2020 Evenflo LiteMax DLX Infant Carseat Review – Premium Safety Features Without the Premium Price Tag

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Evenflo LiteMax DLX Review: Rollover Tested Rear-Facing Only Infant Carseat with Load Leg

In recent years, Evenflo has been on the cutting edge of carseat safety. They were an early adopter of side-impact testing and they were the first in the industry to implement rollover testing of their carseats. Now they are making load leg safety technology available to the masses with the budget-friendly Evenflo LiteMax DLX infant car seat.

Evenflo LiteMax DLX Specs & Features:
  • Rear-facing only
  • 4-35 pounds
  • 17-32 inches, at least 1” shell above head
  • With physician approval, Evenflo states their LiteMax and SafeMax seats can be used for infants weighing as little as 3 lbs. and as short as 15.75″ tall
  • No-rethread harness system
  • 5 harness height/headrest positions
  • 3 crotch buckle positions
  • 3 hip-width positions
  • 4-position adjustable base with load leg
  • Tensioning lockoff for secure seatbelt and LATCH installs
  • SureSafe™ push-on LATCH connectors and plastic LATCH anchor guides
  • European belt routing option for baseless install
  • Dual-zone recline angle indicator
  • Thick energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Cover and soft goods (strap and buckle covers) are machine washable
  • FAA-approved for use in an airplane (carrier only)
  • 6-year lifespan before expiration
  • Made in China
  • MSRP $169.99

LiteMax DLX Measurements:
  • Harness slot heights: 6.5”, 7.25”, 8.5″, 9.75”, 11” without the insert
  • Lowest harness slot height with body insert: approximately 5.5” (the curved nature of the insert makes it a little tough to measure). The insert must be used for babies weighing less than 6 lbs.
  • Crotch strap/buckle positions (without insert): 2.5″, 4″, 5.5″ *
  • Hip width positions: 3″, 6″, 9″ **
  • Internal shell height: 19”
  • Length of carrier without base: 28.5”
  • Width of base at widest point: 15”
  • Width of carrier at widest point: 17.5” (outside of handles)
  • Carrier weight: 8.6 pounds (on my home scale)
2020 LiteMax DLX Fashions: Mallard & Meteorite

Installation Comments:

Lockoff

The LiteMax DLX has a lockoff tensioner in the base that makes it easy to install the base securely. The lockoff is used for both seatbelt and LATCH installations, but should never be used with both the seatbelt and LATCH at the same time. Pick one installation method or the other but either way, you will be routing the latch strap or the seatbelt under the lockoff. If you are installing with seatbelt, attach the LATCH connectors to their storage locations on the sides of the base.

Recline Angle Indicator

The base of the LiteMax DLX has 2 different weight ranges for proper recline of the infant. The light blue zone is for smaller infants (4-20 pounds) and the green zone is for larger infants (20-35 pounds). If the maximum recline angle provided by the 4-position adjustable recline foot is inadequate for the child’s size, a towel or small blanket can be rolled and placed under the foot of the base to increase the recline angle. While the indicator is easy to read, it is only on one side, making it tough to view on the driver’s side of the car, especially if there is an adjacent seat installed. Important – Make sure the vehicle is parked on level ground when installing your base.   

Handle Positions

Evenflo allows the handle on the LiteMax DLX to be left UP in the vehicle. In the United States (but not in Canada) it may also be rotated to position 3, which is at the head of the infant carrier.

1.5″ Clearance Rule

Evenflo requires 1.5″ of clearance space between any part of the infant carrier and the driver or front passenger’s seat directly in front of it. However, this 1.5″ clearance rule applies only to installations in the outboard seating positions of a vehicle. If you are able to install LiteMax DLX in the rear center seating position, where there is not a front vehicle seat directly in front of the carseat, you do NOT need to have 1.5″ of clearance space.

Lower LATCH Anchor Installation

The 4-position adjustable base on the Evenflo LiteMax DLX Infant Seat comes with easy push-on lower LATCH connectors that feature a pull tab release. The LATCH strap may be stored inside the lockoff compartment so check there if you don’t see it.

First, lower the load leg so it contacts the floor of the vehicle (you can make minor adjustments after the seat is installed). Ensure that the recline angle will be correct by pushing the base into the vehicle seat using your full weight (to simulate how it will be positioned once it’s tightly installed). If necessary, adjust the recline angle by turning the knob on the base until you achieve the appropriate angle on the recline angle indicator.

Open the lockoff by pushing down on the lockoff door itself and pushing the release tab out of the way at the same time. Attach the LATCH connectors to the lower LATCH anchor bars in the vehicle, tighten the strap so all the slack is taken out, then close the lockoff door. I suggest what I describe as a “CPR Compression” move to close the lockoff with both hands, as the tensioning bar does require a bit of force with this step. If the lockoff won’t close, you may need to loosen the latch strap slightly.

Check for tightness at the belt path to ensure that you have less than an inch of movement side-to-side and front-to-back. Check the load leg to make sure it is in contact with the vehicle floor, not lifting the back of the base up off the vehicle seat, and that the indicators on both the base and on the bottom of the load leg are green. Make adjustments if necessary.

LATCH installation in center seating position with non-standard spacing – Evenflo does allow you to borrow the lower anchors from the outboard seats for a center install as long as the spacing between the anchor bars is between 11″ – 20″ AND your vehicle specifically allows it (check the manual!).

Seatbelt Installation

To install with seatbelt, first store your LATCH connectors on the base. The connectors clip onto the sides of the base.

Now, lower the load leg and press down on the base with your full weight to order to determine if the recline angle will be correct once it’s installed. If more recline is needed, turn the knob on the base to drop the foot down. Open the lockoff by pushing down on the lockoff door and pushing the release tab out of the way at the same time. Route both the lap and shoulder portions of the seatbelt through the beltpath and buckle. Slide both the lap and shoulder belt portions of the seatbelt through the little black plastic clip that also holds the LATCH strap in place.

Next, remove the slack from the seatbelt and close the lockoff. Again, I suggest a two-handed push as if you’re doing a CPR compression in order to shut the tensioning lockoff. If the lockoff won’t close, you may need to loosen the seatbelt slightly. Check for tightness at the beltpath to ensure that you have less than an inch of movement side-to-side and front-to-back. Check the load leg to make sure it is in contact with the vehicle floor, not lifting the back of the base up off the vehicle seat, and that the indicators on both the base and on the bottom of the load leg are green. Make adjustments if necessary.

If you have a lap-only seatbelt, route the loose tail end of the vehicle belt under the lockoff as well. If you have a seatbelt “button” that interferes with the closing of the lockoff, slide the base slightly to one side or the other to move the button out of the way. Again, check at the beltpath to ensure that you have less than an inch of movement side-to-side and front-to-back.

Inflatable Seatbelts – At this time, Evenflo does NOT allow installation with inflatable seatbelts found in some Ford, Lincoln or Mercedes Benz with their carseats. If you have a vehicle with these types of seatbelts, use LATCH to install this seat.

More about the Load Leg – The Shining Star of the LiteMax DLX Infant Seat

This feature is just too awesome not to get its own paragraph. A load leg is a significant safety feature that stabilizes the seat in a crash. A load leg limits the downward rotation that a rear-facing car seat makes in a frontal crash and subsequently, it also helps to reduce the amount of rebound (the secondary motion) the seat experiences. If the seat isn’t able to rotate down much, then subsequently it is not able to rebound much either. This is a proven safety feature that is known to reduce the forces on the child occupant in a crash. Until now, only a few very expensive infant seats offered this important safety feature. The Evenflo LiteMax DLX is the first budget-friendly car seat to feature a load leg and we’re grateful for that. Getting premium safety features without the premium price tag is always something to celebrate!

If you already have a different LiteMax seat from Evenflo, you will be happy to know that the DLX base is cross-compatible with all versions of LiteMax infant car seats. You can add a load leg to your existing LiteMax seat simply by getting a LiteMax DLX base, which is sold separately.

Base Bottom of Base

It took me longer than it probably should have to figure out how to fold out the load leg from the base; the manual didn’t give any specific instruction on this little detail, but I finally figured out that there is a tiny little catch that holds the leg in place when it’s not in use. It takes a little force to release it but it’s easy once you figure it out.

Installation Without Base

The LiteMax DLX carrier can be installed without the base using one of two methods: by threading the lap belt portion through the guides on the top of the carrier and leaving the shoulder belt portion of the seat belt against the back seat, or by wrapping the shoulder belt portion of the seatbelt around the back of the carrier, which is commonly known as “Euro routing.” If your seatbelt is long enough to go around the back of the car seat, the Euro belt routing is preferred because it limits the ability of the carrier to rotate down in a frontal crash, similar in function to a load leg. If your seatbelt is not long enough to wrap behind the shell, use the traditional baseless installation method.

Fit-to-Child

Infant Inserts & Harness Adjustments

Adjusting the harness height is a breeze with the adjustment handle on the top of the headrest. Adjust the harness so it is at or slightly below your child’s shoulder level.

There are 3 crotch strap/buckle positions in the shell, but only 2 slits in the cover to route the buckle through. For the smallest babies, the crotch strap can be shortened (pictured below). If you have a preemie or low-birthweight newborn, you may want to shorten the crotch strap in order to achieve a more ideal harness fit. With the buckle in the innermost position, take the metal anchor and route it back through the middle slot as shown below. This optional small baby routing is ONLY to be used for infants weighing less than 8 lbs, if needed. Once your baby weighs more than 8 lbs., the instructions say you must return to using the full-length crotch strap.

The infant body support insert on this model is required for children under 6 lbs., which is a difference from the standard LiteMax model. As this varies from one model to the next, please be sure to carefully review your LiteMax owner’s manual to be sure. There is no particular weight when this insert must be removed – the manual states that the insert should be removed when “it presses the child’s legs uncomfortably against the buckle”. Most newborns won’t need or benefit from using the insert.

The hip width adjustment is a bit tricky as you have to route the harness through two different slots. The foam kind of gets in the way and makes it challenging, as you have to get just the right angle to push the clip through the slot. There are 3 hip-width settings, but again, only 2 slits in the fabric. The hip-width adjustments are a little confusing and can be difficult, which could lead to misuse. However, these adjustments are optional, and we recommend that you just leave the hip straps in the middle setting.

Harness Fit

The fit on our 20″ newborn doll was great using the lowest harness setting and the innermost crotch buckle position. I did not shorten the crotch strap because it wasn’t needed, the crotch strap length was fine as-is. This doll also did not need the optional infant insert, so it was removed.

The smallest settings on LiteMax DLX are quite small and should fit a 4-pound preemie or small newborn. The manual states that the infant insert is required for infants weighing less than 6 lbs.

With the harness in its lowest height setting, the crotch strap shortened, and using the included lower body insert, the 4-pound Huggable Images preemie doll fits comfortably in the seat. The harness is right at the doll’s shoulders.

Although the instructions and labels on our LiteMax DLX model state that the seat is rated for children 4-35 lbs, Evenflo has retroactively updated their weight and height requirements for all LiteMax infant car seats so now they can be used with infants as small as 3 lbs. and as short as 15.75″ tall.

For the Huggable Images Newborn Doll which represents a smaller newborn, I used the standard infant routing (as the seat comes from the factory) and the fit was also great with and without the insert.

HI Infant Doll 17" Tall Huggable Images Infant Without Insert

The buckle and hip settings should be fine for most average newborns in the middle position, which is how they are set when the seat comes out of the box. The manual says to use this middle setting for babies weighing approximately 6-20 lbs. In case you do need to adjust the seat for use with an infant under approximately 6 lbs, or for a larger infant or toddler weighing more than 20 lbs, here is a video showing how that is done.

Last but not least, pictured below is the toddler-sized Huggable Images doll which represents a 31″ tall, 16-month-old. The first photo shows the seat properly adjusted for the 31″ doll, and the second photo shows how much higher the headrest still has to adjust. There is plenty of growing room left; I feel the height of this seat will easily accommodate kids to 32”, even if they have a long torso.

Huggable Images Toddler, Proper Fit 16 Mo. HI Doll in SafeMax DLX

Cover/Maintenance:

The cover is machine washable (wash separately in cold water, delicate cycle) and can be tumbled dry on low heat for 10-15 minutes. The cover was not hard to remove, but it took some patience and several steps.

The harness can be wiped clean with mild soap and water. Allow the harness to air dry. Never use harsh detergents/cleaners on the harness webbing and never put the harness in a washing machine or dryer.

To help protect your vehicle seats, Evenflo allows a towel to be placed beneath and behind the car seat. Evenflo also makes a Car Seat Accessory Kit which includes a vehicle seat protector (aka, car seat mat) that is approved for use with all Evenflo car seats.

FAA-Approval/Lifespan/Crash Guidelines:
  • FAA certified for use on airplanes (carrier only; the base cannot be used on a plane)
  • 6-year lifespan before expiration
  • Must be replaced after any crash
Stroller Compatibility:

The Evenflo LiteMax DLX is compatible with any of Evenflo’s strollers that can accommodate a LiteMax or SafeMax infant seat, such as the popular Evenflo Pivot Xpand modular stroller which has 22 configurations and easily converts from a single to a double stroller.

LiteMax DLX Infant Seat Advantages:
  • Has a load leg, a tensioning lockoff, and a no-rethread harness – all for under $150!
  • Fits preemies and small babies very well
  • Generous shell height also accommodates tall babies well
  • Multiple settings for strap height, hip-width, and buckle position
  • Lockoff can be used for seatbelt or for lower LATCH anchor installations
  • 4-position base with push-on LATCH connectors
  • EPS foam lines the entire inside of the carrier
  • Euro belt routing option when installed without the base
  • Lightweight carrier
  • Plush seat cover and infant insert
  • Generous canopy
  • Side-impact and rollover tested
Disadvantages:
  • Compared to the original Evenflo LiteMax model, the harness height on this version cannot be adjusted quite as low for preemies. However, it still adjusts smaller than most other infant seats on the market, and this is largely compensated for with the infant insert.
  • The hip-width adjustments are a little confusing and can be difficult, which could lead to misuse. However, these adjustments are optional, and we recommend that you just leave the hip straps in the middle setting.
  • All Evenflo infant car seats require at least 1.5″ of clearance between the back of the car seat and the vehicle front seat when the carseat is installed in an outboard seating position. However, if LiteMax is installed in the center of the vehicle, this rule doesn’t apply.
  • Stroller compatibility is limited to Evenflo strollers.
Conclusion:

Evenflo has been a trusted and reliable car seat manufacturer for decades. With the introduction of the LiteMax DLX, Evenflo is the first to offer the exceptional safety benefits of load leg technology on an affordable infant car seat. LiteMax DLX features an easy-to-use lockoff, a no-rethread harness, plush fabrics, and a generous canopy. The optional Euro beltpath routing when installing without the base is a nice bonus too. The harness fit on very small infants is fantastic and the wide range of adjustability allows this seat to fit a variety of infants and young toddlers. Between the safety features, the ease of installation, the harness fit, and the overall quality of the seat – we would absolutely recommend the LiteMax DLX Infant Seat to parents in the market for a new infant car seat. Additionally, the DLX base with load leg is a worthy upgrade if you already own any Evenflo LiteMax carseat and are in the market for another base.

For more information on the Evenflo LiteMax DLX Infant Seat, visit Evenflo’s website.

Thank you, Evenflo, for providing the LiteMax DLX Infant Seat for this review. No other compensation was provided and the opinions in this blog are entirely those of CarseatBlog.

One Response

  1. Onyinye Elochukwu October 28, 2020

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