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Graco Milestone All-In-One Carseat Review: Does it Live Up to the Name?

Graco MilestoneParents have been buying 3-in-1 car seats – rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster in one – since the dawn of time, tempted by claims of “the last seat you’ll ever need!”, but rarely (if ever) has a good 3-in-1 been available. I myself was sucked in by the claim when middle child was ready to move out of her infant seat – and it was so bad that I replaced it within months.

So when CarseatBlog asked me to review the new Graco Milestone All-in-One, which rear-faces, forward-faces, and turns into a high-back booster, I admit I was skeptical. Sure, Graco had nailed the combination seat with the introduction of the Nautilus about eight years ago, but could they do the same for the 3-in-1 with the Milestone ?

Compared to the more expensive Graco 4Ever, there are a few differences to note about the Milestone. The biggest change is that the Milestone does not convert to a backless booster like the 4Ever does. For the price, the 4Ever also adds two additional recline positions and an improved infant insert that should fit smaller newborns a bit better (4Ever is rated down to 4 lbs.) The 4Ever also includes a nicer bubble level indicator and two cup holders. For more  info, please see our complete review of the Graco 4Ever All-in-One.

Milestone Specs and Features:

  • Milestone no coverRear-facing: 5-40 lbs.
  • Forward-facing (with harness): 20-65 lbs and 49″ or less
  • High-back booster: 30-100 lbs. and 38-57″
  • No-rethread harness with 10 position headrest
  • Adjustable base with 4 recline positions (2 for rear-facing, 2 for forward-facing)
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Premium push-on lower LATCH connectors (LATCH limit: Child weight of 42 lbs.)
  • Single cup holder
  • Ten-year expiration date

Measurements:

  • Lowest harness height (with infant insert): 7″
  • Highest harness height: 18”
  • Tallest booster height: 18.75″
  • Internal rear-facing height: 27.5” (that’s one inch below the headrest adjustment lever of 28.5” )
  • Crotch buckle positions: 5″, 6.25″, 7.5″
  • Seating depth (interior): 13″
  • Deepest point on base: 15″
  • Internal seat width: 13″
  • Widest external seat width: 19″ (at wings and at armrests)
  • Widest point on base: 13.75” (at the middle)
  • Narrowest point on base: 13.25” at back and 13.25″ at front

Does it live up to the “All-in-One” name? Read on to find out.

Maxi-Cosi RodiFix Booster Review: European Style & Design for American Kids

Maxi-Cosi is not new to the world of booster seats as they are a very popular brand in Europe. Their previous boosters available in the U.S. include the Rodi (pronounced Rho-dee) and Rodi XR, but they’re better known here for their infant and convertible seats. The brand new Maxi-Cosi RodiFix booster, which entered the market just a few months ago, introduces several new features including a unique shoulder belt guide and side wings that widen as the headrest is raised. It’s also the first armless dedicated high-back booster available since Britax’s original-style Parkway went off the market several years ago.

Specifications

  • The RodiFix is for children 30-120 lbs., 34-57” tall, and over three years old.
  • The seated shoulder height was not mentioned in the manual, but I measured it to be about 21” in the tallest height setting. The height adjustment is easy and one-handed.
  • The torso wings extend about 2” above where the shoulder belt guides are in the lowest position. The wings also adjust in and out about 2.5” as the headrest is moved up and down. 
  • Booster seat base is only 12” wide; combined with the lack of armrests may improve ease of buckling.
  • The seat weighs 14.5 lbs. which is significantly lighter than other boosters with rigid LATCH.
  • The torso wings are made entirely of energy-absorbing EPS foam. This foam is not supported by plastic shell. The torso wings felt fragile and I made a point of being very careful with them as I was installing the seat in tight situations because I was nervous about the possibility of cracking the foam.
  • The headrest is fully lined with thick EPS foam and features Dorel’s Air Protect® Technology for enhanced side impact protection, which they claim reduces the risk of head injury by 20%.

    

    

Fit to Vehicle

We used the RodiFix for my 8-year-old daughter, Allie. It fits beautifully in a captain’s chair in a 2005 Honda Odyssey, with the back of the booster seat flat against the vehicle seat back. It was easy to buckle compared to other boosters that might be wide enough to cover the buckle if not placed just so.

Recaro Performance BOOSTER Review – feeling the love!

Recaro Performance Booster - RedRECARO has been in the booster seat business since at least 2000, when the innovative Recaro Start was first introduced. Three of Recaro’s previous boosters – the Vivo, the ProBOOSTER, and the ProSPORT (combination seat) – were all rated “best bets” in the IIHS 2012 booster ratings. Its latest entry into the booster market, the Performance Booster, makes its debut in a few weeks.

 

Performance BOOSTER Specifications:

The weight rating for the Performance Booster is 30-120 lbs. It can be used by kids who are 37-62” tall. Recaro does not list a minimum age for this booster, instead stating in the manual, “A child is always safest in a child restraint system that has a 5-point harness system built in. Recaro cannot recommend what age your child has to be in order to ride in a belt-positioning booster, please refer to your state’s law, as each state is different.” Neither the Recaro website nor the manual indicated a seated shoulder height, but I measured it at 14”-21”.  The side impact protection “wings” of the seat extend up quite tall – even when the headrest is in the top position, the top of the wings nearly reaches the bottom of the headrest. The Recaro site does list seat cushion measurements – at 22” wide and 18” deep, it has quite a large footprint. The seat does not taper significantly toward the back, so “puzzling” opportunities for three-across situations may be limited.

Naked Performance Booster

 

Fit to child and vehicle:

After about a week of frequent use (10+ hours of use over the week), I’ve found that the seat fits my 7-year-old daughter very well. She is 49” tall and weighs about 51 lbs. With the headrest adjusted about halfway up, the shoulder belt was placed nicely over her shoulder, away from her neck. The lap belt lay properly over the tops of her thighs, nowhere near her belly. (And the manual indicates several times that the lap belt should not be over the belly.) The deep seat provided good thigh support as well, and the deep headrest was not so deep as to be difficult to see around.

leg support  Recaro Performance Booster - lap belt fit

 

In both our 2003 Ford Focus wagon (driver side) and my dad’s 2009 Honda Odyssey (driver side) the fit was good. The seat is easy to install in both vehicles. The Performance Booster is wide and filled the captain’s seat in the Odyssey, but she had no trouble buckling. I expected her to have trouble buckling in our Focus, where the seatbelt anchorages are fairly close together, but she actually had no trouble at all. However, because the seat is so wide, it basically turned my 3-passenger back seat into a 2-passenger back seat, even when paired with a narrow convertible for our preschooler.

 

I have three kids who pretty much represent the entire height and weight range of the Performance Booster. It was perfect for my 7-year-old, and she will fit in it for quite some time. My nearly 4-year-old is near the bottom of the limits, at 38.5” and 32 lbs. The seat did not fit her well at all – it was too wide, and so deep that I’m sure she would slide forward to bend her legs at the edge of the seat. I would not use this seat for a child her size, regardless of age. In fact, I plan on keeping her harnessed for a while yet. My 12-year-old, on the other hand, is near the top of the limits at 58” and 115 lbs. He has always had a short torso (a car seat mom’s dream!) but even so, his shoulders were several inches above the booster’s belt guides. It’s a shame the seat doesn’t have a backless mode, though, because he said it was wide and deep enough that it probably would have fit him quite well as a backless. (Unfortunately, it can easily be taken apart at the hinge like other similar boosters that do have a backless mode, which may lead parents to improperly use it as a backless booster.)

 

Of course, fit can vary greatly depending on the child and the vehicle, so it’s always best to try before you buy, if possible.

 

Cover:

Recaro’s special “CoolMesh” fabric is intended to allow air to flow through the seat to help keep the rider cool. We did not use the Performance Booster during extremely hot weather, but it did get warm and my daughter did not complain about being hot, even without the a/c turned on. The rest of the fabric feels similar to nylon – not plush at all – and comes in seven great colors. Sapphire, Plum, Redd, Vibe, Rose, Marine & Knight.

Recaro Performance Booster - BlueRecaro Performance Booster - PlumRecaro Performance Booster - ReddRecaro Performance Booster - VibeRecaro Performance Booster - RoseRecaro Performance Booster - Marine

 

LATCH:

The Performance Booster includes push-button lower LATCH attachments. The LATCH webbing is not adjustable, and the manual makes it clear that the LATCH attachments are intended only to prevent a “tossed object” in the event of a crash. The LATCH attachments measure about 11.5″ long, including the webbing and connectors. The seat is definitely not snug with the LATCH connectors attached to the lower anchors. There are two handy storage pockets on the side of the seat for use when transporting the seat or using it without LATCH. One advantage of the flexible LATCH over rigid LATCH is that the connectors won’t be in the way when installing without LATCH for whatever reason. I found it a little tricky to unhook the LATCH attachments in my Focus – I needed to move the booster out of the way to reach the attachment that was farther away, but the size of the booster and the size of the backseat resulted in me bumping my head on the vehicle both times that I had to remove the booster from the car.

 

Advantages:

  • Good height range to fit kids until they pass the 5-Step Test
  • The side of the headrest support is labeled in increments of 1-11, which make it easier to adjust.
  • High and deep side wings with tons of EPS foam for head and torso protection in side-impact crashes
  • Well padded and comfortable
  • Deep base provides good leg support for older kids
  • LATCH attachments for securing booster
  • Does NOT require support from either vehicle headrest or high seatback
  • Dual integrated cupholders
  • Clear, well-written manual
  • Assembled in the USA

 

Disadvantages:

  • Very wide
  • No backless mode
  • May not fit kids at the upper/lower ends of the height and weight limits well
  • Flexible LATCH attachments can not be adjusted
  • No minimum age for use

 

Kids’ point of view

lap and shoulder belt fitBeing 7 years old, my daughter has plenty of opinions and is more than happy to share them with me. She says that she loves the Recaro Performance Booster. The headwings aren’t so deep that she has to lean forward to see around them. The seat is well-padded and comfy under her rear end. The arm rests give her a perfect spot to lean her arms, and it’s easy to buckle. She also loves the cupholders. And don’t forget the color – purple (“Plum”) is one of her two favorite colors.

 

Conclusion

Overall, the Recaro Performance Booster is a very nice seat. My daughter and I had a hard time finding anything to dislike about it. My biggest complaint was its sheer size, but not everyone has a five-passenger vehicle for a five-person family. We’ll just switch to a narrower booster when we’re all in the car. Barring issues due to vehicle space, this seat will probably work well for most average-sized kids in the 5-10 age range.

 

Thank you to RECARO Child Safety for providing the Performance Booster used for this review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are those of CarseatBlog.

Note: We initially stated that the Recaro Performance BOOSTER required buckling when unoccupied even when attached with the LATCH attachments to the lower anchors in the vehicle. This was a misunderstanding on our end. That information was incorrect and the review was edited to remove the misinformation. To clarify – if the Performance BOOSTER is secured to the vehicle’s lower LATCH anchors using the LATCH connectors then you do NOT need to secure the booster with the seatbelt when it is unoccupied. We apologize for any confusion we created! 

 

All-New 2012 Honda CR-V Review

Trivia question: Without Googling it, who knows what “CR-V” stands for?

All-new fourth generation Honda CR-V is an impressive ride. It’s an ideal vehicle for those who want the function and flexibility of an SUV but without the size or the price. In fact, if I didn’t have three children, I’d strongly consider one as my next vehicle purchase. The peppy 2012 CR-V is a five-passenger vehicle that starts at under $25,000. And one of the nice things about Honda is that they believe that you shouldn’t have to buy the luxury model to get the options that make a vehicle functional – many of the items that people really want are standard on all trim levels, such as a multi-angle rearview camera and hands-free Bluetooth. Notable exceptions are the navigation system, leather seats, DVD entertainment system for the rear seat, and driver’s seat with 10-way power adjustment, all of which are available only on the EX-L model.

I rode in a 2011 CR-V right after my extended test drive of the 2012 model, and here are some of the things that I noticed right away: The seats in the 2012 are noticeably more comfortable, the center console is greatly improved, and steering and brakes in the 2012 are more responsive. I’m not sure what trim level the 2011 was, but the 2012 just felt more luxurious.