We’ve been big fans of the now-retired Kiddy CruiserFix Pro for quite some time so we were eager to see how the revamped Cruiser 3 stacks up to its predecessor.
And by “fans,” I mean that I’m quite possibly the biggest fan of that seat ever. My very picky kiddo has ridden in that seat every day since she started booster training and had ZERO issues with getting herself buckled in or with being comfortable while she rides. Even though I’d spent an irrationally long time with the Cruiser 3 during our visit to the ABC Kids Expo last fall, I honestly couldn’t wrap my head around how this booster that’s worked so well for us could possibly be improved.
Well. It has been. Read on and I’ll tell you how!
CSFTL Quick Stats
- High back booster weight range: 33-120 pounds
- High back booster height range: 38-63 inches tall
- Highest booster guide position: 23 inches
- Expiration: 8 years
- Does not become a backless booster
- Replace after 10 mph or faster crash
- Does not require a vehicle head restraint behind it
- Required to be flush against the vehicle seat back
- Rigid lower anchor connectors
- Adjustable length leg support
- Torso support widens as the child grows and the headrest is raised
- IIHS Best Bet booster fit
Note About Availability
Shortly after we published this review, Kiddy USA let us know that they’re no longer in the market in the United States. The seats are still being sold but as far as we know, no new seats were brought to the States after mid 2017.
- Lowest shoulder belt guide position: 14 inches
- Highest shoulder belt guide position: 23 inches
- Width at widest point: 24.5 inches with headrest fully extended
- Narrowest internal width: 7.5 inches at the back of the seat pan (the seat pan is contoured — the side thigh supports offer extra room)
- Widest internal width: 11 inches (the seat pan is contoured — the side thigh supports offer an extra 3 inches of room)
- Seat pan: 17.5 inches with the thigh support fully extended
- Weight: 17 pounds
Shoulder Belt Guide
The Cruiser 3 includes an improved shoulder belt guide that magically adds an additional 2.5 inches of growing room over its predecessor. I’d call the increased 2.5 inches of height an engineering marvel — by moving the belt guide further up on the seat’s shell and making it align horizontally, the same basic shell now offers a significant amount of additional growing room!
And now for the design– the previous version of the belt guide was amazing. The CruiserFix Pro’s belt guide kept the belt in place within the guide and in position on the child’s shoulder. The Cruiser 3’s belt guide takes this concept a step further.
That red piece at the right moves up and down — thread the vehicle seat belt through there once. And it will remain in place.
Seriously. It doesn’t slip out, you won’t have to get out of the car and help your kiddo thread it back in. It just works. All the time. I took an embarrassingly long time to write this review, during that time, the shoulder belt never once came out of that shoulder belt guide.
The Cruiser 3’s thigh support extends without creating a gap under the child’s legs. To adjust, simply grab the end of the panel and pull out. Fully extended, this thigh support creates a whopping 17 plus inches of thigh support!
Once extended, the thigh support adds an extra 2 inches of thigh support for our long-legged friends. My model has yet to need this feature but I’m pleased as punch that this version of the seat does not have a gap under the child’s legs when the panel is extended.
Lower Anchor Release Mechanism
The Cruiser 3 has rigid lower anchor connectors to secure the seat to the vehicle. The main purpose of lower anchors on a booster is to keep it in place if it’s empty during a crash. For my main booster model, lower anchors also prevent the booster from moving around while she’s getting settled.
To extend the lower anchors, squeeze the grey handle underneath the front of the seat. The anchors will pop out of the back of the seat, rotate them away from the seat, then click them into the vehicle’s lower anchors. Once they’re attached, push the Cruiser 3 back into the vehicle seat and the anchors will lock into place.
Eye Level Indicator
A challenge we see over and over when it comes to booster seat use is where the headrest should be in relation to the child’s head. For the Cruiser 3, the correct position is when the child’s ears are at the narrowest area of the headrest. The Eye Level label on the front of the headrest makes this so clear.
This small label is a big change. I found that it made adjusting the headrest to the proper spot quite easy. I then found myself checking to be sure that her head was in the right place all the time.
When our model had a growth spurt, she noticed that the Eye Level line was no longer at the right height. She insisted that I pull over and adjust it RIGHT THEN.
KSA — Kiddy Shock Absorber
The Kiddy Shock Absorber at the child’s hips borrows ‘crumple zone’ technology from the automotive industry, placing a shock absorber on both sides of the seat shell.
Kiddy describes this feature as:
“The Kiddy Shock Absorber absorbs the energy acting on the three-point belt and protects the child in the event of an accident or sudden braking.”
Like all features that aren’t part of the FVMSS213 standard for car seats, we can’t assert one way or the other if this technology adds any safety to the seat. However, we can say that it has the potential to do so.
Most of the time, we don’t get to choose the cover color for review seats so my main model was thrilled that she had the chance to select the Ocean Petrol fabric. Once the seat arrived, and every ride since, I have been wowed by the vivid lovely color of the smooth, plush cover. Even my family members who have no interest in car seats have commented on the amazing color.
The cover has a little rubber tag with the Kiddy tagline: We love our kids. My model tells me that this little tag is her favorite part of the seat.
At a retail price of $289, the Cruiser 3 is at the top end of the booster seat price range so it may not be an option for every family. However, because it has such a high top shoulder belt guide, so it won’t be outgrown quickly.
Fit to Child
7 Years Old
My 7 year old model is 50 inches tall and weighs 61 pounds. She finds the Cruiser 3 quite comfortable and she’s got plenty of room to grow. The ample side wings are a great way to remind her to sit in the proper position.
Her only complaint is that the seat doesn’t have cupholders.
Important Information: Where to Find
All of the important labels are on the bottom of the seat.
Because the Cruiser 3 is a booster seat that requires a lap and shoulder belt, it’s not approved for use on aircraft. We’d suggest that families who would like to use the Cruiser 3 on trips that involve an airplane trip pack the seat in a cardboard box, then check that box through as luggage.
Date of Manufacture
The Cruiser 3 has an 8 year expiration. The date of manufacture is found on a label underneath the seat’s bottom. The label also includes information on replacement after a crash.
The manual is brief but clearly written. It stores in a handy compartment on the back of the seat.
The Cruiser 3 took everything we liked about the CruiserFix Pro and made it better from top to bottom. The added extra shoulder height, smoother cover, and redesigned shoulder belt guide make the Cruiser 3 one of my very favorite booster seats ever. The only drawbacks I can come up with are the lack of cupholder and the fact that it doesn’t convert to a backless booster. But the new 23 inch top shoulder belt guide ensures that the seat will last most kiddos until they’re more than ready for a backless booster, making the Cruiser 3 a long-lasting, well-featured booster seat.