Graco Milestone, Graco 4Ever & Evenflo Symphony with SureLATCH top the All-in-One ratings from Consumer Reports
3 years ago Consumer Reports implemented a new, more rigorous crash test for carseats and started releasing the results of their ratings to subscribers. CR’s goal in creating the new test wasn’t to recreate the wheel. We know every carseat on the market here in the U.S. must be able to pass a basic frontal crash test (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213), therefore we consider all carseats on the market to be “safe” because they can all pass this baseline test. However, we also know that all carseats are NOT created equal and it would be naive to assume that they all provide exactly the same levels of protection.
Consumer Reports set out to find which seats provide additional margins of safety, above and beyond FMVSS 213, and so they developed their new crash test to be more rigorous than the federal standards. Their crash test ratings scale will indicate a “BASIC,” “BETTER,” or “BEST” rating to indicate how well the child restraint performed as compared with the rest of the seats in that “peer group” category. One main focus of this new crash test is head protection, since head injuries are very common in crashes, even among properly restrained children.
This crash test was designed by an automotive safety engineer and peer-reviewed by an independent crash testing expert with 40 years of experience in the field. Testing is performed at an independent, outside testing facility. This test utilizes an actual contemporary vehicle seat (a 2010 Ford Flex 2nd row seat) with a floor below it, unlike the government test which has a 70’s era back seat bench with no floor. There’s a “blocker plate” (pictured above) installed in front of the test seat to simulate the front seat in a vehicle. The blocker plate is intended to recreate the interaction that happens in real life crashes when the child or the carseat interacts with the back of the front seat. In addition, the speed of this test is set at 35 mph (instead of 30 mph which is standard in FMVSS testing). Those who follow vehicle ratings will recognize the 35 mph speed as the same speed used to crash vehicles in the NCAP program. CR’s new test applies 36% more energy to carseats than their old test protocol and a more severe test results in a greater distinction among carseat performance.
Consumer Reports crash tested 14 All-in-One models in up to 7 configurations, both forward-facing and rear-facing, with various dummy sizes, using LATCH or a 3-point seatbelt. Several models that received a “BEST” rating for crash protection are also on our Recommended Carseats List. We recommend the Graco Milestone, Graco 4Ever and Evenflo Symphony DLX/Elite with SureLATCH because of their ease of use and fit-to-child in all 3 modes (rear-facing, forward-facing & booster).
In addition to the Crash Protection Rating, Consumer Reports still gives each model an overall numeric “Score.” This is based in part on the Crash Protection Rating and also other more subjective factors, such as ease-of-use and fit-to-vehicle in various modes.
Top Performers in the All-in-One Category
Graco Milestone (Overall Score 79), Graco 4Ever* (overall score 75) and Evenflo Symphony 65 DLX/Elite models with SureLATCH (Overall Score 72) were the top 3 performers in overall scores and each received a BEST rating for crash protection. Other All-in-One models that were tested in this round by Consumer Reports include the Safety 1st Grow and Go lineup, the Diono Radian lineup**, Evenflo SafeMax All-in-One and some addional Safety 1st All-in-One models. Thankfully, all the models tested in this round received either a BEST or a BETTER score for crash protection. Subscribers to Consumer Reports can see the complete ratings HERE.
*Graco 4Ever was only tested for belt fit in highback booster mode. It was not tested for proper belt fit as a backless booster.
**Diono Radian models (R100, R120 & RXT) were NOT crash tested rear-facing using the angle adjuster accessory because this is an accessory product that does not come in the box with the seat. Diono Rainier was tested but there was some confusion regarding availability so results for that seat will be added soon.