The Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 is a revolutionary new convertible that includes a seat-within-a-seat system called “TinyFit.” Many convertibles claim to fit 5 lbs. babies, but the harness doesn’t fit the child well—it’s too loose or the bottom harness slots are above his shoulders. With the Pria 70 with TinyFit, it’s completely possible to take your preemie home in this seat and still be using it when he or she is 5 or 6.

*UPDATE: The Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 is now available with and without the TinyFit insert. Models without TinyFit have a minimum weight rating of 9 lbs and are not really appropriate for newborns in our opinion. Pria 70 models without TinyFit are better suited for babies 3+ months old. With the TinyFit insert, fashion options currently include Total Black & Walnut Brown. Without TinyFit, fashion options currently include Dress Blue, Sweet Cerise, Steel Grey, Mineral Grey, Walnut Brown, Black Leather & Brown Leather. With the exception of the leather models, the Pria 70 without Tinyfit is approximately $30 less than the model with.

This review is specific to the Pria 70 with TinyFit.

The Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 with TinyFit rear-faces from 4-40 lbs. and less than 40”, then converts to a forward-facing convertible for 22-70 lbs. and 34-43”. Because it encompasses such a large range of sizes, the Pria has a bit of a learning curve to it.


Basics

  • Weight limits: 4-40 lbs. rear-facing, 22-70 lbs. forward-facing
  • TinyFit weight limits: 4-18 lbs. must use, 18-22 lbs. optional use as long as child’s head is below top of the TinyFit insert
  • 12 harness slot positions on carseat, 3 harness slot positions on TinyFit insert
  • 3 buckle slots: 5”, 7”, 9”
  • 3 position recline
  • Restraint weight: 22 lbs. with TinyFit, just under 20 lbs. without TinyFit
  • Width: approx. 20” at widest point

Features and Advantages

5-point Harness from 4-70  pounds: Most convertible seats have a lower weight limit of 5 lbs. and many of those restraints don’t fit small babies well because the harness slots are too high. The lower weight limit of 4 lbs. and the low bottom harness slots on the Pria mean that parents who want a seat “permanently” installed in their vehicles will be able to have one. The high 70 lbs. weight limit means that heavier children will be able to stay in the seat longer before either moving to a different harnessed seat with a higher weight limit or to a booster. Also included in the box is a small infant chest clip which fits smaller babies much better than the standard-sized on that is already threaded on the harness. Change the chest clips as needed to suit your child’s size.

TinyFit™ System: This seat-within-a-seat system adjusts the recline angle and harness position within the restraint. With the TinyFit in place, a 4 lbs. baby can be safely secured. As I mentioned above, the TinyFit must be used between 4-18 lbs., while use for 18-22 lbs. children is optional as long as child’s head is below top of the TinyFit insert.

High Rear-Facing Weight and Height Limits: The 40 lbs. maximum rear-facing weight limit means that even the largest toddlers will be able to rear-face in this convertible for a very long time. This falls in line with the revised policies of the American Academy of Pediatrics and NHTSA to keep children rear-facing to a minimum of age 2 and longer, if possible. The deep seat will give larger rear-facing children more leg room. For height limits, Dorel specifies a 40″ height limit or head to the top of the seat, whichever comes first.

Air Protect® Side Impact Technology: There are air cushions on the headrest and lining the TinyFit insert for side impact protection. The cushions replace EPP foam that Dorel uses in other restraints and leave 6” of head space at the narrowest point in the headrest, though it’s down low where the child’s neck would be. The high sides of the TinyFit protect against door intrusion.

12 Harness Height Positions:

  • When used without the TinyFit, the 9 adjustable harness slot locations are from 9.5” to 17.5” and are spaced 1” apart.
  • When used with the TinyFit, the harness is threaded through 3 separate slots on the TinyFit to the lowest unmovable slot in the shell. The TinyFit’s individual slots are at 5”, 7”, and 9”.
  • The harness height can be adjusted from the front of the seat while the Pria is installed.  Adjusting the harness height is accomplished by squeezing the back of the handle at the top of the seat and pulling up or down. I found it easiest to disengage the locking mechanism by pulling up slightly while squeezing the handle. Engaging the locking mechanism on the slot height you want takes a bit of shimmy-ing.

Recline Adjustments: There are 3 recline positions.  Recline is achieved by pulling the red recline handle on the bottom back of the restraint. Recline positions 2 or 3 are used for rear-facing to position the angle line level. For a forward-facing child 22-40 lbs., recline 2 must be used. For a forward-facing child over 40 lbs., recline 1 must be used. I had the most curious trouble getting the level line level when I installed the Pria in 2 vehicles: when I used recline 3, it was over-reclined. But when I used recline 2, it was too upright. Because the TinyFit system adjusts the inner recline of the seat for newborns and young babies, I wasn’t too concerned about the upright line. I was still able to get an inner recline of 45° with the TinyFit and about 35° without the TinyFit.

Harness Adjuster and Use: To tighten the harness, pull on the harness adjuster strap on the front of the restraint.

LATCH: The Pria has one flexible strap to attach to the lower anchors found in newer vehicles.  There is an adjuster on one side of these strap.  The LATCH connectors are the deluxe push-on style connectors.  There are storage areas at the top of the shell to store the LATCH connectors and tether strap stores on the base when not in use.  The tether strap is to be used forward-facing only.  While tethering a forward-facing child restraint with a harness is always recommended, a top tether is not required for this seat.

Note: Dorel defers to the vehicle manufacturer for LATCH weight limits. If your vehicle requires you to discontinue the use of the lower anchors at 40/48 lbs. (or another weight limit), simply use the seatbelt for installation. Seatbelt installations are just as safe as LATCH, providing you can get a good, tight installation.  Consult your vehicle owner’s manual for more specific information. Dorel does allow the use of LATCH in the center seating position of the back seat if it’s been designated in the vehicle owner’s manual as a LATCH position.

Crotch Strap Adjustment: There are three crotch strap positions located approximately 5”, 7”, and 9” from the back of the seat without the TinyFit in place. The 3rd and furthest crotch strap position must be used with the TinyFit.

Padding, Comfort and Appearance: The cover is a smooth polyester and is the most padded cover from a carseat manufacturer I think I’ve ever seen. It pulls off from the front for hand-washing (be sure to roll tightly in a towel to remove excess water or it’ll never dry!). The TinyFit cover removes easily as well. The cover will probably have to be lifted from the front of the seat in order to access the rear-facing belt path. This is the thickest part of the cover and is difficult to push back down between the Pria and the vehicle seat once it’s properly installed. Unfortunately, the cover on the headrest is not removable. My cover ripped at a seam as I tried to remove it over the headrest, so caution should be used in that area. The black and dark gray color scheme with bubble-like circles sewn into the cover is slick, though I’m sure those with tan interiors will complain :p. It’s also slated to be released in Intense Red.

Infant Support Cushions: In addition to the TinyFit system, there’s a hip support and head donut. Yeah, it’s officially called a “head pillow,” but it seriously looks like a donut. I wish they had used the donut hole to create a belly pad.

6 Year Expiration: Pria has a 6 year expiration and the “Do Not Use Past” date is stamped on the smooth bottom of the seat.  The manual specifies not to use the seat if it is in a crash.

Airplane Certification: The Pria 70 is FAA-approved for use in aircraft. It also is a heavy restraint weighing in at 22 lbs., so if you do travel with it, you’ll want to use a luggage cart to avoid having to carry it. It’s wide as well at roughly 20″, so it’ll fit on the airplane seat with the armrest up; don’t book a bulkhead seat.

Value: With a pricepoint set to compete with Britax and Diono but with an insert that makes the seat actually usable from 4 lbs., the Pria 70 with Tinyfit is a good value. It’s solid construction, smooth base, and extra padding make the $289 price competitive.

Construction: The Pria 70 is made in the USA!  The flexible rubber cup holder is a nice addition, especially because it’s deep so cups won’t tip out.  I didn’t feel like any part of the seat was flimsy or cheap.

Disadvantages

Weight: At 22 lbs. including the TinyFit, the Pria is a big seat and that’s something to consider if you move it from one vehicle to another often. The TinyFit is just over 2 lbs., so after your child outgrows it, the restraint will be slightly easier to haul around.

Infant chest clip: I love that Dorel includes 2 chest clips in the box: one for infants, one for bigger children. The infant chest clip is the perfect width for smaller babies. However, on my preemie doll, the top of the chest clip digs into the doll. I didn’t have a baby to try in the seat to see if it would tilt in on a real infant, so I can’t say for sure if this is a problem.

Harness Adjuster with TinyFit System: When the TinyFit is installed, the harness creates a sinuous path to the rear of the seat. The extra friction from the TinyFit makes harness adjustment difficult: I had to violently yank the harness to loosen it. I found that pulling the harness from behind the seat so that it was snug on the doll made it much easier to pull the adjuster strap tight. Removing the padding also helped with harness adjustment.

Cover Construction & Fabric Care: I was disappointed the cover ripped as I was trying to get it over the headrest. I wasn’t being overly aggressive in removing it, so I feel it’s an area that should be reinforced. It’s also hand wash, which is difficult to do and can take a long time for a highly padded cover like this to dry.

Instruction Manual: I’ve read many manuals for prior jobs and I like the organization of the Pria manual. The manual is color-coded throughout: green for rear-facing and blue for forward-facing.  It does have some typos and errors and the instructions regarding the TinyFit use contradicted themselves.  For instance, on one page, the manual says the TinyFit can be used for children 4-22 lbs. but when you turn the page, there’s a warning box telling us that the TinyFit must be removed at 18 lbs. I did call the manufacturer for clarification and the TinyFit must be used from 4-18 lbs., but its use is optional from 18-22 lbs. depending on how tall your child is.

Installation

There are essentially 4 ways of installing the Pria: 2 rear-facing and 2 forward-facing. As I mentioned above, there are multiple reclines and rules about using them. When installing the Pria, it’s best to have the manual on hand so you know which recline level you must use (and whether to thread the belt in front of or behind the buckle when rear-facing). There are also good stickers on the sides of the seat to follow for installation. Dorel has really done a nice job of upgrading those stickers in the past few years!

Rear-facing: The Pria can be installed with or without the TinyFit, depending on your child’s weight and height. The headrest should be moved up and out of the way if you are using the TinyFit, because you’ll have to lift it up in order to access the belt path easily. I also lifted the thick cover to expose the belt path. Both the LATCH belt and the seatbelt must be threaded through narrow belt guides on both sides of the restraint. I didn’t have any problems with the angle my seatbelts entered the guides, but I did have a problem remembering to thread the belts through!

Forward-facing: It’s a pretty standard forward-facing installation for the Pria. There’s an opening in the cover through which you can reach the belt path to pull the belt tight, if needed. Remember: recline angle 2 MUST be used for kids 22-40 lbs. and recline angle 1 MUST be used for kids over 40 lbs.

I installed the Pria in a Toyota Tundra double cab and an Acura MDX. In both vehicles, I was able to get tight installations with both LATCH and the vehicle seat belt. Note: I did not use both LATCH and the seatbelt at the same time. In fact, Dorel specifically warns against doing this in 6 separate places in the instruction manual!

When installing the restraint rear-facing, I had some trouble when the TinyFit system was in place because its front edge sits right on the rear-facing belt path. In order to get the LATCH belt/seatbelt through the belt path, I had to move the TinyFit up with my elbow to access the belt path. This, of course, means that I had to raise the headrest in order for the TinyFit to move. Not such a big deal, but when you have to remember to thread the belt through the belt guides on the outside of the belt path (which I forgot to do a couple of times) then remember to put the headrest back down on the TinyFit, that can lead to mistakes. The instruction manual does take you through installation step-by-step, but it doesn’t mention putting the headrest back down onto the TinyFit after you’ve installed the seat. Even though it’s taller, the Pria takes less space front-to-back to install rear-facing than the Scenera in my MDX.

Using recline angle 2 for forward-facing means there will be a large gap behind the restraint. It dramatically reduces legroom, which is a leading injury for forward-facing children. Because of this, I recommend using the seat rear-facing until your child reaches the rear-facing limits.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Weight Limits: A rear-facing convertible that actually fits a very small baby while also accommodating a larger child.
  • TinyFit™ System: A revolutionary new system designed to improve fit for small babies.
  • 12 Harness Slot Positions: Allows adjustment of harness height to “just right” for a child.
  • 3 Crotch Strap Positions: Has one of the farthest crotch buckle positions so big kids can be comfy too.
  • Padded Cover: Very thick padding means you won’t hear, “Mom! My bum hurts!” on long trips.

Cons

  • Harness Adjuster: When the harness is routed through the TinyFit, it’s difficult to tighten and loosen the harness.
  • Installation: Can be more difficult when rear-facing while using the TinyFit system.
  • Instruction Manual: Seeing past the typos in the manual, there are confusing instructions regarding use of the TinyFit.

The Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 with TinyFit is a relatively complicated convertible that will take some time and instruction manual reading to make sure everything is set up correctly. That’s not to say it’s a bad seat by any means; simply make sure the TinyFit is installed correctly when you’re using it. The TinyFit system is a completely different way of addressing the “tiny baby in a convertible” dilemma and it’s pretty daring when you consider how conservative carseat manufacturers tend to be. It’s a great seat for baby-wearers and takes away the need for an infant seat that will fit small babies. And the deep seat pan will give needed legroom for larger rear-facers.

The new Pria 70 model (without TinyFit) is less complicated overall and a better value for those parents who will be using an infant seat for the first few months of their baby’s life.

Right now you can get the Pria 70 with TinyFit for $289 from Amazon.com with free shipping! And you can get the Pria 70 without TinyFit for $249 from Amazon with free shipping.

 

The webpage for the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 http://maxi-cosi.com/us-en/Products/Car-seats/Convertible/Pria-70.aspx

For more information on child passenger safety, please visit:

www.car-seat.org

www.CarSeatSite.com

 

Thank you Dorel & 360 PUBLIC RELATIONS for providing the carseat used for this review.