Reviews Archive

2016 Honda Pilot Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety


It’s Bigger, it’s Better, and it’s no longer Boxy.  For some, the more rugged appearance of the previous Pilot was a nice departure from most crossover SUVs on the road today.  For most, the sleeker styling of the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot is a long-awaited improvement.  And the changes only start there.  Almost everything else is also improved in this re-design, borrowing various enhancements from the Acura MDX that was introduced for 2014.


Starting with the inside, it’s more spacious than before and is now among the leaders in the midsize class.  Honda added 3.5 inches to the new Pilot, helping to increase both legroom and cargo space in back.  That’s great for carseats and kids.  Thankfully, Honda didn’t change one of the best things about the Pilot: Four of the 6 rear seats have the LATCH carseat attachment system, while all six have top-tether anchors.  That makes it one of the most flexible SUVs for carseats in back.  Most trim levels seat eight, with only benches available in back, but the Elite trim is only available in a 7-passenger version with an aisle between two second row captain’s chairs.

Other improvements include a cabin that is much more refined and competitive than before, with softer materials all around.  The access to the third row is improved, so even adults can get back there more easily than before.  Cargo space behind the third row is 1.3″ longer than before, and even more spacious when you flip the stowable lid covering the deep storage area below.   If you have a lot of stuff to put behind the third row, the Pilot has more room than almost any midsize competitor.  You’d have to go to a minivan or huge full size SUV to do much better.  And there are lots more charging outlets for all those devices, too!


Update: The 2016 Pilot earned a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS, and a Top Safety Pick+ when equipped with the Honda Sensing Package.  In addition, it earned the top “Good” rating in each individual crash test and a “Superior” front crash protection score.  There are not yet any crash testing results from NHTSA.  This section will be updated as they are released. Given the excellent results obtained by the similar Acura MDX, I expect the new Pilot do do very well overall.

As for features, there are a full array of airbags and standard safety features, like a multi-angle backup camera and hands-free bluetooth for taking calls on the road.  Only the base LX trim lacks optional advanced safety features. On the EX and EX-L, the Honda Sensing package offers a great array of safety enhancements as an option.

Evenflo Transitions 3-in-1 Combination Seat Review – Safe, Sleek, Stylish


Evenflo Transitions - MercuryThe Evenflo Transitions 3-in-1 (aka Evenflo Evolve 3-in-1)  is a “combination” seat that can be used forward-facing with the 5-point harness until the harness is outgrown by weight or height and then the seat can transition to a belt-positioning booster using the vehicle’s lap/shoulder seatbelt. In booster mode you have the option to use the seat with the back (highback booster) or without the back (backless booster). I like to think of combination seats as “Stage 3″ seats that are most appropriate for kids over age 2 who have outgrown their convertible seats. Despite being labeled as a “3-in-1” carseat, the Transitions/Evolve cannot be used rear-facing which is confusing for many parents who have come to associate the term “3-in-1″ with a product that can be used rear-facing, forward-facing and as a booster. If you’re looking for a rear-facing/forward-facing/booster seat, see our reviews of “All-in-One” carseats listed here:

Evenflo Transitions/Evolve Specs:

  • 5-point harness: Forward-facing only for kids 22-65 lbs., at least 1 year old, height 28- 50″ tall (shoulders must be at or below top harness slots).
  • Booster mode with vehicle lap/shoulder belt: 40-120 lbs., at least 4 years old, height 44 – 57″ (top of ears must be below the top of the head support).

Evenflo Transitions/Evolve Features:

  • 4 harness height positions
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Push-on lower LATCH anchor “Quick Connectors” on Transitions model (LATCH limit is 45 lbs.)
  • Basic, hook-style lower LATCH connectors on Evolve model (LATCH limit is 45 lbs.)
  • Deep head wings for enhanced side-impact protection
  • Energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Height-adjustable head support
  • Recline feature on base (reclined position required for kids under 40 lbs.)
  • Harness strap covers (required for kids under 40 lbs.)
  • Buckle Pockets
  • Dual integrated cup holders
  • FAA approved for use in aircraft (with 5-pt harness)
  • 8 year lifespan before expiration
  • Outlast performance fabrics (on Platinum Evolve models)

Evenflo Transitions - naked Evenflo Transitions - naked side Evenflo Transitions - naked back


Graco SnugRide 30 LX Review: History Repeats Itself in A Good Way


Graco SR30 LX - GlacierReview of the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30 LX  Rear-Facing Only Infant Seat

Graco’s SnugRide has been around in one form or another since 1998. That’s an honor only given to a very few carseats on the market and as the SnugRide has matured, it’s gotten more safety items—EPS foam—and better design—easier-to-install bases. Let’s see why this lightweight seat, the SnugRide 30 LX in particular, has remained a favorite of parents for so many years.

SnugRide Click Connect 30 LX Specs & Features:

  • Rear-facing only: 4-30 lbs.; 30″ or less and head must be 1” below top of seat
  • 4 harness height positions
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Thick energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Easy to remove cover is machine washable
  • FAA-approved for use in an airplane
  • 7 year lifespan before expiration

Extra SnugRide 30 ClickConnect bases are available for $49.99

SnugRides come in 2 flavors: Classic Connect and Click Connect. Unlike some ice creams, these 2 flavors don’t mix well and a Classic Connect SnugRide carrier can’t be paired with a Click Connect SnugRide base and vice versa. The “Classic” and “Click” describe the connections the carriers make to the carseat base and strollers. What’s currently available in each line?

There are 2 versions of the SnugRide 30 Click Connect: the $99 version has a rear-adjust harness while the $129 LX version has a front harness adjuster. The LX version also has a larger infant insert and includes harness strap covers. Another difference that sets the LX version apart is that it has a removable flip piece for the base that helps adjust the recline angle in 4° increments. If more recline is required, noodles may be used. This flip piece can be easily lost because it’s not connected to the base in any way, but when properly attached to the base, you will hear and feel a “click” as it snaps on. If you lose the flip piece, either order a new one from Graco or use a piece of noodle or tightly rolled towel.

SnugRide 30 LX flip piece 2 SnugRide 30 LX flip piece 3 SnugRide 30 LX base bottom SnugRide 30 LX base bottom with flip piece

SnugRide Click Connect 30 LX Measurements:

  • Harness slot heights: 6 ¾”, 8 ¾”, 10 ¾”, 12 ¾”
  • Lowest harness slot height with body insert: 6 ¾”
  • Crotch strap/buckle positions (without insert): 4”, 5 ½”
  • Internal shell height: 20”
  • Width of base footprint at beltpath: 13 ¾”
  • Length of base footprint: 17”
  • Width of base at widest point: 14”
  • Width of carrier at widest point: 17 ¼”(outside of handle)
  • Carrier weight: 7.4 lbs. with insert; 7.2 lbs. without insert



Recline angle indicator

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite Infant Carseat Review – The New Generation of Britax Safety


Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - cowmooflageThe B-Safe 35 Elite is the newest rear-facing only infant carseat from Britax USA. Don’t confuse this new model with the original B-Safe model. The Britax B-Safe 35 Elite is a completely different seat which shares the same platform as the newly released B-Safe 35 model but offers a no-rethread harness feature not found on the standard B-Safe 35 model. For more info on the B-Safe 35 (non-elite) model, see our full review here.

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite Specs & Features:

  • Rear-facing only: 4-35 lbs.; 32″ or less (1″ rule also applies)
  • No-rethread harness with 6 height positions
  • SafeCell Impact Absorbing Base
  • Enhanced side-impact protection
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions (use inner position for babies under 11 lbs. and outer position once baby weighs more than 11 lbs.)
  • 5 position adjustable base with lockoffs for simple seatbelt installations
  • Premium push-on lower LATCH connectors
  • Energy-absorbing EPS and EPP foam
  • Handle can be in any of the 4 locked positions in the vehicle
  • Large canopy
  • Easy to remove cover
  • FAA approved for use in an airplane (carrier only – base cannot be used on the plane)
  • 6 year lifespan before expiration

Extra B-Safe 35 Elite bases are available for $99.99

2015 B-Safe 35 Elite Fashions 

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - Vibe Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - cactus green Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - cowmooflageBritax B-Safe 35 Elite - red pepper center  Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - domino

Each B-Safe 35 Elite comes with a lower body newborn insert (optional for babies 4-11 lbs.), a buckle cover and harness strap covers. The buckle cover and harness strap covers are entirely optional.  If used, the infant insert cushion should be removed when the baby weighs more than 11 lbs.

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - inserts

B-Safe 35 Elite Measurements:

  • 6 harness height positions
  • Lowest harness height with lower body insert: approximately 5.5″
  • Highest harness height setting: 11.5″
  • Crotch strap/buckle positions: 4″, 6″
  • Internal shell height:  20.5″
  • Width of base at beltpath: 9″
  • Width of base at widest point: 14″
  • Width of carrier at widest point: 17.5″ from the outside of the handle
  • Carrier weight: 11.4 lbs. (according to my digital scale)

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - naked Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - naked Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - naked