The race for the lightest rear facing only car seat is on, and Maxi Cosi has taken the lead by reinventing the way we think about rear facing only car seats. With the release of their newest rear facing only car seat – the Coral XP – Maxi Cosi introduces a brand new feature to the United States and Canadian markets: a soft inner carrier that can be removed from the hard outer shell and worn by the caregiver using the included Cross Body strap. We admit that we may have been a bit skeptical about the real-world usability of this feature, but we were excited to have the opportunity to check out this interesting new seat. Let’s see what it has to offer!
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Weight range: 4-22 pounds
- Height range: less than 29 inches tall, requires at least 1 inch of shell above the child’s head
- Expiration: 8 years from date of manufacture
- Follows NHTSA criteria for replacement after a minor crash
- Rethread harness with three harness height positions
- Width at widest point of car seat: 17.5 inches (handle)
- Width at widest point of base: 15.5 inches
- Weight: 21.5 pounds with base
- Weight: 12.3 pounds (inner and outer carriers – no base)
- Weight: 5.4 pounds (inner carrier only)
- Lowest harness position: 5.5 inches (5 inches with insert)
- Shell Height: 20 inches
- One crotch buckle position at 4 inches from back of seat
- Inner carrier and Crossbody strap (more on these later)
- Load leg
- Premium lower anchors on base
- Tightness indicator on base
- Vehicle seat belt lockoff on base
- Cannot be used with inflatable seat belts
- Carry handle must always be up or at the child’s head in the vehicle (positions 1 or 2)
Inner Carrier and Crossbody Strap
The Coral XP features a removable inner carrier and Crossbody strap which allows caregivers to quickly remove the lightweight inner carrier for quick trips in and out of stores. We admit that when we first saw this in use we thought it appeared bulky (and who is going to walk around a mall with their car seat hanging on their shoulder? Ouch!).
We’ll explain more about this unique feature later in the review but since it’s the thing that makes the Coral unique, we wanted to mention it right away.
Quick Start Installation Guide
The Maxi-Cosi Coral XP Comes with a Quick Start Installation Guide. While this is NOT a replacement for the manual, it includes a shortened installation guide to “[help] you use your Maxi-Cosi car seat right away”. The front page does instruct users to read the complete instruction manual and all labelling on the car seat as well.
The 8.5 x 11 inch paper (double sided and folded like a brochure) includes the step by step installation instructions for installing the base with vehicle seat belt or lower anchors, using the load leg, and installing the canopy. It’s a helpful piece of paper for AFTER the manual has been read, but we worry that caregivers may opt to read this and not the manual (despite the warnings) and may miss important information (like child fit).
The Coral XP arrives in the box without the canopy installed. To install the canopy – align the canopy hubs with the slots on each side of the outer carrier and push them into the slot. Expand the canopy, pulling it over the back of the outer carrier edge and it is installed.
The Coral XP includes a head pillow, harness covers, a body pillow, and a crotch buckle cover. The only restrictions for this padding is that the head and body pillows MUST be used for infants who weigh between 4-8 pounds.
Using the head and body pillows when the child weighs more than 8 pounds is optional. The harness covers and buckle cover are optional at all times.
Vehicle Seat Belt/Lower Anchor Lockoff
The Maxi-Cosi Coral XP base features a vehicle seat belt/lower anchor lock off. When it is used with the vehicle seat belt, the seat belt may be locked as well (optional). If the Lockoff cannot be used properly with the vehicle seat belt, do not install the base using the vehicle belt installation (install with lower anchors). Maxi-Cosi does NOT allow bypassing the lock off when using the Coral XP’s base. We’ll get into this more later in the review.
Inner Carrier and Crossbody Strap
Once we were able to put our hands on the inner carrier and test out the Crossbody strap, we were sold on this feature. The Crossbody strap is “springy” which makes it more comfortable than if it was a firm strap because it moves with you and absorbs some of the weight of the inner carrier and baby. Because of this unique feature, we lent the Coral XP to our newborn model’s mom to use and give her input.
As a busy mom of four, she has been through her share of car seats and at 5’0” we weren’t sure if the Coral XP’s inner carrier and Crossbody strap would overwhelm her. We are happy to report that not only did it not overwhelm her, but she absolutely LOVED this feature and found it quite comfortable for those quick in and out trips to school/the store/etc.
Using the Inner Carrier with Crossbody Strap
Remove the inner carrier from the outer carrier by squeezing one of the inner carrier release buttons (located on the front of the outer carrier) and lifting the inner carrier out (to reinstall the inner carrier into the outer carrier, simply lower the inner carrier into the outer carrier until it locks into the outer carrier).
Locate the attachment hubs at the top and bottom of the inner carrier and attach the Crossbody Strap attachment openings to the hubs by using your thumb to expand the attachment openings. Ensure the Crossbody Strap is locked in place by tugging on the strap. Tip: start with the Crossbody Strap in the shortest length. It is much easier to lengthen the strap when in use than it is to shorten it.
Place the Crossbody Strap over your shoulder and check that the fit is comfortable. If the length of the Crossbody strap needs to be adjusted, the pull ring can be pulled up to shorten and pulled down to lengthen the strap. Always keep one hand on the inner carrier while using the Crossbody Strap and ensure that the child is snugly secured in the inner carrier at all times.
Note: The Crossbody Strap may remain attached to the inner carrier when it has been installed in the outer carrier and when the outer carrier is installed in the vehicle with or without the base.
A Note About Strollers
Although we don’t tend to delve into stroller compatibility, because the Maxi-Cosi Coral XP is such a unique seat, we figured it was worth mentioning stroller compatibility in our review.
If you are using the inner carrier with the outer carrier, the Maxi-Cosi Coral XP will work on any Maxi-Cosi stroller adaptor. If you want to be able to use the Coral XP’s inner carrier with your stroller you will need to buy a special adaptor (visit www.maxicosi.com for more information).
Installation – With the Base
To install the Coral XP with the base, first pull the load leg out from under the base (if you’ll be using the load leg, and we suggest that you do if your vehicle allows it).
Place the base on the vehicle seat, and check the recline angle.
When the recline angle indicator is mostly in the correct range (this will change a bit as the seat is installed), it will be in the green.
To adjust the recline angle, squeeze the recline handle on the base to recline the base more or less until the indicator is in the green.
The base features three recline angle positions, and if recline 3 is not reclined enough, a rolled towel or pool noodle may be used to recline the base further.
With Vehicle Seat Belt, Using Lockoff
To install the base with the vehicle seat belt, first pull the load leg out from under the base, then lift the lockoff release lever and thread the vehicle seat belt through the base’s belt path, routing both the lap and shoulder portions of the seat belt under the belt guides and lockoff.
Buckle the seat belt and remove the slack from the vehicle seat belt while pushing down on the base. Check the tightness indicator to ensure that no red is showing (if red is showing, the seat belt will need to be tightened more.
Push the Release Level down to lock the seat belt and check for movement by grabbing the belt path and, using the force of a handshake, trying to move the base side to side and front to back. If the movement is less than an inch, the seat is installed correctly.
After the base has been installed, the vehicle vehicle seat belt may also be locked (optional).
If the lockoff cannot be used properly, DO NOT install the base using the vehicle seat belt.
With Lower Anchors/LUAS
To install the base with the Lower Anchors/LUAS, release lower anchors/LUAS connectors from their storage location on the side of the base. Lift the lockoff release lever and attach the connectors to the vehicle anchors, then close the Release Lever. Remove the slack from the lower anchor webbing by pushing down on the base (the anchors will begin to automatically retract and tighten as you push down – this started when the Release Level is closed). Check the tightness indicator to ensure that no red is showing (if red is showing, the lower anchors will need to be tightened more). Check for movement by grabbing the belt path and, using the force of a handshake, trying to move the base side to side and front to back. If the movement is less than an inch, the seat is installed correctly.
Final Step: Check the Load Leg
Once the base is correctly installed, it’s time to ensure that the load leg is set up correctly. First, ensure that the load leg is completely extended forward (away from the base). Next, squeeze the buttons on the side of the load leg and pull it down until it meets the floor of the vehicle. Release the buttons. Make sure the load leg is perpendicular to the floor and securely locked in position.
The load leg cannot be used over vehicle storage compartments like the Stow and Go. It must be used over a solid vehicle floor. If the load leg does not reach the floor of the vehicle, or if the vehicle prohibits the use of a load leg, it cannot be used.
Before using a load leg, confirm that your vehicle permits it. This information should be in the vehicle manual.
Installation – Without the Base
With the child already harnessed in the car seat and the inner carrier securely locked into the outer carrier, place the Coral XP rear facing on the vehicle seat. Check that the level line on the side of the carrier is level to the ground.
Once the level is correct, route the lap portion of the vehicle’s vehicle seat belt through the belt paths on both sides of the carrier, and fasten the vehicle seat belt. Lock the vehicle seat belt.
Ensure all the slack is removed from the vehicle seat belt, that the level line remains level to the ground, and check that there is less than 1 inch of movement at the belt path. If all of those criteria are met, the seat is installed.
Note: Maxi-Cosi allows the use of a tightly rolled towel or pool noodle under the front of the carrier with a baseless installation, if needed.
Fit to Child
Because the Coral XP is rated from 4 pounds on, we tested our 17 inch, 4 pound Huggable Images preemie doll in the seat.
The harness is below the shoulders, and the doll appears to fit beautifully in the seat until we tighten the harness.
Unfortunately,the Coral XP’s design prevents the harness from getting tight enough on our preemie doll to pass the pinch test. There is a metal piece on the back of the Coral XP that helps to hold the harness to the back of the seat’s shell, it interferes with the ability to tighten the Coral XP for extra small babies. We have reached out to Maxi-Cosi about the possibility of a smaller harness but unfortunately there is no solution at this time. So while the Coral XP has a 4 pound minimum, it likely isn’t the best choice for a small preemie.
One of the best parts about using the Huggable Images dolls in our reviews is that they don’t give us any attitude when we try different scenarios with the padding. Because the Coral XP is a seat for infants, we tried the 17 inch tall, 7 pound newborn Huggable Images doll with all of the padding in the seat.
The fit on the newborn doll with all of the padding in place is excellent. The harness is in the 2nd position from the bottom, and the harness is positioned well below our doll’s shoulders. The straps tightened easily until they passed the pinch test.
4 Weeks Old
This little one is 4 weeks old, weighs 8.7 pounds and is 20.75 inches tall. She fits in the Coral XP quite nicely with all of the padding in use. The harness is well below her shoulders on the second position and it tightens nicely.
This little model is a car seat screamer and she fell asleep almost immediately in the Coral XP. We take this as a great sign that the seat is very comfortable for our little passengers!
12 Months Old
Our 12 month old model is almost at the height limit of the Coral XP. She is 28.5 inches tall and weighs 20 pounds. We took out the body pillow and head pillow for her, and with the harness in the highest position, shoulder pads and crotch buckle pad in place, she fits the Coral XP very nicely. Even though she is only 1 half inch from hitting the Coral XP’s height limit, she has multiple inches of shell above her head, and isn’t looking squished in the seat at all.
We were unsure how difficult it would be to remove the Inner Shell with a 20 pound baby in the seat, so we tested it out with this model for fun. After we mastered the technique (hold the carry handles with the hand closest to the seat while pushing on the carrier release button with your other hand) the removal was quite easy. It looks a bit awkward but in practice it wasn’t.
Fit to Vehicle
2013 Mazda CX-3
Here we see the Maxi-Cosi Coral XP installed behind the passenger’s seat. While the seat takes up a decent amount of front to back space, a mid-sized adult could still sit in front of the Coral XP in this vehicle (the front seat needed to be moved up a couple of clicks to accommodate the Coral XP).
2007 Honda Odyssey
Because the Honda Odyssey has built-in floor storage compartments, we were unable to install the Coral XP with the load leg. Thankfully the installation without the load leg is still nice and easy, and the passenger seat was not affected at all. The seat installed quickly and easily in the Odyssey captain’s chair with the front seat all the way back.
Important Information – Where to Find
Manufacture Date and National Safety Mark (for Canadian users): The date of manufacture label is located on the back (not bottom) of the outer carrier.
Expiration: The expiration (8 years after date of manufacture) is located on page 78 of the manual
FAA approval: For Canadians, the National Safety Mark is the label you’re looking for to indicate that the seat is approved for airline use. For Americans, there is red wording on the back of the outer carrier indicating that the seat is approved for airline use (without the base but with the inner and outer carrier together!).
Maxi-Cosi has always been a solid option in the world of rear facing only seats, and the Coral XP is yet another great addition to the lineup. With the fun fashion covers, load leg, vehicle seat belt lock off, a harness that fits newborns well, and the lightweight inner carrier and Crossbody Strap for any quick trips with baby, we don’t have many cons when it comes to this seat.
The only con we can think to mention is that the 22 pound weight limit combined with the 29 inch height limit will not accommodate all babies until their first birthday (but it will be more than sufficient for most babies). For parents who foresee a lot of quick trips with baby tagging along for the ride (school drop offs for example) the option of the inner carrier with Crossbody strap may be the feature that makes the Coral XP stand out above any other rear facing only seat on the market today, and we applaud Maxi-Cosi for bringing this feature to life in a practical way.
Maxi-Cosi is giving away TWO Corals — one to a reader in Canada and one to a reader in the United States. Please read our terms and conditions, then enter the appropriate contest below for your chance to win!