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Haulin’ The Family: Ford F150 SuperCrew Review

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2019 Ford F-150 Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety

When I was asked if I’d like to review the best-selling vehicle in the country, I said sure, figuring it would be something like an Accord or a RAV4. It turns out the best-selling vehicle in America is the Ford F150, which took me by surprise. I’m always up for driving a fully-loaded, brand-new vehicle for a week, though, so I was game to test out a 2019 Ford F150 SuperCrew Limited.

While it’s true that a lot of pickup trucks are probably bought more for work purposes than for family-hauling, pickups can be great options for people who need to do both, or for parents who just like the versatility of having a huge cargo area plus room to seat their kids.

This review will focus primarily on features that are important to the average parent, like safety, comfort, and, of course, car seats. Here’s a general video overview, and we’ll go into more detail down below:

Safety Features

As a Child Passenger Safety Technician, safety is my top priority when it comes to vehicles. A pickup truck’s large size will give it an advantage on the road, but that’s just part of it. Vehicle manufacturers are adding more and more safety features to satisfy customers and to improve their ratings in government and IIHS testing, and Ford has lots of safety options available for the F150.

The F150 Limited I drove came with all the safety features: blind-spot detection, lane-keep assist, automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, backup camera with 360-degree view, cross-traffic warning and more. As you go lower in trim levels, you’ll lose some of those features, but even the base model includes automatic emergency braking.

The F150 also comes with a full array of airbags, including the option of inflatable airbags in the rear outboard seatbelts. I’ll go into more detail on those in the carseat section.

I’ll admit I’m kind of nervous about driving large vehicles (especially at first), so features like blind-spot detection help give me peace of mind that I won’t run over a Smart Car. I’m also notoriously bad at parking, and the larger the vehicle, the worse I do. That’s why I loved the birdseye-view camera to help me not be so crooked in parking spaces.

The Limited also has a feature that will essentially parallel-park the truck for you. I didn’t have an opportunity to try it out, but it seems like a great option for those of us who are parking-challenged.

Driving and Comfort

Oh, my, the comfort…Where to begin?

Let me start by telling you that the F150 Limited has massaging seats. You can stop reading now and just go buy one if you’d like.

The seats are also heated and air-conditioned, so if you ever need a little “me time,” you can just go hang out in your truck.

If you’re still cold even with the heated seats, take advantage of the heated steering wheel as well. If you have backseat passengers who aren’t in car seats, they will also appreciate the heated second-row seats.

The center console is absolutely enormous. You could—but shouldn’t—store a small child in there. BubbleBum for scale:

A panoramic sunroof brightens up the whole car, as do tons of cool blue lights at night. (Even the cupholders glow.) LED lights also illuminate the truck bed at night, making it easy to find stuff in the dark.

Automatic retractable (and lit) running boards make it easy for kids and shorter adults to get in and out of the truck without hurting themselves or making fools of themselves.

The Limited has the option of serving as its own WiFi hot spot, which can come in very handy on long trips with kids. The truck is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smooth integration.

If you don’t need to have anyone riding in the middle of the back seat, an armrest/cupholder console folds down for convenience and comfort.

Did I mention it has massaging seats?

I’m not an expert on truck beds and sizes and whatnot, so I won’t try to get technical about it. I do know that on the occasions we need to haul stuff, getting it into the bed of an F150 would be a lot easier than shoving it into the back of our Odyssey, as we do now. I didn’t need to haul anything other than groceries during my test-drive period, so I didn’t really put that feature to use, although I think my husband was itching to throw some lumber back there.

Jennie, enjoying a massage

I’m not going to say that driving the F150 felt like driving a car, because it didn’t, and that’s okay. The ride was kind of bumpy, but that’s to be expected with an unladen pickup bed. (Get the massaging chair going, and you can’t really tell the difference between bumps in the road and the lumbar roller anyway.) To be honest, after the first few minutes of driving, I didn’t even notice the bumpiness anymore. The truck handled very nicely, and driving it wound up being pretty fun, even if it did take some getting used to.

The F150 Limited does have a fuel-saving option that idles the engine once you’ve been stopped for a while. Although it saves energy, I personally don’t like the associated lag that happens once I start accelerating. The option is easy enough to turn off when you don’t want it, though.

Carseats

In many ways the F150 is a dream for carseats, but there are a few important details to keep in mind.

New Virginia Law Requires Rear-Facing Until 2…Sort Of

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More and more states are adopting laws requiring children to remain in rear-facing carseats until at least 2 years old. The most recent is Virginia, which has a new law going into effect July 1, 2019.

Although Virginia’s law will require kids to rear-face until 2, a clause in the law makes it a bit less potent than many others: Kids can forward-face as soon as they meet the height and weight minimums prescribed by the seat. Since most seats have 20- or 22-pound minimums to forward-face, this law doesn’t change much in a practical sense.

It’s important to note, though, that some seats do have a 2-year minimum to ride forward-facing, and since Virginia requires kids to be properly secured, people with those seats couldn’t forward-face before then…although that would have been true under the existing law as well.

The law also provides exemptions for medical reasons, but people must carry documentation from a physician explaining why the child can’t use a carseat as required by law.

Fines for violating the law remain the same: $50 for the first offense and up to $500 for subsequent offenses.

Rear-facing beyond a year doesn’t need to be expensive. Most people will need a convertible car seat anyway, and there are many inexpensive models that can keep kids rear-facing for a long time. Virginia also has a robust Low-Income Safety Seat Program to provide seats to those who qualify.

Although Virginia’s law lacks the teeth of some other rear-facing-until-2 laws, hopefully it will help people understand the importance of rear-facing and will encourage them to do so.

You can read the full text of Virginia’s child restraint law here and a listing of all state laws at the IIHS website.

2019 Chicco MyFit & MyFit LE Combination Carseat Review

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Chicco MyFit, MyFit LE, MyFit Zip Air Harness + Booster Review

Chicco carseats are consistently awesome and so it should come as a surprise to no one that the MyFit & MyFit LE combination seats are worthy contenders in their class. Best of all, the MyFit is tall and narrow, which means it can accommodate bigger kids and also can fit in tight spaces. However, every seat has tradeoffs and what’s perfect for one parent might be less-than-ideal for the next. We’ll cover it all in this review.

Let’s start with the differences between the MyFit, MyFit LE, and MyFit Zip Air models:

The “regular” Chicco MyFit lacks the SuperCinch force-multiplying system on the LATCH strap but still offers premium push-on lower LATCH connectors. There are 5 fashions currently available. MSRP is $199.

MyFit Fashions: Notte, Fathom, Gardenia, Canyon, Indigo

      

MyFit LE offers all the features of the regular MyFit plus the additional features listed below. MSRP is $249.99.

  • SuperCinch force-multiplying system on the LATCH strap (same as NextFit convertible)
  • Comfort waist belts (these are harness pads that attach to the hip straps to make loading the child easier by keeping the buckle tongues from sliding all the way down the strap)
  • Kid console (storage pod that inserts into cup holder)
  • Premium comfort package with air mesh panels in cover, leatherette armrests, and premium fabrics

MyFit LE fashions: Anthem, Starlet, Venture

   

MyFit Zip Air offers all the features of the MyFit LE, plus the additional features listed below.MSRP is $299.99:

  • Extra zip-off cushions
  • A breathable AirMesh backrest.

MyFit Zip Air fashions: Atmos and Q Collection

 

Chicco MyFit Weight and Height Limits:

  • With 5-point Harness: forward-facing only 25-65 lbs., 54″ tall or less, child at least 2 years old
  • Belt-Positioning Booster: 40-100 lbs., 38-57″ tall, child at least 4 years old

MyFit Features:

  • Easy adjust no-rethread harness with 9-position headrest
  • 4 recline positions for customizable child positioning (in both harness & booster mode)
  • Bubble level indicators for both harness mode and booster mode
  • Lockoffs for secure installation with seatbelt
  • Premium push-on LATCH connectors (LATCH weight limit 40 lbs.)
  • SuperCinch force-multiplying system on LATCH strap (LE/Zip Air models only)
  • Integrated LATCH storage compartment
  • Deep head and torso wings plus EPS foam for enhanced side-impact protection
  • Steel-reinforced frame
  • Energy-absorbing base
  • Dual density foam seat cushion with ergonomically contoured seat
  • Deep seat pan to comfortably support older children with longer legs
  • Chest clip comfort pads surround chest clip on harness (usage mandatory)
  • Optional harness strap covers and buckle cover
  • Dual dishwasher-safe foldable cup holders (aka “cup-folders”)
  • Can use LATCH in booster mode
  • Integrated harness storage compartment (for booster mode)
  • FAA approved for use on airplanes (harness mode only)
  • IIHS Best Bet Booster rating
  • 8-year lifespan before expiration
  • Made in China

 Measurements:

  • Maximum harness height: 19.5″
  • Maximum booster seated height: 20.25″ (measured to bottom of shoulder belt guide)
  • Width at widest points: 17.5″ (armrests & torso wings)
  • Shoulder width: 13.5″
  • Hip width: 10.5″
  • Crotch strap depth: 5.5″, 7″
  • Seat depth: 15″
  • Weight: 24.5 lbs.

Each MyFit model comes with harness strap covers and a buckle cover (both are optional), and chest clip comfort pads which are required. The LE models have additional “comfort flex” pads which attach to the hip straps. The buckle pad is tethered to the buckle in a way that it stays put so it won’t come off all the time and be easily lost. As a mom, it’s always the little things like that that I really appreciate! 

For a video overview of the MyFit’s features, watch this. For a detailed explanation of the features plus information on how it works in vehicles and with kids, keep reading.

Fit-to-Vehicle:

Unlike many other forward-facing seats, the MyFit has to be installed within an acceptable recline range, as indicated by a bubble level on the side of the seat. This should be easy to do, though. The MyFit has four recline positions that are all (potentially) usable in harnessed or booster mode. Keep in mind the allowed range is greater in harnessed mode than in booster mode.

I installed the MyFit in a 2010 Honda Odyssey, a 2014 Honda Civic, a 2019 Honda Odyssey, a 2019 Toyota Prius, a 2019 Hyundai Ioniq, and a 2019 Ford F150 (SuperCrew). I used various recline positions in both modes and had no problem achieving angles within the allowed ranges. In fact, I don’t recall having any of my choices fall outside of the allowed range.

The MyFit doesn’t allow gaps between the vehicle seat and the child restraint, so if you find the vehicle headrest pushes the seat forward and creates a gap, raise or remove the headrest if possible. If you can’t, try a different seating position that might have other headrest options.

When it comes to getting a tight installation, some people find it to be a breeze, and others find it more challenging. I suspect that the individual seating position makes a big difference.

In the F150 and Hyundai Ioniq, I was able to easily achieve a nice, tight installation with the seatbelt without issue. However, in both of the Odysseys, the Civic, and the Prius I was able to get an acceptable installation, but they all took more work than I would have expected.

Installation with LATCH: It’s important to note that I was installing the regular MyFit model, which has push-on lower anchor connectors but a regular, single-pull strap for tightening. I found it took a lot of effort and weight in the seat to get the MyFit installed with less than an inch of movement. Heather and Kecia tried the LE model, which has the SuperCinch system for installing with LATCH, and they reported having a much easier time.

Installation with Seatbelt: Installing with the seatbelt was similar to installing with LATCH in that in some vehicles, I had to work at it more than I do with many other seats, and the best I could get was just under an inch of movement. (Any installation with less than an inch of movement is considered safe and secure, so that’s not a problem. I’m just used to being able to get seats tighter than that.) The built-in lockoff is a nice feature if someone doesn’t have locking belts, but it’s not quite as easy to use as the lockoff on the KeyFit, for example, and it was hard to get the seatbelt in without it bunching up.

Pro Installation Tip: A Chicco rep recommended this tip to help get a tighter installation: Put the MyFit in the most reclined position, then install with the seatbelt or lower anchors and get the seat as tight as possible. Then move the recline into a more upright position, which will likely increase the tightness of the installation. (Obviously don’t force the seat to move if you meet resistance, and make sure the bubble indicator is in the acceptable range when you’re done.) I found that this tip did help, but I’d prefer not needing to rely on tricks to achieve a good installation.

LATCH Weight Limit: Please note that the child’s weight limit for using lower anchors is 40 lbs., so once a child is heavier than that, you’ll need to use the vehicle’s seatbelt to install the seat.

Center LATCH installations with Non-Standard Spacing:
Chicco does not allow borrowing LATCH anchors from the outboard positions for use in the center with the InRight LATCH connectors.

Inflatable Seat Belts:
Chicco has determined that the MyFit cannot be installed with inflatable seat belts found in some Ford Motor Company vehicles.

Fit-to-Child:

My two youngest kids tried out the MyFit. My 7-year-old is 50″, 50 lbs, and wears size 6/7 shirts. My 10-year-old is 53″, 56 lbs, and wears a size 8/10.

With 5-point Harness: My 7-year-old fit great in the harness and still had a couple inches left before he’d outgrow it. Even my 10-year-old still fit with some room to grow.

S is 5.5 years old, 39 lbs, and 44″ tall:

5.5 yrs old, 39 lbs., 44"

Booster: Both my kids fit well in booster mode, with the lap belt sitting on their hips and the shoulder belt crossing the middle of their shoulders. Seatbelt fit with a booster can be very dependent on what vehicle it’s installed in (and even which seating position is used in each vehicle), so be sure to check each time you install it in a new place. Below is my daughter in a 2019 Odyssey and my son in a 2014 Civic.

I did notice that in the Civic and the Odyssey, when the belt guide was in a lower position, the seatbelt didn’t retract well. In the lower positions, the belt gets stuck between the seat and the guide, whereas in the higher positions, it’s able to slide more freely. Most kids short enough to use the belt guide in the lower positions would still be able to comfortably use the harness (with tons of room to grow), but it’s something to be aware of.

Comfort & Convenience:

My kids both loved the MyFit in terms of comfort. It’s a sturdy seat with good padding and support. My son loved “folding” and unfolding the cupholders, and I liked how easy the cupholders are to remove. (Have you ever found anything gross in a cupholder? It’s so nice to be able to pop them out for easy cleaning.)

I appreciate when manufacturers have useful, clearly marked storage for components of their seats. Chicco has done this on the MyFit, providing convenient storage for the lower anchors and the top tether. Another nice touch is the padding around the crotch buckle. It has a little tab to help hold it in place against the buckle, meaning that it won’t go flying off and get lost. The pad also helps keep the buckle out of the way when kids are getting into the seat.

The “pull-tab” headrest adjustment isn’t quite as easy as some other seats with squeeze-handles, and sometimes it was hard to adjust the headrest while the seat was installed. Still, a harness you can adjust without needing to flip the seat over, unhook webbing, etc. is always a plus.

I love that the seat has built-in storage for the harness when the seat is used in booster mode. Unfortunately, you need to remove part of the cover in order to store the harness, which makes the process a little more complicated.

As for cover-removal, I would rank the MyFit a “moderate” in terms of how easy it is. The cover has several different portions, which can be nice if you just need to clean part of the seat. Some of the pieces are easier to remove than others. There are only a few elastic loops and no weird snaps or difficult tabs–most of the cover just slides into place. However, there were a few tricky parts, so I always recommend taking photos as you remove the cover to help you figure out how to put it back on. Surprisingly, I found the most difficult portions of the cover were the pads on the armrests. They’re held on by loops that aren’t elastic, so you really need to work to wriggle them off. If you suspect you’ll need to remove the cover often, you might want to consider the Zip Air version of the seat.

The cover can be hand-washed or machine-washed on gentle using mild soap. Hang to dry.

FAA Approval/Lifespan/Crash Guidelines:

The MyFit is approved for use on airplanes when using it in harness mode. No belt-positioning booster seats can be used on airplanes, and the MyFit is no different.

The MyFit has an 8-year lifespan. The sticker with the model, manufacture date, and the “do not use after” date can be found in the tether storage compartment.

The MyFit must be replaced after a crash.

Chicco MyFit Advantages:

The MyFit has one of the tallest harness heights available, so it should get most kids to a reasonable booster age. At 17.5″ across, it’s also among the narrowest combination seats, which is a huge benefit if you need to squeeze seats into tight spaces. The SuperCinch feature on the MyFit LE models can help a lot with getting a good installation, although keep in mind that with a 40-lb. LATCH limit, that feature might not be usable to some (or at least not for long). The foldable and easily removable cupholders are handy, and it’s always nice to be able to store a harness, rather than remove it, for booster use.

Disadvantages:

Installation in some vehicles can take a bit of work, especially if you’re not using the SuperCinch LATCH. Storing the harness takes a few steps, but overall isn’t bad.

Conclusion:

There are a lot of good combination seats on the market these days, and the MyFit is a formidable contender. Getting a good installation might take some trial and error in some seating positions, but it’s usually possible. The MyFit has a tall harness that will serve bigger kids well, and the narrow dimensions make it a good choice for fitting into tight spaces.

The MyFit is available from retailers including Amazon for around $199. The MyFit LE retails for around $249, and the MyFit LE Zip for around $299.

Chicco provided samples for our review, but CarseatBlog received no compensation and all opinions are our own.

 

Cybex Introduces Sirona S: First Convertible Car Seat with Load Leg in North America

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Cybex Sirona S Convertible Car Seat Preview: Swivels for Convenience, Load Leg for Safety, SensorSafe for Peace of Mind

We’re thrilled that Cybex is working on an epic, game-changing convertible car seat: the Sirona S. Not only does Sirona S swivel 360 degrees for easy loading and unloading of children, it will also be the first convertible car seat in North America to have a load leg, a safety feature that significantly enhances crash protection in a frontal crash. As if that wasn’t enough, the Sirona S will also come standard with SensorSafe technology, which is built into the chest clip. Although unexpected delays are always a possibility, Cybex estimates that the Sirona S will be available in October 2019 and will be arriving in Canada (hopefully) a few weeks after the U.S. launch.

Sirona S Specs & Features:
  • Rear-facing: 4-50 lbs.
  • Forward-facing: 22-65 lbs.
  • LATCH weight limits: 35 lbs. RF, 40 lbs. FF
  • Maximum harness height: 17″
  • Swivels for easy loading or switching between modes
  • Multi-position load leg with indicators
  • No-rethread harness with easy height adjuster
  • 7 recline positions rear-facing
  • 4 recline positions forward-facing
  • SensorSafe chest clip with bluetooth/app reminders and alerts
  • Pop-out Linear Side-Impact Protection
  • MSRP: $499

  

With features like swivel and load leg that are currently unique to the USA market, plus safety enhancements like LSP and SensorSafe, we deem it a “Shut Up and Take My Money” Award winner!  We acknowledge that $499 is a lot of money for a car seat but just like automobiles, innovations almost always launch on premium products and eventually work their way down to more affordable models. We hope consumers in North America understand and appreciate the safety benefits of a load leg because this is the evolution of crash protection for children!

2019 CarseatBlog Shut Up and Take My Money Award Winner: Cybex Sirona S

 

Better than a JPMA award!

The Sirona S has a single belt path for both rear- and forward facing, with a seatbelt/lower anchor belt tensioner for simple and secure installation. Once installed, the seat can swivel 360 degrees on its base, allowing parents to get kids in and out without having to lift them over the sides. This can be a convenience for any caregivers, but especially those who might have mobility difficulties. The swivel feature will also make it easy to switch between rear- and forward-facing for situations where two or more kids might share a seat.

An indicator on the load leg will show when the seat is engaged in rear-facing or forward-facing mode since driving with the seat sideways will be neither secure nor allowed!

The telescoping load leg can be used rear-facing and forward-facing. Until now, the US has only seen load legs on rear-facing-only infant seats, so having one that can be used with larger children, rear-facing or forward-facing is a very big deal. For a rear-facing seat, the load leg prevents downward rotation in a frontal crash – maintaining a more upright position throughout the crash. This significantly improves crash protection and also reduces the secondary rebound rotation that a rear-facing car seat will experience in a frontal crash. Additionally, a load leg greatly reduces the likelihood that a rear-facing car seat will make contact with the front seat. For forward-facing, similar principles apply. The load leg will decrease how far the seat moves in a frontal crash, thus reducing head excursion (or how far forward a child’s head moves) in a crash.

As usual, there is a tether on the back of the seat’s shell for forward-facing, and it would need to be unhooked from the tether anchor in the vehicle before you are able to swivel the seat when it’s installed for forward-facing use. We mused whether people would be able to use the load leg in place of the tether to potentially reduce head excursion (in situations where a tether anchor wasn’t available) but at this point we aren’t sure if that’s even a possibility. Due to current federal regulations, car seat manufacturers can’t use the load leg to comply with FMVSS 213 standards since the test bench doesn’t have a floor. Cybex is testing the seat with load leg using a modified 213 sled, but even then, legal issues (including mandatory tether usage in Canada) make it seem unlikely that Cybex will ever say it’s okay to use the load leg as a substitute for using the tether. Keep in mind that all seats in the US have to pass testing with and without a tether so it’s almost always possible to install a forward-facing car seat without tethering it, **if there is no tether anchor available**. (Note: there are some exceptions for seats rated beyond 65 lbs. in the U.S. that REQUIRE tethering and all forward-facing seats in Canada REQUIRE installation using the tether). The bottom line here is that this is uncharted territory in North America, so it’s going to be complicated for Cybex to navigate these waters.

Cybex plans to release the Sirona S in the United States in fall 2019 with the release in Canada a few weeks later. The seat will retail for about $499. Stay tuned for more information and a full review when production-model seats are available.

Watch our video for a demonstration of key features. (Note that the seat is NOT actually in full recline position when Kecia states it is. The prototype was a bit sticky. It does recline more for younger babies.)