Author Archive

Updated Consumer Reports Convertible Car Seat Ratings

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

Back in late 2015, Consumer Reports released it’s first round of Convertible Car Seat Ratings based on it’s newer crash testing protocol.  We published an article about their testing and ratings at the time: https://carseatblog.com/36420/

Britax Boulevard ClickTight

Since then, they have added and updated a few models in their ratings.  The latest Britax ClickTight convertible models, Boulevard, Advocate and Marathon, now top their list in overall score and receive a “BEST” crash protection rating.  Some models like the Nuna Rava and Graco Extend2Fit were not tested in the original report.  Both have since been tested and receive “BETTER” crash protection ratings.  Also, updated versions of the Britax “G4.1” models have improved their crash protection ratings from “BASIC” to “BETTER”, they are now called the Britax Emblem and Allegiance.

For subscribers, the updated ratings can be found here: https://www.consumerreports.org/products/convertible-car-seat/ratings-overview/

We also discuss their latest round of testing for combination harness/booster car seats here: https://carseatblog.com/47321/

Safest Family Minivans and SUVs for 2019 with 3rd Row Seats

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

Safest Family Vehicles for 7 or 8 Passengers in 2019

Are safety and seating at least a few kids your most important considerations when selecting a new vehicle?  You aren’t alone!  Sure, it looks great that the model you want has an IIHS Top Safety Pick “Plus” award, but for many vehicles, this award only applies to top trim levels with options packages that may cost a fortune if you can even find one on a dealer’s lot.  Plus, a top IIHS rating doesn’t always mean top crash test results from the NHTSA.  SafeDad helps you shorten the list of dozens of very safe 7+ passenger vehicles to just a handful of the safest and most family friendly models for 2019.  We also identify which ones can be inexpensively equipped with the necessary features to qualify for top safety awards, such that you can find one properly equipped at a local dealer.

For 2019, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety not only requires a “Good” result in the driver-side small overlap crash test to qualify for a “Top Safety Pick+” rating, but now also requires a “Good” headlight rating as well a “Good” rating in the newer passenger-side small overlap crash test.  Models that earn an “Acceptable” headlight or passenger-side small overlap test rating can earn the “Top Safety Pick” rating only.  The IIHS also demands a front crash prevention system.  These systems are not all created equal; some are only basic warnings that no longer qualify for an award, while advanced ones can actually brake in emergency situations and some are more likely to avoid a crash than lesser systems.  To earn IIHS awards, an auto-brake system with an “Advanced” or “Superior” rating is still required. The IIHS claims that most automakers have pledged to make these features standard by 2022 or earlier, though some already do.

The NHTSA ratings remain the same in 2019, with a 5-star overall rating based on two frontal crash tests, four side impact tests and a non-crash rollover risk rating.  It’s not always clear how the individual crash test results affect the overall rating, so we must rely on the overall rating to separate our qualifiers from the rest of the pack.

Subaru and Honda have set a nice trend for inexpensive advanced safety feature packages available on low and mid trim levels.  This year, we again recognize Toyota for making all these features standard on all trim levels of nearly all of their vehicles. That means even the least expensive Highlander and Sienna models now have advanced crash avoidance features for 2018 and 2019, making these important improvements to safety easy to find on dealer’s lots!

Many publications only use either the NHTSA crash tests OR the IIHS ratings as the basis for their recommendations, leaving an incomplete assessment of overall safety.  Some are subjective and apply different standards based on personal preferences or corporate sponsors.  So how do we filter the list of so many family vehicles that have earned safety awards?  It’s very simple and completely objective:

What 3-row vehicles make the cut to qualify for our awards?  Even with new IIHS Top Safety Pick requirements, a record 14 make the cut in this review, up from 10 in last year’s guide.  Some models simply lack test results and may be added later. For example, many very safe luxury models like the Volvo XC90 have not been tested in the newer IIHS passenger-side small overlap crash test or the NHTSA crash testing.  Other very safe 3-row vehicles miss our requirements simply due to a “Marginal” headlight rating that prevented them from earning an IIHS Top Safety Pick award.  The Audi Q7, Volkswagen Atlas and GMC Acadia AWD would all be standout qualifiers other than this minor shortcoming.  Slightly larger than many other midsize crossover SUVs, these models are all definitely worth considering as well.  Our threshold for qualification is high, but based upon objective IIHS and NHTSA ratings that are well known to manufacturers.

As a testament to how safe all these vehicles are for families, we recommend nearly all of the 2019 qualifiers as well as those Honorable Mentions that fell a little short, usually only in terms of the IIHS headlight ratings. The exception is the Mitsubishi Outlander, due to its relatively small size and various restrictions that make installations of multiple carseats more difficult than the others on the list.  If your vehicle is not on the list, that doesn’t mean it is unsafe!  That said, here are the finalists:

  1. 2014-2018 Acura MDX
  2. 2017-2019 Chrysler Pacifica
  3. 2018-2019 Honda Odyssey
  4. 2016-2019 Honda Pilot
  5. 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe
  6. 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL
  7. 2017-2018 Kia Sedona
  8. 2018-2019 Kia Sorento
  9. 2018 Lexus RX
  10. 2018-2019 Mazda CX-9
  11. 2017-2019 Mitsubishi Outlander
  12. 2019 Nissan Pathfinder
  13. 2019 Subaru Ascent
  14. 2017-2019 Toyota Highlander

For our top pick, we give preference to models that have already received a “Good” result in the newer passenger side small overlap crash test.  A top-rated frontal crash avoidance system that earns a 6-point “Superior” rating is also an advantage, as are STANDARD active crash avoidance features and flexible seating for passengers and car seats.  For our runners-up and honorable mentions, we do not place as much emphasis on non-crash test results, such as headlight ratings.

And the Safest 2019 3-row Family Vehicle is:

2018-2019 Honda Odyssey. The 2018-19 Odyssey is among a handful of qualifiers to receive a “Good” IIHS Small Overlap frontal crash test result for both driver and passenger sides.  In addition, it has stellar results in all the IIHS and NHTSA crash tests.  Its long overdue “Superior” front crash prevention system avoided crashes in both IIHS tests and is STANDARD on the EX trim level and up starting in 2018.  The Odyssey’s only blemish is headlight coverage that kept it from an IIHS TSP “Plus” award, as it earned an “Acceptable” rating on Touring and Elite trims only.

While the EX and EX-L trims have only a “Marginal” headlight rating, they are still an impressive value for excellent safety with standard front crash prevention and top crash test results for around $34,000.  Also, in our opinion, the Magic Slide feature is very handy, and Odyssey is still the best family hauler on the market in terms of fitting multiple child safety seats.  In that regard, it’s also one of the few 3-row vehicles to earn the IIHS “G+” rating for ease-of-use with its plentiful top tether and lower car seat anchors.  The increased weight and larger dimensions may also be a benefit in terms of crash safety over a midsize SUV, while that added interior space makes those SUVs pale in comparison when looking at flexibility for passengers and cargo.

Reolink Argus Pro Quick Review

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

The Reolink Argus Pro is a nice, compact outdoor HD camera.  It comes with everything you need to setup a cordless, weatherproof security monitor.  You can buy the Argus Pro at Amazon.com for $94.99.  The Argus Pro worked great for me as a front door camera, but the mounting options make it flexible enough to go just about anywhere.  My main concern was having to charge it frequently since it’s not wired to an outlet.  So far, I’ve had it running for a few weeks and the battery is still at 80% with the default settings!  There’s also an optional solar panel for continuous operation and you can charge it with the included USB cable from any outlet using a standard charger (not included). Looking for an indoor baby/pet/security cam?  Check out our review of the Reolink C1 Pro.

For security purposes, you can automatically save recordings to a micro SD card (not included) whenever motion is detected, or they are beta testing a cloud backup system where you can review activity online.

Argus Pro Features:

  • 1080P High Definition
  • Rechargeable Battery Included
  • Smart Motion Sensor
  • Two-way audio
  • Hardware and strap mount included
  • Infrared Night vision (to 33 ft.)
  • Weatherproof
  • Reolink smartphone App
  • Motion detection record to micro SD card
  • Optional solar power panel

PROS:

Graco Nautilus SnugLock LX Giveaway

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

This week we’ve partnered with our generous sponsor, Graco, to give away a beautiful, brand new Nautilus SnugLock LX Combination Seat. This all-new Nautilus model is incredibly easy to install with the new “SnugLock” lockoff feature! Winner’s fashion choice will be limited to what is currently in stock at Graco.

This promotion is now closed. A winner will be announced shortly!

Graco Nautilus SnugLock LX Specs:

  • Forward-Facing with harness: 22-65 lbs., up to 49″ tall
  • Highback Booster: 40-100 lbs., 43-57″, at least 4 yrs old
  • Backless Booster: 40-100 lbs., 43-57″, at least 4 yrs old
  • Slimmer Backless Booster (armrests removed): up to 120 lbs.

Nautilus SnugLock LX Features:

  • 3 forward-facing seats in one (harness + highback booster + backless booster)
  • Snuglock feature for easy installation with either LATCH or seatbelt
  • SnugLock feature acts as lockoff device when installing with seatbelt (so there is no need to also lock your seatbelt)
  • 6-position no-rethread harness
  • Premium push-on LATCH connectors
  • 4-position recline in harness mode
  • Built-in storage for the harness when using in booster mode
  • Removable armrests when used in booster mode (gives older kids more hip room)
  • Steel-reinforced frame
  • 10-year lifespan before expiration
  • MSRP $219.99

   

How to Enter Nautilus SnugLock LX Giveaway:

  • Leave us a comment below (required to be eligible to win), then click on Rafflecopter to qualify yourself. 
  • For extra entries, be sure to follow the Rafflecopter instructions to like and follow our Facebook page, like and follow Graco’s Facebook page and tweet about the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  

Now for the fine print – winner must have a USA shipping address to claim the prize. Only one prize will be awarded to one winner. Fashion choices will be limited to what is currently in stock at Graco. Only one entry per household/family, please. If you leave more than one comment, only the first one will count. We reserve the right to deem any entry as ineligible for any reason, though this would normally only be done in the case of a violation of the spirit of the rules above. We also reserve the right to edit/update the rules for any reason. The contest will close on Monday, November 12th, 2018, at 10 PM Eastern Time and one random winner will be chosen shortly thereafter. If a winner is deemed ineligible based on shipping restrictions or other issues or does not respond to accept the prize within 7 days, a new winner will be selected.

Please note: If this is your first comment at CarseatBlog, or if you are using a different computer/device or a new email address, your comment may not appear immediately. If you are in the US or Canada, your comment is not lost; it just goes into a moderated queue where it has to be manually approved by one of us. This may take a few hours depending on our availability. If you are outside of the US or Canada, your comment may be blocked by our system. Thank you for understanding, as this is the only way we have to manage spam comments.

Good luck!