Previews Archive

Upcoming Reviews and Honda Odyssey Q&A


We’ve got a lot of things in our queue for the next month or two.  Please stay tuned for carseat reviews of the Britax B-Safe, Bubble Bum, Cybex Aton, Graco Snugride 30, Safety 1st Comfy Carry Elite Plus, Safety 1st Go Hybrid and updates on the Britax Frontier 85 SICT.  We also hope to have auto reviews of the Acura MDX, Volvo XC60 and long term updates of the 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite.

Speaking of the Odyssey, I’ll also soon have a Q&A thread at Car-Seat.Org forums where I will try to help answer compatibility and seating questions over the summer in advance of the 2012 models.  It’s no secret we really like the Odyssey for it’s top notch safety and family seating flexibility.  I previewed it here and here and Kecia had a full review here.  Over the summer, I’ll also be doing short blog updates every couple weeks or so with videos and comments from our road trips and everyday use.

Bubble Bum Unwrapping


Sitting on my doorstep this morning was a bright shiny purple package. The cable guy actually pointed it out to me and I said, “Oh! It must be my Bubble Bum!” and he laughed and said, “Yep,” looking at me like the crazy woman just out of the shower that I was (OK, when was the last time *you* ever had a cable guy come to your house early?). Here’s the preview :).

Britax Frontier 85 SICT Unboxing


We scooped the details on the Frontier 85 SICT back in April.  Today we have one to show you.  There are only a few changes, so we won’t be having a full review, but we may feature it in a video or two.  The changes include the addition of side impact cushions to reduce crash forces on the child occupant and on adjacent passengers.  There is also a new 2-piece cover that is easier to remove than before and an updated fabric to replace the “mesh” fabric on the Frontier 85.  Finally, the Frontier 85 SICT is permitted to be used without a top tether to its weight limit.  This allows for greater vehicle compatibility, as some vehicles may prohibit top tether use beyond a certain weight.  Of course, Britax ALWAYS recommends that the top-tether be used whenever possible, according to the instructions.  The Frontier 85 SICT should be available retail by June 1st!

Our review of the Frontier 85 applies to the Frontier 85 SICT, with the changes noted above.  Among its various benefits, it still features the highest top harness strap height settings for a retail combination seat in the USA and also a relatively generous head restraint height for booster mode, too.  The Frontier 85 is a “Best Bet” in booster mode from the IIHS, too.

Graco’s New Toy


Back in February, I had the opportunity to join a number of child passenger safety advocates to preview Graco’s new, state-of-the-art crash testing facility that officially opened March 1st, 2011.  The new facility in Atlanta replaces their previous facility.  It’s based on a nearly identical system operated by MGA, the same company that does many standard certification tests for the NHTSA.  In this manner, Graco can verify almost exactly any results done at MGA’s facilities, whether by the government or other party.

Here is some information provided by Graco:

Newell Rubbermaid’s Morgan Falls facility is a state-of-the-art space for engineering, innovation, product design and testing, and quality assurance. A hub of activity in 15 specialized areas, Newell Rubbermaid tests and develops new products for leading brands like Calphalon, Goody, Levolor and Graco.

Graco specifically uses the space for structural, experimental, developmental, and compliance testing of car seats (including NCAP, Canadian testing and a proprietary side-impact test), temperature testing, durability and tip testing, usability and more.

Graco’s crash testing facility is one of leading in the country for child restraint systems and is helping set the standard for other facilities.

Test Facility Fun Facts

•In the Baby & Parenting Essentials crash testing facility, the R&D team conducts nearly 3,000 crash simulations per year.
•The Décor GBU conducts 800 “pull” cycles per day per person per blind to test the durability and lifespan of its blinds
•Microscopes in the Beauty & Style lab can show if your hair has ever been colored (even once!) in your life
•An estimated 300 tons of concrete and 15 tons of steel reinforcement was used to construct the crash sled
•In the environmental testing chamber, temperatures can range from -92° to 302°F
•During a crash test, the total crash impact occurs in only a quarter of a second

One of the interesting things about this type of facility is that it runs in reverse of other types of crash test sleds.  Normally, you would picture a sled with a carseat being launched down a track and coming to an abrupt stop, with the data being taken as the sled suddenly decelerated as it hit the bumper at the end of the track.  In this type of sled, it is actually forcefully accelerated by a sudden release of extremely high air pressure and then the sled comes to a gradual stop.  It’s that momentary jerk at the initial launch that simulates a sudden stop, only in reverse. It can take a little while to wrap your mind around that when you see it.  A background as a test engineer helps, sometimes!

Here’s a photo of Stephanie Tombrello (SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.) and I on the sled.  Stephanie had the honor of pressing the “launch” button for the first run down the sled!

Thank you again to Graco Children’s Products for travel expenses and the tour of their facility and also for sponsoring our April anniversary giveaways at Car-Seat.Organd here at  Congratulations to all the winners of carseats, gear, mousepads and other prizes!