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Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Rear Facing Infant Carseat Review

Italian design meets comfort, plus a good fit for the smallest and largest babies in the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Rear-Facing Infant Carseat.  And not just Italian design, but Italian *made*, which is a big deal in an age when most infant carseats are made in China.  What’s so special?  For starters, you can match it with nearly any of the great Peg Perego strollers without an adapter.  That means an ultra-chic custom travel system with a safe carseat that fits your baby and vehicle, too!  The easy-to-use “Right Tight” lockoff, anti-rebound bars for BOTH carrier & base, and the sharp, breathable fabrics are among the other distinctive features of the Peg “Four Thirty Five.”

Primo Viaggio 4-35 Feature Summary:

  • Rear-facing for babies 4 to 35 lbs. and up to 32” tall, maximum seated height roughly 18.5″
  • Anti-rebound features for installation with and without base
  • PegPerego435RightTightTriZone“Right Tight” easy seatbelt lockoff system (photo, right)
  • Dual Stage inserts fit preemies down to around 4 pounds
  • No-rethread harness height adjustment with 6 positions
  • Side Impact Protection,  EPS foam lined shell and head wings
  • Compatible with most Peg Perego strollers without an adapter
  • Deluxe push-button LATCH connectors
  • Premium breathable fabrics with ventilated shell design
  • Elastic loops keep harness out of the way when loading baby
  • Infinite Recline knob w/Tri-Zone level indicator (photo, right)
  • Large UPF 50+ canopy
  • Certified for use on aircraft
  • 2-year warranty, 7-year lifespan

Primo Viaggio 4-35 Key Measurements:

  • Carrier Weight: ~ 9 pounds
  • Base Weight: ~ 7.5 pounds
  • Base Dimensions: ~ 19″ long, 14.5″ wide maximum at belt path
  • Carrier maximum width: 17″ at handle
  • Minimum Harness Height: ~ 5″ with Stage 1+2 inserts
  • Maximum Harness Height: ~ 11.5″
  • Crotch Strap Depth: ~ 6.5″ without inserts
  • Inside seated head height limit: ~ 18.5″ (Maximum height is ~19.5″ at highest harness adjustment)
  • Interior width: 12-13″

Feature Discussion:

Fashion: Let’s be honest.  When shopping before baby arrives, many parents register at a baby store or internet retailer and often gravitate toward the most fashionable looking products.  We were guilty of that with our first child, though back then “fashion” was navy and white plaid or polka dots.   Thankfully, fashion has come a long way since then!  Many assume all infant seats are created equal as far as safety, so why not get the coolest looking travel system to show off your new bundle of joy?  With the 4-35 Infant Carseat, Peg Perego makes it easy to select among over a dozen stylish fabric options and pair them to a variety of excellent, matching strollers.  From the upscale Alcantara Pearl to basics like Cream and Onyx that will match your vehicle seats.

Want to match your vehicle interior with a little flair and have a reversible stroller?  No problem, select the Switch Four stroller in Pois Black.  Looking for something bolder with an easy folding stroller?  Go for the Book stroller in Flamenco!  Why be stuck with the same travel-system-in-a-box everyone else has, when you can mix and match to your preference and have the best looking baby ride on the block or at the park ;)  pegclimaCollections include the “Taiana,” “Prima Classe,” and “Soft Fabric,” like my Fleur sample.  All of them work with the ventilated shell and foam to keep baby cooler in the summer.  Add the unique thermal slipcover accessory (photo, right) to keep baby even cooler!

Lest you think we recommend carseats mainly on appearance, we are happy to say that the new 4-35 system has a number of great safety and ease-of-use features for us to recommend it as a stand alone infant seat as well.  And we don’t recommend carseats lightly.  It took a lot to improve the previous Peg Perego infant seat lineup to earn our recommendation.  Let’s take a look:

2015 Hyundai Sonata Preview: Kids, Carseats & Safety

I recently had the opportunity to test drive the all-new 2015 Hyundai Sonata on a road trip from Chicago to Ann Arbor, Michigan, with a stop at the 57 Burger Barrel on US Highway12 for a quick burger, fries and homemade root beer.

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While I haven’t had a chance to put any carseats into one yet, I definitely got a good feel of the new Sonata.  I had just driven the 2014 Honda Accord the week prior, so some comparisons are in order.  In particular, the back seat is well organized, with no crossover of seatbelt or LATCH anchors. The buckle stalks were fairly short all around and should be reasonable for installation of most carseats.  It’s wide enough to fit 3-across with careful selection.  The side bolsters on the outboard seats appear to be less pronounced than in the Accord, possibly making it easier to fit larger forward facing seats.  These might still be an issue for wider combination booster seats, though.

2015SonataBackSeat

The Sonata is all new and has already received an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2015, an improvement over the previous Sonata.  The 2015 model earned an “Acceptable” result in the Small Overlap frontal crash test, while the previous model managed only a “Marginal” rating.   The new Sonata now has a full set of advanced safety features optional, including a frontal collision warning that was previously unavailable.  Lane Departure, Cross Traffic and Blind Spot warnings are also available, as is the BlueLink system with crash notification.  The frontal collision warning system earned a “Basic” level of protection from the IIHS for trims that have this option package.

The improved IIHS crash test result was likely made possible by an increase in advanced, high-strength steel alloys that now comprise around half of the weight of the bare chassis, up from 21% in the previous model.  That also helped Hyundai to increase overall body stiffness to improve ride and handling characteristics as well.  I found it to be as good of a highway cruiser as the Accord in terms of ride and noise.

2015SonatasThe styling of the new Sonata is an evolution of the previous model, with slightly more aggressive front and rear end treatment inherited from the upscale Genesis.  No comparison to the conservative Accord.  For families, size has increased to be one of the largest, if not the largest midsize sedan.  In particular, width is increased another inch that hopefully will help for fitting three kids and/or carseats in the back.  Overall, it has a class-leading passenger volume and front head room and leg room as well, meaning a little more space than Accord all around.

Assuming the NHTSA crash tests earn it a 5-star overall rating like the previous model, the 2015 Sonata should be among any family’s top picks for a midsize sedan.  I was very impressed on the road with the Limited model that is already in showrooms.  I also drove the 1.6L turbo four Eco model (coming in September), which has a budget price tag and great fuel economy as well.  We obtained 38 mpg on the highway during our trip!  Unlike some mainstream auto reviews, we appreciate that budget is a big factor for many of our readers and the Eco trim starts around $24,000 with an estimated EPA 28mpg city, 38mpg highway, 32mpg overall.  Not bad for a model the EPA thinks is a full size sedan!

2015sonataeco 2015sonataecofueleconomy

The main drawback for me is that to get all the safety features including frontal collision and lane departure warning systems, you must spend over $32,000 MSRP on the Limited or Sport 2.0T trim with the Tech AND Ultimate packages.  Meanwhile, the 2015 Subaru Legacy sedan with AWD can be purchased with the excellent EyeSight system in the lower Premium trim for around $25,000.  And for that, you don’t just get collision warning, you get one of the best autobrake collision prevention systems on the road.  I only wish that more manufacturers will start to follow Subaru’s lead and put life-saving advanced safety features within reach of more families in their all-new family vehicles.  Of course, if you ante up for the Sport 2.0T Ultimate model, you get all the goodies and the exclusive Urban Sunset color option, too (below).

Thank you to Hyundai USA for this great media event!

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.

You’ve Got a Dream Called Santa Fe: Review of the 2014-2015 Hyundai Santa Fe

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 11.27.46 AMWe’re currently a one-car family, so anytime CarseatBlog asks if I’d like to review a vehicle, my response is always an emphatic, “Well duh!” It’s nice having an extra car for a week, but it’s even nicer when I wind up really liking the car…although that also makes it hard to say good-bye when my time is up.

I recently had the pleasure of driving a 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe, and I have to say: I fell in love with it. And I really didn’t want to part with it, but I gave it back because I have a clean record and would like to keep it that way.  Hyundai confirms that there are no significant changes for the 2015 Santa Fe, other than some minor marketing changes to various options packages.

Now, I’ll admit that I might not be that hard to impress when it comes to cars. Like I said, we’re a one-car family, and the one car we have is pretty basic (a 2010 Honda Odyssey with no frills). I’m like a love-starved teenager who falls for any boy who gives her attention, only replace “love-starved teenager” with “harried mom,” replace “boy” with “car,” and replace “gives her attention” with “has a blind-spot detection system.” But it’s different with the Santa Fe. I really, really love it. We’re soul-mates, I swear.

Perhaps I’m being a bit hyperbolic, but there really is a lot to like.

The Santa Fe I drove was a six-passenger model with two seats each of three rows. There is also an available seven-passenger model with a bench seat instead of captain’s chairs in the second row. At first I thought I might have liked that more, but the six-passenger model turned out to be great for us. My oldest child could easily walk between the captain’s chairs to get to the third row, and he likes having his own space. You can also access the third row thusly:

The first thing I noticed about the Santa Fe was how sleek it looked on the outside. Like a lot of SUVs these days, it looks more aerodynamic than boxy. When the rep opened the door, I was a little startled to see a brown interior paired with the silver exterior. I actually thought it was an ugly combination, but I wasn’t about to complain.

When I got in to take it for a spin, I started it using the keyless ignition and it played me a little song. I’m sure after a while I’d stop noticing that (and it might even get annoying) but I got a kick out of it during my week with the Santa Fe. It made me kind of happy to have a musical greeting played. (It also plays a little good-bye tune when you turn it off.)

IMG_0128Pairing my phone via bluetooth took less than a minute, and then I was good to go. I couldn’t resist opening the panoramic sunroof. I’m not generally a sunroof kind of person, but opening that baby up made it feel almost like being in a convertible.

Maybe it’s because I drive a boring minivan, but the Santa Fe felt like a sporty, agile car in terms of drive and handling. It had good pep, lots of zip, and zoomed around turns effortlessly. There are actually three different drive modes you can choose from (Normal, Sport, and Comfort). Sport makes the steering a little stiffer, while Comfort requires the least effort. I didn’t notice much difference between Comfort and Normal, though Sport did take just a little more effort. After I played with all three modes, I left it in Normal. Given more time and more driving situations I might have played with those options more, but I’m not picky about such things.

The model I had came with a backup camera and parking sensors, which are hugely important to a person like me who isn’t very good at parking. It was especially handy when I drove it into Chicago and needed to parallel park.

The best feature, though, is the blind-spot detection system. At first I didn’t even realize it was equipped (I, uh, didn’t read the manual before I started driving), but on my way back from Chicago I noticed a little thingy lighting up in my sideview mirror. I realized it was an indicator letting me know as soon as a car on either side approached the back of the car, and it would stay lit until the other car had passed the front window. If I put on my turn signal (in the direction of the passing car) during that time, a beep will sound, letting me know it wasn’t yet safe to change lanes. Blind spots always make me nervous, so I absolutely adored that feature.  Also included with this feature are rear cross-traffic and lane departure alerts.  It is standard on Limited trim and a $3500 option in the Premium Package for GLS trim.IMG_0171

Other nice features on my model included heated front and second-row seats, heated mirror, navigation, dual climate-control zones, and a communication system that allows you to get directions, send text messages by voice, and request roadside assistance.

Although the Santa Fe didn’t provide as much storage space as my Odyssey does, it was sufficient for what I needed. I would have had a lot more room without the third row in use but even with it occupied, we were ok. It was a little tight, but I could fit my stroller (a Baby Jogger City Mini) and my daughter’s dance bag in behind the third row. With half of the third row folded down, I was able to transport a few extra car seats.

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The center console is spacious and well laid-out (unlike a certain minivan I might drive) and I loved that there was a space perfect for holding a cell phone right by the power outlet.

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Gas milage is 20 mpg (18 city, 24 highway) which is about what I’d expect from a midsize SUV. The 2014 Santa Fe still hasn’t been crash-tested by NHTSA, but IIHS gives it its best rating of “good” in four categories: front-moderate overlap, side, roof strength, and head restraints & seats. It has not yet been tested in the small-overlap category. The fully-loaded Limited model I drove has a sticker price of just over $41,000, but the base model starts just under $30,000.  You can get a 7-passenger 2WD GLS trim with all the safety goodies, leather seats, power liftgate, dual zone climate control with CleanAir Ionizer, side window sunshades and a few other Premium Package options for about $34,000 MSRP, or a street price of about $31K.

Here is Darren’s quick video review to give you an overview. Continue down below to read about how car seats install in the Santa Fe.

Car Seats

If you’re reading this blog, you probably want to know how the Santa Fe does with car seats. Turns out: Very well.

2014-2015 Toyota Highlander & Hybrid Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety

HighlanderHybrids1Starting in 2011, the Toyota Highlander became a pretty nice minivan alternative.  That 2011 refresh added split-folding third row seating, so the flexibility for my family was just enough to tempt me from a decade of driving a minivan.  I liked it enough that I bought one, and over 3 years later, I am not disappointed in the least.  With fuel economy of my hybrid above 35 mpg in warm months and averaging almost 31 mpg overall, I’m still impressed with the previous Highlander in almost every regard.  The only question was what Toyota could possibly do to improve the 2014-2015 Highlander.  Or, as some still feel about the current Sienna minivan, could it actually be worse in terms of seating children than the previous model?

What You Get:

On paper, it looks like a nice improvement.  In terms of safety, it’s one of only a few 3-row SUVs to qualify for BOTH an IIHS 2014 Top Safety Pick+ rating AND a 5-star overall NHTSA safety rating as well.  Plus, it now has a full complement of advanced safety features available, something a few competitors still lack.  Equally important for families, Toyota made it a few inches longer, almost an inch wider and increased the cabin room significantly.  That’s great news for fitting extra cargo behind the third row (below, left), for fitting rear-facing carseats or just for long legs up front.  For example, even a tall driver will have legroom with a Britax Advocate installed behind them, while a very tall rear-facing model like the Graco HeadWise 70 (below, right) leaves enough room upfront for an average adult.

2014HighlanderCargo1 2014HighlanderBritaxAdvocateGracoHeadwise70

A rear-view camera and hands-free bluetooth phone connectivity are now standard on all trims!  Equally important, advanced safety features are now available for the first time.  Blind-spot warning, cross-traffic alert and Toyota Connect (collision notification and emergency assistance) are available standard on Limited models only.  The optional Driver Technology or Platinum package offers forward collision mitigation with autobrake, earning it an “Advanced” level of protection from the IIHS.  These packages also include lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beam adjustments.  The lack of those features were among my main concerns in the previous version and all those I tested worked as expected.  It’s a shame that Toyota didn’t include more of these features standard or at least optional on lower trim levels.

Styling is greatly improved, both inside and out, especially for the Hybrid trim.  Handling seems to be improved a bit, though compared to the numb steering of the previous model, it would be hard to do any worse!  Fuel economy is also improved slightly for non-hybrid models, thanks to a new 6-speed transmission and updated AWD system.  Controls and gauges are well thought and overall the cabin and electronics are improved across the board.

What’s not improved?  Fuel economy in the hybrid model, for one.  It’s actually very slightly lower (27 mpg city vs. 28 mpg city).  This is very regrettable, as there should have been some focus to increase hybrid fuel economy slightly.  Why not have an affordable hybrid trim with a smaller gas engine, elimination of 4WD and further reduce weight by eliminating things like power seats and the spare tire?  The full size spare is replaced by a compact unit, a plus or minus depending on your needs.  Perhaps a tradeoff for improved handling, the new version doesn’t seem quite as quiet or smooth riding as the previous model.  The handy second row stowable middle seat is gone, a notable omission if you opt for the 7-passenger model.  But for those who select the second row bench, there are now more options for 3-across and adjacent carseat installations.

Overall, Toyota did respond to nearly all my complaints with the previous Hybrid model, with one big exception.  For all the improvements, you have to pay over $50,000 to get one.  That’s because for 2014, the Hybrid only comes in Limited trim and you must get the driver’s tech or platinum package to get all the advanced safety features.  Combined with the fact that Limited trims do not offer the 2nd row bench for 8-passenger capability, that means most families won’t even consider the hybrid.  BIG shame on Toyota.

2014HighlanderConsoleOther changes?  The huge front console storage is nice, though it ate up two of my valued cupholders.  I really appreciated the cell phone tray in the dash (photo, right). The folding 2nd row cupholder/tray is great if you opt for the 2nd row captain’s chairs on higher trim levels.  The Navigation and Infotainment system are more intuitive and easier to use than most others I’ve seen in the last year.  Bluetooth phones pair and import contacts easily and stream music with no hassles.  Toyota did a great job on the interior and electronics overall.  The sound quality of the JBL system is just average, though.