As some have already noticed on Amazon.com and the Britax USA website, there are a couple more new products, starting with the new 2013 Britax Parkway SG and 2013 Parkway SGL! It has an updated look, with deeper head wings and enhanced side wings reminiscent of the old Britax Monarch booster. It will also incorporate the Britax SafeCell technology in the base and has an improved SecureGuard clip. The ratings and limits are mostly the same as the current model. The MSRP will be $159.99 for the SGL version with LATCH, and $129.99 for the SG version.
2013 PARKWAY® SGL
120 lb Belt-Positioning Booster Seat
Standing Height 38″ to 63″
Seated Height 15″ to 21″
Forward Facing: 40-120 lbs
The BRITAX PARKWAY® SGL Belt-Positioning BoosterSeat offers premium safety, comfort and convenience for your big kid.
This booster seat incorporates BRITAX’s leading safety innovations, including
one of BRITAX’s Head Safety technologies, a base engineered with SafeCells. The Base with SafeCell Technology® is designed to keep your child safe and secure in a crash by compressing and significantly lowering the center of gravity, reducing the forward movement of the car seat. The ISOFLEX® Flexible Lower LATCH Connection System allows for an easy installation in seconds from either side of the booster seat with only two clicks and a pull.
This system not only secures the booster seat to the vehicle, but also stabilizes it during a crash, preventing it from becoming a projectile when not in use. The PARKWAY® SGL also features SecureGuardTM anti-submarining technology and industry leading True Side Impact Protection® now with deep, high side walls lined with energy-absorbing EPS foam to protect your child.
Comfort and convenience features include a quick-adjust head restraint, retractable cupholders, comfort foam and an easy-remove cover.
When I first heard about the new combination seat from Britax, I was intrigued. It has a new way of installing a carseat using the seat belt so easy that you can do it one-handed. Right. Somebody’s been smoking something and it’s not me! Then Kecia and I went to Lifesavers and tried it out ourselves. The word “revolutionary” came out of my mouth. “Out of a job” may also have slipped out, but I know that no matter how good the technology gets there will always be a need for CPS Techs. The Pinnacle ClickTight and its sister, the Frontier ClickTight, are Britax’s new combination seats that employ the new ClickTight installation system that is going to make parents jump for joy and actually want to install their carseat several times over just to say that they can!
Weight and Height Limits
25-90 lbs., 30-58” (and over 2 years of age) with harness, shoulders must be at or below top harness slot position, and tops of ears must be below top of head rest
Belt-positioning booster from 40 to 120 lbs. and 45-62”, shoulders must be at or below red shoulder belt positioner, and tops of ears must be below top of head rest
Britax Pinnacle ClickTight Overview:
ClickTight installation system for easy and secure installations using the seat belt
Side Impact Cushion Technology (SICT)
EZ buckle system holds belly pad out of the way when loading and unloading child
Standing height 30″ – 58″ tall in harness mode, 45″ – 62″ tall in booster mode
Darren reviewed the Frontier 90 ClickTight and this is a review for the Pinnacle 90 ClickTight. What’s the difference between the two? I’m glad you asked. The difference is that the Pinnacle has Britax’s patented Side Impact Cushion Technology. Those are the energy-absorbing cushions on the outside of the torso area that add extra protection for the child in the Pinnacle and also to any adjacent passenger sitting next to the restraint. The SICT cushions absorb some of the crash energy before they even reach the child by expelling air through strategically placed vents when the cushions are compressed under extreme crash forces. Britax claims that the SICT feature reduces side impact crash energy by 45%. More info on SICT can be found on the Britax website.
So, is it worth the extra $40 for the SICT?
That’s for you to decide ultimately. While SICT can enhance protection in side-impact, lateral and rollover crashes, it also adds considerable extra width to the product. If you have the room for it and don’t need to fit another carseat or another person next to the Pinnacle CT, then it’s probably worth the additional investment. Side impact crashes continue to be the most deadly type of crash, even to properly restrained occupants. Any and all odds that you can stack in your child’s favor are worth it as long as you have the room in the vehicle to accommodate the extra width of this seat. Also, some parents with vehicles that don’t have side curtain airbags feel it’s worth the extra expense for increased peace of mind. Just remember that the most important things you can do with any forward-facing child restraint are install it tightly, use the top tether and make sure the harness straps aren’t twisted and are snug around your child. Even the most expensive CR with the greatest technology can’t protect your child in a crash if it isn’t installed correctly and used properly.
9 harness height positions measuring from 12.5” to 20.5” in 1 inch increments
2 crotch strap positions: about 7” and 9”
Hip room between arm rests: 11.75”
Head room at narrow part of head rest: 8”
Widest point of head rest: 11”
Seat pan depth: 13”
Inside shoulder width with harness at highest position: 13”
Width: 22” (at widest part of restraint)
Width at cup holders: 18”
Width at back of restraint: 15”
The girls above (a model I found at a carseat checkup event and Jennie’s daughter) are 4 years old and weigh 30-35 lbs. each. You can see how well the Pinnacle fits the girls now and how much growth room there is for the future. Jennie’s 8 year old son shows what a big kid looks like in the harness. For reference, he wears a size 10 shirt and is in the 95th percentile for height.
Installation with the Seat belt
Installation in my 2011 Acura MDX and 2013 Tesla Model S is just as easy as I expected it to be. Sometimes when we try things at conferences on the manufacturers demo vehicles seats, it’s easier than in real vehicles. In both vehicles, it was open the ClickTight panel, route the belt across where the green stickers were, buckle it in, close the ClickTight panel. Trust me, I ended up schlepping this seat around way more than I thought I would and every time, the same, tight installation. I even dragged my husband away from his beloved chair and iPad to see if he could install it:
There is a tendency (for some of us used to long belt path routing) to want to place the shoulder belt over the side bolster of the seat, like you would when installing the “old” Frontier 85 using the Long Belt Path. This would be an installation error on the Pinnacle/Frontier CT. There are green stickers marking the belt path, but perhaps if those were more pronounced it would be more obvious that the belt must go there. This is an area I feel needs more improvement. Notice in the picture below that the shoulder belt is properly tucked under and sits behind the black Side Impact Cushion. A quirk of the ClickTight panel is that it sticks sometimes when you try to open it when the restraint is installed. I’ve found that if I press down on it while squeezing the tabs, it will easily open and I can do this all with one hand.
Something interesting happened when I installed it in the center of my MDX. The seat belt here comes down from the ceiling and snaps into a separate buckle on one side to create the lap/shoulder belt. It’s a common type of belt that you’ll find in SUVs and vans now. Because the center position is a bit narrower than the side positions and because the buckle stalks are a bit longer, when I pulled the slack out of the belt and closed the ClickTight panel, the Pinnacle moved inches side to side. <jaw drop> I was not expecting that obviously. The simple solution was to put a little effort into pulling the seat belt tight before closing the ClickTight panel.
A convenience installation feature for inexperienced parents (and hey, for those of us who know what we’re doing), is that the ClickTight panel serves as a lockoff. What this means is that when you push the ClickTight panel closed over your seat belt, it locks the belt for you; there’s no need to worry about locking your retractor. Hooray! Even though on pg. 37 in the manual it talks about switching the retractor to ALR mode for a switchable retractor or using a locking clip (yikes!), there’s no need. I have verified this information with our Britax contact and there’s no need to either lock the retractor or use a dreaded locking clip.
Installation with LATCH
LATCH is restricted to a child weight of 38 lbs. with the harness. The LATCH strap and connectors are stored under the child’s bum in the seat area. Lifting the ClickTight panel will expose the connectors. Installing with LATCH is the same as installing with a seat belt; you always use the ClickTight Installation System. There was a little more guesswork involved in getting the right amount of tension on the LATCH strap. The first time I installed the restraint with LATCH, I didn’t remove quite enough slack from the strap and there was some wiggle along the belt path—perhaps an 1/8”—it was minor. When I slightly tightened the strap, I was able to get the rock solid install I got with the seat belt.
LATCH may also be used to keep the restraint secure when it’s used in booster mode as long as it doesn’t interfere with the seat belt buckle and your vehicle allows it.
Center LATCH installations with Non-Standard Spacing:
Britax allows center LATCH installation if the lower anchor spacing is between 11” and 20” and if the vehicle manufacturer allows it.
The tether is required to be used once the child reaches 65 lbs.; however, it should be used at all times because it can greatly reduce head excursion. In the United States, we have a pathetic 22% rate of proper tether use, so if you have a tether anchor available, use it! Britax recommends its use at all times, including during booster mode. The tether has “rip stitching” on the ends for energy management. The ends are located underneath the foam on the torso wings. If you’re ever in a crash or hard stop, give those a look-see. If they’re torn, it’s time for a replacement seat.
Inflatable Seat Belts
Because of the ClickTight installation system, Britax has determined that the Pinnacle and Frontier CT cannot be installed with inflatable seat belts found in some Ford Explorer and Flex vehicles.
The Pinnacle cannot be in recline mode when used as a booster. To recline simply pull the handle under the front of the seat before installing it. Once it’s installed tightly, the Pinnacle won’t budge for recline purposes. It is not meant to be a recline-on-the-fly system. The recline system seemed a bit fussy. I found it tough to get it locked into the recline position. When it was in recline position, it didn’t provide the best fit to my vehicle seat and removed a lot of legroom for the child, which could cause injury in a crash. I would only use this feature if you need it to conform to your vehicle’s seat back for better installation.
*Please note that in the above first picture, I have the shoulder belt tucked under the crack in my vehicle seat to move it out of the way so you can see the gap behind the restraint. The seat belt, in every day use, should be allowed to rest normally against the vehicle seat back.
Ease of Use
An ease of use feature that Britax is generally known for but parents tend to forget about is the buckle stop. On their convertible seats, they sew a piece of Velcro to the harness so the harness can be pulled out of the way for the child to be put easily into the carseat. It also serves a dual purpose of keeping the buckle tong within reach of the parent who doesn’t have to dig under the child for the darn thing. On the Pinnacle, it’s a small piece of folded webbing sewn directly to the harness, similar to what’s done on some vehicle seat belts. Very nice!
As Darren mentioned in his review of the Frontier CT , the harness release button is set back farther than on previous models of the Frontier. This is to accommodate storage of the buckle when the restraint is converted to booster mode. Those of us with short fingers will find this daunting, but then again, our kids who love to unbuckle themselves mid-ride will find it frustrating, little buggers.
At age 11, my daughter barely fits height-wise in the Pinnacle when used in its booster mode though she’s still well within the weight limits since she’s only 67 lbs. Jennie’s 8 year old son is back modeling the booster mode on the Frontier 90. The head rest is adjusted to its highest setting on both seats. Seat belt fit on both kids is perfect.
Conversion to Booster Mode
The Pinnacle makes a comfortable booster with very good belt fit and it’s easy to covert it to booster mode; you can do it while the seat is installed! Well, you do have to lift the ClickTight panel, which will uninstall the restraint, but my point is that you don’t even have to remove the Pinnacle from your car in order to covert it from harness mode to booster mode.
Pinnacle can be installed with LATCH when used as a booster
To switch from harness to booster, you don’t even have to remove the harness—it stays right on the carseat so you don’t have to worry about any lost parts! Open the ClickTight panel and pull the seat pad all the way forward to tuck the buckle down onto the harness release button, then replace the seat pad. Close the ClickTight panel, raise the head rest all the way, and tuck the harness into the side wing covers and any remaining into the back cover. Easy peasy! Just do the reverse to use it as a harnessed seat again. Want to see more detail? I thought you would, so here’s the video:
*Please note that there’s a piece of gray comfort foam missing from the seat pad in the video. I removed it earlier while playing around with the restraint and forgot to put it back in for the video.
The manual is well-written and illustrated, but I was disappointed that I had to read through 21 italicized bulleted WARNING! points (followed by 10 bolded Important Notes) to find the lifespan of the restraint (9 years). It’s difficult reading italics, especially when there are so many, plus the “nine” was written as a word instead of as a number. I realize that’s the proper way to write out a number, but in this case, a digit would make more sense. But, as I said, the illustrations are superb and aside from my searching for the expiration date, the instructions are clear.
Cover Padding and Maintenance
The cover is well-padded and comfortable. All the fashions are top-notch fabrics with padding sewn inside and an additional gray comfort foam pad is included in the seat area. The cover slips completely off from the front in just a couple of minutes. It’s hand wash and line dry only or your cover may fall apart. Putting the cover back on is just as easy since you only have to reverse the order in which you took the parts off.
Jennie adds her 2 cents after using the Frontier 90 daily for a few weeks:
Hi! Jennie here. Imma let Heather finish her review, but Britax has made one of the best seats of all time.
No, seriously, there’s very little we don’t love about the Frontier 90. I turned my daughter forward-facing shortly after her 4th birthday about two months ago. I didn’t really like any of our convertibles for FF, so I went to the Frontier 85. We liked it, but installation was kind of a pain, and I dreaded having to take it out and put it back in, as we sometimes need to do. Lo, the Frontier 90 arrived just a couple weeks later, and I really couldn’t be happier now.
Installation is a breeze. Not since the much-loved-but-long-retired Safeguard Child Seat has a high-weight-harness been so easy to install. I adore being able to adjust the harness height without having to uninstall. My daughter loves the comfort, the cup holders, (the zebra print), and the fact that it’s a real “big girl seat.” She has so much room left that if I wanted it to, the Frontier 90 could probably last her until high school.
A few people have had trouble tightening the harness when the seat is installed. I haven’t had that problem at all. The adjustment for me is nice and smooth. I did take a look and shoved my hand behind the seat, and I suspect that vehicle seat contours might play a role in the differing experiences. The way the Frontier 90 sits in the captain’s chair of my 2010 Odyssey, there’s a nice little gap where the harness comes out the back. In a vehicle seat with different contours, it seems like the harness might get stuck, potentially causing problems. That’s speculation on my part, though. Bottom line: Try before you buy (if possible), just in case.
There is only one thing I don’t like:
The harness release lever is situated very far back in the seat, meaning that you need to really shove your fingers in to get to it. If you tend not to tighten/untighten each time, this won’t be a problem, but I’m a chronic adjuster. Now that I know where it is and how to access it, I’ve gotten used to it and it’s not too bad, but I would prefer if it were closer to the front.
Okay, now back to your regularly scheduled review…
Pinnacle CT Advantages
ClickTight installation system so easy to use that even a dad can install the seat correctly! Just kidding! (Have we beat a dead horse here about it being easy to install?)
Side Impact Cushion Technology that provides extra crash energy management
SafeCell technology in base
Integrated steel bars reinforce the shell
A buckle pad that holds the buckle forward, not under your child
Tallest top harness slot height on the market!
No-rethread harness for easy height adjustment when your child grows or if the restraint is used for multiple children
Easy harness storage for belt-positioning booster mode
Well-written and nicely illustrated manual
Comfortable, well-padded seat that fits both harnessed and booster users well
Sophisticated covers appeal to modern taste
Easy remove cover
Made in the USA!
Pinnacle CT Disadvantages
Harness adjuster tab is set back too far for short fingers
Instruction manual contains too many warnings
LATCH limit is 38 lbs., which may be a disadvantage to you if you have a wonky seat belt setup in your vehicle
Recline system is fussy
It’s heavy at 26.5 lbs.
The Britax Pinnacle CT is a brand new child restraint with so much potential. Britax comes through with such safety features as EPP foam, SafeCell technology, a steel-reinforced frame, and Side Impact Cushion Technology. With such high top harness slots and high shoulder belt slots for belt-positioning booster use, it’s a seat that may top out your vehicle before it has topped out its full potential for your child!
We’ve seen similar technology before on other child restraints, but ClickTight is so much beefier and simplified on the Pinnacle and Frontier CT. We really are seeing the wave of the future at a time when I thought we were becoming stagnant in our field. The ClickTight Installation System makes it easy for everyone—parents, grandparents, babysitters and even the kids themselves in some cases —to get a proper installation in less than a minute without needing a degree in carseat engineering. And that is truly revolutionary!
Darren says: Looking for an inexpensive backless booster to keep your older child safe? Want one that LATCHes into your car to keep it from moving around? Look no further! The Graco Connext, $17.98 at Walmart, keeps big kids in a low profile booster from 40 to 100 pounds and up to 57″ tall. It measures 16″ wide, so it’s not particularly wide, either. Most older kids should have no problems buckling themselves in most seating positions. For the cost of a few premium cups of coffee, you can keep your older child safe in a booster until they are big enough to fit properly in the adult seatbelt. For most kids that doesn’t happen until around age 10-12, when they can pass the 5-step test. It’s light, easy to carry and tapers nicely in the back to allow small hands to reach the seatbelt buckle. It may not fit the narrowest seating positions, but it should be wide enough to fit your older child!
Kecia says: This is my favorite new backless booster! My almost 9-year-old son (pictured below) recently went through a huge growth spurt and packed on 15 lbs in the last year! He went from being thin to ummm… not so thin! Lol. I’m not too concerned about his extra chub right now because it’s summer and he’ll burn some of it off between sports, camp and swimming. But his size has given me a new appreciation for wider boosters that also have good leg support for older kids with longer legs. At the moment he is 54″ tall and about 85 lbs. That puts him somewhere between the 90-95th percentile in weight for a 9 year old boy. And around the 75th percentile for height. He is a big kid, no doubt about that, but he doesn’t pass the 5-Step Test yet in the captain’s chairs of my minivan so he still needs a booster to help the adult seatbelt fit him correctly. The Graco Connext is wide enough and deep enough to accommodate him comfortably and I love the lower LATCH attachments!
Most of us involved in CPS have a story about what launched them into the field. For some it may have just been a requirement of a job, for others it may have been born out of some personal tragedy, and in some cases it may have been the result of a chance encounter with an influential person. However, “influential” doesn’t always imply it was a positive encounter …
Back in the summer of 2009, our oldest was just having her 18-month “well baby” check at a local military hospital (which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent … and the guilty!) Back then, they brought families in for a sort of “mass” appointment where they would cover some basic information as a group and then split up for various checks and immunizations. At that time I wasn’t involved in the world of CPS other than with my own daughter, however I had taken an excellent academic course before she was born taught by the Fire Chief at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona. My wife had signed us up for the class and I recall being rather ambivalent about the prospect of giving up my Saturday to learn about something as benign as car seats. The class turned out to be excellent, in no small part due to the enthusiasm this particular Fire Chief had for child passenger safety.
Now fast-forward again to summer ’09. All of the parents are in the waiting room of the pediatric clinic when a young Airman walks out to give some very basic information. Things like “your child should be eating solids” and “should be taking 1-2 naps per day,” but then she says “car seats” followed by a long pause after which she continues, “so … 18 months, they need to be forward-facing now.” (Insert sound effect of needle scraping across record here.) I immediately raised my hand and said, “Excuse me, I think you mis-spoke – what you really meant to say was they can be forward-facing at 1year and 20 pounds, but they’re safer staying rear-facing, right?” To which her response, delivered with a dismissive tone was, “no, you’re wrong – I’ve been doing this for two years.”
Now, interestingly, I happened to be in “civvies” that morning, which in retrospect was a great thing because had I been in uniform wearing Officer rank, she would have just said “oh, yes sir, I’m sure you’re right” – but because I was just “some dude” that morning I was able to get a first-hand glimpse into how awful their program really was. I should also mention that, at the time I was nothing like the “ERF zealot” I’ve now become. In fact, I think the only thing I’d read on the subject prior to this point was, coincidentally, Car-Safety.org’s excellent page on the subject. I will even admit that I had turned her forward-facing just after one year old “just for a couple of trips” because she “wanted to see outside” or some other silly excuse. However, I am a huge believer that when we know better, we have to do better, and I do my best to live by that principle.
Now, back to the story –
After that, I turned to the rest of the parents and said “OK, that’s incorrect, but don’t believe either of us – please look it up for yourself when you get home.” As you can imagine, that didn’t endear me much to the Airman in question. I pulled her aside after she was done talking in an attempt to say that I wasn’t trying to undermine her, but that she was giving some dangerously incorrect information. She again told me I was wrong, so I asked to see her supervisor before she turned and disappeared behind the cypher-locked door into the bowels of the hospital. I waited for about 15 minutes for a supervisor, and when none arrived I approached the front desk to ask how much longer I was going to have to wait. I was then greeted by a Senior Airman (and for those of you who don’t know military rank, we’ve now gone from two stripes to three) who handed me a crummy copy of an old AAP handout (which of course supported what I was saying) and told, “we talked to our car seat experts, and they say you’re wrong.” Now, like most people, I try to avoid direct confrontation when I can, but at this point I went absolutely ballistic! In my loudest, and most perturbed voice, I replied “Well let me talk to your car seat experts then!”
At this point I was still in a “heightened emotional state” shall we say, but I was honestly expecting this had turned into a game of “telephone” gone awry, and when I actually had a chance to talk to these “car seat experts” they would be thrilled that I’d caught such an egregious mistake. Unfortunately my hopeful expectations were immediately dashed. It turns out their “car seat experts” were the contract security guards at the front of the hospital, and as I walked up to their desk for what I thought might be a friendly conversation, I was instead met with a full frontal assault. The next few minutes were sort of a blur, but it consisted mainly of gems like “whadda you know, what’re you, like 22 years old?!?” (which in different circumstances would have been flattering since I was 32 at the time) and “I was a Cop for 24 years!” and “you’re just arguing semantics.” Clearly, however, this gentleman did not understand the meaning of the word “semantics” because we were most certainly not saying the same thing in a different way.
After a few verbal volleys, he actually threatened to handcuff me and escort me off the premises (which in retrospect would have been a much better story!) By that point I had realized there was no point in continuing the argument, but as I walked away, he decided to call his supervisor to report this “very unreasonable and belligerent” individual at a volume obviously intended for my ears. I then spun back around and said, “You know what, why don’t you get your supervisor down here to talk to me!!!”
This is exactly how it looked … in my head.
Again, at the time, I really thought I might be able to start over and convince somebody there was a serious problem that needed addressing. But as you can probably guess, I was mistaken. Seriously mistaken. I asked said supervisor to please join me in private because I had at least regained my composure enough to realize another public kerfuffle wasn’t going to make either of us look good. Once in private though things went quickly downhill. I tried the standard arguments all of us know, but to no avail. I kept getting responses like “physics has nothing to do with it” and “rear-facing seats only go to 22 pounds” and the one that he kept repeating, and made my blood pressure go through the roof was “Is this really worth it?”
My answer to that question is of course, an emphatic YES!!! And furthermore, if you don’t think it’s worth it then please do everyone a favor and stop passing yourself off as a “car seat expert.” This experience was one of the most frustrating of my entire life, but in many ways I’m glad it happened. If it hadn’t, I likely would have turned my kids forward-facing at age two (which I still did for a month or so with our oldest until I did some more research.) I likely wouldn’t be providing my kids with state of the art protection every time they get in the car. I wouldn’t have written an award-winning article for the Air Force safety magazine. I wouldn’t have become a Tech, or had the opportunity to influence parents, or had the opportunity to be writing this blog entry right now.
So, the question becomes, what’s my point? Well, I have a theory that while the CPS community does an excellent job of reaching out to the most at-risk demographics, a large segment of the population would use best practice if only the guidance were clear, concise, and unified. I also believe that Techs have an ethical duty to at least mention best practice before they judge any caregiver unable to “get it.” Your average parent (as I was at the beginning) assumes if they’ve taken the time to go to a Seat Check event, or the Fire Station, that they’ve left with the best, most current information available. Since they make this assumption they’re unlikely to go home and cross-check the information they’ve been given. Remember that class I took from the D-M Fire Chief? I listened intently to everything he said, and I’m sure if he’d spent just five minutes covering the advantages of keeping kids rear-facing I would have “gotten it” and could have avoided the multi-year odyssey that has deposited me in the place I am now. I’ve got to believe that I’m not an anomaly, and more parents and caregivers are ready, willing, and able to “get it” as well — if only we would take a few minutes to explain the theory behind the practice.
AK Dad is a former US Air Force fighter pilot who decided that wasn’t challenging enough and became a stay at home dad to three (usually) wonderful preschoolers. He is also a part-time Officer in the Alaska Air National Guard where he flies search and rescue helicopters and is a Flight and Ground Safety Officer. He became a volunteer CPS Technician in 2012.