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Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Rear Facing Infant Carseat Review

Italian design meets comfort, plus a good fit for the smallest and largest babies in the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Rear-Facing Infant Carseat.  And not just Italian design, but Italian *made*, which is a big deal in an age when most infant carseats are made in China.  What’s so special?  For starters, you can match it with nearly any of the great Peg Perego strollers without an adapter.  That means an ultra-chic custom travel system with a safe carseat that fits your baby and vehicle, too!  The easy-to-use “Right Tight” lockoff, anti-rebound bars for BOTH carrier & base, and the sharp, breathable fabrics are among the other distinctive features of the Peg “Four Thirty Five.”

Primo Viaggio 4-35 Feature Summary:

  • Rear-facing for babies 4 to 35 lbs. and up to 32” tall, maximum seated height roughly 18.5″
  • Anti-rebound features for installation with and without base
  • PegPerego435RightTightTriZone“Right Tight” easy seatbelt lockoff system (photo, right)
  • Dual Stage inserts fit preemies down to around 4 pounds
  • No-rethread harness height adjustment with 6 positions
  • SIP Side Impact Protection with EPS foam lined shell and head wings
  • Compatible with most Peg Perego strollers without an adapter
  • Deluxe push-button LATCH connectors
  • Premium breathable fabrics with ventilated shell design
  • Elastic loops keep harness out of the way when loading baby
  • Infinite Recline knob adjuster with Tri-Zone level indicator (photo, right)
  • Large UPF 50+ canopy
  • Certified for use on aircraft
  • 2-year warranty, 7-year lifespan

Primo Viaggio 4-35 Key Measurements:

  • Carrier Weight: ~ 9 pounds
  • Base Weight: ~ 7.5 pounds
  • Base Dimensions: ~ 19″ long, 14.5″ wide maximum at belt path
  • Carrier maximum width: 17″ at handle
  • Minimum Harness Height: ~ 5″ with Stage 1+2 inserts
  • Maximum Harness Height: ~ 11.5″
  • Crotch Strap Depth: ~ 6.5″ without inserts
  • Inside seated head height limit: ~ 18.5″ (Maximum height is ~19.5″ at highest harness adjustment)
  • Interior width: 12-13″

Feature Discussion:

Fashion: Let’s be honest.  When shopping before baby arrives, many parents register at a baby store or internet retailer and often gravitate toward the most fashionable looking products.  We were guilty of that with our first child, though back then “fashion” was navy and white plaid or polka dots.   Thankfully, fashion has come a long way since then!  Many assume all infant seats are created equal as far as safety, so why not get the coolest looking travel system to show off your new bundle of joy?  With the 4-35 Infant Carseat, Peg Perego makes it easy to select among over a dozen stylish fabric options and pair them to a variety of excellent, matching strollers.  From the upscale Alcantara Pearl to basics like Cream and Onyx that will match your vehicle seats.

Want to match your vehicle interior with a little flair and have a reversible stroller?  No problem, select the Switch Four stroller in Pois Black.  Looking for something bolder with an easy folding stroller?  Go for the Book stroller in Flamenco!  Why be stuck with the same travel-system-in-a-box everyone else has, when you can mix and match to your preference and have the best looking baby ride on the block or at the park ;)  pegclimaCollections include the “Taiana,” “Prima Classe,” and “Soft Fabric,” like my Fleur sample.  All of them work with the ventilated shell and foam to keep baby cooler in the summer.  Add the unique thermal slipcover accessory (photo, right) to keep baby even cooler!

Lest you think we recommend carseats mainly on appearance, we are happy to say that the new 4-35 system has a number of great safety and ease-of-use features for us to recommend it as a stand alone infant seat as well.  And we don’t recommend carseats lightly.  It took a lot to improve the previous Peg Perego infant seat lineup to earn our recommendation.  Let’s take a look:

An Update to our Convertible Carseat Comparison for Compact Cars

Just a note that we have updated our Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparsion blog.  It’s one of our most popular articles and for good reason!  If you are installing a rear-facing convertible behind the driver or passenger, especially in a compact vehicle, you already know why!  Not all carseats are created equal.  Some take up a lot more room than others and this is a big deal if you are tall or have a small car.  In our chart, we assign a “Space Grade.”  This is not an overall rating of the carseat, but only a guide to show which models may conserve some legroom for front seat passengers or in other vehicle seating positions with limited space.  It is also not an indicator of compatibility for any particular vehicle.

poor MattSo what is it?  It’s a guide to give you an idea of what carseats may be worth trying in small cars or cramped positions.  We carefully measured many popular models, including most from our Recommended Carseats list.  It’s not all inclusive, but we will add more in the future.  New additions include the Clek Foonf, Diono Rainier, Graco 4Ever and Safety 1st Guide 65 among others.  We emphasize that our results only apply to our test vehicle.  Your vehicle will vary, because of the contour of the seat, different geometry or adjustment of the front vehicle seat and head restraint or simply because installations can vary from one person to the next.  So, as always, YMMV! (Your Mileage May Vary)

Viewing on a small phone or device?  Try rotating to landscape mode.

Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparsion

Thanks to Kecia for all her hard work on this project!  Measurements are subjective and good comparsions usually mean that one person must do most of the dirty work.

2015 Hyundai Sonata Preview: Kids, Carseats & Safety

I recently had the opportunity to test drive the all-new 2015 Hyundai Sonata on a road trip from Chicago to Ann Arbor, Michigan, with a stop at the 57 Burger Barrel on US Highway12 for a quick burger, fries and homemade root beer.

  2015sonataecof

While I haven’t had a chance to put any carseats into one yet, I definitely got a good feel of the new Sonata.  I had just driven the 2014 Honda Accord the week prior, so some comparisons are in order.  In particular, the back seat is well organized, with no crossover of seatbelt or LATCH anchors. The buckle stalks were fairly short all around and should be reasonable for installation of most carseats.  It’s wide enough to fit 3-across with careful selection.  The side bolsters on the outboard seats appear to be less pronounced than in the Accord, possibly making it easier to fit larger forward facing seats.  These might still be an issue for wider combination booster seats, though.

2015SonataBackSeat

The Sonata is all new and has already received an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2015, an improvement over the previous Sonata.  The 2015 model earned an “Acceptable” result in the Small Overlap frontal crash test, while the previous model managed only a “Marginal” rating.   The new Sonata now has a full set of advanced safety features optional, including a frontal collision warning that was previously unavailable.  Lane Departure, Cross Traffic and Blind Spot warnings are also available, as is the BlueLink system with crash notification.  The frontal collision warning system earned a “Basic” level of protection from the IIHS for trims that have this option package.

The improved IIHS crash test result was likely made possible by an increase in advanced, high-strength steel alloys that now comprise around half of the weight of the bare chassis, up from 21% in the previous model.  That also helped Hyundai to increase overall body stiffness to improve ride and handling characteristics as well.  I found it to be as good of a highway cruiser as the Accord in terms of ride and noise.

2015SonatasThe styling of the new Sonata is an evolution of the previous model, with slightly more aggressive front and rear end treatment inherited from the upscale Genesis.  No comparison to the conservative Accord.  For families, size has increased to be one of the largest, if not the largest midsize sedan.  In particular, width is increased another inch that hopefully will help for fitting three kids and/or carseats in the back.  Overall, it has a class-leading passenger volume and front head room and leg room as well, meaning a little more space than Accord all around.

Assuming the NHTSA crash tests earn it a 5-star overall rating like the previous model, the 2015 Sonata should be among any family’s top picks for a midsize sedan.  I was very impressed on the road with the Limited model that is already in showrooms.  I also drove the 1.6L turbo four Eco model (coming in September), which has a budget price tag and great fuel economy as well.  We obtained 38 mpg on the highway during our trip!  Unlike some mainstream auto reviews, we appreciate that budget is a big factor for many of our readers and the Eco trim starts around $24,000 with an estimated EPA 28mpg city, 38mpg highway, 32mpg overall.  Not bad for a model the EPA thinks is a full size sedan!

2015sonataeco 2015sonataecofueleconomy

The main drawback for me is that to get all the safety features including frontal collision and lane departure warning systems, you must spend over $32,000 MSRP on the Limited or Sport 2.0T trim with the Tech AND Ultimate packages.  Meanwhile, the 2015 Subaru Legacy sedan with AWD can be purchased with the excellent EyeSight system in the lower Premium trim for around $25,000.  And for that, you don’t just get collision warning, you get one of the best autobrake collision prevention systems on the road.  I only wish that more manufacturers will start to follow Subaru’s lead and put life-saving advanced safety features within reach of more families in their all-new family vehicles.  Of course, if you ante up for the Sport 2.0T Ultimate model, you get all the goodies and the exclusive Urban Sunset color option, too (below).

Thank you to Hyundai USA for this great media event!

A New Car for your Teen Driver?

My son is 15 and has a permit to drive.  I guess it’s the age of freedom.  For now, his freedom is limited to my wife’s car.  He’s certainly not going to scratch or dent mine!  But what happens a couple years from now?  Our daughter will be driving by then, too.  Maybe they will have part-time jobs or volunteer work.  They’ll need to be driven to go out with friends more often.  They won’t want mom or dad to be driving them all the time and neither do we.  And, they’ll no doubt be wanting their own car, because you know, according to them, all their friends will have their own car.  The IIHS just released a list of vehicles recommended for teens, but most are nearly $10,000 or more.

For many of us, this seems like an appalling idea.  Spoil your teen with their own car?  Spend all that money for someone who likely won’t have any sense of pride in ownership because they didn’t pay for it, or at least not the majority of it?  Provide a vehicle to someone with limited driving experience who is just going to get into a fender bender or worse?  While one or two kids in the area may drive shiny new sports or luxury cars, most seem to be driving old sub-compact cars their parents picked up for under a few thousand dollars, much less than the least expensive IIHS recommended model.  Many kids drive a hand-me-down compact or midsize sedan from mom or dad, who then bought a newer car.  Or maybe the teen did save some money and was allowed to pick out their own car.  Most likely used car, maybe a sporty coupe or hatchback with lots of consideration for horsepower and little about safety.

But is any of those a wise choice?  After all, driving is the single riskiest thing that teens do.  They aren’t experienced.  They are more often distracted by friends and devices.  They have the youtful sense of immortality, leading to very poor choices.  As a reward, we’ve armed them with a lethal weapon, and put them in an arena with road-ragers and distracted drivers who are always in some huge hurry.  Is it really wise to let them use the oldest and cheapest vehicle available?  Or the sportiest and fastest pocket rocket they can afford?

In the child passenger safety world, we often tout a mantra of, “least protected passenger in the most protected seating position.”  Does it then follow that the least experienced driver should be driving the safest vehicle available?  What if no safe alternative is available? It’s not like a carseat checkup event where you might be able to get a free one if yours is old or unsafe!

I’m thinking a little bit in advance.  Do I want my teens to be driving the equivalent of a 1999 Dodge Neon?  A 3-star NHTSA frontal crash test rating, a 2-star side crash rating for the driver and a “Poor” rating in the IIHS moderate overlap frontal offset crash test.  No side curtain airbags.  No stability control.  No hands-free system.  Should I consider even letting them have a car at all if the only option is a veritable death trap? For all I’ve done to keep them safe for 16 years just to say, “Here’s the keys, son, see ya later.”  If it was the last time I ever said that, would I regret not having done more to put them in a safer vehicle?  Or am I being too protective and maybe it is time to start letting go?

What do you think?

 

 

Safe Things Come in Small Packages: 2014 and 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Review, Kids, Carseats & Safety

outlanderbadgeOnly a few vehicles with three rows of seating have earned this badge of safety, and the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander is one of them.  It earned an IIHS “Top Safety Pick +” AND an NHTSA 5-star overall rating for 2014*.  Very impressive!  It’s also by far the least expensive and most fuel efficient of the three row vehicles to accomplish this feat (the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Highlander and Acura MDX being the others).  Want top-notch safety and third row flexibility with good fuel economy at a reasonable price?  If so, you will definitely want to add the Outlander to your list of vehicles to consider.

What you Get:

In the Outlander SE trim, you not only get exceptional protection for your loved ones in terms of crashworthiness, but you also get some essential standard features like a backup camera, rollover protection side curtain airbags, hands-free Link phone system, daytime running lights and turn signals integrated into the side mirrors.   Above average visibility is another safety bonus.  With 2WD, this model with a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine starts at $23,795 MSRP and has an impressive EPA fuel economy of 25 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 27 mpg overall!   You also get some nice other features including 18″ allow wheels, fog lights, color multi-information display, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats and remote keyless entry with keyless ignition.

The touring package adds a whopping $6,000 but gets you a number of great options, including advanced safety features like lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and forward collision mitigation with autobrake.  This last feature earned a very commendable “Advanced” level of protection from the IIHS that is awarded to only a few non-luxury small and midsize SUVs for 2014.   It’s nice that Mitsubishi allows this option to be added to the SE trim.  On most other SUVs, this is reserved for high end models costing much more.

The adaptive cruise control worked well, even in heavy Chicago rush hour traffic.  The lane departure warning system was a bit sensitive and provided a few false alarms, though.  Other key features in this package include leather seats, navigation, power sunroof, premium 710 Watt Rockford Fosgate sound with 10″ subwoofer, power driver’s seat and power remote tailgate.

I tested  a loaded GT trim with Super All-Wheel Control and a 3.0L V6 with 6-speed transmission.