Car seats have come a long way in the past decade or so, with new seats frequently hitting the market. Is ClickTight just some gimmick, or is it a game-changer in the car-seat world? We’re pleased to offer our expert opinion of the Britax Boulevard CT convertible car seat in this review. Usually new seats include nicer features, or a lower price point, or something that makes them appealing, if not groundbreaking. But every now and then, something comes along that is truly groundbreaking- something that fundamentally changes the stakes. The Britax Marathon, Boulevard and Advocate ClickTight convertible carseats have been touted as that “game changer,” and everyone is wondering if they will live up to the hype.
Before we get started, here’s a quick overview of the differences between the three new ClickTight convertibles, the Marathon CT, Boulevard CT, and Advocate CT. All Britax CT convertibles have the ClickTight Installation System, an impact-absorbing base with 7 recline positions, rip-stitch energy-absorbing tether, HUGS harness pads, a steel reinforced frame, EPP foam and other side-impact protection features.
- Britax Marathon ClickTight – This model has a no-rethread harness and standard rubber HUGS pads. The top harness slot height and the overall height are about 2 inches shorter than the Blvd CT and Advocate CT models. MSRP $329.99
- Britax Boulevard ClickTight – All the features of the Marathon CT plus SafeCell HUGS pads; deeper headwings; “Click & Safe” snug harness indicator, top harness slots and overall height 2″ taller than Marathon CT. MSRP $369.99
- Britax Advocate ClickTight – All the features of the Boulevard CT plus external side-impact cushions. The Advocate CT is also a CarseatBlog Recommended Carseat. MSRP $419.99
Each Boulevard ClickTight model comes with an easy-to-remove cover, EZ-Buckle System (keeps buckles and straps out of your way when placing your child in the seat), optional infant body insert for newborns, optional harness strap covers and energy-absorbing rubber HUGS pads.
Britax cup holder, vehicle seat protector mat, waterproof seat saver liner, protective travel bags and anti-rebound bar are available as accessories (for purchase separately). The anti-rebound bar is currently only available directly from Britax USA.
The pattern shown in this review is called “Circa”. There are several other fashions currently available for the Boulevard CT.
MSRP for the Boulevard is $369.99 but you can usually find lower prices online.
Boulevard CT Specs:
- Rear-facing 5-40 lbs.
- Outgrowing this seat in the rear-facing position by height won’t be an issue because it’s so tall that all kids (even the really tall, really skinny kids) will fit height-wise if they are still under 40 lbs. Children can rear-face until their heads are 1″ below the adjuster on the headrest, which can be fully extended.
- Forward-facing 20-65 lbs., 49″ or less, at least 1 year old*
- LATCH limits: 35 lbs rear-facing, 40 lbs forward-facing (child weight only)
- FAA approved for use on aircraft
- 10 yr lifespan before seat expires
- Made in the USA!
*Britax recommends that children ride rear-facing to the highest weight or height specified
Boulevard CT Features:
- ClickTight installation system (also acts as a built-in lockoff device)
- Complete Side Impact Protection PLUS – deep protective shell and energy-absorbing headrest
- 14 position headrest with no-rethread harness
- 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
- EZ-Buckle System keeps buckles and straps out of your way when loading and unloading child
- Steel reinforced frame
- Impact-absorbing base – these cells compress in a crash, which lowers the center of gravity of the child and reduces forward head excursion
- Energy-absorbing, rip-stitch Versa-Tether®
- Energy-absorbing EPP foam that lines the headwings
- 7 recline positions to help achieve a proper recline angle in any vehicle
- Smooth bottom base with grippy edges that won’t damage vehicle upholstery
Boulevard CT Measurements:
- Harness height range: 6.5″ (lowest setting) to 18.5″ (tallest setting)
- Crotch strap positions: 4″, 6″
- Seat pan depth (leg room/thigh support): 12″
- Overall internal height with headwings fully raised: 28.5″ (to the bottom of the red adjuster)
- Rear-facing seated height limit: 27.5″ (one inch below red adjuster)
- External width at widest point (torso wings): 18″
- External width at front of seat: 17″
- Widest point of base: 14″ (base is a rounded, tapered square, so the very front and back are a bit narrower)
- Internal seat width in bum area: 10″
- Internal seat width at shoulders: 11″
- Weight: 28 lbs. (according to my scale)
The great news is that this seat practically installs itself, both rear-facing or forward-facing, if you’re using the ClickTight system with the seatbelt in your vehicle. Really, it’s super-duper easy to get a nice tight install each and every time thanks to the ingenious ClickTight System. That said, I’m not going to call it fool-proof. When I first got the seat, I took it out of the box, stuck it in our car, opened the ClickTight panel, and told my husband (who had heard nothing about this seat) to install it. He routed the seatbelt through the slots, but only the lap portion. Then he immediately locked the belt. Good instincts, but not what we want to see with the ClickTight seats. So the lesson is: Read the manual.
Once you realize what you’re supposed to do, though, installation really is a breeze with the seatbelt. You simply open the panel by pushing in on the dimple on top of the ClickTight logo, then turning the knob like a key. Then you route both portions of the lap-shoulder belt through the appropriate forward- or rear-facing belt guides, remove any excess slack, and push the ClickTight door closed. Then you check for tightness, and it will likely be rock-solid, although up to an inch of movement is okay.
There are a few things to keep in mind. Sometimes you can remove too much slack from the belt, which can make the ClickTight panel hard to close. In that case, just loosen the belt a bit and try again. Conversely, if the seat is too loose, open the panel and pull out a little more slack and try again. It’s also important to make sure you’ve taken the slack out of both portions of the seatbelt. The belt slots in the ClickTight panel are narrow and padded by the cover, so it’s easy for the seatbelt to get hung up if you’re not paying attention.
Another issue I noticed is that when rear-facing, the angle will wind up more upright after closing the ClickTight panel. This makes sense, because you’re pushing down in the foot area of the seat, bringing the seat more upright. You can remedy this by also pushing down at the top of the seat while closing the panel (though the angle still might shift a bit) or by starting with the seat more reclined than you want, to compensate for the incline you’ll gain while installing. As always, make sure you check the angle after it’s installed to make sure it’s where you want it.
*Tip – the ClickTight panel won’t open when there’s a lot of pressure on it, so to uninstall the seat, you’ll want to unbuckle the seatbelt first, and then open the CT panel.
A final word of caution: When installing rear-facing, make sure you keep the harness adjuster strap out of the way of the ClickTight door! Ask me how I know.
This is where things get a little tricky.
I suspect that if Britax could have made this seat without LATCH, they would have. Installation with the seatbelt is just so easy, plus the new LATCH regulations have people confused and frustrated. But federal regulations say the seat has to have LATCH, so it does. However, LATCH installation (or more accurately, uninstallation) might discourage anyone from actually using it. I’ll explain that in a moment, but first, an overview of the LATCH system on the ClickTight convertibles.
One of the usual selling points of Britax seats are the premium, push-on-style LATCH connectors. The ClickTight convertibles, though, have standard hook-type connectors. The LATCH strap is stored in a little compartment on the back of the seat. It’s well labeled and efficient. (It’s also most easily reached when the seat is upright.) To use the LATCH belt, you remove it from its storage cubby, open the ClickTight panel, and route the strap to the child’s left side and through the appropriate belt slots in the seat. Connect the hooks to your lower LATCH anchors, then remove excess slack and close the ClickTight panel. Pretty straight-forward.
When it comes time to uninstall, though, you might be in for a challenge. With the push-on LATCH connectors, you can just push the red release button, and the connectors will pop off the anchors. But with the hook connectors, you need to loosen the LATCH strap in order to unhook them. The Boulevard CT’s LATCH strap has the kind of release mechanism where you need to push a grey button while simultaneously tilting or pulling on the webbing to loosen it. However, when the strap is very tight, this is difficult to do. And the strap likely will be very tight because of the way the ClickTight panel clamps down on it. Usually when a belt like that is too tight to loosen, we recommend that people put extra weight in the seat to try to create some slack, but again, the ClickTight feature’s hold on the belt makes this largely (if not entirely) ineffective. And because the ClickTight panel won’t open when it’s holding a belt tight, you can’t go that route, either.
With one install (rear-facing), I was able to shove the seat enough to one side that I could get just enough leverage to loosen the LATCH strap, then unhook the connectors and open the panel. My next installation (forward-facing) was another matter. Despite my best efforts, I could not get the strap to loosen, even when I sat in the seat. I also couldn’t get the ClickTight panel to open, which didn’t surprise me, but I figured was worth a try. My last option was to go get my husband, who had just settled in for a nap.
My husband is a strong guy–former firefighter and all that. He couldn’t get the adjuster to budge and was convinced it was broken, even though I kept assuring him that’s just how it is. I sat in the seat. He sat in the seat. It would not loosen.
Finally he was able to get the ClickTight panel open. (I did check the LATCH release button after that to make sure it was, indeed, functional, and found that it was just fine.)
We asked Britax about this, and they said they were aware that this could be an issue with LATCH installations, but given how easy the seatbelt installation is, there’s really no reason to use LATCH. Plus, seatbelts are available in every seating position, whereas LATCH is typically limited, plus LATCH has those pesky weight requirements.
In a way, they have a point. Why bother taking out the LATCH strap and routing it, connecting it, etc., when you can just use the seatbelt? But there are times a person may want or need to use LATCH. One compelling reason might be in situations where you have a child in a booster seat next to the installed convertible. In situations where the two seatbelt buckles are right next to each other, sometimes the kid in the booster unlatches the wrong seatbelt. And when they accidentally do that, they often forget to tell you. Another possible reason to use LATCH would be in minivans with a bench seat where you have to stretch the seatbelt across the aisle, blocking access to the 3rd row. Plus some people are still under the assumption that LATCH is safer or “better” than a seatbelt (it’s not) and might buy the seat with the intention of using LATCH primarily, with the extra benefit of an easy seatbelt install when/if necessary.
Hopefully Britax will consider some changes to the LATCH system on the CT seats in the future. Adding push-on LATCH connectors or a tilt-lever release mechanism could help a lot.
Besides that, though, the seat installed nicely with LATCH in both my vehicles, rear- and forward-facing.
Lower LATCH Anchor Weight Limits
Rear-facing the lower LATCH anchor weight limit is 35 lbs. Once your child reaches 35 lbs. you MUST install with seatbelt.
Forward-facing the lower LATCH anchor weight limit is 40 lbs. Once your child reaches 40 lbs. you MUST install with seatbelt and tether*.
Remember to attach the tether strap to the tether anchor in your vehicle if the carseat is installed forward-facing, whether with LATCH or a seatbelt. Many parents think the tether anchor is only for installations with lower anchors, but that’s not true. A tether reduces head excursion in a crash, so you always want to use the tether if the seating position if your vehicle has one. Not sure if you do or where it’s located? Check your vehicle’s owners manual! If your vehicle was made anytime during the last 12-15 years, you should have top tether anchors, but they are not always in obvious places, and not always in every seating position. Find them! Use them! Shower them with love and attention!
On the CT seats, the tether is stored in a nice compartment at the back of the seat. The tether comes wrapped up and stored under two plastic hooks. If you find you need a longer tether strap, you can contact Britax for an extender.
Rear-Facing Tethering (no longer an option)
Britax used to be one of the few, rare carseat manufacturers to allow the tether strap to be used when the seat is installed in the rear-facing position. All of the older Britax convertibles included a tether connector strap and could be tethered rear-facing either “Swedish style” (down to the floor) or “Australian style” (back to the tether anchor behind the vehicle seat). However, Britax changed their stance in 2015 and rear-facing tethering is no longer an option with their new convertible carseats. Now an anti-rebound bar is available as an accessory (sold directly from Britax) which serves the same purpose and function as a RF tether.
Sometimes a vehicle headrest will interfere with a forward-facing installation. Britax says that if a vehicle headrest interferes with your ability to raise the carseat’s headrest to the correct position, the vehicle’s headrest should be removed or raised, if possible. If not, you’ll need to use a different seating position. Removing the headrest wasn’t an issue in my 2014 Civic (photo below, on left). The shell of the seat nestled perfectly under the headrest, and while the Boulevard’s headrest lightly grazed the vehicle’s head restraint, they didn’t push on or interfere with each other. In my Odyssey, though, I did need to remove the restraint in the captain’s chair because it pushed on the Boulevard CT’s headrest (below, right).
It should also be noted that Britax specifies that forward-facing seats cannot hang off the front of the vehicle seat by more than 3 inches. I didn’t have any overhang in my installations, but if this is a problem for you, try putting the seat in a more upright position, removing the vehicle headrest, or try another seating position.
The Blvd CT offers a wide range of recline angles, and these options create more potential for finding a suitable recline angle and taking up less space in the vehicle. Children under 6 months old generally need more recline, but as they grow and gain good head and neck control, the seat can be installed more upright. The recline angle indicator on these new models is excellent and pretty self-explanatory. For rear-facing, the angle indicator should be in the light blue zone for younger babies and can be in the dark blue zone for older babies, toddlers, and older kids who still ride rear-facing. When the seat is installed forward-facing, the angle indicator should be somewhere in the green zone.
When I set it on the seat of my Honda 2010 Odyssey, without installing it, the recline indicator was on the “baby” side of the RF angle range. However, once installed, the recline wound up about midway on the rear-facing spectrum.
I decided to try some “tricks.” I intentionally introduced a little extra slack into the seatbelt. Then I greatly over-reclined the Boulevard, lifting the front of the base off the vehicle seat. Finally, I pushed down on the back of the seat while closing the ClickTight panel. Doing that resulted in a rock-solid install with the base flat on the seat, and the recline indicator showing almost maximum acceptable recline. It was very easy for me to do as a tech, but a typical parent likely wouldn’t think to do that. When I put the seat in my Civic using the “tricks” I outlined above, I was able to get it more reclined without needing noodles:
In some vehicles or seating positions a piece of foam pool noodle or rolled up towel might be necessary to achieve a suitable recline angle for a newborn or young baby. The current generation Dodge Grand Caravan (pictured) and the similar Chrysler Town & Country are a good example of when you might need a little extra help to get an acceptable recline for a baby who doesn’t have good head or neck control yet. The steeply sloped seats in these vehicles are known for being problematic with RF carseats.
Another issue is that when fully reclined, the seat does take up more front-to-back space. The amount of room it takes up fully reclined will vary from vehicle to vehicle but if you’re planning to use the seat from birth – the best advice, as always, is to try before you buy. The seat takes up considerably less room when installed more upright, as it can be for older babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Used in a mid-range position, I had the passenger seat in exactly the same place I usually do.
How upright can it be for older rear-facing kids? If you have an older rear-facing child who really doesn’t need any recline at all (they would be okay, angle-wise, seated upright in the forward-facing position), you can put the seat as upright as you’d like. The ClickTight models take up very little space rear-facing if installed in a very upright position. In reality, most parents probably won’t install the CT models this upright rear-facing, but we asked Britax for clarification and we all agreed that there is no such thing as “too upright” for older RF kids who don’t have any special healthcare needs. If your older kid is comfortable sitting rear-facing at 25 degrees from vertical, Britax has no issue with that.
Below are pics with a 20″ newborn-sized doll. This doll is roughly the size of a newborn weighing 8 or 9 lbs. Harness fit even without the newborn insert pillow that comes with the seat was excellent in this case. You may need to use the lower body insert for a smaller newborn if the baby’s shoulders are still below the harness slots in their lowest height setting. I removed the optional harness strap covers in these pictures and in real life I might also suggest removing the rubber HUGS pads. The HUGS pads are mandatory for forward-facing but are optional for rear-facing. The insert pillow (if used) should be removed once the child fits comfortably and properly without it. Note: when the headrest is in the lowest position the excess cover/fabric should be folded and goes under the baby (or under the insert), as pictured below.
Newborn doll without infant insert (one position above lowest height setting):
This is my youngest son who just turned 3 a couple weeks ago. He’s about 37″ and weighs 30 lbs., so he’s on the smaller side. He fit great with tons of room to spare. Best of all, he really likes the seat (every time I open the door to the van, he exclaims, “My new seat!” like he expects it will have disappeared).
Of course I wanted to see how my 37 lbs., 5-year-old fits. She’s been forward-facing for more than a year now, but she could easily rear-face in this seat.
The photo below shows how much room she has left before outgrowing the seat. (The straps are above her shoulders here, which is incorrect for rear-facing. I just wanted to demonstrate all the room above her head.) She would be able to rear-face until her head was an inch below the red adjuster, or until she reached 40 lbs, whichever came first.
As a visual aid to help parents understand when their child is too tall to use this seat in the forward-facing position, Britax has sewn a label into the side of the seat. Due to variations like the angle of the seat or how the label is sewn, the line may not line up exactly with the level of the top slots. Because of this, the line is meant to serve as a general guide for when the child is close to outgrowing the seat, but it’s ok for the shoulders to go higher than the line as long as they’re not above the harness slot itself.
With older rear-facing kids, people are often concerned about leg room. My daughter did say she felt cramped in the seat, and she didn’t feel much (if any) difference when the seat was very upright or more reclined. I decided to put her in our Graco Size4Me to see how much difference there was, but I didn’t notice anything significant. She said she felt squished in both. Honestly, though, that’s not surprising for a 5-year-old, especially one who has ridden forward-facing for a year and a half, and therefore isn’t used to riding with her legs bent like that. (Comparison photos, Boulevard CT on the left, Size4Me on the right)
My 3-year-old, on the other hand, hasn’t complained once.
Forward-facing, my daughter fit great. She said it was very comfortable and liked it a lot (especially liked the shoulder pads). It offered good leg support, and since there are so many acceptable angles, it would have been easy to install it more reclined or more upright if it had been necessary/desired.
She also has a lot of room before she outgrows the Boulevard CT forward-facing. These photos show how much room she has over her head and how long she has until her shoulders reach the top harness position. (For reference, she wears a size 5 shirt.)
Harness Length/Crotch Strap
When I started playing with this seat, one of the first things I wanted to do was see how my daughter fit rear-facing, so I raised the headrest to the top and put her in. I was barely able to get the harness on her. I thought that was strange and made a mental note about it. Then when I put my just-turned-3-year-old into the seat (on the correct setting for him), I found the harness was also pretty tight on him, and hard to adjust.
Then I read the manual (see, there’s a reason we tell you to do these things!) and noticed a few mentions about calling Britax for instructions on lengthening the harness for children over 2 years old. It did also say that the harness might be difficult to tighten when it’s almost at the end of its length, which explained why I was having trouble with it on my 3-year-old. After lengthening the harness, the seat was much easier to adjust.
At the hips, the harness is secured to something that like looks like a small splitter plate. The seat comes out of the box in the shorter harness setting which is required for children under 2 years old. In the shorter setting, the harness loops under the bar and then attaches to the anchor. To increase the length, you detach the strap, unloop it, and reattach.
Before using the seat for the first time, check to make sure that the harness straps are securely attached to the anchors on both sides.
Britax has videos that clearly demonstrate the correct way to secure the hip straps onto the anchor in both the longer and shorter harness settings.
I do wish they had included instructions for this in the manual, as it’s really no harder than removing the harness from the splitter plate or taking off the cover.
There are two positions for the crotch strap. For forward-facing children, you must use the outer position. For rear-facing, you can use either, but the strap shouldn’t be under the child. Both of my kiddos needed the outer position. The strap can be moved with the seat installed: Simply raise the ClickTight panel, turn the strap a bit, and run it along the slot forward or backward to the desired position.
Some people have complained that the crotch strap is too short for their kids. Britax has said that lengthening the harness straps at the hips can help (that doesn’t make the crotch strap longer, of course, but it gives parents more harness to work with, without squashing their children). They also want to make sure parents know that the outer position can be used with rear-facing kids. This is what they sent us:
Our user guide currently states to use the buckle rear-facing “in the slot closest to but not under the child”. We will be adding an FAQ to our website that confirms that either position is acceptable rear-facing until the user guide can be updated in April 2016.
Ease of Use
Being able to raise or lower the harness height while the seat is installed is a big plus, and the Boulevard allows for an easy, smooth adjustment. The recline mechanism is extremely smooth and easy—much easier than on some other seats. Simply pull the lever and gently guide the seat forward or backward as necessary.
As mentioned, tightening the harness was difficult at first, until I realized I needed to lengthen the straps. After that, it was much easier, although it does require a few small pulls rather than (or in addition to) one long one.
The Click & Safe snug harness indicator feature, which gives an audible click when you’re near the correct tightness, always clicked way too soon on my model but Kecia didn’t have the same issues with that feature her Blvd CT model. The video below highlights how it is intended to function.
I absolutely loved the EZ-Buckle Pad feature. It holds the crotch strap and buckle out of the way beautifully so you never need to dig around for it under your child. The space created for the rear- and forward-facing belt paths can also be used to hold the harness straps out of the way so you don’t need to dig for those either. I always forget to use them, though!
The harness release button is easy to reach.
My only “complaint” is that a few times I found myself pressing in on the ClickTight dimple instead of the harness release button. Then again, I’m the person who keeps hitting my hazard button instead of the ignition switch in my car, so take that for what it’s worth. (There is no danger in pressing the ClickTight dimple—it won’t make the ClickTight panel open.)
The chest clip and buckle are both easy to buckle and release—no need to struggle.
I’m always afraid of taking off covers (and more afraid of putting them back on), but the Boulevard CT proved easier than I expected. The cover comes off in four pieces, and the manual does a great job of outlining the steps. There’s just a little bit of velcro and a few elastic tabs, but mostly the cover is held in place by sticking the well contoured fabric into grooves within the seat. The most important thing to remember is that you must ensure the cover goes behind the red tabs on the front of the ClickTight compartment to avoid interfering with the mechanism. Luckily there’s a sticker there to remind you.
The cover can be hand washed and line dried.
The ClickTight convertibles are approved for airline use. To use the seats on a plane, you bypass the ClickTight feature, and simply route the plane’s seatbelt through the rear- or forward-facing belt path OVER the closed ClickTight panel. Note that bypassing the ClickTight panel is for airline installations only.
The Boulevard CT has a 10-year lifespan and a one-year limited warranty. The manufacture date and model number sticker can be found on top of the clicktight panel when you peel back the cover over that section.
Britax follows NHTSA’s guidelines for replacement after a crash.
Britax does not allow the use of inflatable seatbelts with its ClickTight seats.
Boulevard CT Advantages:
- Generous height and weight limits for rear-facing and forward-facing
- Super easy seatbelt installation with ClickTight System
- ClickTight also acts as a built-in lockoff device so you don’t need to understand the pre-crash locking features of your vehicle seatbelt
- No-rethread harness makes it easy to adjust the harness height when your child has a growth spurt or when you need the seat for another kid
- Harness straps are thick and not prone to twisting
- EZ-Buckle System keeps belly pad and buckle out of the way when loading child in the seat
- IMMI buckle is easy to buckle and unbuckle
- Deep headwings provide enhanced protection in side-impact crashes
- Durable EPP foam, rip-stitch tether, HUGS pads and impact-absorbing technology in base all work together to absorb energy in a crash
- Harness straps are replaceable, if necessary
- HUGS pads may be removed when the child is rear-facing (but they are required for forward-facing)
- Range of rear-facing recline angles allowed
- Doesn’t take up a lot of room rear-facing if installed more upright for an older baby or toddler. This makes it a good option for smaller cars and for tall parents who may need to have the front seat all or most of the way back.
- Easy to remove cover
- Premium fabrics and extra padding for comfort
- Made in the USA!
(In all fairness, these aren’t necessarily problems but I list them here to inform potential consumers of specific Blvd CT issues)
- LATCH un-installation can be a real challenge
- Heavy and bulky
- Limited rear-facing leg room for older children near the upper limits of the seat
- Crotch buckle is on the shorter side
- Newborn recline angle may be difficult to achieve in some vehicles without a pool noodle
So, did the Britax Boulevard ClickTight live up to the hype? My opinion is YES. The seats have taken almost all of the difficulty and frustration out of installing a child restraint with a seatbelt. That’s a huge advance toward eliminating misuse. The seat isn’t completely foolproof, but it’s closer than anything else on the market. Add to that a super-tall shell for rear-facing, plus extra goodies like the ability to tether rear-facing, and this seat is hard to beat. There are a few quirks, but nothing that would keep me from recommending it (or using it myself) unless I knew a LATCH installation were necessary for some reason.
For additional information on the Britax ClickTight convertibles please visit the Britax website: https://us.britax.com/car-seats/boulevard-clicktight.
Thank you Britax for providing a Britax Boulevard CT for our review. No other compensation was provided and all opinions expressed in this review are those of CarseatBlog.
Updated May 16, 2016