The Cybex Solution X-Fix is a brand new booster seat to the American market with unique European features, like rigid LATCH and fashion-forward design.
Vehicle seat belts are designed to fit an average 160 lbs. man, not your average 4-10 year old child. That’s why we have booster seats. A booster seat raises the child up so that the lap portion of the lap/shoulder belt falls across the bony hips, not the soft, easily injured abdomen. High back boosters, like the Cybex X-Fix, have headrests with shoulder belt guides to keep the shoulder belt off the child’s neck. Booster seats should always be used with a lap/shoulder seat belt.
Who should use this seat?
Cybex recommends this seat for children who are a minimum of 3 years old, weigh 33-100 lbs., and are between 38″ and 60″ tall. My first thoughts when putting the booster together was that it looked like it could be used backless, but during a recent presentation at the Lifesavers Conference, representatives were adamant that the booster not be used without the back because of diminished head and torso protection in side impacts. The crash test videos they showed were convincing; you can see these videos on their web site.
How to find a booster
When I first started looking for boosters for my older child, I thought a booster was a booster. And maybe back then, they were. But now we know better and it’s as specialized a search as finding the right infant seat or convertible. First, you have to find a booster that has shoulder belt guides that will work with your shoulder belt anchors in your vehicle. Unfortunately for me, I can’t switch boosters between vehicles for my dd because in my Sienna, the shoulder belt comes from directly behind her (it’s mounted on the vehicle seat) and in my dh’s Lexus, it’s mounted on the C pillar forward of the buckle (perfectly sideways and in front of her shoulder). So, for my van, I need a booster that has the belt guides on the back of the seat, just like the Cybex X-Fix. It’s led me to try many boosters to find one where the shoulder belt won’t get caught in the belt guide yet still has a lap belt guide that’s easy for dd to slide the belt through, plus have good head and torso protection. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find that combination in today’s boosters!
Choosing which seat to use should be based on many factors, including the way the seat fits in your vehicle, how the child fits in the seat, and, in the case of a booster, the maturity of the child. Because boosters allow more freedom of movement, the child must have the maturity to sit correctly in the seat without wiggling out of the seat belt or slouching over. Only you can determine if your child is mature enough, but we generally see this maturity forming around age 4. Also, a child under 40 lbs. is best protected by a seat with a 5-point harness.
The X-Fix requires minor assembly and comes in 2 pieces: backrest and base. Most boosters that come with removable backs require that the backs be attached, so I was prepared for that. The backrest has a typical highback booster assembly where you lay the whole seat flat on the ground, place the tabs of the back into the slots on the base, and rotate the back up into position. The X-Fix was very straightforward and really, I didn’t need to even look at the directions in order to assemble it (though I did).
*rigid lower LATCH connectors that rotate to fit anchors of varying heights
*LATCH Guides for access to deeply embedded anchors (also available for purchase for a 2nd vehicle for $9.95)
*deep EPS foam in the headrest (EPS foam is the stuff bicycle helmets are made of), in the torso wings, in the arm rests for side impact protection
*three position reclining headrest
*pocket in the fabric on the back of the backrest for storage of the manual—it won’t fall out and get lost
The instruction manual is full of WARNINGS. It’s clearly written by their attorneys. I don’t mean to mock, but 3.5 solid pages of warnings in a booster manual and parents are going to stop reading it. I’d suggest picking the most important, then incorporating the rest into the instructions. The rest of the instruction manual is clear and easy to understand with clear diagrams.
Cover and padding
There are 6 covers available for the X-Fix: Grenadine, Cinnamon, Raven, Stone, Navy, and Berry. The booster is also available in a couple of suede-like fabrics as well at a higher price point. It can be machine washed and line dried when necessary. As part of my testing, I tried to take the cover off, with “tried” being the key word. There are 3 parts to the cover: the head and shoulder area portion, the backrest portion, and the base. The cover for the base is attached with snaps and came off easily; it’s highly padded and will require some rolling in a towel to get dried. The backrest stays on with the help of elastic bands. The head and shoulder portion stay on with a variety of snaps, an elastic band, and the contour of the head and shoulder wings. I could not get that cover off and gave up after trying for over 20 minutes. I will try again tomorrow and enlist the help of customer service, but that sucker is on there! Fortunately, it’s an area that doesn’t get much dirt, at least in my experience, so we’ll just wipe down as needed. But, I really wanted to get that cover off in particular to show you just how much EPS foam there is in those areas—it’s unbelievable.
Installation and use
Boosters are usually very easy to use: just plop them on the seat and buckle the child into the vehicle belt. The problem inherent with most belt positioning boosters is that when the child isn’t in the booster, it’s sitting there loose waiting to be a projectile if the vehicle is involved in a crash. Sure the child can remember or be nagged to buckle the booster after getting out of the seat, but if the child is like my child, she’s usually in a hurry to get out of the vehicle in the drop-off lane at school. The last thing on her mind is buckling the darn booster so mom doesn’t get whacked in a crash. The Cybex X-Fix solves that problem by LATCHing. Using rigid LATCH connectors makes it not only so that the seat isn’t a projectile in a crash, but it also adds lateral stability in a side impact: the seat can only be knocked as far as the LATCH anchor is wide, or 25-40 mm (or 0.98” to 1.57”).
I went a little video crazy, but we love videos to show how things work here at CarseatBlog, so have fun watching!
When buckling a child into the X-Fix, the shoulder belt must be routed through the shoulder belt guide which is located on the back of seat. This is done by sliding the shoulder belt between the headrest and shoulder wings into the guide. The open design means that the shoulder belt won’t get caught on it if the child leans forward; in the X-Fix, the shoulder belt will remain snug on the child. The design of the lap belt guides is forward and means that the lap belt will fit snugly over the child’s thighs. I’d be surprised to see the lap belt ride up on any child’s abdomen in this seat. Because of these safety designs, the X-Fix earned a Best Bet rating from IIHS when they tested it and will be listed in their next Status Report due out later this summer. The lap belt path is marked in red and like other boosters, the shoulder belt is routed under the armrest.
The back of the X-Fix should be adjusted so that the shoulder belt guides are slightly above the child’s shoulders. To adjust the height of the back, squeeze the red handle on the back of the headrest and lift up. There are 11 height adjustments from which to choose. At the highest setting, the shoulder belt guide is about 19.75″. The lowest setting is around 12.5”.
I measured the inside of the shoulder wings at about 11.75” at their narrowest at the back and at about 14.5” at their widest at the front. For the headrest, the narrowest measurement is about 7.25” at the back and 9.25” at the front.
I also measured the base of the seat. I always sit in my kids’ boosters to get an idea of what seats are better for bigger kids and the X-Fix is a good one for the wider kids. The base doesn’t have a boxy shape; rather it’s roundish and bowl-shaped, which makes it comfortable for kids with bigger hips. I felt quite comfortable in it. The narrowest part at the back measures around 13.5” and the front measures 14”. The depth is 12.5” to where it angles down for knee bend and 13” total depth on the vehicle seat. The instruction manual is explicit that the booster must not hang over the edge of the vehicle seat, though I don’t think it will be a problem with most vehicles since it’s a shallow base.
Total outside width of the seat at both armrests and shoulders, widest points, is 19”.
A touted feature of the Cybex booster seat is the 3 position recline feature built into the headrest. A child can reach up and recline her head when she starts to feel sleepy and her head will lay back instead of slumping forward. Dd can easily adjust this herself and while we haven’t used this feature yet, I’ll post a comment soon when we do to let you know how well it works.
Airplane use and expiration
The X-Fix is not FAA-approved and cannot be used on an airplane because it doesn’t have an internal harness. The X-Fix expires after 7 years from when it was manufactured. The expiration date is clearly marked on the label underneath the date of manufacture so there’s no question about when to stop using it.
The X-Fix is top heavy and creates a blind spot when I drive. I have to decide if it’s something I can work around or not. The booster is also on the short side with the tallest shoulder height adjustment being to about 19.75”. It may take a child with a short torso, like my dd, straight to seat belt age, but a child with a tall torso will outgrow this booster before being big enough to pass the 5-Step Test. The X-Fix also doesn’t have any cup holders. I know that many carseat purists consider cup holders to be a danger since drinks and other items that can be put in the holders can become projectiles, but I live in a desert and we take water with us whenever we leave the house. My dd cannot reach my van’s cup holders without getting greatly out of position. So it goes beyond being a nicety to becoming a necessity in my book.
The final word
My daughter likes the X-Fix and so do I. She says it’s comfy, has lots of padding, and is easy to buckle. I’m impressed with the LATCH, the amount of EPS foam, and the sturdiness of the seat. With the pivoting rigid LATCH that stores in the seat base, it’s a truly unique product and rates pretty high on the cool scale. Don’t forget that booster use is very important until a child fits in the vehicle belt. Here’s Kecia’s wonderful article (http://carseatblog.com/?p=3966 ) on how to do the 5-Step Test, a test to see how your child fits in the vehicle belt.
You can find the Cybex X-Fix at retailers like Kids-N-Cribs and Amazon. The official Cybex Solution X-Fix highback booster seat web site is http://cybex-online.com/site/us/carseats/solutionx-fix.html .
Now possibly the very best thing about this review overall is the giveaway contest! Yep, you read correctly. Starting on Monday, May 3, and running through Friday, May 14, we’ll be running a contest for a free Cybex Solution X-Fix. Stay tuned for more information on what you’ll need to do, but I promise, it won’t involve any physics or higher level calculus problems .
The Cybex X-Fix booster was supplied to CarseatBlog.com by Regal Lager, Inc.
*Regal Lager has recalled Cybex Solution X-Fix belt positioning boosters manufactured during February, 2010. The instruction manual and a warning label on the seat don’t follow Regal Lager’s recommendation that an unoccupied booster always be secured with a vehicle seatbelt. The recall campaign will begin on or around August 10, 2010, and registered owners will receive a new manual and sticker from Regal Lager. For more information, go to the Regal Lager recall site. You can also call 800-593-5522.