The original Britax Roundabout was the darling of all carseats back in the late 1990s. The harness system is to die for, even today. The no-twist straps, the push-button release and the silky-smooth adjustment still set the standard. The shell is a modest size that fits very well in a wide range of vehicles. It also doesn’t take up all your legroom and recline up front when it was installed rear-facing behind you. In addition, the built-in seatbelt lockoffs and the standard versa-tether that can be used rear-facing are amazing features found on very few other models then or now.
The Roundabout still shines, but many parents now prefer larger seats. They want models that will allow taller children to remain rear-facing longer, or to remain in the harness beyond 40 pounds. In addition, premium models from other brands have emerged that have copied some of the features of the Roundabout while increasing weight and height limits at a similar price point.
Behold, the Britax Roundabout 50, coming soon to a retailer near you. Details have been leaking out from online retailers for some time, but we can now share with you what we have been told. At heart, the Roundabout 50 isn’t really a Roundabout at all, it’s basically a modified Britax Decathlon. What they’ve done is to remove a few features that may not be important to some parents, in order to sell it at a much lower price point. In this case, the RA50 is likely to be only a little more expensive than the original Roundabout.
- Rear-facing from 5-35 pounds, forward-facing 20-50 lbs and over 1 year
- Twist-free 5-point harness
- Four harness slot height settings
- Three crotch buckle positions
- Push button LATCH connectors
- Versa-tether for front and rear facing use
- “Staged Release” rip-stitch energy absorbing tether
- Rear and forward facing recline settings
- Holders to keep harness out of the way when placing child in the seat
- Made in the USA from domestic and global components
- 6-year lifespan
- Initial colors include Pistachio, Onyx and Berkshire Grey
How does the RA50 compare to the more expensive Decathlon? Obviously, the 50 pound harness limit is much lower than the Decathlon’s 65 pounds. Most kids seem to outgrow the Decathlon before 65 pounds, so this may not be a big issue to some parents. For others, the Decathlon may be a better choice to go somewhat beyond 50 pounds, even if they outgrow it before the maximum limit. The harness slot heights of the RA50 are currently listed as the same as the Decathlon, but I’m told they may actually be up to a quarter-inch higher. That’s nice for the top slot, though it may affect the bottom slot as well. Drawbacks compared to the Decathlon? There is no HUGS system on the RA50 harness. There are also no infant positioning pillows or comfort pads. The push button harness adjuster found on the original Roundabout and the Decathlon is replaced by a standard lever adjuster. In addition, there are no front or rear facing lockoffs (a locking clip will be included instead) on the RA50.
As we haven’t seen a Roundabout 50, we can’t really review it or comment beyond discussing the features. It certainly seems like a very nice option for toddlers that will keep them in a harness beyond 40 pounds. The flip side is that it’s not the best choice for newborns and small infants. You don’t get all the features of a Decathlon, but you aren’t paying for them, either. Still, how can you complain about a lower priced option from Britax? If it doesn’t appeal to you, there are always other models that have all the bells and whistles!
The Roundabout 50 should be appearing on retail shelves, including Kids-N-Cribs.com, in late May or early June at an MSRP of $199.