The Britax Parkway SG should be on retail shelves in July. No, it’s not the old Parkway booster with new fashions; it’s an entirely new product. The Parkway Secure Guard (formerly known as Slide Guard) is rated for kids 40 to 120 pounds and a standing height of 38 to 63 inches. The top seated shoulder height with the backrest is listed as 21.5 inches. The Parkway SG converts from an adjustable high back to a backless booster. It features the unique Slide Guard clip that helps prevent the child from sliding under the lap belt portion of a lap/shoulder belt, reducing the risk of abdominal injury.
I’m going to try to make this review somewhat shorter than normal, so as not to bore everyone with my typical review novel. After all, a booster is a glorified phone book, right? (Wrong!)
I’ll start with what many people want to know right away. Measurements and comparisons to the old Parkway. Britax lists the new SG at 17″ wide by 15″ deep, adjusting from 28 inches to 35 inches tall from the bottom of the base to the top of the back. It has a listed weight of 9.7 pounds in high back mode, 5.1 pounds in backless mode. Seat depth is listed as 11 inches and seating width as 13 inches. Shoulder width of the high back section is given as 12.5″ and crotch depth to the Slide Guard strap as 7.5″. But don’t take their word for it, here are some photos:
If you have an older Parkway, you’ll find the Parkway SG to be over 1.5 inches taller at the highest setting. The outside width is about the same. The head section is similar in size and width, but doesn’t flare outward and narrow at the neck like the one on the old Parkway. The torso wings are a little smaller and fixed arms are included on the base to allow it to be used as a backless booster. The height adjuster is located a little lower than on the old Parkway, so it may be a little harder to adjust for those with small hands. On the plus side, there is no gap in the cover on the top. Here are a few photos to compare with the old Parkway:
Below are a few photos with kids. On the left, my 4-year old, 40 pound son. In the middle, my almost-9-year-old and 64 pound daughter. On the right, my oldest son turns 11 in October and is 81 pounds and 4’10” tall.
Below are my older kids using the Parkway SG Backless:
Here is a quick video of the Slide Guard in action with my daughter. My 4-year old son still sits in a 5-point harness and hasn’t yet learned to buckle himself into a standard booster, let alone one with an extra clip.
The Slide Guard basically turns a 3-point lap and shoulder seatbelt system into a 4-point restraint. With the clip holding the lap belt down at the crotch, it not only helps keep the lap belt at the right position, but also keeps kids from sliding (or submarining) under the lap belt in a crash. This is especially important for smaller or squirmy kids, who may otherwise be at greater risk to suffer abdominal injuries in a severe crash if they aren’t positioned correctly. Many newer vehicle seat cushions are sculpted to help prevent adult occupants from submarining under the lap portion of the seatbelt, but the flat seating platform of a booster would not generally provide this kind of function for kids. Britax states that the Slide Guard clip must be used at all times. Period.
The clip itself is somewhat U-shaped. You just slide the lap belt in and proceed like any other booster. The length of the crotch strap is adjustable using a slider plate that you access from under the booster. Beyond Secure Guard, the new Parkway is not so different compared to various other boosters. It has a couple of nice cupholders that slide out from the base. The height is adjustable with a lever on the back. Side wings around the head and torso give added protection in side impacts.
Advantages? Obviously, the Secure Guard feature is unique and may be a major safety improvement in some cases. It adjusts taller than many boosters, so that will be an advantage for some kids, too. The side impact protection is a plus when used as a high back booster. The shoulder belt guide allows the belt to retract freely without getting caught. While it’s no Britax Starriser in terms of being narrow, it’s also not particularly wide. It will work about the same as the old Parkway for 3-across situations. It converts to backless mode, so that’s a handy feature as well. The quality is quite good. The back does not seem flimsy at all, as it may on some other high back models that convert to a backless. It also won’t fall off unintentionally, due to the way it is assembled. Overall, the manual is clear, though I would have liked a better photo or diagram of proper fit with the Slide Guard.
Disadvantages? It’s made in China. Another departure from the Britax convertibles and combination models that are made in the USA. Beyond that are mostly obvious issues. The Slide Guard clip is an extra step that requires a little more time for kids to use correctly. Younger kids will need supervision for a while till they get it right. The crotch strap may be annoying for older kids who haven’t been in a 5-point harness in a while. It’s actually a pair of straps that come up from the base shaped like this ^. They might be uncomfortable for bigger kids wearing shorts, a skort or a skirt, as they can rub on the thighs. Adjusting the length of these straps is necessary for proper fit of the lap belt. It isn’t difficult, but it does take some fiddling, especially if you are trying to make it longer. Because it converts to a backless, the fixed arms limit the seating width. That can make a tight fit for larger children with big hips.
Overall? A very nice booster with a unique safety innovation. The disadvantages are minor, but obviously if they are a problem for you or your child, another carseat or booster may be a better choice in your situation. The price is a reasonable $119 at retailers like Kids-N-Cribs.com and Amazon.Com. This is no glorified phone book. A big volume of yellow pages may raise a child up, but it won’t have the side impact protection of the Parkway SG. It also won’t have the fixed arms, the Slide Guard clip and shoulder belt guide to keep the lap and shoulder belts positioned correctly. With the high back section, it also provides adequate head restraint for the child, even in vehicles that have low seat backs or lack head restraints. The Parkway SG is well padded, too. Details on the Parkway SecureGuard can be found at the Britax USA website.
Remember, kids should use a booster or other appropriate child restraint until they are around 4′ 9″ tall. Ideally, any child should be able to pass SafetyBeltSafe’s 5-Step Test before being restrained with only the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt. With it’s tall back and 120 pound limit, the Parkway SG should accomodate most kids to 10 years old and beyond. With the Slide Guard clip, there may even be applications for special needs situations for both children and young adults.