Reviews Archive

Jack of All Trades? A Review of the Safety 1st Continuum 3-in-1 Convertible.

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Out of the box glory!

Out of the box glory!

Remember back in the day when our choices for birth to booster seats were very limited, and quite frankly, pretty awful? It’s totally amazing how much has changed, and how many choices we have regardless of budget and scenario. Dorel/Safety 1st has released several of these budget-friendly seats and the Continuum is one of them. It’s basically a budget version of the Safety 1st Grow and Go Convertible with slightly lower height/weight limits. You can buy the Safety 1st Continuum for less than $120!

Let’s get to the basics first before touching on the more juicy details.

Height and weight limits:

  • Rear facing: 5-40 lbs. and 19-40 inches or when the head is above the top of the headrest
  • Forward facing: in harness mode 22-50 lbs. and 29-45 inches (and a minimum of 2 years of age!)
  • Belt positioning booster: 40-80 lbs. and 43-52 inches (and at least 4 years old!)

Continuum Features:

  • No rethread harness (except in newborn mode) that also adjusts the headrest
  • 3 crotch buckle positions (only the first two positions are permitted for rear facing use)
  • 3 recline positions (2 for RF; 1 for FF and booster mode)
  • Harness holders to keep straps out of the way when your child enters or exits the seat
  • Removable, dishwasher safe cup holder
  • FAA certified for use in airplane with 5-pt harness
  • 10 year life span before expiration!

Measurements:

Graco Tranzitions Combination Seat Review

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Tranzitions ProofMy son, like most four year olds, had a few specific items he wished for Christmas this past year.  But unlike most four-year olds, he was pleased with his gift of a new 3-in-1 combination carseat, the Graco Tranzitions!

Carseats are not a regular gift given in our home, but it seemed appropriate this year for a few reasons. For one, his convertible car seat was going to be passed down to his little sister. Secondly, he needed a very narrow seat when a new baby brother boots him to the 3rd row between his two older booster-using brothers. And so, on Christmas morning, my four year was correct when he guessed that the oddly wrapped, chair-shaped package with his name on it was, in fact, a new car seat! Luckily, upon opening this unconventional and totally practical gift, the sleek all-black design, TWO cupholders and extra padding did not disappoint him!

Tranzitions Weight & Height Limits:

  • Forward-facing with 5-pt harness: 22-65 lbs.
  • Highback Booster: 30-100 lbs.
  • Backless Booster: 40-100 lbs.

Features:

  • No-rethread harness with 8 height positions
  • Dual cup holders (outer plastic portion can be dismantled if space is more important than a functioning cupholder)
  • Machine washable cover
  • Optional body cushion and harness covers
  • Open loop shoulder belt guide for high-back booster mode
  • Lifespan is 7 years from date of manufacture

Tranzitions Proof Tranzitions Frills

2016 Subaru Forester Review: Safety and Performance

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Subaru Forester StockI keep hearing such good things about the Subaru Forester: It gets a 5-star rating in government crash tests, and it’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, so it’s hard to beat for safety. Forester owners I’ve talked to seem to love theirs. I wanted to try it out for myself, though, especially since my husband and I are in the market for a secondary car to replace our existing Honda Civic. Could the Forester be a contender?

Here’s a quick video overview, with more detailed information below.

Vehicle Features and Driving

I drove the 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited for a week. As I’ve mentioned in other vehicle reviews, I’m not a “car person” in the sense that I know a lot about fuel injectors or rear suspension. But I do know what I like, and I like a vehicle that feels responsive, as the Forester does.

First, this thing has amazing acceleration. I’d barely touch the gas pedal and it would take off—but not in a bad way. It was nice knowing I could pull out into traffic without worrying about my engine lagging behind. I didn’t do anything crazy, but it handled turns nicely, too. I’m not the kind of person who typically says, “Wow, I really enjoyed driving that,” but I really enjoyed driving that.

Forester EyeSight

EyeSight Cameras on either side of center windshield

The safety features are a big consideration with the Subaru. Foresters equipped with Subaru’s EyeSight technology earn the IIHS Top Safety Pick+. (Foresters without EyeSight are still a Top Safety Pick, just not a “plus.”) EyeSight technology is available on mid-level trim options, which is nice considering that some manufacturers offer similar safety packages only on their top trim levels.

EyeSight includes a frontal crash avoidance system that alerts drivers (through a sound and a dashboard light) when they get dangerously close to a vehicle or object in front of them. If necessary, the vehicle will apply the brakes to avoid or minimize a collision. Also included with EyeSight is a lane departure warning. If the vehicle detects dedicated lanes in the road, it can alert drivers when they veer over the lines.

The warning systems in the Forester seemed a bit more subtle than in some other cars I’ve tested. They’re still noticeable but not startling.

The Adaptive Cruise Control, which allows you to set your speed but then slows down or stops the car based on traffic ahead of it, worked perfectly the few times I tried it out. You can adjust your following distance (close, far, or in between) to your preference.

The only feature the Forester lacked that I would have appreciated is a blind-spot detection/avoidance system.

Subaru ForesterOne other nice safety feature of the Forester was adaptive headlights. My husband took the car out at night and came home to report that the headlights were flashing on and off. After doing some research, we realized it was actually the fog lights. When the headlights are on and the car turns or goes around curves, the fog light on that side of the vehicle lights up to give the driver a better view and a bit more reaction time in case something is around the bend. We were surprised that even just a slight turn of the steering wheel would activate the lights—it worked even on very subtle curves in the road, not just on tight curves. I wouldn’t say the feature was distracting, per se, but it was unusual for us. I’m sure it’s the kind of thing we would have gotten used to and not even noticed after a while.

The Forester’s fuel economy is 24 MPG city/32 MPG highway, for a combined MPG of

Car Seats and Kids

Harmony Defender 360° Combination Seat Review

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DefendermainHarmony Juvenile Products brings us the Defender 360° combination harness-to-booster seat, a solid performer alongside Harmony’s excellent line-up of booster seats both in Canada and the US.

US customers can purchase from Amazon.comWalmart.com or Burlington Coat Factory for $99-119, and Canadian customers can purchase from Walmart.ca for $159. The Defender is a well-priced seat that comes with features seen more often with a higher price tag.

Samples shown in this review are primarily Canadian. Differences between countries will be noted where relevant.

Defender 360° Specs:

  • With 5-point harness: forward facing from 22-65 lbs. and 27-57″ tall
  • As a booster (high back or backless with lap/shoulder belt): 30-110 lbs. and 34-57″ tall (US) / 40-110 lbs. and 34-57″ tall (Canada)

Features:

  • No-rethread harness height adjustment through nine positions
  • Smooth harness adjuster
  • Two crotch buckle positions
  • EPE energy-absorbing foam in headrest, backrest and base
  • Harness covers included
  • May use lower LATCH anchors in booster mode
  • Cup holder swivels and can be used on either side of seat
  • Infinite recline system to best mesh with the vehicle seat shape
  • Approved for use on aircraft (in harness mode)
  • Machine washable cover
  • Ten year life span before expiration
  • Available in three fashions: Pirate Gold (black/grey/yellow), Raspberry (pink/grey), and Moon Rise (US only – black/grey/red)

Harmony Defender Pirate Gold Harmony Defender Raspberry Harmony Defender Moonrise

Measurements: