Yesterday many of the frequent visitors to the car-seat.org forums received a tasty little treat –  a sneak peek at a new child restraint from Evenflo that is expected to debut at the ABC industry trade show in September.  

Here’s what we think we know – the Evenflo Symphony will be a 3-in-1 seat like  to the ones that Dorel has produced for years under their various brand names (Cosco, Safety 1st and Eddie Bauer).  It will be a rear-facing seat up to 35 lbs, a forward-facing harnessed seat from 20-40 lbs and it will convert into a highback booster for kids 30-100 lbs.  How well it will perform any of these functions remains to be seen. 

3-in-1 seats have been very popular with American consumers since the debut of the original Cosco Alpha Omega back in 1999.  The “only seat your child will ever need” marketing strategy has apparently been very successful since we see these types of child restraints in every corner of the county and in Canada as well.  Never mind that the product didn’t live up to its promise to be the only carseat a child ever needed or that sometimes there were so many compromises in the design that these seats became sort of a “Jack of all trades – master of none”.  Still, despite not much love pouring out from the online CPS community,  these seats continued to be best sellers with parents.   Considering these facts, it doesn’t surprise me that another manufacturer got tired of watching Dorel monopolize the popular 3-in-1 segment of the market and jumped on the bandwagon with their own 3-in-1 product.

Let’s take a look at what we know (or what we think we know) about the Symphony and compare it to what we know about the newest generation of the Dorel 3-in-1 seats.

Brand new Dorel 3-in-1 seats:  Rear-facing to 35 lbs, forward-facing with harness from 22-50 lbs, booster from 40-100 lbs.  (Keep in mind that these wt ranges apply only to the newest versions of this seat – almost all models currently in use will have the older 40 lb wt limit for the harness.)

Evenflo Symphony: Rear-facing to 35 lbs, forward-facing 20-40 lbs, booster from 30-100 lbs.

Keep in mind these figures are from a “tester” model so there is always the chance that the wt ranges will be different on the final product that ships to stores.  I wouldn’t hold my breath but you never know….

So, what nice things can we say about the Symphony right off the bat?  For starters I like that they did away with the Triumph-like knob adjusters and this seat appears to have a standard A-loc adjuster.  The location of the adjuster mechanism is good and it doesn’t look like it will be hard to reach when the seat is installed rear-facing.  Plus, it’s obvious from the pictures that this seat has the innovative new harness height adjuster that they debuted on the Triumph Advance.  The head rest is adjustable and appears to move up and down with the squeeze of the red handle on top.   Finally, it’s rated to 35 lbs in the rear-facing position and appears tall enough to accommodate children height-wise until those wt limits are reached.    

The one obvious disappointment is that the Symphony appears to only be rated to 40 lbs with the harness.  Not the end of the world but not exactly progressive either.  Hopefully, Evenflo is working on this and maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised in the future. 

Personally, my one big hope is that the Symphony makes a better booster than those Dorel 3-in-1 seats.  I cringe when I see how poorly the seatbelt fits many children who use the Dorel 3-in-1 seats in booster mode.  More often than not – the lap belt is situated dangerously high on the abdomen and no where near the strong hip bones.  I’m not sure if Dorel has addressed this major design flaw in their most recent versions of the Alpha Omega Elite (and all its clones) but it doesn’t look like it.   If the Symphony does a better job in booster mode that will make me very happy – assuming that there aren’t any huge flaws with the design in general.   

As exciting as this sneak peek is- we’re all going to have to wait a few more weeks to get the full scoop.  Darren and Heather will be attending the ABC trade show in Vegas next month and you can bet they’ll get the full scoop with all the measurements and pictures galore.  Stay tuned for more on the Evenflo Symphony! 

In the mean time – I guess we should think about what acronym we want to use for it.  I’m partial to Sym or ES.  What do you think?