I was going to write a full review, one of my typical epic blogs that you can’t possibly read without falling asleep. Unfortunately, I fell asleep every time I thought about writing it. So, I’m going to just add enough followup comments to make you drowsy and then turn it over to another reviewer for more input. You can find my first look in an earlier blog.
My wife likes it. We used it extensively over the last few weeks, including a family driving vacation. She is not a carseat advocate, so this is a good endorsement. You can find the Safety 1st Complete Air and the newer Complete Air LX at Amazon and many other stores. Granted, she only used it front-facing. In this direction it installs well with LATCH or seatbelt in the vehicles I tried (2000 Subaru Outback, 2006 Honda Odyssey and 2010 Toyota Prius). It tends to fit well on older kids, as the top slot and shell height are reasonably high. I didn’t try 3-across carseats, but it worked fine in the back seat of a 2010 Prius along with a backless booster for my three kids (right).
Rear-facing, it’s nice for older kids. It fits them well, has generous dimensions and a high 40 pound rear-facing weight limit. This is a huge benefit of this seat, at least in theory. You can see a video in my first look blog of my son, who fits rear-facing at 4 years and 40 pounds.
The harness height adjustment is nice and can be used without un-installing the seat or removing any straps. It can be tricky to adjust sometimes, especially into the top setting. Make sure you hear it solidly click into place!
The harness straps can and do twist at the buckle. Fortunately, they won’t twist at the chest clip so you won’t end up with a rope in a week or two. It does require some twiddling to untwist them every once in a while.
The multiple crotch strap settings are nice, but even the farthest setting is still tight on older boys. Only the first and second crotch strap slots may be used rear-facing. Any of the three may be used front-facing. On the plus side, the inner setting is reasonable for babies.
The bottom of the seat is probably less friendly than average to vehicle seats, given the edges and protrusions. You may wish to protect your vehicle seats, but be sure to read Heathers advice first!
The manuals and labels are significantly improved from Cosco/Safety 1st seats of yesteryear. Kudos to Dorel for making these improvements!
For newborns and small babies, it’s not as nice as some other convertibles. It can be tough to get the required 45 degree recline in some vehicles due to the shape of the shell and the design of the base. Rear-facing installs with LATCH are also tricky due to the angle you have to pull the strap tight. This is made worse because an adjuster is present on only one side. Seatbelt installations may be a little better in some cases and I would think most experienced technicians could resolve any issues for parents who have difficulty.
As you may be able to see in the photo below, the harness doesn’t adjust low enough for small infants, but should fit fine on older babies. The manual specifically warns not to use this child restraint if the harness slot is above the child’s shoulders rear-facing, when the headrest is in the lowest position. It can be a little difficult to tighten the harness when rear-facing, too. Finally, as you can see from my infant size doll, smaller babies won’t get the benefit of the Air Protect wings, even in the lowest setting that is about 10″ to the strap slot. Granted, if their shoulders are under the level of the slots in the lowest setting as is the case in the photo below, they should not be using this restraint.
Overall, I think the Safety 1st Complete Air it is a very nice child safety seat. I would only caution that it is not ideal as a primary restraint for a newborn or smaller baby because of the reasons I mention above. For older babies, especially those who have outgrown an infant seat, it should be a fine choice, though it might take a little more effort to install it rear-facing in some vehicles. The big safety benefit is for those older babies and toddlers, because it’s potentially a great seat for extended rear-facing and also very nice for bigger kids to use when front-facing. Beyond that, my only qualm is the high price tag, $249.99 at TRU/BRU.