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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.

Graco 4Ever All-In-1 Carseat Unboxing & *Giveaway* – The Blogiversary Celebration Begins!

Cake 6 yearsJuly 2014 marks 6 full years of CarseatBlog.com!  Can you believe it?!?  In some ways it seems like not so long ago that we began blogging about carseats, child passenger safety and vehicle safety. And in some other ways it feels like we’ve been doing this forever… Lol!

Along the way we’ve shared some laughs (R.I.P. Marvin), made some great friends, and oh, yes - reviewed a carseat or two;)

Whether you’re new to CarseatBlog.com or have been with us since the start in 2008 – we’d like to share our celebration with you. You are the reason we’re still here 6 years later, still blogging away, always looking for ways to improve our content and better serve our readers. (Technically we started in 2007 but didn’t begin blogging regularly until July 2008 when we moved to our own server).

The field of Child Passenger Safety is just starting to heat up and take off, and we have a lot of great things planned for the near future here at CarseatBlog. We can’t wait to see all the awesome advances in safety, technology and innovation that the next 6 years is going to bring us. We hope you stick around and enjoy the ride with us!

During the next 6 weeks we’re going to be celebrating by giving away some great carseats so stay tuned! Please spread the word about CarseatBlog and our giveaways to friends, family and share on your social networks! So a big “Thank You” for visiting, from Kecia, Heather, Jennie, Alicia, Darren and all of our guest bloggers at CarseatBlog!

To kickoff our Blogiversary Celebration we’ve partnered with our generous sponsor, Graco, to offer one brand new 4Ever All-in-1 (rear-facing, forward-facing, booster seat).

The Graco 4Ever All-in-One carseat is currently available at Babies R Us for $299.99.

This promotion is now closed. Thank you for participating – a winner will be announced soon.

Features

  • 4-in-1 seat grows with your child, so you can enjoy 10 years of use, from 4 – 120 lbs.
  • 6-position recline adjust to fit and keep your growing child comfortable; it’s comfy for them and convenient for you
  • Simply Safe Adjust™ Harness System is safe & simple.
  • One-hand, 10-position head rest to give your growing child a proper fit
  • InRight™ LATCH system for an easy, one-second LATCH attachment
  • Side-impact tested* (*In addition to meeting or exceeding all applicable US safety standards, the Graco 4Ever car seat has been side impact tested for occupant retention solely with the built-in 5-point harness .)
  • Engineered & crash tested to meet or exceed US standard FMVSS 213
  • Washable seat cover is easy to remove without removing the harness
  • Steel-reinforced frame provides strength and durability
  • Integrated harness storage compartment holds unused harness straps while in the belt positioning booster mode
  • Features an easy-to-read level indicator for hassle-free installation
  • Plush inserts keep your child comfortable
  • EPS, energy absorbing foam for effective impact energy management
  • 2 integrated cupholders keeps your child’s drinks close at hand
  • Hide Features

Product Description

Graco® 4Ever™ All-in-1 Car Seat gives you 10 years with one car seat. It’s comfortable for your child and convenient for you as it transitions from rear-facing infant car seat (4-40 lbs.) to forward-facing 5-point harness seat (20–65 lbs.) to high-back belt-positioning booster (30–100 lbs.) to backless belt-positioning booster (40-120 lbs.). For a proper fit, the Simply Safe Adjust™ Harness System and 10-position headrest lets you adjust the harness and headrest together, with no rethreading. The 6-position recline keeps your child comfortable, while the InRight™ LATCH system with one-second attachment makes installation easy. It’s the only seat that truly goes from baby to booster!

Specifications

  • Height: 24″
  • Width: 20″
  • Depth: 21.5″
  • Weight: 23 lbs

Recommended Use

Recommended Weight/Height Range

      • Rear-facing 4-40 lbs; height less than 1″ below the top of the headrest
      • Forward facing 20-65 lbs with harness; 27″-52″ tall
      • As Highback booster 30-100 lbs; 38″-52″ tall
      • As backless booster 40-120 lbs; 40″-57″ tall

Giveaway:

Contest open to all residents of the USA, including those residing in Alaska and Hawaii. :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now for the fine print (these may be in addition to the rules listed in the Rafflecopter terms)

Winner must have a USA shipping address to claim the prize.  Only one prize will be awarded, choice of colors will be limited to those in stock at Graco Baby at the time the contest closes.

You are not eligible if you have previously won a carseat or any sponsored giveaway at CarseatBlog.com during 2013 or 2014 (our own giveaways of goody bags and such don’t count if no sponsor was mentioned). Blog writers and editors are also not eligible. Only one entry per household/family, please. If you leave more than one comment, only the first one will count.

We reserve the right to deem any entry as ineligible for any reason, though this would normally only be done in the case of a violation of the spirit of the rules above. We also reserve the right to edit/update the rules for any reason.

The contest will close on July 17, 2014, and one random winner will be chosen shortly thereafter. If a winner is deemed ineligible based on shipping restrictions or other issues or does not respond to accept the prize within 7 days, a new winner will be selected.

Good luck!

Please note: If this is your first comment at CarseatBlog, or if you are using a different computer/device or a new email address, your comment may not appear immediately. It will not be lost; it may just take a few hours for it to be approved. Thank you for your understanding and patience as this is the only way we have to reduce comment spam.

Graco Expands Buckle Recall to Some Infant Carseats

Graco is expanding their buckle recall to include some infant carseats:

Models Affected by the Recall:

The harness buckles used on the following models of infant car seats are included in this recall:

  • Infant car seats: SnugRide, SnugRide Classic Connect, SnugRide 30, SnugRide Classic Connect 30, SnugRide 35, SnugRide Classic Connect 35, SnugRide Click Connect 40, and Aprica A30.

Buckle Replacement Details:

  • Graco has and will continue to offer replacement harness buckles to concerned consumers at no cost. While many harness buckles look alike, consumers can verify which buckle they have by entering the model name and date of manufacture on GracoBuckleRecall.com. This information can be found on the white label located on the bottom of the infant car seat carrier (see below).
  • Additionally, Graco will continue to offer a free replacement buckle to any consumer who has an infant car seat not included in this recall, but would like to update their buckle to Graco’s current buckle design.
  • For additional questions, consumers may contact the Graco customer service team at 877-766-7470 (Monday – Friday, 9 am to 5 pm) or consumerservices@gracobaby.com
  • Those seeking replacement buckles will receive replacement kits in Summer 2014. While waiting for replacement buckles, Graco car seats equipped with affected buckles are safe to use. If your buckle becomes sticky, Graco recommends cleaning it by following the instructions available on GracoBuckleRecall.com as this will make it much easier to use.

Background on the New and Improved Buckle:

As early as January 2013, Graco began equipping our infant car seats with a new and improved buckle. While some of the buckles look the same, the updated buckle has been re-engineered and has an improved design, which makes it easier to use. This recall impacts only the older model of this buckle, used in car seats manufactured prior to May, 2013.

Graco’s Commitment to Safety

Graco has met or exceeded every safety standard set forth by the federal government through its 60-year commitment to rigorous engineering and demanding crash testing protocols. Each Graco car seat must withstand a critical crash test  — hundreds of times — simulating a vehicle hitting a brick wall at 35 mph,  which is double the force  required by the government. Graco has conducted side impact testing on our car seats for nearly a decade before NHTSA proposed such a standard. Graco is also the only manufacturer to crash test our car seats under extreme temperatures – from 0 to 140 degrees F – to ensure the materials maintain their integrity in even the most demanding conditions.  Importantly, Graco car seats undergo an additional battery of tests by independent safety experts at the same lab contracted by NHTSA to set the safety standards for the entire industry.

In designing each element of the car seat, the primary focus of our engineers is infant and toddler safety. The harness buckle — a critical part of the car seat — is opened and closed more than 15,000 times, the equivalent of 50 years of use, to ensure it meets our industry-leading safety qualifications.  We also pull the harness buckles to withstand a force of over one ton, which is three times more than what is applied during a typical high-speed crash test. While there continues to be no reported injuries or fatalities related to our harness buckles, we have continued to upgrade buckle design as part of our ongoing product evaluation and improvement process.

 

To see if your model is affected, look under or behind your car seat, locate the white label and note model NAME and Date of Manufacture:

infant-car-seat-mfg

Graco Infant Carseat Models Recalled:
Model Name Dates Produced
SnugRide
SnugRide Classic Connect
March 1, 2011 through May 31, 2013
Snugride 30
SnugRide Classic Connect 30
July 1, 2010 through January 31, 2013
Snugride 35
SnugRide Classic Connect 35
May 1, 2011 through January 31, 2013
SnugRide Click Connect 40 June 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012
Aprica A30 July 1, 2011 through April 30, 2012

You may also search to see if your infant carseat is affected at the Graco website:  https://secure.gracobucklerecall.com/recall2014/infant-car-seats-affected-models.html

Great Coupon Code Carseat Deals at Amazon

Some nice deals on some of our Recommended Carseats this week at Amazon.com:

Save $30 on select Britax convertible and combination carseats with coupon code BRITAX30.  The Britax Boulevard G4 as low as $226 and the Britax Frontier 90 as low as $234.

Save 20% on select carseats and baby gear with coupon code SUMMERGEAR.  The Evenflo Maestro in Wesley is only $64!  The Graco SnugRide 35 Click Connect is $104 in Tangerine.