Peg Perego breaks into the convertible carseat market with the new Primo Viaggio Convertible. It’s been a long time in coming, but I think you’ll be happy with the results. Fine fabrics, thick harness webbing, and deluxe LATCH straps are what we’ve come to expect from Peg Perego and this carseat doesn’t disappoint. The Primo Viaggio rear-faces from 5-45 lbs., then converts to a forward-facing convertible for 22-65 lbs. and less than 49”.

The Primo Viaggio Convertible comes with harness covers and an infant cushion.

Basics

  • Weight limits: 5-45 lbs. rear-facing, 22-65 lbs. forward-facing
  • 10 harness slot positions on carseat: 9”-17”, highest rear-facing position is about 14.25”
  • 2 buckle slots: approx. 4.5”, 6”
  • Restraint weight: 21.5 lbs.
  • Width: approx. 18.5” at widest point (torso)
  • Seat depth: 10.5” to where edge starts to angle down
  • Seatback height: 21”; 24” with headrest in highest rear-facing position; 26” with headrest extended to top position
  • 7 year expiration

        

Features and Advantages

5-point Harness from 5-65 pounds: The 65 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.

High Rear-Facing Weight and Height Limits: The 45 lbs. maximum rear-facing weight limit is one of the highest on the market and 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 average-above average seat depth will give larger rear-facing children plenty of leg room. Peg doesn’t list a rear-facing height limit; use rear-facing until the child’s head is within 1” of the top of the headrest.

EPS and EPP Foam: Generous use of white EPS foam on the sides of the carseat adds that extra feeling of safety. A block of EPP foam (called Shock Absorbing Foam Element, or SAFE) on the bottom of the seat crushes during impact. At 8.5” wide at ear level, the headrest will actually fit a big ol’ noggin.

      

10 Harness Height Positions: Lowest harness height position is approx. 7” with the infant cushion in use while the highest harness height position is approx. 16 ¾”-17”. The slot positions are about ¾” apart. The top 3 harness slot positions are for forward-facing use only.

Harness heights directly from Peg (http://blog.pegperegousa.com/uncategorized/ask-an-engineer/):

9.6”, 10.3”, 11.1”, 11.9”, 12.6”, 13.4”, 14.2” (all 7 approved for rear-facing)

15.0”, 15.7”, 16.5” (for forward-facing use only)

The harness height can be adjusted from the front of the seat while the PV is installed. Adjusting the harness height is accomplished by pulling the tab at the top of the seat and pulling up or pushing down.

Recline Adjustments: There is one recline adjustment for rear-facing. The PV may be installed at angles between 35°-45° and there’s an angle indicator line on the side which may be used as a reference.

Harness Adjuster and Use: To tighten the harness, pull on the harness adjuster strap on the front of the restraint. The harness release button is located under the cover through a slit in the fabric.

LATCH: The PV has 2 separately adjusted LATCH straps that slide along a metal bar on the side of the seat (à la a Britax convertible); when placed in the forward position, they are used rear-facing, and when in the back position, they are used forward-facing. The LATCH connectors are the deluxe push-on style connectors. There is a storage area on the base under the seat pan (where the child sits) to store the LATCH connectors and the tether strap stores at the top of the carseat when not in use. While tethering a forward-facing child restraint with a harness is always recommended, a top tether is not required for this seat.

Note: Peg allows lower anchor (LATCH) use to 40 lbs. unless it’s otherwise specified in the vehicle manual. There is a misprint in the instruction manual that states 30 lbs. as the maximum LATCH weight limit, but I have verified that it is indeed 40 lbs. Above that weight or at any time, it’s perfectly fine to install with the seatbelt.

  

Crotch Strap Adjustment: There are two crotch strap positions located approximately 4.5” and 6” from the back of the seat. The inside position must be used until the child is 22 lbs. When threading the crotch strap for the inside position, the crotch strap anchor is threaded down into the seat, then back up again through the outside position.

Padding, Comfort and Appearance: The cover is Italian. That’s all I really need to say, right? The fit and finish of the cover are excellent and the cover pulls off from the front for easy cleaning. It’s never easy trying to get a cover off over headrest, but there’s enough elasticity in it so it won’t tear. The fabric on the headrest and along the sides is polyester while the inside portion, called Fresco Jersey, is slightly textured yet comfy poly. There’s a sewn-on belly pad that makes the buckle pop forward a bit when the child isn’t using it. I don’t foresee any problems with hot temps in this seat. There are 10 cover choices: Crystal Beige, Licorice, Crystal Black, Paloma, Crystal Red, Aquamarine, Atmosphere, Fucsia, Fleur, and the to-die-for Alcantara Pearl Grey. The restraint I have is in Crystal Black. Peg also offers an alternative separate cover for purchase called the Clima Cover. It’s made of an innovative soft Tencel material that helps keep a child warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

  Clima Cover

Infant Support Cushion: A 3.5” thick memory foam infant cushion is used to boost an infant up to the bottom harness slots and improve harness fit. The cushion must be used to 22 lbs., then removed. It may not be used forward-facing.

7 Year Expiration/Crash Policy: The Primo Viaggio has a 7 year expiration. The manual indicates that customer service should be contacted if the PV is in a crash.

Airplane Certification: The PV is FAA-approved for use in aircraft.

Value: Peg Perego is known for its elite products and the Primo Viaggio Convertible is priced accordingly from $329-$379. It’s solidly constructed in dreamy Italy, has as smooth a base as I’ve seen, and has the separate LATCH connectors (seriously, if you’ve used it, you’ll gladly pay for it). Yes, it’s spendy, but there’s a consumer segment out there that will pay for the fine looks and safety features.

Instruction Manual: The manual does an excellent job of explaining installation and use of the carseat. Each method of installation—LATCH, lap/shoulder belt, lap-only belt—starts on its own page(s) and is printed in an easy-to-read font, so it’s very clear which step you’re on when reading. The manual has black and white drawings with green and red highlights for emphasis.

Disadvantages

Rear-Facing Belt Path: The rear-facing belt path is unique and that uniqueness makes it tricky to work with. The openings are on the small side and because it’s open in the middle underneath, the latchplate drops as you try to thread a seatbelt through so you can’t grasp it with the other hand. It’s easily remedied by moving the carseat back on one side so you can get a hand in from the front, but I would appreciate a seatbelt threading tool for help.

Harness Strap Covers: The strap covers are very thick and cushy and long. While that’s comfortable for the child, they make it difficult to tighten the harness down properly. The harness also appeared to get caught in them, making it tough to tighten. Without the covers, the harness adjusted easily.

Belly Pad: The belly pad is wonderfully padded and helps keep the buckle forward, so it makes putting a child in the seat easier. However, when the buckle is in the inside buckle position, it’s not long enough to fit up into the belly pad.

Instruction Manual: There are some typos, important ones. If they were simple misspellings, I wouldn’t be dinging it, but they’re pretty major: the LATCH weight limit is listed at 30 lbs. instead of 40 lbs. and the recline angle is listed at 40°-45° when it should be 35°-45°. It’s also not mentioned that the top 3 harness slot positions can only be used in the forward-facing position. Our contact at Peg has assured me they’re revising the manual and I’m sure owners will be able to receive an updated copy when it’s done.

Installation and Fit to Child

Rear-Facing: Installation with LATCH was a snap! Slide each LATCH strap forward on the bar, click onto the vehicle LATCH anchor, pull tight. I wish every carseat had LATCH like this!

Installing the Primo Viaggio rear-facing using a seatbelt turned out to be an interesting experience as I mentioned earlier. The rf belt path is semi-enclosed under the seat pan. I had to sit on the vehicle seat next to the buckle and have the carseat at an angle in order to thread the seatbelt from one side to another. The belt path openings were too narrow for me to fit my hands through, hence the need to reach under the front of the seat to guide the latchplate.

ETA Sept. 2013: Peg Perego added a rear-facing tether to this carseat beginning in March 2013. If you have an older model, tethers may be obtained to retrofit your seat from Peg by calling 800-671-1701.

When I installed the PV at 45°, I had plenty of room to move my front seat back. At its worst, I had about an inch of space between the restraint and my front seat. As you can see in the picture below, the PV’s headrest angle mimicked the angle of my headrest.

    

Forward-Facing: To install with LATCH, simply slide each LATCH strap back and attach to the vehicle anchors.

  

It does have a belt guide on each side of the belt path for the lap belt. Simply open each guide, slide seatbelt into place making sure the shoulder belt (if available) is out of the belt guide, tighten the seatbelt, and close the guide. The belt guide does have triangular teeth on it, so it may dent your seatbelt. I left the PV installed for 24 hours and the teeth only left mild marks on my seatbelt which have already disappeared. When I initially set the Primo Viaggio on my vehicle seat, the natural angle of the carseat meant that there was a large gap behind the carseat. If my vehicle seats reclined (like in a van), I’d be able to get a closer fit to the carseat. Alas, I have a fixed angle backseat, so I thought I’d have a problem. But, once I started tightening the carseat down, that gap mostly disappeared.

ETA: Review originally mentioned that there was a belt lockoff for forward-facing. We have since found that the lockoff is not intended to hold the seat belt tight for every day driving and is instead intended to be a guide; therefore, I have changed the above paragraph to reflect that. HW

    

I had 2 helpers try out the PV. Emi is 2 years 4 months old and weighs 25 lbs. She fit beautifully rear-facing in the restraint. Her brother, Ian, is 4 and weighs around 30 lbs. He, too, fit very well in the carseat and had plenty of leg room. The infant doll I used also fit nicely (notice the low buckle), but the harness covers did bunch a bit on it.

      

Conclusion

Pros

  • Weight Limits: A rear-facing convertible that actually fits a wide range of children.
  • Deep headrest that’s comfy for sleeping, but not overly obtrusive.
  • Separate LATCH straps for each side of the carseat.
  • Sturdy harness strap webbing.
  • 10 Harness Slot Positions: Allows adjustment of harness height to “just right” for a child.
  • 2 Crotch Strap Positions: Being able to shorten the crotch strap for the inside position means the buckle will sit low on a baby instead of over the belly.
  • The flexibility of installing it in a range of angles (35°-45°).
  • RF tether for anti-rebound control
  • Instruction Manual: It does a good job of explaining installation.
  • Cover: It’s Italian. Yeah.

Cons

  • Instruction Manual: I know, I know, I have it listed as a Pro too. Having an outside set of eyes go through the manual would have caught the errors.
  • Rear-Facing Belt Path: It’s tight, but still workable.
  • Belly Pad: Buckle doesn’t fit into it when moved to the inside position.

Overall the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible is a winner. The carseat is solidly made with quality materials, has the requisite EPS foam, and is comfortable. Easy installation with LATCH and its relatively light weight will make the Peg convertible excel as a travel seat. It is on the expensive side, but I predict that parents who buy it will be happy with their purchase, as will their child.

 

Thank you to Peg Perego for providing us with the carseat for review.

The webpage for the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible – http://pegperegousa.com/baby/primo-viaggio-convertible

For more information on child passenger safety, please visit:

http://www.car-seat.org

http://www.CarSeatSite.com