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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.

Safest Family Sedans for 2015: Part III

Safest 2014-2015 Sedans for your Family:

In Part I, we awarded the safest 3-row vehicles.  In Part II, we awarded 5-passenger SUVs.  In this part, we will look at sedans that have great safety and also typically better fuel economy than sport utility vehicles.

As with the SUVs and minivans, we have similar basic requirements to trim the long list of very safe vehicles to a select few vehicles that stand out from the pack:

  • Must be an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2014 or 2015
  • Must have an NHTSA 5-star overall rating
  • Must not have any individual NHTSA crash test results of 3-stars or less
  • Must be over 3000 lbs. curb weight

The finalists below are among the safest sedans on the road.  Many other very safe models just barely missed the list for one reason or another, or simply lacked a complete set of testing results.  Models designated with an asterisk (*) have an optional autobrake front crash prevention system and earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award for 2015.  The IIHS made some changes to it’s award system for 2015.

  • 2014-2015 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2015 Subaru Impreza/XV*
  • 2014-2015 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2015 Chrysler 200 (updated)*
  • 2014-2015 Honda Accord
  • 2015 Hyundai Genesis (all new)*
  • 2104-2015 Mazda 6*
  • 2015 Subaru Legacy (all new)*
  • 2015 Toyota Camry (refreshed)*
  • 2015 Volkswagen Jetta
  • 2015 Audi A3*
  • 2014-2015 Volvo S60*
  • 2014-2015 Infiniti Q70*

Selecting the winners wasn’t too difficult.  Perfection was the key.  The very safest sedans earned the top “Good” rating in every IIHS crash test, every single sub-category rating and earned the top “Superior” frontal crash prevention rating by avoiding crashes in high and low speed testing.  They also earned a 5-star overall rating from the NHTSA and 5-stars in all five individual crash test ratings plus a 5-star rollover rating.  Only two sedans made this very difficult cut to become our winners:

Safest sedans for 2015 (Tie):

2015 Hyundai Genesis.  Looking for luxury?  You may not think to look at a Hyundai, but you’d be wise to do so.  The new Genesis excelled at every test from the IIHS and NHTSA, something none of its luxury competitors could match.  It’s one of a handful of vehicles to earn all 6 points in the Front crash prevention test from the IIHS.  You must opt for the Tech Package to get this rating, driving the cost to over $46,000.  It’s also an excellent upscale sedan overall, receiving accolades from many automobile and consumer publications.

2015 Subaru Legacy.  Significantly improved for 2015 to compete with the best of the affordable midsize sedans.  To get the Top Safety Pick+ rating, you must add the optional EyeSight system.  Fortunately, Subaru allows this on the 2.5i Premium trim.  For around $25,000, you can get a full array of advanced safety features that, like the Genesis, earn it the highest possible “Superior” rating of 6-points by the IIHS in their front crash prevention tests.  Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and a backup camera are standard on all trim levels.  Plus, you get their excellent AWD system standard along with good fuel economy.

Runner-Up:

2015 Chrysler 200.  Also a perfect set of IIHS crash test ratings, but fell just short of the winners with an excellent 5-point “Superior” result in the IIHS front crash prevention test, avoiding a crash in one of the two tests.  The 200 also earned a perfect set of NHTSA crash test results, though even with a very low 10.7% rollover risk it barely missed a 5-star rollover rating.  Unfortunately, the SafetyTec package that must be equipped to earn that IIHS rating is optional only on the top 200C trim level and is bundled with the navigation and lighting packages, driving the price up to just over $30,000 MSRP.  It’s a shame that Chrysler made some nice updates in the safety department for 2015, but didn’t make SafetyTec and its great array of crash avoidance features as a stand-alone option on lower trim levels.  AWD is optional on the 200C as well, driving the price to roughly $35,000 MSRP with SafetyTec.