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Ultra Safe and Affordable Too? 2015 Subaru Legacy Review: Kids, Carseats and Safety

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R LimitedSubaru has really hit the target for the 2015 Legacy sedan.  When shopping for a midsize family vehicle, what do moms and dads need?  Subaru checks all the boxes.  At a bargain price around $25K, the AWD 2.5i Premium version with optional Eyesight package is among the safest sedans on the market, both in terms of avoiding a crash and in crashworthiness as well.  It’s bigger and wider than before, meaning more space for drivers, kids in back and cargo.  Fuel economy has improved as well, up to 26 mpg city and 36 highway for the 2.5L engine. Safety, value, space and fuel economy, a pretty solid combination!  Subaru checks some “wants”, too. Interior and exterior styling have been improved considerably, as have the controls, touchscreen and electronics.   While it’s not going to get looks like a Tesla sedan, it’s definitely sharper than the current Accord and Camry; on par with Fusion and Sonata for appearance.   Standard AWD is great for rain and snow.  Performance can be had in the 3.6R Limited trim that has decent power.

Safety:

As for  Eyesight, it’s arguably the best frontal crash prevention system on the market.  It earned a “Superior” rating from the IIHS and avoided a crash altogether on both the low-speed and high-speed autobrake tests.  A very impressive feat matched only by other Subaru models with EyeSight and a couple luxury models that cost nearly twice as much or more.   Eyesight now includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane departure warning.  For the 2015 Legacy, it is also bundled with Blind Spot detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert as well.  The updated system on the new Legacy gets smaller, color cameras with a 40% increased detection range and wider angle of view.  It now operates up to a 30mph differential from the vehicle in front, up from 19mph in the previous system, and adds brake light recognition as well.

That all sounds impressive enough.  But we’ve seen many other manufacturers force you to the most expensive trim level and then add a pricey options package to get an inferior system, adding $10,000 or more to the cost.  So what does Subaru charge to get this top performing safety system?  $1,195.  Yup.  That’s it.  But wait, you have to get a loaded 3.6R Limited edition to add that package, right?  Nope.  The 2.5i Limited and even the affordable 2.5i Premium trims can add Eyesight as a single option!  Now that IS impressive.  Other auto makers should really wake up and start being competitive with their safety features, especially on vehicles marketed to families.  Kudos to Subaru for making this technology available to more families to protect their precious cargo.

2015 Subaru Legacy airbagNow standard on all 2015 Legacy trim levels are great safety-related features like a backup camera, bluetooth hands-free cellphone connection and a new rollover sensor to deploy the side curtain airbags.  A new driver seat-cushion mounted airbag helps keep the occupant in position to reduce the risk of abdominal seatbelt injuries and leg injuries.  Active Torque Vectoring is now standard on the Legacy and helps control that power in curves, too.  Eyesight equipped models also get steering responsive foglights to enhance illumination in turns.  Like all Subarus, AWD is standard.

Last, but not least, the ’15 Legacy aced the IIHS crash testing, earning a Top Safety Pick for all trim levels.  Models with optional Eyesight earn a Top Safety Pick+ award.  The Legacy not only earned the top overall rating, but also earned the top “Good” result in each and every test and sub-category measure.  Impressive.  In the equally important NHTSA government safety ratings, the Legacy and Outback also earned 5-stars in all five crash test evaluations and a 5-star rollover rating (4-stars for Outback), resulting in a 5-star overall rating.  Only one or two other vehicles achieved the top rating in every single evaluation from both agencies, and you have to spend over $46,000 on a 2015 Hyundai Genesis with the Tech Package to match these essentially perfect crash avoidance and crash protection ratings.  Impressive Indeed!

The Back Seat:

Have two or three kids?  No problem.  The back seat is now a bit wider and with careful selection, will fit adjacent or three-across carseats a little easier than before.  The configuration is similar to the 2015 Subaru Outback as well.  The main possible concern is that the seat cushions and seat backs are contoured.  This is typical of 2015SubaruLegacybucklesmany midsize sedans that have shifted away from flatter bench seating that made installing carseats easier.  While more comfortable for adults, these contours may cause some issues with certain carseats, especially taller and wider front-facing models.  Overall, nothing particularly problematic for a midsize sedan, though the LATCH anchors are more recessed than average.  The fused driver-side and center buckle stalks could present difficulties in certain situations with adjacent carseats/passengers in those positions.  The rear seat does offer a split folding feature and the trunk is a very reasonable 15 cubic feet.

 

The Drive:

The 3.6R Limited is a pretty nice package.  My tester came equipped with Moonroof/Navigation package for a total MSRP of $33,380 including $795 destination charge.  Fuel economy is 20 city, 29  highway on regular gas.  I achieved a hair under 20 mpg in suburban driving.  What about performance?

Poppy Drops Review: Pain-Free Alternative to Pierced Ears

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.25.34 PMAt the 2013 ABC Expo, I read about a simple but ingenious product: temporary tattoo earrings. What a brilliant solution for little girls (or big ones) who want to wear earrings but don’t have pierced ears!

So at this year’s show, I stopped by the booth of Poppy Drops, one of the makers of these earrings. They gave me a sample, and my 5-year-old daughter was thrilled to try them out.IMG_0989

The earrings go on just like any other temporary tattoo: Cut out the image you want, peel off the protective plastic cover, apply to the skin, and press a wet cloth on it for about 15 seconds. Peel off the backing and voila! Cute little earrings!

My daughter absolutely loved them, and I did, too. As someone who hasn’t actually put in earrings in years, I kind of wanted some Poppy Drops for myself.

Even though the instructions say you don’t need to be very accurate when you cut out the designs, I recommend cutting as close as possible to the image to make sure it winds up where you want it on a tiny ear. My first attempt wound up a little higher than I would have liked. On a similar note, my only complaint about the product is that the halves of each pair are printed VERY close to each other, meaning you need to be extremely careful when cutting the two apart, lest you accidentally slice off part of one.Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.17.02 PM

But the good news (for mom) is that Poppy Drops are made with non-toxic food-grade vegetable dyes and are made in the USA.

The good news (for kids) is that the tattoos look like real earrings! My daughter’s gymnastics coach thought she had gotten her ears pierced until she went in close for a look. On FaceTime one day, my dad asked her the same thing.IMG_0990

They lasted a long time, too. The package says that average wear is 4-7 days, but we got more than 7 days out of the ones we tried. Toward the end a couple of them started clumping up and falling off, but that was at least 8 days into it. The tattoos are easily removed with rubbing alcohol or baby oil.

There are more than 20 earring sets available, plus other Poppy Drop tattoo items include nail art and bracelets. They also have a line of natural lip gloss and no-mess, no-spill perfume sticks designed especially for little kids. You can buy Poppy Drops products at participating retailers, through the Poppy Drops website, or on Amazon.

The Poppy Drops were a huge hit in this house, and I’m definitely going to order some more earrings (and probably a perfume stick) as stocking stuffers this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if some find their way into my stocking, too…

Thank you to Poppy Drops for providing a sample. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Graco Argos 80 Elite Review – It Just Keeps Getting Better

Graco Argos 80 EliteThe Graco Argos 80 Elite is an upgraded version of the original Graco Argos 70 Elite that we reviewed thoroughly here. This Argos 80 model offers plenty of safety, comfort and convenience features which make this seat an excellent choice for families looking for a sturdy, comfortable, forward-facing only seat with a no-rethread harness that will grow with their older child.

The Argos 80 is a forward-facing “combination” seat (Graco refers to it as a “Harnessed Booster”) that can be used with the 5-point harness until the harness is outgrown by weight or height and then the seat can be used as 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 Argos 80 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 the Graco 4Ever All-in-One and Graco Milestone All-in-One.

Graco Argos 80 Elite Specs:

  • 5-point harness: Forward-facing only for kids 20-80 lbs, at least 1 year old, height 27- 52″ tall (shoulders must be at or below top harness slots).
  • Highback booster with vehicle lap/shoulder belt: 30-100 lbs., approximately 3-10 years old, height 38 – 57″ (top of ears must be below the top of the head support).
  • Backless booster with vehicle lap/shoulder belt: 40-120 lbs., approximately 4-10 years old, height 40 – 57″ (must have adequate head support from the vehicle).

Graco Argos 80 Elite Features:

  • Graco Argos 80 Elite - lockoffNo-rethread harness
  • 3 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Standard hook-style lower LATCH anchor connectors (LATCH limit is 42 lbs.)
  • Lockoff for installations with seatbelt
  • Energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Height-adjustable head support
  • 3 Recline positions on base
  • Integrated cup holder and storage cubby
  • FAA approved for use in aircraft (with 5-pt harness)
  • 10 year lifespan before expiration

Argos 80 Elite Measurements:

  • Lowest harness height setting:  12″
  • Tallest harness height setting:  18″
  • 3 Crotch strap/buckle positions:  5.5″, 7″, 8.5″
  • Booster height:  20″ to bottom of shoulder belt guide with headrest in max height position
  • Weight:  21.8 lbs. (according to my digital bathroom scale)

Graco Argos 80 Elite - lowest height setting Graco Argos 80 Elite - tallest height setting Graco Argos 80 Elite

Graco Argos 80 Elite Graco Argos 80 Elite - 3 crotch strap positions

The Argos 8o Elite model comes with a lower body support insert, crotch strap/buckle cover and harness strap covers. Remove the lower body insert if child weighs more than 35 lbs. The crotch strap/buckle cover is entirely optional. The harness strap covers have a grippy material on the back and they are REQUIRED when using the harness at any weight.

Graco Argos 80 Elite - harness strap covers 2

Installation/Fit-to-Vehicle Comments:

Evenflo Triumph Convertible Review – Tried and True

TEvenflo Triumph ProComfort - greenhe Evenflo Triumph convertible has been around in various incarnation for many years. It’s been refreshed several times and continues to be a solid performer. The Triumph is easy to install, very easy to use correctly, comfortable and a good value. In a market dominated by very expensive, and very inexpensive convertible seats – the Triumph is reasonably priced somewhere in the middle. It’s not the cheapest convertible on the shelf but it’s certainly not the most expensive either.

The model I have for review is the Triumph “ProComfort” LX in “Hutchinson” green fashion which is a Target Exclusive. Hot pink “Melrose” is also an option. MSRP is $159.99

Other retailers like Walmart and Babies R Us have their own exclusive versions of this seat. Walmart has the “SureSafe” Triumph LX which has nice, push-on lower LATCH anchor connectors. Babies R Us has the “Platinum” Triumph with OUTLAST temperature-regulating fabrics. A non-exclusive Triumph LX version is also available at Amazon and other online retailers.

The Evenflo ProComfort model at Target offers buckle pockets and “Gel Matrix Technology” in the cover to reduce pressure points and improve child comfort. This review will focus on that particular model but most of the info listed applies to all Triumph LX models with a weight limit of 65 lbs. All the newest versions of this seat have dual integrated cup holders which makes it easy to differentiate the newest models from previous Triumph models.

Triumph Specs & Features:

  • Rear-facing from 5-40 lbs.; 19- 37” tall and top of head is at least 1″ below top of carseat
  • Forward-facing from 22-65 lbs.; 28-50” tall and at least 1 year old (AAP recommends rear-facing until at least age 2)
  •  “Infinite Slide” harness system
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Durable, energy-absorbing EPP foam
  • Dual integrated cup holders
  • Buckle Pockets (on certain models)
  • FAA approved for use in aircraft
  • Made in USA!

Triumph Measurements:

  • Lowest harness height: 7″
  • Highest harness height: 16″
  • Crotch strap/buckle position: 7″ and 9″
  • Seat pan depth (leg room/thigh support): 13″
  • Overall internal height: 23″
  • External width at widest point: 20″
  • Width of base: 14.5″
  • Weight: 18 lbs. (according to my digital bathroom scale)

Evenflo Triumph - naked  Evenflo Triumph - naked

Installation Comments: