Evenflo EveryStage Review

(Last Updated On: November 30, 2018)
Evenflo EveryStage is in the house!

Evenflo EveryStage is in the house!

Evenflo has offered a few multimode car seats over the years, starting with the Symphony, then moving on to the SafeMax.  Both of those models are still available today but the product line has expanded to include the Evenflo EveryStage DLX.

This multimode car seat has an innovative recline setting that helps the tiniest of passengers ride safely and the DLX model includes the pretty amazeballs EasyClick lower anchor system that makes installations a breeze.  Join us for a journey through EveryStage!

CSFTL QuickStats

Measurements

  • Width at widest point (2 places have the same measurement: midway up the shell and at the cupholders): 19 inches
  • Footprint, front to back: roughly 32 inches
  • Weight: 19.5 pounds
  • Shell height: 26.5 inches
  • Seat pan depth: 12 inches
  • Seat pan width at narrowest point: 10 inches
  • 2 crotch buckle positions: 3.5 and 5 inches from the back of the seat pan

Unique Features

  • EasyClick™ lower anchor tightening system on the DLX model
  • Rear facing recline angle helps minimize head slump and keep the child’s airway open for a custom, cradled fit
  • Removable, dishwasher-safe cupholder liners

EasyClick — DLX Model Only

Evenflo EveryStage EasyClick

Evenflo EveryStage EasyClick

The EasyClick lower anchor tightening system is pretty awesome.  It’s not unlike the SureLATCH system that we’ve seen on some other Evenflo car seats but it’s even easier to use!  Set the EveryStage on the vehicle seat, then connect the lower anchors to the lower anchor connectors on the vehicle.  There’s a little teeny handle folded onto the outside of the EasyClick connector — just unfold it, then move the handle back and forth until the EveryStage is installed securely.

That’s pretty much all there is to it.

Families who are looking for a car seat that’s easy to install would most likely find what they’re looking for in the EveryStage with EasyClick. It’s about as simple as it can get, and that’s no small thing. Installing a car seat can be so stressful — we found that EasyClick takes about 90% of that stress out of the picture.

The EveryStage is also sold without the EasyClick but if your budget allows for the DLX model, I’d strongly suggest choosing the DLX because the installation is so darn easy.

Caveat: lower anchors have a weight limit. Families who plan to use the EveryStage with heavier children would need to use the vehicle seat belt to install it once that child reaches 40 pounds. But until that time, the install is bliss.

EasyClick Meets Aggressive Side Bolsters

I did have a couple of challenges that may be unique to my reviewmobile, a 2016 VW GTI named Fluffy.  Fluffy apparently has aggressive side bolsters that push the EveryStage’s base up at an angle.  Evenflo allows the car seat to have up to a 20% tilt (note that I’m not saying “angle” since we talk about rear facing recline angles, which are different than this side-to-side tilt) so the tilt was still in the allowable range but it did annoy me.  There is only one EasyClick connector so it was just about impossible to adjust the seat in any way that stopped the tilt from happening.

Installing the seat using the vehicle seat belt pretty much resolved the issue, but I certainly missed the ease of installing with EasyClick.

I say pretty much because the EveryStage’s base is just wide enough in one place that it spills over onto my aggressive side bolsters and still results in a slightly tilted installation.  Again, not the end of the world and still very much permitted by the manufacturer.  And annoying to me.

I’m really giving this particular issue more page space than it’s due.  I installed the EveryStage in a 2015 Honda Odyssey and a 2011 Mini Countryman and encountered 0 issues with tipping using the EasyClick connector.

Newborn Recline and No Rethread Harness

Evenflo EveryStage rear facing in newborn mode

Evenflo EveryStage rear facing in newborn mode

The newborn recline angle is one of the things that make the EveryStage unique.  When the headrest is on the lowest setting, like it would be for a newborn, the recline angle automatically corrects to an appropriate angle for a newborn.  It’s sort of like a seat within a seat — the shell is still at a more upright angle while the actual part of the seat that holds the child is at a more reclined angle.  This feature takes the worry out of making sure that the recline is correct at every age and stage.

Evenflo EveryStage fabric that catches on the headrest

Evenflo EveryStage fabric that catches on the headrest

However.  This feature made moving the headrest up and down a bit of a challenge.  Because the headrest angles in as it’s lowered, I found that the headrest caught on the fabric at the top of the outer part of the shell every time I moved it up or down.  I tend to move a headrest up or down about a hundred times over the course of a review (totally not kidding there!) so for me, this was a big annoyance.

For most families, they’ll move that headrest every now and again as their child grows so this is another small or non-issue for people who aren’t moving the headrest about 15 times per day.

Recline Positions

Evenflo EveryStage recline positions

Evenflo EveryStage recline positions

In rear facing mode, the EveryStage can be reclined in positions 1, 2, or 3.  Forward facing, it can be in positions 4 or 5.  These positions are marked on the outside of the seat’s base, in the most not visible black plastic I have ever met  It’s nearly impossible to tell which position the seat is in.

Recline Angle Indicator

Evenflo EveryStage recline angle indicator

Evenflo EveryStage recline angle indicator

The EveryStage includes a bubble style recline angle indicator for both rear and forward facing modes.

Rear Facing Footprint

Front-to-back, the EveryStage measures roughly 32 inches when it’s installed rear facing.  This measurement can and will vary between vehicles but it can offer a sense of how large the seat can be when it’s installed.

Body Pillow

The optional body pillow and head support are for use in rear facing mode only.

Label Issues

Evenflo EveryStage labels are falling off

Evenflo EveryStage labels are falling off

For some reason, every label on the sides of my particular EveryStage is either cracking or starting to fall off.  The FAA approval label and date of manufacture labels on the back of the seat’s shell remain affixed.

Note for Canadian Families

The EveryStage is sold in both the United States and Canada.  The Canadian version of this seat includes an anti-rebound bar that is required in rear facing mode.

Installation

Rear Facing

Lower Anchors with EasyClick

Evenflo EveryStage installed rear facing with EasyClick

Evenflo EveryStage installed rear facing with EasyClick

Installing the EveryStage using EasyClick is one of the simplest installs that I’ve ever tried. First, make sure that the crotch buckle strap doesn’t interfere with the lower anchor webbing in the belt path.  That happened to me more than once during the review process.  EasyClick made for a very simple installation — just connect the connectors to the vehicle. Confirm that the lower anchor webbing lays flat across the belt path and the lower anchor connectors are facing upward, then move the EasyClick handle back and forth until the seat is tight.  Check for movement at the belt path — if the EveryStage moves less than an inch in any direction, the install is secure. Actually installing this seat with EasyClick once the connectors were attached took less time than reading the above paragraph did.  No joke. Reminder: only the DLX version of this seat includes EasyClick.  In my opinion, the price difference is worth every penny.

Vehicle Seat Belt

Evenflo EveryStage rear facing with vehicle seat belt

Evenflo EveryStage rear facing with vehicle seat belt

Installing the EveryStage with a vehicle seat belt is pretty standard.  The cover slips off fairly easily to expose the belt path so there’s no loss of knuckle skin in the installation process.  Thread the vehicle seat belt through the rear facing belt path (it’s clearly marked with a label), then buckle the vehicle seat belt.  Press down on the car seat right where the child’s bottom would be while pulling the slack out of the shoulder portion of the vehicle seat belt.  Once the slack is removed from the lap portion of the vehicle seat belt, hold the seat belt firmly in place with one hand.  With the other hand, pull the vehicle seat belt all the way out at the retractor to engage child lock mode, then feed the locked belt back into the retractor until the seat is secure.  Learn more about locking your vehicle seat belt in our timeless article.

While this process was pretty straightforward as far as installations go, it was a lot less easy than using EasyClick with the lower anchors.

Fit to Child

Preemie Doll

Evenflo EveryStage preemie doll

Evenflo EveryStage preemie doll

Many car seats claim that a 4 pound preemie can fit in them but very few live up to that claim so my preemie doll doesn’t get as much use as my newborn doll does!   Our preemie Huggable Images doll weighs 4 pounds and is 17 inches long.

Evenflo EveryStage preemie doll harness is above the shoulders

Evenflo EveryStage preemie doll harness is above the shoulders

With the infant insert in the seat and the harness straps on the lowest setting, the straps are above our preemie doll’s shoulders. That’s not a safe fit for a child who’s riding rear facing so we’d be hard-pressed to recommend the EveryStage for preemies.

Newborn Doll

Evenflo EveryStage newborn doll

Evenflo EveryStage newborn doll

Our newborn Huggable Images doll weighs 7 pounds and is a fairly short (for a newborn) 17 inches long.  With the body pillow and head pillow in the seat, the EveryStage’s unique angle adjustment made for an excellent angle and harness fit.  Families who are interested in using a convertible or multimode car seat from birth would find an excellent choice in the EveryStage.

2 Years Old

Evenflo EveryStage 2 years old, no nap

Evenflo EveryStage 2 years old, no nap

Our 2 year old model skipped his nap on this day so he wasn’t too terribly excited about the EveryStage.  He weighs 28 pounds and is 31 inches tall.  The EveryStage fit him well, though his mom noticed that the higher sides made loading a squirmy, unhappy toddler more challenging than it is with his regular car seat.  We remain grateful to this young man’s family for helping us out.

3 Years Old

Evenflo EveryStage 3 years old

Evenflo EveryStage 3 years old

This model is 3 years old.  She weighs 35 pounds and is 37 inches tall.  She was in a much better mood than her brother so she was eager to share her thoughts with us.  She found the EveryStage comfortable and like our other models (humans and our newborn doll), the harness fit her very well.  She’s got plenty of room to grow in terms of height but when it comes to legroom, she’s getting a bit uncomfortable.  She’s also moments away from her 4th birthday so it’s a safe time to have her ride forward facing.

Installation

Forward Facing

Lower Anchors with EasyClick

Evenflo EveryStage installed forward facing with EasyClick

Evenflo EveryStage installed forward facing with EasyClick

It took about 2 minutes to get the EveryStage ready for a forward facing installation by moving the lower anchors from the rear facing belt path into the forward facing belt path and removing the top tether from its storage location.  I just needed to move the lower anchors from the rear facing belt path into the forward facing belt path.  The EasyClick unit itself presented the biggest challenge — it’s pretty large so I had to take my time feeding it through the belt path or it would get stuck on the sides.

It took less than those 2 minutes to install the EveryStage with EasyClick.  Once I installed the seat, I secured the top tether.

Evenflo EveryStage top tether storage

Evenflo EveryStage top tether storage

Evenflo has started adding red housing to the top tether anchor so it’s easy to see that it’s a different part of the installation than the lower anchors or vehicle seat belt.  We welcome every change that makes installation easier and encourages top tether use for forward facing car seats!

Vehicle Seat Belt

Evenflo EveryStage forward facing with vehicle seat belt

Evenflo EveryStage forward facing with vehicle seat belt

Installing the EveryStage with the vehicle seat belt is a fairly standard install — with one exception.  There’s a part of the headrest that hangs down into the seat’s shell.  Unlike almost every other convertible or multimode car seat on the market, this piece has a hard plastic backing to it.  That backing may help with the fit to child, especially on smaller infants, but it makes working with the headrest and installing the car seat forward facing with the vehicle seat belt kind of a challenge.

Evenflo EveryStage plastic behind the headrest

Evenflo EveryStage plastic behind the headrest

One of our favorite pro tips is to remove the cover and expose a car seat’s belt path while installing.  This frees up space to use your leverage and access the entire belt path to tighten the seat belt or lower anchor webbing.  The EveryStage’s cover snaps down to expose the belt path but that plastic piece got in the way even when the headrest was fully extended.

That same plastic piece also got in the way when we were converting the EveryStage to booster mode.  It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s pretty annoying!

Fit to Child

Forward Facing

3 Years Old

Evenflo EveryStage 3 years old

Evenflo EveryStage 3 years old

Our model is still 3 years old.  She weighs 35 pounds and is 34 inches tall.  The EveryStage fits her well in forward facing mode and she was VERY amused at seeing the front of the vehicle for the first time.  She’ll ride rear facing for a while yet but her mom was excited to see that the EveryStage was a great option for this kiddo as she grows.  She’s got plenty of room left in harnessed mode.

Converting to Booster Mode

Evenflo EveryStage booster mode

Evenflo EveryStage booster mode

Because my primary model is a booster rider, the first thing I did was convert the EveryStage to booster mode.  Or attempt to without reading the manual.  I do this for science because so many of the caregivers we work with don’t tend to read the manual.

You may as well get comfortable.  I have a lot of thoughts to share about this.

When I reviewed the SafeMax multimode car seat a while back, I encountered some decent-sized challenges with converting that seat to booster mode.  In fact, my earliest (unpublished) version of that review contains a great deal of snark about the process.  It seems that Evenflo has learned from the complicated rope trick that was SafeMax harness storage and come up with something that’s less difficult.  I will also add that my primary model was ridiculously fond of the SafeMax in booster mode.

Evenflo EveryStage manual was hard to read

Evenflo EveryStage manual was hard to read

But back to the EveryStage.  After a meager first manual-free attempt to convert the seat to booster mode, I played the part of myself working a car seat check event and opened the manual to page 54.  Where I saw the very first instruction was to “See ‘Converting into a Booster Seat,’ p. 54.”

Um, guys.  This IS p. 54.  Page 54 should probably be placed after page 55 since page 54 is the booster installation checklist where you’d check the work that you did on page 55.

So I skimmed ahead and saw that the instructions were on page 55.  I proceeded from that page instead.

Please note that this issue is resolved in the online version of the manual.  As always, we give kudos to Evenflo for making a running change that results in more clarity!

First off, the harness stores right on the seat itself.  That is always a good thing because that leaves zero parts to lose.  Hooray for hanging on to all of your parts!

Here’s how to get to the point where the harness needs to be stored.

Loosen the harness straps all the way.  Then, raise the headrest all the way up. According to the instructions, this is the time to unfasten the chest clip and crotch buckle.  I mention that because the instructions don’t say to fasten them and in most cases, we’d imagine families going through this process after their child was removed from the seat.  So we’d kind of expect this step to not be a step.  But let’s move on.

Next, remove the crotch buckle.  The seat must be reclined in position 1 to access the crotch buckle from the underside of the seat’s shell. Thread the crotch buckle up through the slot to remove it from the seat.

Now, unsnap the cover and pull it down to expose the inside of the seat.  Slide the shoulder straps behind the headrest.

You’ll see a handy little storage area where the harness stores.  Again, that’s a great thing.  Put the part of the harness with the chest clip attached into this space.

HOWEVER.  Where other similar car seats have some sort of handy little door or cover to keep the harness stored in the harness storage cubby, the EveryStage offers only the shallowest of areas without a cover.  That’s possibly tolerable if we’re just talking about the harness itself because the harness and the chest clip remain attached to the seat so again, it’s nearly impossible to lose them.

I know what you’re thinking right now.  You’re thinking that it isn’t so unusual up to this point.  And you’re right.

Here’s where it gets weird.

Once the harness straps are behind the headrest, fasten the chest clip and then “flip the crotch buckle over the assembled chest clip.”

I read this part of the manual about 16 times, then squinted my eyes at the little diagram so hard because I could not, for the life of me, figure out where that crotch buckle should go.  The note I wrote to Evenflo later mentioned maybe not showing a specific thing using a black harness plus a black/gray car seat in the manual.  Because the ONLY way I could kind of see what this was supposed to mean was when I took a picture of that illustration and zoomed in.  No joke.

Once I zoomed in, I saw that they really do mean that the crotch buckle stores right there in that little open area, just sort of hanging out with the harness.

Evenflo EveryStage improved manual!

Evenflo EveryStage improved manual!

Please note that this issue is also resolved in the online version of the manual.  As always, we give kudos to Evenflo for making a running change that results in more clarity!

Evenflo EveryStage harness storage

Evenflo EveryStage harness storage

The instructions go on to explain that the back pads just snap back into place at this point.  Apparently, they’re supposed to keep the harness and the free-floating chest clip in place while the car seat is being moved back out to the car to be used as a booster and then of course, while it’s being used as a booster.

I made it about 5 steps out of my front door before that crotch buckle fell out.  So that was pretty much how I expected it to work.

Shoulder Belt Guide

Evenflo EveryStage shoulder belt guide

Evenflo EveryStage shoulder belt guide

In booster mode, the  EveryStage’s shoulder belt guide is quite nice.  Threading the vehicle seat belt through the guide was easy and we had no issues with seat belt retraction during our rides.

Fit to Child

8 Years Old

Evenflo EveryStage 8 years old, waiting for mom

Evenflo EveryStage 8 years old, waiting for mom

My primary model is almost 9 years old and wears a size 10 clothing.  At 51 inches tall, her shoulder height is too tall to use the EveryStage in booster mode even though she’s well below the 57 inch height limit.  She’s as sad about this as I am because this kiddo has a great fondness for using multimode and combination car seats in booster mode — for some reason, that type of booster has been her favorite.  I think that’s because combination and multimode car seats tend to be a bit more padded and rounded in a way that hugs the child than dedicated booster seats tend to be.

Anyhoo, she was only able to model the EveryStage for us outside of the vehicle while she was waiting for her mom to finish up a car seat check.  She’d like you to know that it’s very comfortable and she wishes it was taller so she could ride in it.

8 Years Old

Evenflo EveryStage 8 years old

Evenflo EveryStage 8 years old

My primary model’s adorable BFF is also 8 years old but she’s quite a bit shorter at 47 inches tall.  She’s at the top end of the height limits — the headrest is on the highest position and the shoulder belt guide is just above her shoulder.  She had a little trouble buckling the EveryStage — it’s so large that she pulled out all of the vehicle seat belt and engaged child seat mode in the process.  We had to feed the vehicle seat belt back in, then unthread it from the EveryStage to reset the retractor because the EveryStage’s shell is so large that we ran out of extra belt length in the process.

BFFs riding safely

BFFs riding safely

Once we got her set up and explained that she didn’t need to pull out all of the vehicle seat belt, we were good to go!  She found the EveryStage very comfortable.  Please enjoy this gratuitous photo of my kiddo and her BFF riding safely in their booster seats.

Important Information: Where to Find

Evenflo EveryStage FAA approval label

Evenflo EveryStage FAA approval label

FAA Approval label: the EveryStage is approved for use on aircraft in harnessed mode.  It’s fairly large and bulky so we wouldn’t consider it a first choice as a travel seat but it is permitted.  The approval label is found at the back of the bottom of the seat’s base.

Evenflo EveryStage date of manufacture label

Evenflo EveryStage date of manufacture label

Date of Manufacture label: the EveryStage has an impressive 10 year lifespan.  The date of manufacture label includes the expiration date along with the date of manufacture.  This label is found on the back of the seat’s shell.

Evenflo EveryStage manual storage

Evenflo EveryStage manual storage

Manual storage: the manual stores in kind of an unusual place — under the cover on the headrest.  We found that our manual didn’t quite tuck into that spot as nicely as we’d like.

Evenflo EveryStage top tether storage

Evenflo EveryStage top tether storage

Top tether storage: the top tether stores on the back of the seat and attaches to a clip on the seat’s base.

Overall Thoughts

The EveryStage fit most of our models well — its sweet spot is in the traditional sweet spot for convertible and multimode car seats: that older infant through early booster rider group.  It didn’t fit our preemie or our average-sized 8 year old models but it did fit all of our other models well.  Our primary complaint around harness fit is the high sides — I worry that they’re high enough that older children who are riding rear facing will have a hard time getting into the seat.

Families who are looking for a well-padded car seat that’s super duper easy to install with lower anchors will find what they’re looking for in the EveryStage DLX with EasyClick.  That mechanism is about the easiest way I’ve ever experienced to install a car seat.

Giveaway

Our friends at Evenflo are giving away one EveryStage DLX to a lucky reader! Read our terms and conditions, then enter below for your chance to win!
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