Eddie Bauer is a child restraint brand manufactured by Dorel Juvenile Products, which also produces the Cosco, Safety 1st, and Maxi-Cosi brands in North America.
The Deluxe Highback 65 is a combination seat, meant for forward facing children using a 5pt harness and also to transition into a high backed booster for older children. With a 65lb 49″ forward facing harness limit, and a 100lb 52″ booster limit, this seat promises to last a child for a long time, hopefully until that child is ready for a no back booster. This seat also made it onto the IIHS Booster Rating list as a “Good Bet,” so we were eager to review it.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Forward facing weight range: 22-65lbs (and over one year of age)
- Forward facing height range: 34″- 49″
- High back booster weight range: 40-100 lbs (and 4 years or older)
- High back booster height range: 43-52″
- Crotch buckle positions: 3.5″, 5″, 6.5″
- Lowest harness position: 10″
- Highest harness position: 17″
- Highest booster guide position: 21″
- Expiration: December 31st of the 10th year
- Lower anchor weight limit: 40lb
- 3 position adjustable crotch strap:
- Adjustable headrest
- Adjustable belt guide
- Padded, movable, armrests
- Cup holder
- FAA approved in 5pt harness mode
- Cushioned harness pads
The Deluxe Highback 65 comes out of the box with the harness in the bottom harness setting, and with the kickstand folded in, both of which need to be changed. It is imperative that one reads the manual when preparing to use and install any child restraint, but there are a few details in the manual that will be very important to note when using this seat. The bottom harness setting is 10″ which is far too low for any forward facing child, so you’ll need to move it up. The kickstand must be out for use in both harness and booster modes. The harness is continuous, which means that there is one harness strap that is threaded under the seat and attached in the back to the splitter plate.
While the headrest adjusts with simple manipulation of a metal bar on the back of the seat, the harness must still be re-threaded when changing from one harness position to another. Adjusting the harness is a little different from other seats, because of the unique routing required by the manual; the harness must be threaded over the bar, but under the plastic on the headrest adjuster mechanism. This can present a bit of a funny looking routing, and could present an opportunity for misuse. I found that the headrest adjuster mechanism was sometimes not very easy to use. It seemed to “stick” a little.
There are no specific instructions for placement of the crotch buckle, other than it should provide a good fit for the child. Since the first setting is very close to the back of the seat, I had to move this as well. Your mileage may vary on this note, but I found that it was necessary for all three of my children who were put into this restraint.
Installing the cup holder was very easy. There are instructions in the manual, and a spot for it on either side of the seat. I found that it sat at an angle, which may put it out of reach for Littles using the harness, and it also may present a problem for heavier bottles or cups. We don’t usually have water bottles in the car, so again your mileage may vary and you may find that it is a good fit for your needs.
The standard “j-hook” lower anchor connectors come attached to the seat, but not threaded in the belt path, so you’ll need to thread it through. The lower anchor limit for this seat is 40lb child weight only, so after that point, or if you choose to install the restraint with the vehicle belt, you’ll attach the connectors to specific spots on the shell so they don’t become a projectile hazard. In the manual, there are instructions for this and also for storing the tether anchor, however we would always recommend using the tether anchor for any forward facing child. I installed the Deluxe Highback 65 in our Honda Odyssey and Pontiac Grand Am without much difficulty.
Fit to child
The Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 is a forward facing only seat with a one year, 22-65lb, and 34-49″ limit for use. The manual of this seat states that the harness must be at or above the shoulders, and as I’ve mentioned, the bottom harness slots are too low for children of forward facing age. A child with a 10″ torso is going to be an infant, likely not even a year old. For curiosity, I placed my four-month old infant in the seat after I had installed it in my Honda Odyssey. Obviously she cannot legally or safely ride forward facing, and she won’t be forward facing for several years to come, but she would have outgrown the bottom harness slots already. The other harness slots are 13″, 15″, and 17″ and my models are three, nearly five, and seven, so let’s see how they fare in this seat. I feel that it is important to note that the particular seat I received had an issue with the cover not lining up with the harness slots. At the most, there was around a .5″ space between where the cover’s holes for the harness and the shell’s holes for the harness.
Some of our models complained that the harness felt uncomfortably close to their necks at times, especially when they were between harness settings.
Highback Booster Mode
The Eddie Bauer Highback Deluxe 65 has respectable limits for booster mode; at least age four, 40-100lb, and 43-52″. CSFTL recommends keeping children in harnesses past age four, usually closer to age 5.5-6. In booster mode, you’ll store the lower anchor connectors and the tether anchor to the designated spots on the shell since neither can be used when the seat is being used as a booster. The kickstand still has to remain out in booster mode. There are instructions for removing the harness, which is required for booster mode. Removing the harness and replacing it again is not difficult, so I do not consider that to be a big issue at all. There are six height settings for the belt guide: 16″, 17″, 18″, 19″, 20″, and 21″. While 16″ is low, 21″ is pretty good.
I found that the belt guide adjuster seemed a little difficult to move, but it was not as difficult as the headrest adjustment mechanism. I did not have problems putting the Deluxe Highback 65 in either our Grand Am or Odyssey in booster mode. However, in both of our vehicles, the vehicle belt bunched at the lap belt guide and wrapped around to the buckle in a way that created some very weird belt geometry. In our Odyssey, the vehicle belt kept rolling in the shoulder belt guide, causing a twist.
This seat had a notorious inconsistent vehicle seat belt fit in booster mode. We found that to be the case with our models including a 7 year old who had trouble buckling himself into this seat. He also felt uncomfortable because the headrest was pushing him forward and he was too tall to move it up and further, though he still fit in the seat.
The lap portion of the belt was also acceptable for our 7 year old model but, once again, the shoulder portion was not touching his shoulder. I tried each of the settings, and only one was close, but there was still no contact there. On page 47 of the manual, it states “The shoulder belt should lay snugly across the center of the child’s shoulder and across the chest (not the face or neck).” This could not happen, so he could not properly use this seat.
Adjustable Headrest And Adjustable Belt Guides
The headrest moves up and down, accommodating a growing child. It provides support and comfort, which my children definitely liked. The adjuster mechanism for the headrest is on the back of the seat and adjusts independently from the harness itself, though the harness does route over the bar of the adjuster mechanism. It wasn’t particularly easy to use while I had the seat, but it could get easier to use over time.
Resilient, Removable Cover
In a few steps, the cover can be removed for hand-washing. This is one of those things that we all need to do sometime, because kids can be messy little monsters. Being able to remove the cover and I really liked that there were fewer crevices for “stuff” to get into. Even the cup holder was minimalistic and could easily be cleaned. My own little minions got dirt, sand, and crumbs on the Deluxe Highback 65 in the two days we took photos for this review. Everything brushed right off. Even the baby spit up from our tiniest little wiped right off. One isn’t likely to have spit-up on this seat, since it isn’t for newborns, but weird things can happen if your baby has really good aim like my baby does. I could see the cover standing up to LOTS of abuse. There was just the right amount of cushion under the bum for my three, whose car seat cushion preferences run the gambit. It seemed like a Goldilocks zone of cushion.
Padded, Movable Armrests
Fit for a king or queen, the armrests are soft and give a high-end feel to the Deluxe Highback 65. We could all agree that everyone loved them, and finding something that three children ALL enjoy is very difficult, so having two universally liked features on the same seat was a big plus. We liked that they could move so that getting in or out wouldn’t be hindered. For Saoirse, the big bonus of movable armrests was that they were fun to play with. If the three-year old is occupied and happy, Mama is happy.
The Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 combination seat seemed very appealing on paper. When we got down to the meat of it there were just too many drawbacks. For a smaller child, this seat would be fine for forward facing harness use. I have two smaller children, and they would have years of room for growth. The seat is 19″ wide on the outside and has a depth of 16″; it is not a compact seat. The inside is pretty roomy and has a 12″ seat pan on the inside which tapers to around 11″ up at the shoulders. There’s plenty of room for Littles and not so Littles inside the seat. We found that the harness was really not especially roomy, though. When our 7 year old model was fully buckled, there was a very small amount of harness slack left even though he’s 17lb less than the harness maximum weight limit. I don’t think that there would be much room for a heftier child.
In booster mode, we saw issues with the shoulder belt fit. While all seats are safe when used properly, I can see that there will be fit issues with this seat. It is very important to read the manual of any seat you have so you can be aware of the requirements for use. Since we did not get the proper belt fit as specified by the manual, there was no way for us to use the booster function of this seat. Many parents purchase a combination seat hoping for years of use. The 10 year expiration range is very generous, but average children will probably not get many years of use in this seat. At $119, the seat is in a budget friendly price range.
Dorel provided the Deluxe Highback 65 for this review. As always, this review reflects my own opinions and does not represent that of Eddie Bauer or its parent company Dorel. This review and the content within do not take the place of a seat check with a CPST. Please have your installation checked by a CPST and, when in doubt, contact the manufacturer of your restraint with any questions you may have.
Originally written by Laurel, edits maintained by CSFTL.