The Maxi-Cosi Jool isn’t a new convertible car seat– it’s been on Canadian store shelves since 2015. Our fair readers from the North have questions about this seat and now, we’ve got answers! The Jool offers so many great colour options and a is well-padded seat that presents a few challenges because it’s so darn large. Let’s learn more about the Jool.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Rear facing weight range: 5-40 pounds
- Rear facing height range: 19-43 inches and the child’s head contained within the the headrest
- Lowest harness position: 9 inches (8.5 inches with body pillow)
- Highest harness position: 18 inches
- Forward facing weight range: 22-65 pounds
- Forward facing height range:29-52 inches
- Expiration: December 31st of the 10th year after the manufacture date
- Lower anchor (UAS) weight limit: Dorel defers to the vehicle. If the vehicle does not give a weight limit, or defers to the child restraint, the vehicle seat belt should be used when the child weighs 40 pounds or more
- Does not allow lower anchor borrowing
- Manual indicates that the Jool must be replaced after any collision, but Dorel (Parent company of Maxi-Cosi) announced a retroactive change that their seats now follow NHTSA’s criteria for crash replacement.
- No rethread harness
- Premium UAS (lower anchor) connectors
- Shell height: 29 inches when headrest is fully extended
- Width at widest point: 21 inches at cup holder
- Seat weight: 24.5 pounds
- Three crotch buckle positions at 4, 5, and 6 inches from the back of the seat pan
Colour Coded Belt Paths
The Jool’s rear facing and forward facing belt paths are clearly marked with a clever colour-coding system. The red plastic guides indicate the forward facing belt path, and the blue plastic guides indicate the rear facing belt path.
We applaud Maxi-Cosi for making this part of the installation easier. Relating to nothing other than our own amusement, these belt guides also look quite a bit like the slightly fancier version of them found on the Maxi-Cosi Magellan that’s sold in the United States.
Weighing in at a hefty 24.5 pounds, the Jool is a heavy seat. The smooth carry bar located within the shell of the seat makes carrying the Jool fairly painless, despite the weight.
Some versions of the Maxi-Cosi Jool include a body pillow, and some versions feature two body pillows. Both of these are optional both forward and rear facing.
The manual does not mention the strap covers or crotch buckle padding, but we have confirmed with Maxi-Cosi that they are always optional. Naturally, we’d like to see this information clarified in the manual.
Cover Removal and Cleaning Instructions
The Maxi-Cosi Jool boasts an easy to remove and clean cover. We decided to put it to the test.
The manual lists only 3 steps to remove the cover for cleaning:
- Place headrest in the middle of child restraint back
- Remove seat pad
- Remove Headrest Pad
Let’s walk through those seemingly simple instructions.
Starting from the top, gently pull the pad off of the headrest. That wasn’t too difficult.
Then, slide the pad attachment tab down and out of the slot on both sides of the shell.
Removing this pad seems like it would be straightforward, but we were put to the test when we discovered six tight metal snaps that hold the pieces of the cover together.
These snaps required two hands to unsnap. It’s good that we didn’t need a third hand to help. Before discovering those snaps, we couldn’t figure out how the cover was supposed to slide off the shell. Adding to the challenge, the cover also fits the seat quite tightly so removing it required careful shimmying over the shell.
The manual also leaves out some key info: if the top tether is stored, it will need to be unhooked from the seat in order to remove the cover because the webbing passes through an opening in the back of the seat cover.
The cover washes up nicely as advertised. The Jool manual allows the cover to be machine washed separately with cold water on a gentle cycle and tumble dried separately for 10-12 minutes on low heat. The harness straps can be spot cleaned using warm sudsy water and a damp cloth.
Replacing the cover was almost as difficult as removing it, because the instructions only indicate to reverse the steps in the manual. While that’s how many car seat manuals tackle re-dressing car seats, it made our cover removal experience with the Jool even more interesting.
Things were mostly going fine until we realized that we had not taken a photo before removing the seat pad. We contacted Maxi-Cosi to confirm that the seat pad was on correctly and learned that we’d missed sliding the cover over the plastic headrest flap in the daunting cover sliding-back-on process. It seemed odd that the cover doesn’t lie flat along the back of the seat, nor does the manual show any detailed diagrams of how the cover fits the seat.
Installation and Setup
The Maxi-Cosi Jool has two rear facing recline angles. The bottom level to ground line is for children who weigh between 5-22 pounds and cannot sit up unassisted. For a child who weighs between 22-40 pounds who can sit unassisted, the Jool can be installed rear facing at any angle between the two level lines.
A rolled towel or pool noodles may be used to recline the Jool enough to reach the correct recline angle if needed.
The seat features three mechanical recline positions:
- Recline 3 (fully reclined) is required for children who weigh between 5-22 pounds.
- Recline 2 (semi reclined) is required for children who weigh between 22-40 pounds and can sit up unassisted. If the child using the Jool weighs more than 22 pounds but cannot sit unassisted, we recommend calling Maxi-Cosi’s customer service to discuss which recline setting should be used.
- Recline 1 is for forward facing only.
To adjust the recline angle, pull out the recline handle located at the back of the Jool’s base while pushing or pulling on the top of the Jool’s shell.
Footprint: Recline 3
The amount of room the Maxi-Cosi Jool takes up when installed rear facing for a child under 22 pounds is, quite frankly, massive. Here we see the Jool installed in the centre seat of a 2012 Dodge Ram crew cab truck, and the seat encroaches on the vehicle’s front seat space. We cannot think of many other vehicles (besides the centre seat of full size trucks) that would be able to accomodate the Jool rear facing for a child who weighs less than 22 pounds.
When we installed the Jool for these tiniest of passengers, it measured roughly 34 inches front to back. This measurement will vary depending on the vehicle but we wanted to include a rough estimate for you.
Footprint: Recline 2
We moved the seat to mechanical recline position 2 and reinstalled it at the correct angle for a child who weighs between 22-40 pounds and can sit unassisted. Even at this more upright angle, the seat still takes up a fair bit of room front to back. The car seat behind it is a not-particularly-petite Graco Extend2Fit with the rear facing foot panel fully extended and installed in the most reclined newborn recline angle range. It is barely visible in this photo because of its smaller footprint and because the Jool is so darn large.
When we installed the Jool for these passengers, it measured roughly 29 inches front to back. This measurement will vary depending on the vehicle but we wanted to include a rough estimate for you.
Crotch Buckle Rules
When installing rear facing with either the vehicle seat belt or UAS, the UAS webbing or the vehicle seat belt must always pass in front of the crotch buckle. Only the two crotch buckle slots closest to the child may be used when the seat is installed rear facing.
Pro tip: Recline the seat completely to change the crotch buckle’s position. If the seat isn’t reclined, the retainer won’t be accessible.
Fit to Child
We try very hard not to show misuse in our reviews. Readers tend to think that when we include a child who doesn’t fit properly in a seat, we’re somehow giving permission for families to use the car seat that way. We definitely aren’t.
We struggled with including the model below but since the Jool is rated to 5 pounds, we wanted to show how unrealistic that weight rating is. The lowest harness position is 8.5 inches with the body pillow in use. Unfortunately, this means that the Maxi-Cosi Jool is unlikely to be suitable for use from birth.
Our newborn Huggable Images doll shows this challenge quite clearly — SHE DOES NOT FIT IN THE JOOL. She weighs 7 pounds and is 17 inches long. Though our doll exceeds the minimum weight criteria to ride in the Jool, the fit is so poor it’s not an option for her.
We can see that even with the body pillow in use, the harness is well above the shoulders of our newborn doll. The manual clearly states that if the “harness slots are above the child’s shoulders with the headrest in the lowest position, do not use this child restraint”. This convertible car seat is more suited for use after the baby’s rear facing only seat is outgrown, or as a spare for a baby who is at least a month or two old.
Two Years Old
This model is two years old. She weighs 29 pounds and is 36 inches tall. She is very happy in the Maxi-Cosi Jool, and has expressed that she finds the seat very comfortable. She has nicknamed it her “marshmallow seat”.
We left the body pillow and crotch buckle pad installed, and moved the crotch buckle to the second position for her. We found it a bit more difficult to load her into the Jool compared with loading her into car seats that have lower sides, but she settled into the seat nicely and felt very cozy.
Headrest/ Harness Adjustment
Though the manual claims that the no rethread harness adjusts with one hand, we found that it took two hands to do the job. The force from using one hand wasn’t enough to allow the headrest to move.
The Maxi-Cosi Jool has three recline positions. Forward facing, the Jool can be installed with recline position 1: upright, or recline position 2: semi-reclined. The semi-reclined position can only be used to install the Jool flush against the vehicle seat back seat. To recline the seat, pull out the recline handle and push or pull on the top of the seat’s shell
Crotch Buckle Positions
Any crotch buckle position may be used forward facing, and the manual does not include any restrictions on fit. The manual does suggest using the slot that is closest to the child and will provide a snug harness fit.
UAS: Pro Tip
When installing the Jool with UAS, the headrest may need to be raised to thread the UAS belt through the forward facing belt path. Be careful when switching the UAS strap between rear and forward facing modes that the connector strap does not become tangled in the harness. This is a very easy error to make due to the position of the connector strap anchor.
Reaching through the Jool’s cover to the exposed belt path helped quite a bit with forward facing installations. Removing the slack from the UAS webbing or the vehicle seat belt was pretty easy when using this method.
In Canada, the top tether is always required when using any child restraint forward facing. Maxi-Cosi includes the warning “tether straps are required in Canada. Using this child restraint without the tether strap anchored as recommended by the manufacturer would be a misuse of the child restraint and, in a sudden stop or crash, could cause serious injury or death”.
Fit to Child
Five Years Old
This model is newly five years old. She weighs 45 pounds and is 46 inches tall. She is tall and lean for her age, and also found the Maxi-Cosi Jool quite comfortable. She very much enjoyed being able to sit criss cross applesauce in this seat while forward facing (which illustrates just how much room there is within the Jool’s shell).
We found that even though the crotch buckle was moved to the outer position, it felt tight when we were buckling her into the seat even though she did not complain about it when we asked her about it directly.
Five Years Old
This model is five years old. He weighs 43 pounds and is 45 inches tall. He is starting to booster train, but was willing to test out the Maxi-Cosi Jool and tell us his thoughts.
He had the opposite reaction of our other five year old model. He is used to riding in shallow car seats, so he struggled with the Jool’s deep sides. That depth made it difficult for him to look out the window while we were driving. He also expressed discomfort at the tight crotch buckle strap, where our other model did not.
He was a good sport about testing this seat out for us, but did not feel it was a seat he would enjoy using for long trips or over a long period of time.
Important Information: Where to Find
National Safety Mark: the NSM label that shows airlines that the seat is approved for use on an airplane is located on the side of the seat.
Manual storage: The manual tucks neatly behind the cover of the headrest.
Date of Manufacture label: the date of manufacture label is located on the side of the base of the Jool.
Expiration: the expiration date is clearly stamped in the plastic on the bottom of the seat.
We applaud Maxi-Cosi on making a plush, comfortable car seat that’s available in fun colours for the Canadian market. We especially like the high forward facing harness height and 43 inch rear facing height limits of the Maxi-Cosi Jool.Unfortunately, this seat also has a few quirks and the large rear facing footprint for a child who weighs less than 22 pounds is a feature that makes the Jool almost impossible to use for a child under 22 pounds rear facing unless your vehicle is really, really large.
The manual shows that the no rethread harness should be adjustable with one hand, but we found it was a two hand job, as one didn’t seem to give enough force on the adjustment handle to allow the headrest to move.
The children who tested the Jool for this review found the padding to be quite comfortable. That’s always a plus for us.
The Jool may not be the best option for a child under 22 pounds, or a heavier child forward facing because of the short distance between the crotch buckle slot and the back of the seat, but we can see why parents and children might enjoy the fun colours and premium features of the Maxi-Cosi Jool, and we applaud Maxi-Cosi for providing a seat that could fairly reasonably rear face a child until their 3rd or 4th birthday and forward face to booster readiness (provided they are not bothered by the crotch buckle fit).