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Monthly Archive:: March 2011

2011 Toyota Venza Review–What Is It?

The vehicle world is full of SUVs and SUV wannabes. It seems like the family car is a thing of the past and if you actually drive a station wagon, you’re a relic doomed to wear flowy flowery shirts with bell bottom pants. So, what does all this have to do with the sharp-looking Toyota Venza? The Venza is a cross between all of them: a mid-size SUV/car/station wagon family haul-it-all. Will it overcome its identity crisis during my week with it to land itself in a particular category? I like categories—neat and clean. Read and find out!

Bumps in the Road

Imagine you’re staring at a collection of household and recreational goods: TVs, recliners, jet skis, barbecues, bed frames. Are you standing in the middle of a really great department store?

No, you’re looking at just a small sampling of the detritus that falls on the highways and byways of America every day.

Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL Unboxing (With a Giveaway!)

Today’s unboxing is the Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL.  Kecia reviewed the Radian a year ago, but today’s model is the updated version with Super LATCH.  There’s a lot of concern among CPS Advocates because we still have millions of vehicles and child seats on the road that give no information, confusing information or very low limits that mean you may not be able to use the LATCH system beyond 40 pounds.  With Super LATCH, Sunshine Kids claims you can avoid all the confusing nonsense and simply use their LATCH system to the 80 pound rating of the Radian XTSL in any vehicle (model year 2006 or newer)!

We also like the Radian for its very high rear-facing limits.  In fact, we’re giving one Radian XTSL away to a lucky winner of the Mega March 10th Anniversary Contest on our forums at www.car-seat.org!  Stay tuned for more monthly giveaways on our forums all year long, especially in April, when our forums officially turn 10 years old!

The 3-in-1 Throwdown: Evenflo Symphony 65 vs. Graco Smart Seat!

Since we now have two well-received 3-in-1 (aka All-in-One) carseat models on the market, I thought it would be fun and informative to have a little friendly competition between them. Hence the 3-in-1 throwdown! Seats will be judged on ease of installation, ease of use, comfort, realistic usage range, lifespan, features and pros & cons.

Evenflo Symphony 65 – see our full review of the Symphony 65 “e3″ model HERE

There are 2 different Symphony models.  The premium Symphony DLX (aka e3 model) has deeper head wings for enhanced side-impact protection and SureLATCH connectors (pictured right) and the lower price point Symphony 65 LX model has head wings that are more shallow and typical push-on style LATCH connectors instead.

Ease of Installation – Evenflo’s SureLATCH self-ratcheting lower LATCH connectors will likely be very helpful to the average carseat consumer who struggles to achieve an acceptably tight installation. However, due to numerous carseat/vehicle compatibility variables, the self-ratcheting connectors don’t always work as well as intended. It’s definitely not a fool-proof installation system in every vehicle. Still, SureLATCH is an innovative feature that is bound to make proper installation easier in many vehicles. If you’re not interested in the self-ratcheting SureLATCH connectors, the new DLX model offers premium push-on lower LATCH connectors instead.  Overall, the Symphony 65 is relatively easy to install both rear-facing and forward-facing with either LATCH or seatbelt.  I personally like the X-style LATCH attachment straps which makes switching the LATCH connectors from the rear-facing beltpath to the forward-facing beltpath clear and straight-forward.