Last year in our report from the ABC Show, we introduced you to the new Cosco Apt. The Apt has a one-piece design that eliminates the kickstand on the Scenera and has a much easier to spell name for the spelling-challenged ;). The Apt rear-faces from 5-40 lbs., then converts to a forward-facing convertible for 22-40 lbs. and 34-43”.
The Apt comes ready-to-use straight out of the box. The fashion I received is called Falcon.
- Weight limits: 5-40 lbs. rear-facing, 22-40 lbs. forward-facing
- 5 harness slot positions on carseat (with no restriction on rf/ff slot use in manual):
- 3 buckle slots: approx. 3”, 4.5”, 6”
- Restraint weight: 7.9 lbs.
- Width: approx. 22” at cup holders, 19.25” at shoulders
- Seat depth: 12” to where edge starts to angle down
- Seatback height: 23”
- 6 year expiration
Features and Advantages
5-point Harness from 5-40 pounds: This is a great basic 40 lbs. carseat.
High Rear-Facing Weight Limits: The 40 lbs. maximum rear-facing weight limit is pretty much standard on the competitive market now 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. For a height limit, Dorel says to turn the child forward when the child’s head reaches the top of the child restraint.
5 Harness Height Positions: The Apt focuses on lower harness slot heights, so the smallest babies will fit securely in this convertible while larger toddlers will outgrow it more quickly. Having 5 slot positions means that for rear-facing, the slots will never be too far below the shoulders, and that for forward-facing, the slots will never be too far above.
The harness height is adjusted manually by removing each strap from the metal splitter plate on the back of the carseat.
Recline Adjustments: The Apt has two recline adjustments for rear-facing. For children between 5-22 lbs., the top level line on the side of the carseat must be used. For children 22-40 lbs. and who can sit unassisted, the carseat may be adjusted to a recline between the two level lines.
Harness, 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. The harness adjuster is a bit stiff and I found the buckle release button to be very stiff. The harness consists of 2 straps instead of one long strap that continues under the bottom of the carseat. This means that parents won’t be able to get one side tighter than the other anymore since each strap is the same length as the other. Though, as I’ll show you later on, there’s a way to shorten the straps and if you do one side and not the other, well, one side will be shorter ;).
LATCH: The LATCH connectors are the hook-on style connectors and you must manually thread the strap through the desired belt path. There are storage areas at the top sides of the seat to store the LATCH connectors and the tether strap stores at the top back of the carseat 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: No worries about LATCH weight limits with the Apt since its upper weight limit is 40 lbs.
Crotch Strap Adjustment: There are three crotch strap positions located approximately 3”, 4.5”, and 6” from the back of the seat. The inside and middle positions must be used rear-facing so the strap doesn’t interfere with the rear-facing belt path. When I first took the crotch strap out, I thought it looked like one of the shortest I’d seen. But when I compared it to the Scenera, it was the same length.
Padding, Comfort and Appearance: The cover is lightly padded and it is elasticized all the way around—yay! As someone who hates having to fish around for those little elastic bands some covers have, then hook them around those sharp posts that always jam under my fingernails, I like fully elasticized covers. The cover does, however, come all the way down under the front foot of the carseat, making it impossible to pull that part of it up when installing it rear-facing. Why does that matter? If you’re trying to access the rear-facing belt path, you can only pull up a small portion of the cover from over a cup holder. It’s inconvenient and I guarantee that at a seat check when its kid is screaming in the background and it’s 105° out, I’ll be saying a few choice words over that design.
Infant Support Cushion: The basic version doesn’t come with any support pads, but the Deluxe model does have body pillows for positioning the child’s hips.
6 Year Expiration/Crash Policy: The Apt has a 6 year expiration; a Do Not Use date is stamped on the back of the seat. The manual indicates that the Apt should not be used if it’s been in a crash.
Airplane Certification: The Apt is FAA-approved for use in aircraft. Even though it’s so wide at the cup holders, those cup holders should fit when rear-facing (assuming you can recline it a bit) over the top of the armrests when rear-facing or you’ll need to flip them up when forward-facing.
Value: The Apt is priced at $54.99 and is a basic seat without any EPS/EPP foam. The Scenera it replaces frequently went on sale for $39.99 and I expect the Apt will too.
Instruction Manual: I like the layout of the instruction manual. The DO-NOT warnings that all manuals have are limited to a few bullet points at the beginning, followed by the fit to child section. The installation sections are last and are color-coded, green for rear-facing and blue for forward-facing, as are the stickers on the sides of the carseat. And on pg. 40, the first page of the forward-facing installation section, there’s a great tip on keeping children rear-facing as long as possible.
Cup Holders: Take one look at the Apt and all you see are the cup holders. They make the carseat wider by about 3” and that’s a huge amount when you’re trying to fit other carseats or passengers in your back seat. In comparison to the Scenera, the Apt is approximately 5” wider.
Low Top Harness Slots: The top harness slots are 13”. I think my son would have outgrown this seat by 9 months if I had dared to forward-face him at that age. I *love* how the bottom slots are at 5”, but if Dorel had simply moved all of the harness slots up by 2”, the Apt would have been a much more adaptable carseat for a larger range of kids.
Guiding Parents in RF vs. FF: On pg. 11 in the manual under the heading of “Choose Position for Your Child,” the weight and height limits for the Apt are listed. No age limit is listed for rear-facing; however, for forward-facing, the child must be between 22-40 lbs., 34-43”, and over 1 year old. This is standard text found in all Dorel convertible manuals. The manual does have a spot on the first forward-facing installation page that encourages rear-facing up to 40 lbs., but I wish it was on pg. 11, not on pg. 40.
Cover Removal: Yes, I put the cover up in the Features and Advantages section. Oh the confusion! And yes, I love that it has the elastic all the way around and I love that it has 2 separate harness straps. But, I don’t love that the harness must be completely removed in order to remove the cover for cleaning. The more parts that have to come off a carseat, the more room there is for error when it comes time to replace them, no matter how good of an instruction manual you have because people don’t read or understand instruction manuals.
Stylized Design: Gosh, I really hate to put this under Disadvantages and consider it more of a neutral, truth be told, but I can see how it can be a Disadvantage in some vehicles. Dorel wanted to remove moving parts to make this a fool-proof seat for parents—no kickstand to flip out from under the seat for forward-facing. In the process, though, there’s this giant scooped out area under the child’s legs and behind the child’s back. I was able to install the Apt rear-facing without using noodles by pushing it into my vehicle seatback as I tightened either the LATCH belt or the seatbelt; it stayed in position fine. For forward-facing, it touched my vehicle seatback only at the top and at the bottom of the curved area of the back of the Apt. It’s . . . different and some folks may not be able to run with it.
Installation and Fit to Child
Rear-Facing: Installation with LATCH was standard. The LATCH strap is attached to one side of the carseat, so you have to thread it through the wide rear-facing belt path. Though the LATCH connectors are hook-on style, the LATCH adjuster is the more deluxe push-button style.
Installation with the seatbelt is standard as well. The wide belt path made it easy to feed the seatbelt through.
I was able to get the Apt and a Diono Radian together side-by-side both rear-facing in my 2011 Acura MDX, but it was *tight*. The Radian fit just under the cup holder on the Apt. The Radian didn’t fit at all forward-facing next to the rear-facing Apt.
Forward-Facing: To install with LATCH, remove the LATCH strap from the rear-facing belt path (if that’s where you had it before) and move it to the forward-facing belt path which is behind the child’s back.
The forward-facing belt path is also nice and wide, making for easy threading of both the LATCH and seatbelts. And for clarity, Dorel has several warnings placed throughout the manual about not using the LATCH belt and the seatbelt at the same time.
I didn’t have helpers this time to model the seat, but I did have my Huggable Images Dolls. They’re actually easier to work with because I can contort them as I please and they don’t complain when I take picture after picture ;). Even though the lower weight limit is 5 lbs., I put my 4 lbs. preemie doll in the Apt because I wanted to see how it fit with the low harness slots. It fit beautifully! There’s really not much of a market for a convertible that starts at 4 lbs., so I think that’s probably why Dorel starts it at a standard 5 lbs., but this is a great seat for newborns.
To get the harness to fit such small infants using the bottom harness slots, it has to be shortened. Some manufacturers accomplish this by having 2 sets of loops on each harness strap end that attaches to the metal splitter plate on the back of the carseat. On the Apt, the harness only has one set of loops, so to shorten the length, the other end of each strap is pulled up through the bottom of the seat so the child is sitting on the metal ends. It’s not clear that it’s a problem if the harness stays shortened when it’s moved to the 2nd set of slots, though it may not fit a larger child (it did fit my squishier doll).
The fit of the 3 year old doll forward-facing was marginal. The doll’s shoulders were right at the top harness slots for forward-facing, but the doll did have plenty of room for rear-facing.
Here are a couple of pictures showing both the Apt and the Scenera without their covers as a comparison. I know our readers like this sort of thing ;).
- RF Weight Limits: 40 lbs. rear-facing weight limit
- Low bottom harness slot position at 5”—great for little babies
- Has 2 recline lines so older, heavier kids can be more upright
- 3 Crotch Strap Positions
- 5 Harness Slot Positions: Means that the slots will never be too low for rear-facers nor too high for forward-facers
- Wide belt paths will make your knuckles happy
- Very lightweight for easy carrying
- Cup Holders: Make the carseat very wide at a tough spot
- Low Top Harness Slots: Kids will outgrow this seat forward-facing before they do rear-facing
- Have to completely remove harness to remove cover
Honestly it’s tough to make a convertible to compete so closely with the Scenera, but the Apt is a solid attempt and there are several similarities between the seats. Let’s face it: kids do love cup holders to stuff things into and this carseat has two of them. The Apt is still very lightweight for easy transport and the cover is more substantial all the way around. It’s a great starter seat for parents who want to skip the infant seat and go straight to a convertible and know that the harness will fit even a very small newborn well.
Thank you Dorel & 360 PUBLIC RELATIONS for providing the carseat used for this review.