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Carseat Tom-foolery

A couple blasts from the past, back in the old days when we were a bit less serious all the time!  Perhaps these are more suited to Throwback Thursday, but instead I re-visit them for some foolish fun this April 1st.  And for those who may take offense, we do not (usually) condone the use of duct tape for installation of carseats.  Normally, we prefer nails, screws and glue…

Carseat Install on a Moped:

Patented Super Secure Duct Tape Installation:

2015 Kia Sedona Minivan Video Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety

2015-2016 Kia Sedona Minivan Review

2015KiaSedonaThe all-new Sedona is a big improvement for Kia’s new “Multi-Purpose Vehicle.”  It’s arguably the sharpest looking minivan on the market with a tastefully upgraded interior and exterior.  It is also more flexible for families than before.  For example, all trim levels offer three full LATCH seating positions, two in the 2nd row captain’s chairs and a third on the passenger side of the back row.  The third row center seat has a 4th top-tether location as well.  The Slide-N-Stow feature in the 8-passenger trim offers the easiest 3rd row door access in any minivan.  There’s a lot to like with the new Sedona, but does it stack up to the family favorite, Honda Odyssey?

Let’s start with some basic information and features. Please note that since this video was made, the NHTSA awarded the 2015 Sedona a 5-star overall safety rating.  The IIHS updated its ratings methods for 2015, requiring an auto-brake front crash prevention system for its 2015 Top Safety Pick “Plus” award.  The new Sedona did very well in all the IIHS crash tests but did not earn the “Plus” award, since it lacks such a front crash prevention system.  Visibility is decent, with a standard rear-view camera on all but the lowest trim level.  SX versions get the nicer Surround view monitor.  Our Sedona also came with the accessory tablet holder is a handy feature, but it protrudes and is very hard so it seems like a potential risk to a child in a frontal crash.

In Part II of the video, we discuss some of the aspects of the second row in the 8-passenger trim as well as the third row that is common to both 7- and 8-passenger models.  In the 8-passenger trim, the second row should fit various 3-across carseat configurations, as the middle seat is wide enough for some carseats.  Since there is no LATCH or tether in the middle, that seat is best suited for a booster seat or a seatbelt installation of a narrow, rear-facing carseat.  The seat cushion and seat back side bolsters may affect placement of wider carseats in the second row.  In the third row, the middle seat is quite narrow and 3-across will be a challenge, but might be possible with a selection of very narrow carseats/boosters.

Photo Gallery:

A Maxi-Cosi RodiFix booster and a Britax Frontier 90 combination seat (below, left) work well in the 7-passenger lounge captain’s chairs.  A Graco 4Ever carseat fits in the third row.

2016 Honda Pilot Preview: Chicago Auto Show

The 2016 Honda Pilot, Bigger and Better for Kids?

You may have seen some previews of the all-new Honda Pilot already, so we’ll focus on carseats for this quick preview.  We reviewed the current generation Honda Pilot and found it to be arguably the best midsize SUV in terms of carseats and child seating flexibility.  How does the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot compare?

As for styling, gone is the rugged, boxy appearance.  This is good or bad, depending if you prefer the sleeker, minivan-like styling of the new model.

2016HondaPilotFront 2016HondaPilotRear 2016HondaPilotSide

While the current model is an 8-passenger SUV, the 2016 version will have 7-passenger and 8-passenger trim levels. The fully loaded 7-passenger model on display had the optional captain’s chairs with an aisle/console between (below, left).  A 3-seat 2nd row bench will also be standard.  The easier, push-button mechanism to slide/tilt the 2nd row chairs forward is quite similar to the current Acura MDX (below, right).  Honda says it gives 2.5 more inches of access room at the bottom.  Lower step-in height makes access easier for the little ones, too.

2016Pilot2ndrowchairs 2016Pilot3rdrowaccess

The third row remains a 3-seat bench.  It appears to be similar in width to the current Pilot, but has an update in the design.  Specifically, the passenger side seat with LATCH appears to be a hair wider, at the expense of the narrow middle seat. The passenger side seatbelt buckle stalk is also revised, also an improvement for installation of wider carseats.  The problem is that the hardware for folding the 40/60 bench is taller and more pronounced than before, likely making carseat installation even more difficult in the narrower middle seat.  On the plus side, Honda has resolved some of the seatbelt crossover issues which may make it easier for an smaller adult, teen or pre-teen to ride in the middle next to a narrow carseat.

2016Pilot3rdrowbench

 

In the 7-passenger model on display, there are a total of 3 LATCH positions for the two 2nd row captain’s chairs and the third row passenger seat.  As for top-tether anchors,

Britax Phasing Out Rear-Facing Tethers on Convertible Carseats

Britax Versa-Tether on New ClickTight Convertible Carseats for Forward-Facing Use Only

Effective January 28th, 2015 (approximately), production of the Britax ClickTight convertible carseats (Marathon CT, Boulevard CT and Advocate CT) had a running change that effectively removes rear-facing tethering as an option.  Expect some retailers to start receiving updated models in early to mid-February.

  • Rear-Facing Tethering is being removed as an option from user guides and labels.
  • Changes to all (3) ClickTight models happened at same time
  • NOT Retroactive to previous production.  Seats made prior to this date can be used as labeled (seats labeled with option can be RF tethered if compatible with vehicle)
  • Swedish method issues being driven by less compatibility with vehicles, particularly occupant detection systems and vehicle manufacturer concerns
  • Australian method is difficult at best even with an extender.  Also, not preferred by consumers because ingress and egress issues for the child.
  • The Anti-rebound bar (ARB) will be available to purchase as an accessory hopefully in the next 30-60 days on the Britax website http://www.britaxusa.com/store.

G4.1 Convertibles

  • G4.1 Convertible carseat models (Roundabout, Marathon, Boulevard, Advocate) will adopt this change sometime around mid-2015
  • Updated labels and owner’s manuals will determine when a specific model has changed.
  • Prior to that time, newer production may transition to RF tether accessory straps with fabric loops, rather than a metal ring, like the ones that ship with the ClickTight models.
  • Anti-Rebound bar is available for convertible models made after June, 2010, excluding ClickTight and Classic series models.

Rear-facing is still the safest way to travel for young kids, within the limits of their convertible carseat.  Even without a rear-facing tether, Britax ClickTight convertibles will allow many kids to continue rear-facing until 3 or 4 years old.

Rear-Facing Tether On the Original Britax Roundabout

RF Tethering in 2003

The authors of CarseatBlog have endorsed rear-facing tethering since it was introduced in the late 1990s on the original Britax Roundabout.  We also understand that it can be difficult or impossible to accomplish in some vehicles, and may conflict with passenger-side occupant detection systems in other vehicles.  With the lack of real-world data showing how many consumers adopted this technology and a lack of studies about how effective it may be at preventing serious injury, we appreciate the transition to anti-rebound bar systems in general.  We note that most convertible carseats in the USA lack any type of anti-rebound feature, and rear-facing is extremely safe with or without an anti-rebound system.

Our main misgiving about this change is that the anti-rebound functionality will not be included in the box as a standard feature in the USA (The ARB is now standard in Canada).

The Britax Boulevard and Advocate CT and G4.1 models remain on our Recommended Carseats List for 2015.

Quick Look: 2015 Britax Boulevard Review “G4.1″

Britax Advocate G4.1, Britax Marathon G4.1 and Boulevard G4.1 Review Update for 2015

The Britax Boulevard G4 and other Britax G4 convertibles are getting a facelift for 2015. So, this review is a very minor update to our 2014 Britax Advocate Full Review. We recommend reading our full review for all the details of the Britax G4 and G4.1 convertibles, as this review will just cover the updates for 2015. The Britax G4 convertibles have not changed in any significant way, but only have some minor labeling and marketing changes moving into 2015 with the unofficial G4.1 designation. Here are the changes:

  • Label added to infant positioning pillow.  MUST be used for children weighing 22 lbs. or less in a rear-facing position.  DO NOT use over 22 lbs.  DO NOT use in a forward-facing position.
  • Boulevard now marketed with Complete Side Impact Protection PLUS, indicates the energy-absorbing head restraint system with side impact wings.
  • P1040660Maximum limits continue to be 65 pounds forward-facing (seatbelt), 50 pounds forward-facing (LATCH) and 40 pounds rear-facing.
  • Top tether length shortened; extenders available
  • Rear-Facing accessory tether strap will be revised to fabric-only loop
  • Red accents added to height adjustment lever and recline lever.
  • New Britax Logo with SafeCell Impact Protection.
  • New 2-color box; helps identify the 4.1 model (photo, right)
  • Anti-Rebound Bar is an optional accessory

BritaxBoulevardG4.1RF BritaxBoulevardG4.1FF

 

Britax Convertible Features Comparison:

*Tip: If you’re viewing from your phone – turn it sideways to see more columns of the chart in landscape mode.

 

Boulevard G4.1 Pros:

  • One of the easiest LATCH installs on the market
  • Easy front adjustment for harness height with 10 positions
  • EZ Buckle System is wonderful; no digging out buckle from under the child!
  • Two crotch strap positions, three recline positions
  • Better than average fit rear-facing in smaller cars
  • Ability to tether rear-facing or use anti-rebound bar (optional accessory)
  • Click & Safe harness adjuster helps you know when the harness is adjusted reasonably well
  • Seated maximum shoulder height label for visual reminder of when seat is outgrown
  • Infant positioning pillow provides excellent fit on newborns
  • Made in USA!

Cons:

Conclusion:

There are no major changes for 2015 on the Britax Boulevard G4.1 or the similar Roundabout, Marathon and Advocate G4.1 models.  The big change for Britax was the introduction of the Britax ClickTight Convertibles, with more features, higher limits and a bigger price tag.  Meanwhile, the G4.1 models continue to be great convertible carseats at a lower price point.  The lowest priced model, the Britax Roundabout G4, sells for under $145 at some retailers.  Meanwhile, the Advocate G4.1 packs the most premium features, is easier to use than many competitors and comes with unique, patented external side impact cushions.  All install easily with LATCH and fit well in small cars.  For those reasons, we continue to include them on our Recommended Carseats list!

The 2015 Britax Boulevard G4.1 sample used in this update was provided by Britax USA, no other compensation was provided and all opinions are my own.