2018 Essentials by Britax Emblem Convertible Carseat: Bye-Bye Britax Boulevard G4.1!
Britax has always been a premium carseat brand with luxe padding, push-on LATCH connectors, innovative safety features, and more. Late last year, Britax retired their G4.1 line of convertible carseats and focused solely on their ClickTight convertibles. Rather than abandon a solid platform altogether, they shifted it over to a new company: Essentials by Britax, a line of more affordable and accessible carseats for parents and caregivers who want the Britax ease-of-use and safety features without the top-of-the-line Britax price tag. The Britax Marathon G4.1 and Boulevard G4.1 are now the Essentials by Britax Allegiance and Emblem. The changes between the Britax and the Essentials by Britax seats are minor, but just enough to justify the price drop. We focus on the Emblem in this review.
Emblem Weight and Height Limits:
- Rear-facing: 5-40 lbs., and head is 1” below red adjustment handle
- Forward-facing: 20-65 lbs., and 49” or less, and tops of the ears are below the top of the head restraint
- SafeCell™ Technology in the base: these cells compress in a crash, which lowers the center of gravity of the child and reduces forward head excursion
- Energy-absorbing EPP foam that lines the entire back and sides of the plastic shell
- Energy-absorbing, rip-stitch Versa-Tether®
- HUGS chest pads
- Integrated steel bars strengthen the seat and keep it from flexing forward in a crash
- 2 layers of side impact protection: deep protective shell and an energy-absorbing headrest
- No re-thread harness with 10 harness height positions
- 2 crotch strap positions
- Infant cushion for children up to 22 lbs.
- Built-in lockoffs
- Dual lower deluxe push-on LATCH connectors (one strap for each side of the carseat—no feeding it through the belt path)
- Smooth bottom base with grippy edges that won’t damage vehicle upholstery
- $239.99 at Amazon.com
- Harness height: 9”-17”, 6 ½” bottom slots with infant cushion
- External widest point: 19″
- Usable shell height with headrest: 26”
- Shoulder width: 13”
- Crotch strap depth: 4 ½”, 7”
- Seat depth: 11.5”
- Seat weight: 18.6 lbs.
- Rear-facing LATCH weight limit: 40 lbs.
- Forward-facing LATCH weight limit: 50 lbs.
- Installation is color-coded for ease: blue for rear-facing, green for forward-facing
- Top tether length has been shortened, but for the most part, this shouldn’t be a problem. Contact Britax at 1-888-427-4829 for a tether extender.
Center LATCH Installations with Non-Standard Spacing:
Permitted only in designated LATCH positions; if your vehicle doesn’t have dedicated lower LATCH anchors in the center seating position, you cannot install this carseat with LATCH.
Inflatable Seat Belts:
- The infant cushion MUST be used for children weighing 22 lbs. or less in a rear-facing position. DO NOT use over 22 lbs. DO NOT use in a forward-facing position. There’s even a label on it in case you forget!
- Use the lockoff closest to the buckle if installing the Emblem with a seat belt. It’s a bit counterintuitive: you close the lockoff first, then pull the seat belt tight.
- The Emblem expires 7 years after date of manufacture and Britax follows the NHTSA crash replacement policy.
In the following pics, Romeo the doll is about the size of a large newborn, J is 2 and weighs 29.5 lbs., and L is 4 and weighs 40 lbs.
- Deep headwings provide enhanced protection in side-impact crashes
- Durable EPP foam, rip-stitch tether, HUGS pads and SafeCell Technology in base all work together to absorb energy in a crash
- One of the easiest LATCH installs on the market!
- “Non-Handed” lower LATCH straps allow you to easily switch the connectors from rear-facing to forward-facing and vice versa
- No re-thread harness makes it easy to adjust the harness height when your child has a growth spurt
- Relatively easy to tighten and loosen harness straps
- Harness straps are thick and not prone to twisting
- Velcro on harness keeps straps out of the way when loading and unloading child from seat
- EZ-Buckle System keeps belly pad and buckle out of the way when loading child in the seat
- Buckle style is easy to buckle and unbuckle
- Harness straps are replaceable if necessary
- HUGS pads may be removed when the child is rear-facing (but they are required for forward-facing)
- Rear-facing recline angle range of 30-45 degrees allowed
- Doesn’t take up a lot of room rear-facing (especially if you don’t need a full 45* recline). 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!
- May be difficult to clamp the lockoffs closed in some vehicles if installing with seatbelt
- Seatbelt installation using lockoff is not intuitive—read and follow directions carefully
- Rear-facing legroom is generally less than some other competitive (non-Britax) convertible models