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Whenever we go to conferences or trade shows, there’s always a lot to drool over at the Cybex booth. Their offerings always look sleek, incorporate innovative features, and show great attention to detail. When we saw the Cybex Solution Q-Fix booster at the ABC Expo last fall, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on one.

Specifications/Features:

  • For use with children 3 years or older
  • 33-110 lbs, 38-60 inches tall
  • Highback only (cannot be used as a backless booster)
  • Three-position reclining headrest
  • Height and width adjustable (shoulder width expands as seat height is raised)
  • Linear Side-Impact protection features (see below)
  • Thick energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Rigid lower LATCH anchor attachments
  • 7 year lifespan

Specs for high-back boosters typically don’t vary a whole lot, but one thing that makes the Q-Fix stand out is the 60″ height limit. Many boosters cap their height limit at 57″ (4’9″) but some kids still need a bit of a boost beyond that point, so it’s nice to have an option that doesn’t require a parent to ignore manufacturer instructions. Those last few inches can make a big difference!

The Q-Fix is currently available in 5 fashions: Charcoal, Autumn Gold, Ocean, Storm Cloud & Lollipop.

 

Solution Q-Fix Measurements:

  • Lowest belt guide height: 14″
  • Highest belt guide height: 21″
  • Overall seat height: 31″
  • External width, back of base: 13″
  • External width at armrests: 18″
  • External width at widest point: 20-22″
  • Internal width at shoulders: 14-15″
  • Seating depth: 13″
  • Weight: 17 lbs.

The other features that really set the Q-Fix apart from competitors are the side impact protection and reclining headrest.

The Q-Fix looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, in part because of the massive wings and things toward the top. Besides the impressive head and shoulder wings, the Q-Fix also has Linear Side Protection bolsters that attach to the outside of the seat. In a side impact, these bolsters can help absorb crash forces. The bolsters come separate in the box, but they’re easy to snap into place.

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The head and shoulder wings are lined with thick EPS foam to help absorb energy, too.

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The reclining headrest is a great feature, especially for kids who tend to fall asleep in the car. To move the headrest into any of the three positions (upright, reclined, and in-between), simply pull up and move the headrest forward or backward. Besides adding comfort for the child, the headrest actually serves a safety benefit, too. A child whose head bobs forward is at greater risk of injury and won’t benefit from the side-impact protection. Being able to rest their heads backward to sleep encourages them to stay in position.

The recline amount isn’t huge, but it should make a difference for kids who are, say, reading versus napping. Below you can see the most upright and most relined positions from above and from the side.

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Another neat thing about the Solution Q-Fix is that the seat adjusts outward as you adjust it higher, allowing for more shoulder room for bigger, taller kids.

The ability to use lower LATCH anchors has become a big selling point for parents in the market for booster seats. LATCHing boosters keeps them from becoming projectiles when unoccupied, and it might also provide some safety benefits. The Q-Fix features rigid LATCH (meaning no straps to pull) but its use is optional.

It should be noted that although the Q-Fix comes apart, it is only meant to be used as a high-back booster, never as a backless booster.

Installation/Fit to Vehicle

Those thick wings and bolsters make the Q-Fix a pretty wide seat so if you’re trying to fit three-across, it might be tough. The base, however, is very narrow in the back, so depending on your combination of seats it might work, especially if you’re putting it next to a rear-facing seat.

We had mixed success in terms of installing the Q-Fix. Usually booster seats are pretty straight-forward, but Cybex has a rule that the entire back of the Q-Fix must sit flush against the vehicle seatback. I had heard about that before I got the seat myself and wondered if maybe there was some room for interpretation, but really there isn’t. The manual makes it very clear in stating “The Backrest MUST REST against the vehicle seatback.” Further, if the vehicle headrest interferes with the booster seat, the headrest needs to be removed, something that’s not always possible.

In some vehicles and seating positions, this was no problem. In others, we had trouble.

For example, the contoured sides of the captain’s chairs in a 2010 Honda Odyssey meant that the booster couldn’t sit flush with the seatback. In a 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe, we had the same problem in the captain’s chair with the booster in a taller (and therefore wider) position.  However, in the lowest (and narrowest) position, it did fit.

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The Q-Fix fit fine in the third row of the Odyssey, where the seatback are more flat, but we did need to remove the headrest.

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It also worked fine in a 2011 and 2014 Toyota Highlander. In a 2014 Honda Civic, the seat fit fine in the outboard position when the headrest was in the lowest position. Higher, though, the headrest interfered and pushed the seat forward. Removing the headrest solved the problem, though.

This is a potentially huge compatibility issue. In a car with flat seatbacks and removable/adjustable headrests, the Q-Fix will probably work great. With highly contoured seats and/or fixed headrests, maybe not so much. Be sure to try it before you buy it if you think your car might pose a problem.

CPST and car-seat.org member Rodger/AK Dad also ran into some compatibility issues in his Honda Pilot.

The biggest problem is the narrow “slot” between the seat bottom and the armrests. I didn’t realize right away that this led to a serious incompatibility with the long, floppy buckle stalks in our ’11 Honda Pilot. What happens with the Q-Fix is the latchplate hangs up between the base and the armrest fooling you into thinking it’s fine when in reality there’s 1-2” of difficult to detect slack hiding just out of view.

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Cybex also doesn’t allow any overhang, so if the entire base doesn’t fit on the seat, you’ll need to find a different position. That wasn’t an issue in any cars we tried it in, but it’s something to be aware of if you have shallow seats.

A small amount of recline is allowed in the vehicle seat because the booster is made to sit at a small range of angles (about 15 degrees back from upright). However, extreme recline is not allowed, and you’ll hear a click if the seatback goes beyond that point.

For installing with LATCH, standard 11″ spacing is required. Because the lower LATCH anchor connectors are fixed on a bar, there’s no way for it to vary. The bar does pivot, so it can reach lower anchors that might be placed higher from the seat bight.

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 10.19.37 AMThe Q-Fix comes with LATCH guides to make LATCH installation “easier.” I put “easier” in quotes, because sometimes it might be more trouble to use them. Darren had successfully used them in his 2011 Highlander, but we each tried for a good five minutes to get the LATCH guides to hook onto the anchors in a 2014 Highlander. Finally we gave up and within seconds had the seat installed with LATCH but without the guides.

To install with LATCH, you pull the red tab at the front of the seat while pulling back on the LATCH bar. You can then rotate the anchors to where you need them, slide them on, and then pull the lever again while pushing back on the seat to lock it in. To remove, pull the lever again to slide the seat away, then push the red tabs on the LATCH connectors to unlock them.

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If you’re not installing with LATCH (either because the seating position doesn’t have anchors or the anchors overlap the seatbelt or buckle in a way that would make them unusable) simply keep the connectors stored and use as a regular booster.

Here is a video of Darren showing how to install the seat with LATCH:

At this point, Cybex does not allow use with inflatable seatbelts, so if you have those you’ll need to use a different seating position.

Fit to Child

The Solution Q-Fix has a very specific rule when it comes to positioning the belt guide: The guide must be two finger-heights above the child’s shoulder. Rules like this always leave me scratching my head a bit because my fingers are tiny whereas my husband’s are huge. So whose fingers are we talking about? I figure the finger-size discrepancy might allow for a little more wiggle room than some other rules, but the point is: the shoulder guide shouldn’t be right AT the child’s shoulders, but shouldn’t be too high above either.

We tried the Q-Fix with a range of kids.

The smallest was my just-turned-5-year-old. She is about 35 lbs and about 44 inches. She still rides in harnessed seats and only sat in the Q-Fix for demonstration purposes. Boosters typically don’t work well with her yet, but the Q-Fix adjusts to such a wide range of kids, I figured this one had potential. I was right. It fit her beautifully in the 2014 Santa Fe. Technically the belt guide was three fingers above her shoulders, but again, that probably would have been two of my husband’s.

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Next up was Darren’s son, who is 9 years old and 4’6″. It worked great on him in the 2011 Highlander.

Finally was my oldest son, who is 9 years old, about 71 lbs, and wears size 12 shirts at that “magic” height of 57″/4’9″. Although he still needs a booster in some situations, he has been out of high-back boosters for quite a while, and I wasn’t sure he would even fit in the Q-Fix. Not only did he fit, he still had one click to go! I thought he’d want to get out as soon as I was done checking the fit, but he loved the reclining headrest and asked to keep using it for a few days.

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The only thing I didn’t love about the fit on him was that in the third row of our Odyssey, the belt guide seemed to pull the shoulder belt farther off his shoulder. It was still acceptable, but not as good as I had hoped. I will say I’ve noticed the same issue with some other boosters in that position, so I think it’s more an issue with the seatbelt geometry than with the booster itself. This is why it’s really important to try boosters in every seating position you might use, as they can vary a lot even in the same car.

Maintenance/Ease of Use

The Solution Q-Fix is unassembled in the box, but is relatively easy to put together.

The height adjustment on the Q-Fix is very easy and intuitive. There’s a lever on the back that you squeeze, and then raise or lower the back as needed.

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The belt guide is integrated into the headrest. Sometimes when belt guides are integrated closely into the headrest, excess fabric or friction can cause problems with the belt retracting. I didn’t notice this with the Cybex at all, though. Pulling and releasing the belt was very smooth, and the kids we tried had no problems buckling or unbuckling because of the seat.

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The quality of materials on the Q-Fix is very nice, as I would expect from Cybex. Removing and replacing the cover, though, had me wishing I didn’t have to do it. The IMG_0605cover is actually five separate pieces held on by a combination of snaps, velcro, elastic loops, and fabric shoved behind various parts. Most of it was easy enough to remove, but there were a few elastic straps on the base that weren’t even visible. I had to reach in blindly and feel around, trying to unhook them. It was like playing a game of Operation, but without the buzzer, thankfully.

Once all five pieces were off, reassembling it was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. (Where does this piece go? Here? No, here! I think!) I did finally get it back on (with the exception of two elastic loops on the base that will just never be reattached.)

So…yeah, the cover is kind of a pain, although if you only need to clean part of it, it might be possible to just remove that piece, depending on which piece it is. Some of them are interconnected though.

Because the Q-Fix does not have a harness, it is not approved for airline use (no dedicated boosters are).

The lifespan is 7 years, and it should be replaced after a crash.

Advantages

  • Substantial side-impact protection
  • Reclining headrest for safety and comfort
  • Rigid LATCH
  • Tall back for taller kids
  • Adjustable width
  • Quality materials

Disadvantages

  • Potential compatibility issues in some cars/seating positions
  • Cover can be difficult to re-attach after cleaning
  • Made in China (typical of many booster and infant seats)

Conclusion

Here is what Rodger/AK Dad thought, overall:

Well, first off, rigid LATCH is wonderful for making the seat actually seem like part of the vehicle rather than something just sitting on top of the seat.  Secondly, the build quality is as solid as you’d expect from a seat this price.  Again, difficult to argue “build quality” as a safety feature, but if you enjoy nice things, you won’t be disappointed!  The last feature that makes a difference in daily use is the nicely designed shoulder belt guide – it’s one of the few I’ve found contoured and finished smoothly enough to allow the vehicle’s belt retractor to work without the child having to help feed it back in. Overall I think the Cybex Solution Q-Fix is an excellent booster, and if you enjoy high-end products and don’t have the couple of compatibility issues I ran into, you’ll love it.

cybex-solution-q-fix-autumn-goldWe tend to agree. All in all, the Cybex Solution Q-Fix Booster is a high-quality seat that can fit a wide range of kids, including those who may be too big for many other highback boosters. Cybex has clearly put a huge emphasis on side-impact protection, but they have also focused on comfort for the child. This is a cushy, comfortable seat. The only major potential downside is compatibility with some seating positions. It’s always a good idea to check seats for compatibility before buying, but as long as the Q-Fix fits well in your vehicle, it’s likely to be a winner with you and your kids.

You can read more about the Cybex Solution Q-Fix and other Cybex seats at the Cybex website. The Q-Fix is available at Amazon, Albee Baby and other retailers for around $250.

Thank you to Cybex for providing a Solution Q-Fix for our review. CarseatBlog did not receive any other compensation for this review.