To say that I’ve had writer’s block when it comes to writing this review might be the understatement of the year. Well – last year anyways seeing as this year has only just begun. Last year Safety 1st provided a Canadian model Complete Air 65 LX for CarseatBlog to review. You can see a preliminary review including pictures which go in to the dual-line indicator in more detail in the preview to this review.
The Canadian Complete Air 65 LX is rated to be used rear-facing for infants/children who weigh between 5 and 40lbs, and are between 19 and 36″ in height. Forward-facing the seat may be used by children who are between 22 and 65 lbs, 29 – 52″, are at least 1 year of age, and are able to walk unassisted.
The seat features Air Protect technology in the headrest, a tether stabilizer for forward impact performance, a “quick-fit” one step harness height adjustment, one-click UAS connectors, and has an up front harness adjuster for ease of use.
The seat is easily adjustable to fit most children within the listed size range and has five harness heights with the bottom harness height measuring 10″ and the top position measuring 18″. With a bottom harness height of 10″, most infants won’t fit in to the seat at birth. Once the shoulders are even with the bottom harness slots, the seat should fit most children well. There are also three crotch buckle positions measuring at 4″, 5.25″, and 6.5″.
Some other measurements:
- Outer width measured at the bolsters: 17″
- Outer width at widest point on back of shell: 16.75″
- Inner width at child’s shoulders: 13″
For those of you familiar with the original Complete Air model, the 65 LX model differs in a few ways. The forward-facing weight limit has been raised to 65lbs, anti-rebound bolsters have been added, and while you previously had to buy a more expensive model to get an adjustable base, the seat now comes standard with a 4 position adjustable base. There has also been the introduction of the dual-line indicator which allows parents to install the seat at different angles depending on the weight and development of the child. The addition of the anti-rebound bolsters has led to an increase in the amount of leg room rear-facing kids have. This extra leg room doesn’t increase the child’s safety, but it may provide for some extra comfort for those larger rear-facing children.
The anti-rebound bolster is made from the same plastic as the shell of the carseat, and is attached on to the front edge of the carseat by snapping it in to place and then having screws added for security. There is a slight bit of side-to-side movement if a parent tries to wiggle the bolster, but caregivers should be mindful to not force the movement or pry the piece off as this is an integral part of the seat which is not meant to be removed.
The rear-facing installation of the seat is fairly straight forward. The seat fits easily at the more upright angle in the majority of the vehicles I’ve tried it in. I had a little more difficulty in getting a tight UAS install when the seat was sitting at the full recline angle due to the length of the UAS belt and the contouring of the base. This is something that may be a challenge in some vehicles and might necessitate switching to a seatbelt install, but I think the majority of vehicles won’t run in to this situation. At the more upright rear-facing angle, the seat fits in a variety of vehicles including smaller sedans, small SUV’s, and larger vehicles as well.
The forward-facing installation of the seat is also quite straight forward. While the seat allows for the base to be adjusted to position 1 or 2 when the seat is installed forward-facing, the manual is specific that the more reclined position is only to be used when needed to match the angle of the vehicle seat. It also states that the vehicle seat back should not be reclined in order to install the car seat at a more reclined angle. The stickers on the side of the seat reflect this as well.
The height of the harness is adjusted from the front of the seat by pushing two gray tabs together and then either raising or lowering the headrest to the correct position. Since the headrest is the method for adjusting the harness height, the Complete Air technology in the headrest will always be in the right area on the child’s head provided the height is adjusted correctly. In addition to providing side impact protection, the headrest also gives good support when children fall asleep in the seat.
- The tall top harness height and 65lb forward-facing weight limit provides enough growing room to get most kids to booster age and readiness.
- Anti-rebound bolsters create extra leg room for rf’ing kids.
- Set-up is straight forward with only minimal adjustment needed when you take the seat out of the box.
- Labels are clear and manual is easy to understand.
- The headrest with Complete Air technology offers deep side impact protection and is supportive for forward-facing kids when they fall asleep in the car.
- The seat has a fairly low profile in the vehicle which can make it easier for loading and unloading kids.
- Although the seat is rated from 5lbs, the bottom harness height is relatively high making it so that most newborns won’t fit the seat properly.
- The seat takes up a lot of room rear-facing when it needs to be installed at the full recline for infants weighing less than 22lbs and unable to sit unassisted.
- Rear-facing kids with broad shoulders may feel squished by the bottom of the headrest when they are near moving up to the next harness height.
- Numerical rear-facing height limit of 36″ may limit the length of time a child can stay rear-facing in the seat.*
- Base has 4 recline positions but recline position #3 isn’t specifically addressed in the manual aside from the omission of it in both rear-facing and forward-facing sections. I have seen this lead to misuse.
- UAS install at the full recline is problematic in some vehicles and may necessitate a seatbelt install depending on the location of the lower anchors.
- The cover over the complete air technology cannot be removed for cleaning.
I used the original Complete Air seat with my son for a few years and was quite happy with it. In fact, the Complete Air is the only seat my kids have ever fought over riding in. The changes that have been made to the seat with the introduction of the 65 LX model have increased the user friendliness of the seat and added features which may increase the safety of the child, while still keeping the features that made me enjoy using the seat with my son.
As with all seats, it is recommended that you try the seat in your vehicle to make sure it fits well, and sit your child in the seat to make sure he fits well. Based on the number of children and vehicles that I have seen this seat in now, I feel that the Complete Air is a solid choice when considering a seat that will work for your family and include it in the list of seats that I recommend.
Thank you to Dorel for providing the Safety 1st Complete Air 65 LX used for this review!