your vehicle manufacturer to make sure they allow it as well.

 

Installation

Rear Facing Installation

  • Lower anchor weight limit:
    • Rear facing – child weight of 40 lbs
Britax Boulevard with lower anchor and seat belt installations

Britax Boulevard with lower anchor and seat belt installations

 

Britax has one unique feature that most other convertibles don’t have: individual lower anchor connectors on each side.  This means that one strap doesn’t have to be pulled tight through the seat which can sometimes cause it to bind up in the belt path.  The individual adjusters make for an easy lower anchor installation.  Lower anchors can be used until the child weighs 40 lbs. This means the seat can always be installed with the lower anchors when rear facing if your seating position allows. The Boulevard does not allow for borrowing lower anchors from outboard seating positions. It does allow for overhang for those with shallow vehicle seats. Up to 3″ of the seat can hang off the edge assuming you can get a good installation.

 

Britax Boulevard rear facing lock offs

Britax Boulevard rear facing lockoffs

If a seat belt installation is preferred, that method is easy as well with Britax’s seat belt lockoffs.  They are found by lifting the cover.  Just open the lock off closest to your seat belt buckle, thread the belt through the rear facing belt path, buckle and tighten. Then flip the lock off over the seat belt to lock it into place.  The Britax lock offs can sometimes be difficult to clip all the way.  One tip for using the lock offs is to use the palm of your hand to close them, not your fingers.

 

Recline needs to be in position three for rear facing installation no matter the installation method.  The crotch buckle needs to in front of, not under the child.  For seat belt installation, the crotch buckle needs to be in the closest position for threading the seat belt through.  For lower anchor installation, the crotch buckle can be in either position as long as the buckle isn’t under the child.

Forward Facing Installation

  • Lower anchor weight limits
    • Forward facing- child weight of 50 lbs
Britax Boulevard forward facing installation

Britax Boulevard forward facing installation

 

 

Lower anchor installation is allowed up to child weight of 50 lbs for forward facing.  Recline positions one or two can be used forward facing. Recline position one must be used for children over 40 lbs, when installing with lap belt only.  Both lower anchor and seat belt installations are just as easy forward as they are rear.  For seat belt installation, thread the belt through the lockoff closest to the buckle. Buckle, tighten, then close the lockoff over the seat belt locking it into place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fit to Child

Rear Facing

  • Rear facing weight range: 5-40 lbs
  • Rear facing height range: 49″ or less, or 1″ from the top of the head to the top of the shell (not head support  head support (Britax recently amended the manual on G4.1 seats manufactured after Oct 2014 to include the head support)
Britax Boulevard Fiona - Newborn, 7 pounds, 17 inches

Britax Boulevard Fiona – Newborn, 7 pounds, 17 inches

 

 

Fiona – Newborn Huggable Images doll, 7 lbs, 17″

Fiona fit very well with the infant positioning pillow.  It bumped her up just enough so that her shoulders were just barely above the bottom harness slots.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that she fit nicely with the impact absorbing chest pads. These pads are highly recommended for forward facing, but can be removed rear facing to ensure a snug fit for small infants.

Britax Boulevard Anders - 15 months, 23 pounds., 31 inches

Britax Boulevard Anders – 15 months, 23 pounds., 31 inches

 

Anders – 15 months, 25 lbs, 30″

Anders has a great fit in the Boulevard.  Infant positioning pillow has been removed, as he is over 22 lbs. He’s on the third harness position and has the crotch strap in the outer position.  He frequently sleeps in this seat with no complaints of being hot or uncomfortable.

Britax Boulevard Freya - 3 years, 25 pounds, 34 inches

Britax Boulevard Freya – 3 years, 25 pounds, 34 inches

 

 

Freya – 3 yrs, 25 lbs, 34″

Freya, like Anders, fits wonderfully rear facing in the Boulevard.  At 3, she’s still safer rear facing. She is actually on the same harness position as Anders and I moved the crotch buckle to the smaller position because she wasn’t sitting on the strap like Anders was. Even with the shallow seat pan that most Britax convertibles have, Freya still has plenty of leg room.

Forward Facing

  • Forward facing weight range: 20-65 lbs
  • Forward facing height range: 49″ or less
Britax Boulevard Freya - 3 years, 25 pounds, 34 inches

Britax Boulevard Freya – 3 years, 25 pounds, 34 inches

 

Freya – 3 yrs, 25 lbs, 34″

Freya fits comfortably forward facing in the Boulevard as well.  I kept her in the inner crotch buckle position since she wasn’t sitting on it yet.  She has about three or four more harness positions to go on the head support.  I could see this seat lasting her for a long time to come.

Britax Boulevard Chloe - 6 years, 46 pounds, 48 inches

Britax Boulevard Chloe – 6 years, 46 pounds, 48 inches

 

Chloe – 6-year-old Huggable Images doll, 46 lbs, 48″

Chloe barely fits in the Boulevard.  Since she is 46 lbs, I left it installed via lower anchors (allowed up to child weight of 50 lbs).  Her shoulders are right at the highest harness position.  She still seemed to fit width wise well, although a typical child of this height and weight might be a bit snug. At 6 though, if she can sit properly, switching to a dedicated booster would be a safe choice.

 

Important information: Where to find

Britax Boulevard date of manufacture & expiration

Britax Boulevard date of manufacture & expiration

 

Date of manufacture can be found on the side of the car seat near the top, barely hiding under the cover.

 

Expiration is 7 years and can be found on page 5 of the instruction manual.

Britax Boulevard FAA certification

Britax Boulevard FAA certification

 

 

FAA approval sticker can be found on a sticker on the side of the seat, as well as page 6 of the instruction manual.

 

Britax Convertible Comparison

 Britax G3Britax G4.1Britax Boulevard and Advocate ClickTight
Specifications 
RF Limits5-40 lbs,
1" from the top of head to top of shell
5-40 lbs,
1" from top of head to top of shell
** Seats made after 10/14, rear facing height limit : when head is 1" from the top of the extended head support
5-40 lbs,
1" from the top of the head to the top of the head support
FF Limits20-70 lbs,
up to 49"
20-65 lbs,
up to 49"
20-65 lbs,
up to 49"
Shell height24"24"
27" to the top of head support
24"
29" (fully extended head support)
Lowest harness position9"7" (with infant insert)7.5" (with infant insert)
Highest harness position16"17"18.65"
Features 
Clicktight installation
Seat belt lock offs
Included Infant insertwedge can be purchased from Britaxyesyes
Rear face tetheryesallowed in some, but not in newer versionsallowed in some, but not in newer versions
Anti-rebound baravailable from Britaxavailable from Britaxavailable from Britax

 

Overall Thoughts

Britax has always made go-to seats for ease of use and installation.  The only downfall to this Boulevard, and other previous Britax convertibles, is the short shell and shallow seat pan.  None of these are a safety concern, but if you have larger children these complaints mean the child could outgrow the seat before they’re ready for the next step.  Britax has addressed these issues with their newest convertible line up, the ClickTights. Read our review on the Britax Advocate ClickTight for more information on those.  Overall, I’m pleased with the Britax Boulevard.

 


Interested in one for yourself?  Britax is giving one of our lucky readers a chance to win one!  Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of the review.
Want one now and can’t wait for the giveaway?  They can be found on Amazon.com.

Britax provided the Laguna Boulevard used in this review, CSFTL was not otherwise compensated and opinions, as always, are all our own.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Evenflo Transitions Review

The Evenflo Transitions is the newest seat in the world of combination seats.  It is a seat that offers a five point harness, a high back booster, and a backless booster.  With several comfort and ease of use features, the Transitions is a wonderful option for keeping kids harnessed longer. Lets take a closer look at the seat.

CSFTL Quick Stats

Evenflo_Transitions

Evenflo Transitions

  • Forward facing weight range: 22-65lbs
  • Forward facing height range: 28-50″
  • High back booster weight range: 40-120lbs
  • High back booster height range: 44-57″
  • Backless booster weight range: 40-120lbs
  • Backless booster height range: 44-57″
  • Highest harness position: 18″
  • Highest belt guide position: 20.5″
  • Lower Anchor weight limit: 45 lbs
  • Expiration: 8 years
  • 2015 IIHS Best Bet

Features

  • Two position crotch strap
  • 2 Recline Positions
  • Use of Lower Anchors allowed in booster mode

 

Assembly

Straight out of the box, the Transitions comes fully assembled, with protective plastic over the cupholders.  The manual, registration card, and shoulder belt guide for use in no back booster mode, is right on the front of the seat.  Always remember to send in your registration card that comes with the seat.  This registration card allows the manufacturer to contact you, should a recall occur.

 

Installation and Use

Harness Mode

Evenflo_TransitionsLA

Lower Anchors

Evenflo_TransitionsTetherStorage

Tether anchor and storage

Evenflo_TransitionsRecline

Recline foot and lever

The seat belt installation for the Transitions is easy and straight forward.  The belt path for using the seat in harness mode is wide and easily accessible.  Having a wide belt path is beneficial, as it makes it easier to thread the seat belt and tighten it.

The top tether comes attached to the tether storage hook on the back of the seat.  It is important to always use the top tether.  The top tether on the Transitions is easy to clip onto the tether anchor, and easy to tighten and adjust.  The lower anchors on the seat feature what Evenflo calls “quick connectors.”  These are different from standard lower anchor connectors and easier to use.  Standard lower anchor connectors are clip style, which require you to hook around the lower anchor of the vehicle.  The quick connectors are the push on style.  There are arrows on the connectors that need to point.  These quick connectors also feature a red tab to pull on to release.  The weight limit for the lower anchors on the seat is 45lbs.  Once your child reaches 45lbs in harness mode, the seat must be installed with the seatbelt. The seat features handy storage spots for both the tether anchor and the lower anchors. If you are using the seat for a child less than 40lbs, you MUST use the recline stand on the bottom of the seat.

Fit to Child

Harness Mode

10930849_10153256835094362_3910580970591946441_n

Evenflo Transitions: 2.5 years old, 28 pounds, 34.5″

 

This model is 2.5 years old, 28lbs and 34.5″. With this model, with the headrest in the correct position, it tended to push her head forward a little bit. She is using the third harness slot position. She is required to use the harness covers as she is under 40lbs. The material is rougher, so could irritate some children’s skin.

11174519_10153256850134362_7077775576114304144_o

Evenflo Transitions: 4.5 Years Old, 41 pounds, 41 inches tall

Here we see the fit on a 4.5 years old, 41 pound, 41 inch tall model.  He is using the second to the top harness slot, so he has plenty of room to grow! He fell asleep several times in this seat and looked very comfortable.

 

Evenflo_TransitionsOliviaHarness

Evenflo Transitions — 5 Years old, 46 pounds, 45 inches tall

This model is 5 years old, about 45 inches and 46lbs.  She found the seat to be comfortable and “squishy.” She also found the strap covers that come with the seat, which are required to be used for a child under 40lbs, to be itchy.  The harness straps are pretty narrow set, so I was concerned about them cutting into her neck without the covers.  This was not a concern or an issue for her.  With 18 inch top slots, she fit well on the last set of harness slots, with about 1.5 inches of growing room. The head wings on the seat provided a comfy place to rest her head when sleepy.

 

11209601_10153256837919362_4909792769505676713_n

Evenflo Transitions: 6 Years Old, 51 pounds, 47 inches

Here is the harness fit on a 6-year-old, 51 pound, and 47″ model.  She was right at the top of the harness slots so would need to transition to the high back booster mode soon. She fit well in the booster mode as well, but was sad she was almost too big for the harness.

Evenflo Transitions buckle tongue holder

Evenflo Transitions buckle tongue holder

Getting them in and out of the seat is easy too, with the help of the buckle tongue holders on the side of the seat.  The  seat also comes with an optional body pillow.  Please note that this pillow is optional before 40lbs, but it must be removed after 40lbs.

Harness to High Back Booster Conversion

Converting the Transitions from harness to high back booster is easy. It has a unique set up that allows you to keep the harness WITH the seat, so that you don’t have to worry about losing any important parts of the seat.

Evenflo_TransitionsStrapRouting

Front of harness routing

Evenflo_TransitionsHBBstraps

Harness routing in the back

Evenflo Transitions Jclip

Evenflo Transitions J-clip

The first step is to unhook the harness slots from the splitter plate and thread them through the front of the seat.  Then, unhook the “J clips” that hold the cover on to the shell of the seat.  Once the cover is off, rethread the harness and reattach to the splitter plate.  Then, thread the retainer clip through the belt path and clip it together. Reattach the cover, and you are good to go!

Evenflo Transitions high back booster mode

Evenflo Transitions high back booster mode

For the crotch buckle, take it out of the slot, and reattach it upside down.  When the seat is being used as a high back booster, you can use the lower anchors to attach the seat to the vehicle.

Fit to Child

High Back Booster

Evenflo Transitions: High back booster mode, 5 years old, 46 pounds, 45 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions: High back booster mode, 5 years old, 46 pounds, 45 inches tall

Here we see one of our models from the harness section above demonstrating the fit to child in high-back booster mode. She is 5 years old, 46 pounds, and 45 inches tall.   The seat provided an optimal belt fit for her.  It positioned the belt low on the hips, and flat across the shoulders. Still enjoying the comfiness of the seat, she said she preferred the harness.  Learn more about how a booster should fit in our article: Proper Booster Fit.

Evenflo Transitions highback booster mode: 8 years old, 56 pounds, 50 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions highback booster mode: 6 years old, 51 pounds, 47 inches tall

This model is 6 years old, 47 inches tall, and 51lbs.  With the belt set up in this vehicle, it made it difficult for the seat belt to sit flush against the model but she did end up getting a decent fit with the head rest in the second to highest position.

Evenflo Transitions highback booster mode: 6 years old, 51 pounds, 47 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions high-back booster mode: 8 years old, 56 pounds, 51 inches tall

This model is 8 years old, 56 pounds, and 51 inches tall.  She said that while the seat was comfortable, it was “squished” in the shoulders.  The belt fit for her was optimal as well.

Evenflo Transitions Shoulder Belt Guide

Evenflo Transitions Shoulder Belt Guide

The belt positioner on this seat is wonderful.  It is wide open, so that getting the belt to retract is easy.  It also has loops enclosing the belt within the guide, so that it doesn’t come out.

Backless Booster Conversion

Evenflo Transitions: Backless booster conversion

Evenflo Transitions: Backless booster conversion

Converting this seat from high back mode to backless mode is by far the easiest conversion I’ve had the pleasure of working with.  There is a red lever on the bottom of the seat.  Pull on that, then lift UP on the recline handle, and the bottom portion of the seat comes off.  Once taken off, you are ready to use the seat in backless mode. To reattach the bottom, simply line it back up, and snap it back on.  The lower anchors stay with the top portion of the seat, so when using in a backless booster, you must remember to buckle the seat in when not in use.  Buckling the seat when not in use, or using the lower anchors in high back mode, prevents the seat from becoming a dangerous projectile.

 

 

Fit to Child

Backless Booster

Evenflo Transitions in backless booster mode: 8 years old, 56 pounds, 50 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions in backless booster mode: 8 years old, 56 pounds, 50 inches tall

Our versatile model from above is our model for our the backless portion.  She is 8 years old, 56 pounds, and 50 inches tall.  Once again, the Transitions provided an excellent belt fit in the backless mode.  One thing I would like to note about using in backless mode is that you really have to make sure that the shoulder belt is tucked underneath the lap belt guides by the buckle.  It tends to want to slip up and out.

Evenflo Transitions backless booster mode: 8.5 years old, 80 pounds and 51 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions backless booster mode: 8.5 years old, 80 pounds and 51 inches tall

 

Our second model for the backless mode is mode is 8.5 years old, 80lbs and 51 inches tall. The seat once again provided a fantastic belt fit.

 

Important Information: Where to find

Evenflo_TransitionsFAA
FAA Approval: The Transitions is approved by the FAA for travel in harnessed mode only.  Because airplanes only have lap belts, boosters can not be used on the plane.  The FAA approval sticker is on the bottom left of the seat.
Evenflo_TransitionsExpiry2
Expiration: When the Transitions was originally released, it came out with a 6 year expiration date, which could be found on a sticker on the back of the seat, and also on the bottom behind the recline lever.  However, since its release, Evenflo has confirmed that there is actually an 8 year expiry date on the seat.  For questions regarding the expiration date and when your seat expires, you can call Evenflo.
Evenflo Transitions cleaning instructions
Cleaning the seat: The J clips that are on the seat make taking the cover off for when kiddo has an inevitable spill.  Here is a screen shot of the manual on cleaning the seat.  The manual is the best resource for any questions about the seat in general, as well as specific questions about cleaning.

Overall Thoughts

Overall impression of the seat is that it is an easy to use, comfortable seat that performs well in all functions: harnessed mode, high back booster mode, and backless mode.  The harness height yields a long-lasting seat in harness mode.  With the optimal padding on the bottom, it would suit even the pickiest child in terms of comfort.  With the added J clips, it makes removing the cover a breeze.  The buckle tongue holders also make for a seat that is easy to use, especially in the summer months, as it keeps the hot metal away from the child’s skin. At 19 inches wide, it’s also fairly narrow, which could be beneficial to those families that need to fit 3 across in a vehicle.

Want to win one for yourself?  Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Originally written by Kim Robinson. Edits maintained by CSFTL.

Diono Cambria and Solana Review

The Diono Cambria is the newest booster seat from Diono. Many CSFTL Littles have been fans of the Diono Monterey for some time now; so we were excited to give the Cambria a try!

 

Diono Cambria high back mode

Diono Cambria high back mode

CSFTL Quick Stats

Features

  • Flexible lower anchor connectors
  • Retractable cupholders
  • Recline setting
  • Requires head support at all times

 

Usage

High back Mode

Diono Cambria high back mode

Diono Cambria high back mode

The Cambria is rated for children 4-12 years old, 40 – 120 lbs, 38 – 63″. CSFTL recommends utilizing a 5 point harness until your child has outgrown it and is at least 5 years old. Read more here about whether a booster seat is the right choice for your Little. The highest belt guide setting on the Cambria measures 20″ tall, making it a great, long-lasting choice. However, this seat requires head support to the top of the child’s ears at all times. Once the child’s ears go over the vehicle support, this seat is outgrown.

To use the Cambria in High back mode, place on the vehicle seat, thread the shoulder belt through the belt guide and the lap belt under the armrests and buckle. Diono recommends the booster sit flush with the back and bottom of the vehicle seat. The high back has a slight recline setting that can be used by pushing the backrest back until it clicks. The Cambria is equipped with lower anchor connectors that can be used if lower anchors are available in the vehicle. Unlike with harnessed seats, there are no weight limits, so can be used the full weight of the booster. Simply connect the anchors and pull the straps on the front of the seat to tighten them.

 

Backless Mode

Diono Cambria/Solana backless mode

Diono Cambria/Solana backless mode

 

Once the child’s ears are above the top belt guide of the Cambria, they are too tall to use the high back mode. The Cambria’s back can then be removed, and used until the child reaches 120 lbs, 63″ or passes the 5 step test and is ready to ride without a booster. To remove the back, lay the back flat and lift the arms out of the hinges. This installation as well requires support to the top of the child’s ears. The same installation instructions apply to the Cambria in backless mode and the Solana as above. You will use the seat belt and can use the lower anchors if available.

 

Removing the Cambria backrest.

Removing the Cambria backrest.

 

 

The Cambria includes a flexible shoulder belt positioning strap for use in backless mode should the child need it to help properly position the shoulder belt.

 

Unique Features

Diono Cambria lower anchor connectors

Diono Cambria/Solana lower anchor connectors

Lower Anchor Connectors

The Cambria features flexible lower anchor connectors which help secure the booster seat when not in use, and also make it a little more stable for the child to climb in and out and buckle themselves. To extend the strap, push the button just above the front of the strap and pull the connector from the back. Attach each connector to the vehicle’s lower anchors, then pull from the front to tighten. The lower anchor connectors are upside down from the traditional direction that lower anchor connectors typically face. Because the lower anchors are only holding the booster seat and the seat belt is restraining the child, it’s fine to hook them upside down. If use of the lower anchors interferes with buckling the seat belt, do not use them.

 

 

Diono Cambria padding/cover

Diono Cambria padding/cover

Padding/Cover

The Cambria has EPE foam in the headrest and torso area to aid in side impact protection. There is also a small layer of comfort foam in the seating area to provide a comfortable ride for the child. The cover is easily removable and the manual recommends hand washing and air drying to clean.

The models featured in this review are the Shadow and Sunburst fashion, it is also available in Raspberry and Graphite.

 

 

 

 

Diono Cambria retractable cup holders

Diono Cambria retractable cup holders

Retractable Cup Holders

The Cambria has cup holders on either side, each side has a circular compartment for a cup and a smaller, rectangular component for a snack or other item. They retract nicely into the base when not in use or to save space in the vehicle. The only problem that we have run into is they retract easily, so it can be cumbersome to get buckled if there is a cup in the cup holder and it is bumped in a way that makes the cup holder try to retract.

 

 

 

 

Diono Solana

Diono Solana

Solana

The Diono Solana is the backless version of the Cambria — it’s sold separately without the back.  It is exactly the same as using the Cambria backless.  So if you are only in need of the backless portion and don’t need the high back option, the Solana is the way to go.  For information on Fit to Child, please the information above on Fit to Child: Backless booster portion.

 

Fit to Child

High Back Mode

5 Year Old, 40 lbs, 40.5″

40.5", 40lb 5 year old in the Diono Cambria

Diono Cambria: 5 years old, 40 lbs and 40.5″

This child is very small for her age, closer to a 4 year old by height and weight. She does meet the minimums for using the Cambria, and gets a good belt fit when using the headrest in the bottom setting. The belt sits across her chest and on her lap. The Cambria is very generous with interior room and she’s very little, so it can look like the seat is “swallowing her up” but she said she feels comfortable and is happy to use the seat.  She can buckle herself without much trouble and is able to adjust the belt properly so that it is snug and fits her correctly. When using the seat in backless mode, she does not get a good shoulder belt fit without using the belt adjuster strap. Since the Cambria comes with that strap attached (and hidden under the cover on the bottom) that would definitely be recommended for smaller children. While there is no safety difference between using the back and not using the back as long as the child can get a good fit, I would probably recommend using the back for a younger booster rider, because generally he or she will need that extra support from the sides.

 

 

6 Year Old, 43 lbs, 47″

6 years old, 43 lbs and 47"

Diono Cambria: 6 years old, 43 lbs and 47″

This child carries most of his height in his legs, and is only on the first headrest setting. The Cambria gives him an excellent seat belt fit: placing the lap belt low on his hips, touching the tops of his thighs and the shoulder belt even across his collarbone and flush with his torso. He is very happy riding in the Cambria, the vertical spacing of the armrests makes it very easy for him to buckle himself, and the generous shoulder belt guide allows the belt to slide freely through as he buckles.

 

Diono Cambria head support

Diono Cambria head support

 

The Cambria has ample head and torso support, which makes for a comfortable ride whether he is awake or asleep.

 

7 Year Old, 48 lbs, 49.5″

7 year old, happily using the Diono Cambria in high back booster mode

Diono Cambria: 7 years old, 48 lbs and 49.5″

 

This child is a taller 7 year old and carries most of his height in his torso. Even so, he is not using the top “click” of the headrest, and would have lots of room to grow using the seat in high-back mode. He, too, can easily buckle himself and really loves that he does not have to buckle the seat during drop off at school in the mornings. He has some sensory issues and enclosed spaces make him uncomfortable, but the wide Cambria affords him lots of space and also a good bit of support for when he feels sleepy.  In backless mode, he gets a good fit without the shoulder adjuster strap, but seems to prefer using it. Belt fit can vary in different vehicles, so it is good to know that the shoulder belt adjuster strap has a convenient storage spot, and can be stowed or used easily.

 

Backless Mode

9 Year old, 58 lbs, 52″

Diono Solana: 9 years old, 58 pounds, 52 inches tall

Diono Solana: 9 years old, 58 pounds, 52 inches tall

 

 

This model finds the Solana very comfortable.  It offers proper seat belt fit — the shoulder belt hits her right across the middle of her shoulder and the lap belt sits across her upper thighs.  The seat itself is a bit wide so she needs to move the Solana over a bit when to access the buckle stalk when she’s getting into the seat.  She’s a big fan of the cupholders.

 

Diono Solana: 9 Year Old, 115 lbs, 52"

Diono Cambria/Solana: 9 Year Old, 115 lbs, 52″

 

 

 

9 Year Old, 115 lbs, 52″

This child is right at the limits of using the backless portion of the Cambria.  This is actually the Solana backless booster that is sold separately from the Cambria.  We’ve had a difficult time finding a booster to fit him and the Solana is doing a decent job at it.  It’s nice and wide for his wider hips, but the belt fit tends to fit somewhat low on his thighs.  He likes how deep and wide the seating area is and the cupholders are a bonus.  We also both love the lower anchor connectors so he doesn’t have to buckle it in after every ride.

 

 

 

Important Information: Where to find

Diono Cambria Solana Date of manufacture expiration

Diono Cambria/Solana Date of Manufacture and Expiration

 

Expiration: The date of manufacture can be found on the very bottom of the booster and the manual states on page 2 to not use the seat after 10 years.

 

FAA Approval: As with all booster seats, the Diono Cambria and Solana are not FAA approved due to airplanes only having lap only belts according to the car seat manual.

Cambria manual is located behind the side of the cover

Cambria manual is located behind the side of the cover

 

 

Manual Storage: The manual is a bit hidden, it took me some searching to find upon initial receipt of the Cambria. When looking at the back of the backrest, there is a small sleeve on the left side where it tucks away.

 

 

 

Overall Thoughts

Cambria_stockThe Diono Cambria is a long-lasting booster seat with great ease of use and comfort features. It is a great option for children who have outgrown their 5 point harness and are ready to move into a booster seat. It can be found for under $100 on Amazon.com, making it an excellent value as well.

Fuzzing on the Diono Cambria cover after one month of use

Fuzzing on the Diono Cambria cover after one month of use

 

 

One thing I noticed after a month or so of use is that the cover tends to come off the front and slide up the booster.  The cover has since started getting ‘fuzzy’ on that corner from the repeated sliding on it.  After contacting Diono, they replaced the entire Solana seat for me.  They stated it wasn’t a safety concern, but was still under warranty.

 

diono solanaThe Diono Solana is also a great long-lasting backless booster option.  It fits larger children well and is a great option for children not quite ready for the adult belt alone.  It can be found for under $50 on Amazon.com, also making it a great value for a backless booster option.

 

Diono has been gracious enough to allow two of our readers to win a Diono Cambria for themselves.  CSFTL will be giving away a Diono Cambria to both a United States AND a Canadian reader!!

 

 

Diono provided the Shadow Cambria used in this review, CSFTL was not otherwise compensated and opinions, as always, are all our own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway