Editor’s Note: This guest blog does not express the opinions of CarseatBlog. As of 2016, this review is over 6 years old and may not reflect current product or the more competitive marketplace.
This is a review of the Safety 1st Complete Air. It features revolutionary new side impact protection technology called “air protect,” in which the head wings are air filled cushions. This protects the child in two ways: shields the child’s head from impact, and the air in the headrest channels crash energy away, giving the child more ride down time.
So you may be wondering why this carseat is all the new buzz? Along with its innovative new headwings, the Complete Air is only the second carseat to hit the U.S. market that is rated to 40lbs in the rear-facing position. New research indicates that children under 2 years of age are 75% less likely to die or experience serious injury when they ride in a rear-facing car seat, and toddlers between 1 and 2 years of age are 5 times safer rear-facing than toddlers who ride in a front-facing car seat. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children remain rear-facing until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat.
Rear-facing = 5-40lbs (19″-40″)
Forward-facing = 22-50lbs (34″-45″)
Seat Depth = 12 inches
Seat inside width = 12 inches
Seat width = 17 inches
Seat height in lowest position = 10.5 inches
Seat height in highest position =17 inches
Seat back height = 27 inches
- Air protect side impact technology
- Push button LATCH connectors
- Storage for Tether, and LATCH connectors
- 40lbs rear-facing limit
- Tall seat shell for extended rear-facing and forward-facing usage
- Approved for aircraft use
- Detachable cup holder
- Height adjustment levers
- Harness may be adjusted even while seat is installed.
- Not an ideal car seat for newborn.
- Cannot be tethered while rear-facing.
- Allows child to remain rear-facing until child’s head is even with top of seat shell which is 27 inches.
- Made in USA
- Features Safety Tip in Owner’s manual regarding rear-facing safety: “Experts agree that children should remain rear-facing as long as possible. In this child restraint, your child can remain rear-facing up to 40lbs or up to 40 inches.”
- Color coded owner’s manual
- Allows single layer towel to be placed under and behind car seat.
The first time you set eyes on this seat you will notice its generous headwings. Since side impact crashes with vehicle intrusion can be the most violent types of automobile crashes, these wings have been engineered to help protect your child in such a crash. The air filled cushions are quite soft, and should not cause any discomfort to a child. My children actually found this quite nice to rest their heads on, especially when falling asleep in the car. The seat has a 40lb rear-facing limit. Combine that with a very tall seatback and you have a great combination for keeping your child rear-facing for years to come.
The cover seems to fit the shell decently, but definitely isn’t as nice as some other carseats. I am also not sure it is going to wear as well, as the cover is already pilling up near where the child’s feet would lay while rear-facing. The cover is handwash only, and isn’t as easily removable as I would have hoped. The black and grey colors are nicely done though, and will mesh well with many car interiors. The headrest pad is NOT removable.
Upon installing it rear-facing for the first time in my 2005 Honda Odyssey van I noticed immediately that it was going to give me much more room for my front passengers than my Sunshine Kids Radian. This has been a huge issue in our car, so I was happy to see the Complete Air gave me more angle to work with. I installed the seat using LATCH. It is a bit awkward, as there is no slot to pull the slack through to get a good angle on the buckle while pulling. You really need to remove part of the cover and feed the slack through to get a tight install. It wasn’t bad, but definitely not as easy as other installs I have done. Dual lower LATCH connectors in this situation would come in handy. The base angle for rear-facing could be better. I still needed to put a towel/noodle under there for my 3 year old son, otherwise it was too upright. For an infant, plan on using at least one pool noodle if not more.
First ride in the car went great.
My son, who is 3 years old and 34lbs and who is seen here rear-facing, said he was comfortable and the crotch strap seemed long enough as well to not cause any issues. I must say, seeing him in that seat with those protective headwings around him gave me a great sense of security. I think he also enjoyed being able to sit more upright than he was in his previous carseat. The straps are a bit twisty in my opinion for the price tag though.
My daughter is 5 years old and 35lbs. She is rear-facing as well in this seat. Thanks to the 40lb rear-facing limit on this seat she can remain rear-facing for awhile longer. They both enjoy rear-facing and are quite comfortable. The seat offers them plenty of leg room and gives them the option to place their legs where ever they want. They have both been riding in the Complete Air for several weeks now. I think their thoughts on the seat are clear from the smiles on their faces in these pictures.
In conclusion, the Complete Air has some awesome features and will make a great option for someone wanting to extend rear-face, or for someone who has a larger baby who needs that extra rear-facing weight limit and seatback height. It’s very impressive looking and I think it will be a popular seat.
Safety conscious Mom to 2 kiddos, and Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician