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Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Convertible Review – Safety, Comfort & Style

Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 - Devoted Black frontMaxi-Cosi is Europe’s most popular brand of premium carseats. Even though the Maxi-Cosi carseats sold here in the U.S. are not the same seats that are sold in Europe (due to different standards and regulations), American parents are embracing the brand and everything that it stands for – safety, comfort and style.

Let’s clarify that there are three different models of the Maxi-Cosi Pria convertible that are currently available. Four, if you count the less expensive Maxi-Cosi Vello 65 model which is similar but lacks some of the features found on the various Pria models.

Maxi-Cosi Pria collage

 

Differences between Pria 70 & Pria 85 models: Both models have no re-thread harness; deep head wings with Air Protect technology for enhanced side-impact protection; push-on LATCH connectors; 3 position base and integrated cup holder. Pria 70 and Pria 85 models share the same shell but have different minimum and maximum weight limits. Both seats have Air Protect cushions on the headwings but the shape of those cushions are different. Pria 85 model offers harness holders, a cover that is easier to remove and both machine washable and dryer safe.

Pictured below Pria 70 (left) & Pria 85 (right)

Pria 70 (Blue) ; Pria 85 (Pink) Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 and Pria 80 - naked

Pria 85 Specs:

  • Rear-facing: 5-40 lbs., 40″ or less, top of child’s head must be below top of the headrest
  • Forward-facing:  22-85 lbs., at least 1 year old, up to 52″ tall

Pria 85 Features:

  • No-rethread harness with 9 height positions
  • Air Protect® technology for enhanced side-impact protection
  • 3-position base
  • Premium push-on LATCH connectors
  • Harness holder clips (hold harness out of the way while loading and unloading)
  • Easy to remove cover is both machine washable & dryer safe
  • Premium fabrics
  • Separate harness strap covers for kids over 65 lbs. (only required if seat is NOT tethered)
  • Integrated cup holder
  • FAA approved for use in aircraft
  • 10 year lifespan before expiration
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Mythbusting: Can you install a carseat too tightly?

SK300 installed with lap/shoulder seatbelt Can a carseat be installed too tightly?

It’s a common question so we wanted to really explore the issue – look at the facts, talk to carseat engineers who know more than we do and set the record straight once and for all.

First, a little background info – when carseats are crash tested in a lab the tension on the belt webbing has to measure between 53.5 N (newtons) and 67 N.  That tension is measured by a load cell device placed on the webbing. This is done to maintain repeatability between tests. The tension range was chosen because it represents the average tightness achieved by parents in the field.

In the real world no one expects parents and caregivers to measure the tension on the seatbelt or lower LATCH belt webbing that is securing their carseat. CPS Technicians are taught that a carseat is properly installed if it moves less than 1” from side-to-side and front-to-back when you check for tightness at the beltpath.

But is it possible to install your carseat too tightly? To the point of it being a detriment instead of a benefit?

Survey says…. No! (with a few exceptions)

In most cases, there is no such thing as too tight – only too loose. If you’re just using typical human strength and maybe a few installation tricks like getting behind a rear-facing carseat or using the reclining seatback trick, you do not have to worry about getting the seatbelt or LATCH strap too tight. Carseats and seatbelts are not delicate objects that are going to be compromised by a really tight installation.

Base installation technique

We know that the tighter you can couple the carseat to the vehicle, the better. This is why rigid LATCH/ISOFIX attachments are so beneficial. On the flip side – the difference between a carseat installed rock-solid (with seatbelt or flexible LATCH attachments) and a carseat installed acceptably with just a little bit of movement at the beltpath, in a crash, is negligible. Don’t convince yourself that a rock-solid install is going to keep that seat tight during a moderate to severe crash – but it’s certainly better than starting out in a crash with a loose installation!

However, there could be cases where too tight is possible. If you’re using a mechanical tightening system that is part of the carseat (or something like a Mighty Tite device) and going overboard with it or applying brute strength to a force-multiplying system like Chicco’s SuperCinch system on the NextFit, you could actually damage the seatbelt, the retractor or the carseat. In cases where you do have a mechanical device or a force-multiplying system you really need to take it easy and carefully follow the directions in the manual.

With typical carseats, if you can use a few tricks or installation techniques and achieve a really solid installation, that’s great. But if you’re fighting with the install and the best you can achieve is just a little bit of side-to-side or front-to-back movement and it’s not more than 1″ of movement, that’s perfectly okay too. It’s not always possible to get a rock-solid install but if you can – there is certainly nothing wrong or bad about that. For the record, in my vehicle with stiff leather seats, I almost always need to put a knee in a forward-facing carseat to get an acceptable install. Occasionally I need to put a knee in the seat AND use the reclining seatback trick. These are easy things for me to do quickly and it sure beats wrestling with an install for 20 minutes.

To clarify, I don’t always need to put my knee in a forward-facing carseat – but when I do, I certainly don’t feel like I’m doing something wrong.

Ultimately, you always want to read and follow the carseat manufacturer’s recommendations. There are situations where getting the seatbelt too tight will prevent you from closing a lockoff (or a Britax ClickTight compartment) or perhaps a lockoff will pop open because there is too much tension on the belt. There are also situations where a LATCH belt with hook connectors is so tight that you can’t get enough slack in the belt to loosen it when you have to take it out. (Tip: if this happens on a vehicle seat that reclines – recline the seat back and that should introduce enough slack to allow you to loosen the LATCH belt). Obviously, in these cases you have a compelling circumstance and you may need to lighten up a little on your regular installation technique.

Bottom line: Unless there is some compelling reason not to, get the carseat as tight as you can with *reasonable* effort but don’t feel guilty if you can’t get it rock-solid. On the flip side, it’s not bad or wrong if you can get that sucker installed like it’s part of the car with reasonable effort.

Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Seat Review: Easy Install with Safety You Can See

Britax B-Safe 35 Rear-Facing Only Infant Seat Review

Britax B-Safe 35 - red centerBritax has taken its popular B-SAFE and updated it to be modern, sleek, and able to handle bigger children. The new B-Safe 35 has a new deeper shell that’s designed to keep your child safe from flying debris and give more legroom with a base that is easier to adjust and install. Britax has brought their signature SafeCell Impact Protection to the base so the smallest of riders can benefit from this technology. These safety items, plus other creature comforts, make for a feature-laden rear-facing only carseat.

Weight and Height Limits:

  • Rear-facing 4-35 lbs., AND 32” tall or less, AND child’s head is 1” below top of head rest

B-Safe 35 Overview (New features are marked in bold):

  • Complete Side Impact Protection – deep protective shell is designed to absorb crash forces
  • SafeCell impact-absorbing steel frame base – these red cells compress in a crash to absorb crash energy
  • Removable head pillow
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions (before 11 lbs./after 11 lbs.)
  • Ergonomic handle to make carrying comfortable
  • Deep seat pan
  • Deluxe push-on style lower LATCH connectors
  • Built-in slide lockoffs for installation with seatbelt
  • Dual recline angle indicators
  • Extra-large canopy
  • Smooth bottom base
  • FAA-approved for use on aircraft
  • 6 yr lifespan before seat expires
  • Made in the USA!

B-Safe 35 black B-Safe 35 red B-Safe 35 sandstone

B-Safe 35 Measurements

2016 Chicago Auto Show: What’s New

Darren and I just got back from a fun-filled day at the Chicago Auto Show. Top on our list of things to see was the redesigned 2016 Honda Pilot, which you can read about here.

There were a lot of other vehicles to examine, though.

sedonaRedesigned Kia Sedona: This is the vehicle I was most impressed with. Darren will have a review of the 7-passenger Sedona shortly, but neither of us had seen the 8-passenger model, and there was a lot to drool over.

The styling is sleek, and the interior (at least on the higher trim models we saw) was gorgeous, with two-toned leather. It looked and felt luxurious.

The middle seat in the second row appeared to be a decent width, although the contoured bolsters of the two outboard seats mean that it doesn’t provide for a typical flat “bench,” which could potentially cause issues when installing a child restraint that doesn’t fit within the footprint of that center position.

The 8-passenger Sedona has three LATCH positions (both captains chairs, plus the third-row passenger) plus a fourth tether anchor in the center of the third row.

The absolute coolest thing about the 8-passenger Sedona, though, was the effortless system for accessing the third row. Simply turn a lever, and the seat practically moves itself out of the way. Another turn and the seat moves back into position. It is by far the easiest method I’ve ever encountered. Watch how easy!

Chevy Volt

This popular plug-in Hybrid gets a big redesign for 2016. For starters, they removed a couple hundred pounds of weight to make the car lighter, and they increased both the electrical range and the fuel milage. All good stuff.

They also added a fifth seating position to make the car more appealing to families!

Now, Chevy admits the rear center seating position has “no legroom,” and that’s not an exaggeration. The battery runs right through the center of the car, so there’s no way around that. A small boostered or forward-facing child might be okay sitting there, but a rear-facing seat is probably going to be the best option for that position.

Chevy Double-Cab Trucks

Chevrolet’s trucks come in Single Cab, Double Cab, or Crew Cab body styles. The Double Cabs are the ones with the very small, fold-down back seats. As many people know, those can be notoriously difficult to install car seats on due to the shallowness of that fold-down seat. Chevy has come up with a solution, though: a removable headrest that can be inserted into the seat bottom, parallel to the ground, to extend the depth and make it more car-seat friendly. They didn’t have any available for us to see, but we’re intrigued by the possibility.

Mazda5

People asked us to take a look at the Mazda5, mainly to see if it still existed, as there were rumors it was being discontinued. It was there, so fans don’t need to fret. The 5 took some hits recently when it performed abysmally in the small overlap frontal crash test. The model at the show didn’t have crash test data listed, leading us to believe that something has changed. That could be good news for people who had been considering the 5 but were scared off by the previous crash-test results.Mazda5 sticker

Honda HR-V

HRVA few people asked us to take a look at this new crossover from Honda. We weren’t able to get too close to it since it was on a turntable, but it looked nice from what we could see—sort of a CR-V/Accord mashup.

 

 

VW Sportwagen

sportwagenThis is another one people asked us to look at. This 5-seater hatchback had a generous amount of cargo room, although the back seat (at least in the leather version we saw) had funky seatsportwagencargo bights with LATCH anchors located well above the bottom seat cushion.

 

Hyundai Santa Cruz

This is Hyundai’s foray into the truck-crossover market, a market that typically has not had much success. We couldn’t get a good look at the interior as the truck(ish) was up high on a turntable, but it does appear to have half-doors that presumably lead to some sort of back seat. All in all, it wasn’t the most attractive vehicle we saw all day. It reminded Darren of a Subaru Brat.

Hyundai Santa Cruz Subaru Brat

 

Random Fun Stuff

Toyota had a Sienna all decked out for the SpongeBob movie. The bright yellow van included a ship-like steering wheel, seats colored like SpongeBob characters, a bubble wand on the roof, and a flatscreen TV in the cargo area. Sorry, you can’t purchase it.

SpongeBobSienna

And in case you didn’t see it on our Facebook page, Darren and I got to dance with some Kia hamsters:

2016 Honda Pilot Preview: Chicago Auto Show

The 2016 Honda Pilot, Bigger and Better for Kids?

You may have seen some previews of the all-new Honda Pilot already, so we’ll focus on carseats for this quick preview.  We reviewed the current generation Honda Pilot and found it to be arguably the best midsize SUV in terms of carseats and child seating flexibility.  How does the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot compare?

As for styling, gone is the rugged, boxy appearance.  This is good or bad, depending if you prefer the sleeker, minivan-like styling of the new model.

2016HondaPilotFront 2016HondaPilotRear 2016HondaPilotSide

While the current model is an 8-passenger SUV, the 2016 version will have 7-passenger and 8-passenger trim levels. The fully loaded 7-passenger model on display had the optional captain’s chairs with an aisle/console between (below, left).  A 3-seat 2nd row bench will also be standard.  The easier, push-button mechanism to slide/tilt the 2nd row chairs forward is quite similar to the current Acura MDX (below, right).  Honda says it gives 2.5 more inches of access room at the bottom.  Lower step-in height makes access easier for the little ones, too.

2016Pilot2ndrowchairs 2016Pilot3rdrowaccess

The third row remains a 3-seat bench.  It appears to be similar in width to the current Pilot, but has an update in the design.  Specifically, the passenger side seat with LATCH appears to be a hair wider, at the expense of the narrow middle seat. The passenger side seatbelt buckle stalk is also revised, also an improvement for installation of wider carseats.  The problem is that the hardware for folding the 40/60 bench is taller and more pronounced than before, likely making carseat installation even more difficult in the narrower middle seat.  On the plus side, Honda has resolved some of the seatbelt crossover issues which may make it easier for an smaller adult, teen or pre-teen to ride in the middle next to a narrow carseat.

2016Pilot3rdrowbench

 

In the 7-passenger model on display, there are a total of 3 LATCH positions for the two 2nd row captain’s chairs and the third row passenger seat.  As for top-tether anchors,