Jané is by no means a new name in car seats – based in Barcelona, they have offered high-quality infant seats, convertibles, and booster seats in Europe for years. In fact, CarseatBlog named the Jané Indy Plus (manufactured 2006-2009) one of the best child restraints of the decade in 2010, noting that it was the first highback booster available on “this side of the pond” to offer rigid LATCH attachments. After exiting the US car seat market for several years, Jané is back with their luxurious Montecarlo R1 booster!
The Montecarlo R1 is a highback belt-positioning booster seat. It does not convert to a backless booster. MSRP is $190. Current fashions include “Klein” (Black/Gray), “Yale” (Blue/Gray) & “Flame” (Burgundy/Gray).
Montecarlo Specs & Features
- For children 30-100 lbs.; up to 57” tall; at least 1.5 years old up to about 12 years old and “who are capable of sitting upright alone” (Our rep at Jané USA says these guideline will be updated with next year’s model.)
- 5 height positions
- Two-position reclining seatback
- Rigid LATCH attachments
- LATCH funnel guides for recessed lower anchor bars
- Ventilation channels
- Adjustable headrest/backrest “wings”
- Three-position adjustable armrests
- 7 year lifespan before expiration
Rigid LATCH attachments – The Montecarlo R1 has rigid lower anchor connectors which is a unique and highly desirable feature although it does add weight and cost to the product. Let’s face it, most kids getting out of the car do not remember to buckle in their unoccupied booster – with rigid lower anchor attachments, there’s no need to do that. Plus, the added stability of a metal-to-metal connection to the vehicle may provide additional benefits during certain types of crashes.
I did find releasing the lower anchors to be a bit of a challenge at first, but once I was able to get my fingers into the release slots and pull, the seat popped right out. The lower anchor connectors on this seat extend, which is great if your anchorages are “buried” in the seat cushion. They do not pivot or rotate which I found helpful when installing/removing the seat in my Odyssey, though others who have lower anchorages placed higher or lower may find it to be a detriment.
Using the rigid LATCH connectors is recommended but not required. If you have a vehicle or seating position that doesn’t have LATCH then you can retract the attachments, cover them with the little protective caps that are provided, and ignore them. Also, don’t try to use the LATCH connectors if the lower anchor bars in your vehicle are offset and don’t align with the positioning of the seatbelt.
Jané has included a set of plastic funnel guides for use with lower LATCH anchors that are buried in the seat cushions. I didn’t need to use them in my Odyssey but I’ve used them in the past in other vehicles and they are helpful.
Width-Adjustable Head & Torso Wings – The Montecarlo R1 features an “aluminum integral adjustment system” which separately adjusts the width of the head and torso wings via 2 knobs on the side of the booster. The wings actually pivot so that the angle of the support structure changes, rather than just moving closer to or farther away from the head and torso. This helps to fit the child better for comfort and may also improve safety in side-impact crashes.
Shoulder Belt Guide – The shoulder belt guide opens at the center and has a “lip” on each side of the opening to keep the shoulder belt from slipping out. It was a little tough for my 9-year-old to thread the seatbelt through the belt guide but on the flip side, it didn’t come close to slipping out when my 5-year-old pulled the belt out most of the way, as she usually does when she buckles.
Montecarlo R1 Measurements
- 5 height positions: lowest 14.5″; tallest 20″ (measured to bottom of shoulder belt guide)
- Depth of seating area: 13″
- Width of seating area: 12″ wide along the inside of the armrests
- Widest point of base: 15.5″
- Widest point of armrests: 16.5″
- Widest point overall: 20″ at torso wings (fully extended)
Always adjust the height of the booster so the shoulder belt guide is positioned at or slightly above the child’s shoulder. The Montecarlo R1 isn’t the tallest booster so it might not be the best choice if you have a very tall or long-torsoed child who needs to use a highback booster for a long time. However, it’s not short either, so it should last many children until they can pass the 5-Step Test and are ready to use only the adult seatbelt.
The belt fit on my older child model was excellent. The shoulder belt rested nicely between her neck and her shoulder when the headrest was in the correct height setting, and the lapbelt was low, touching the tops of her thighs (in the pictures, it looks higher than it actually was). She seemed happy with the width of the headwings and the sidewings after I adjusted them. However, the booster didn’t offer the greatest leg support for her and I suspect that she might have complained if she rode in it for long trips.
The belt fit for my smaller model was also excellent. She liked the headwings, and the leg support was just about perfect for her size. I would definitely consider this as a regular-use booster when she is ready to move full-time to a booster. (She uses a booster from time to time but normally rides in a harnessed seat because she has a hard time sitting still for long.)
Of course, booster fit varies by child and even vehicle-to-vehicle, so your best bet is to try it in person if possible.
Let’s be clear that booster seats are not recommended for the toddler or preschool crowd. Just because the minimum age is listed as 1.5 years and the minimum weight limit is 30 lbs. doesn’t mean you should put a 2 or 3 year old into a booster seat. My youngest is 5 years old and she’s just now reaching the point where she can safely use a booster once in a while, for short trips. CarseatBlog recommends booster use for children above 4 years old and 40 pounds who are able to sit correctly in a booster for an entire trip.
5.5 years old, 43″ tall, 40 lb.
The Montecarlo R1 booster is somewhat narrow in width, so it may fit well in many vehicles. The width may be a challenge in some situations such as tight 3-across setups, but the curved back of the bottom seat may be an advantage that allows small hands to reach down and buckle. The seat does not taper significantly toward the back, so “puzzling” opportunities for three-across situations may be limited.
Cover & Comfort
The cover is nicely padded and the fabric is attached to the headrest, seat, and torso area with a combination of snaps and hook-and-loop tape. The three-piece cover was easy to remove but somewhat complicated to replace. The manual does not provide much guidance for replacing the cover other than “follow the (removal) steps in reverse.” (I recommend my trick of taking pictures at various stages the first time you remove the cover.)
The cover can be machine washed; drip-drying is recommended. I’m always happy to see a machine-washable cover because my kids spend a lot of time in the car, since I drive them to and from school every day, not to mention soccer practice and games, overnights at friends’ houses, etc. Their seats get messy! I appreciate knowing that I can throw the cover in the wash when needed.
Lifespan/Crash Replacement Guidelines/Inflatable Seat Belts
- 7 year lifespan before expiration
- Must be replaced after any crash
- Seat has not been tested with inflatable seat belts
Montecarlo R1 Advantages
- Good belt fit on children of various sizes
- Width-adjustable head and torso wings (good for sleeping comfort and SIP)
- Recline position on base
- Loads of EPS foam in head and torso areas
- Rigid LATCH attachments (when used) improve stability and allow booster to not be buckled in when unoccupied
- LATCH funnel guides are handy for vehicles that have recessed lower anchor bars
- Shoulder belt guide design makes it difficult for seatbelt to slip out of guide unintentionally
- Doesn’t require support from a vehicle head restraint
- Cover is machine washable
(In fairness, these aren’t necessarily problems but I list them here to inform potential consumers of specific Jane Montecarlo R1 booster issues)
- Not quite as tall as other highback boosters currently on the market
- Three-piece cover is difficult to put back on after washing
- Seatback is “floppy” – makes moving the seat around and removing/replacing the cover somewhat difficult
- Manual is sparse and states for ages 1.5 years and up (Jane USA says this will be revised).
- Made in China
- No cupholder (Not a safety disadvantages in any way but most kids love their cupholders!)
Jané has brought the Montecarlo R1 to the US but it was definitely developed for the European market. This is obvious in reading the manual which is somewhat sparse and does not appear to have been completely updated to fit the US market. For example, the lower end of the age range is listed as 1.5 years and, “capable of sitting upright alone.” While this minimum may be deemed acceptable in other parts of the world, safest practice in Canada and the USA generally recommends a minimum child age of 4 years for booster use. Jané USA really needs to update the manual to reflect a higher age minimum.
With that said, the Montecarlo R1 is a safe, luxurious and appropriate child restraint for older children. The adjustable headrest, torso wings, and armrests provide a good fit for a variety of children. The rigid LATCH attachments are a fabulous feature if you can take advantage of them and the seat is clearly well-made and would be a terrific “regular ride” for most booster-size kids. Overall, the Montecarlo is a very competitive upscale high-back booster seat.
Thank you to Jané for providing the Montecarlo R1 sample for this review. No other compensation was provided and the opinions and comments are entirely those of CarseatBlog.
For more info please see the Jané USA web page.