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hiccapop UberBoost Preview

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We were skeptical when we first heard about the hiccapop UberBoost inflatable booster seat. We typically hear about new seats long before they’re released, and since we’d heard nothing about this one, we suspected it might not be legitimate. It’s not uncommon to go on Amazon and find similar but dangerous, imported “seats” that don’t meet federal safety standards, such as this inflatable booster seat we “reviewed” a couple years ago. To be honest, I ordered this seat fully expecting to write another one of those “reviews.” Imagine my surprise, then, when I opened up the box to find what appears to be a totally legitimate product.

There’s a registration card attached to the product.

There’s a manual.

There’s what appears to be complete federally required labeling.

Then there’s the seat itself. Unlike the knockoff seat linked up above, the UberBoost feels firm and sturdy, not like a beachball.

Some quick stats on the seat:

  • Weight range: 40-110 lbs
  • Height range: 38-62 inches
  • No minimum age listed
  • Seat width: approximately 14.5 inches
  • Depth: 14″
  • Height (of seating area): 4.5″
What we like

The air bladder is made of a very strong, heavy-duty vinyl. Fully inflated, the seat has barely any give when I push down on it. It feels more like a padded, conventional seat than something inflatable.

It’s a nice size–not too big that it’ll take up a lot of room, but large enough that it seems like it would be stable and supportive.

Grippy material on the bottom should help keep the seat from sliding around and should help keep it stable. I gave it a few nudges while it was sitting on the leather seat of my Odyssey, and I was impressed at how it didn’t move.

Graco Nautilus SnugLock LX Harness Booster Review – The Next Generation

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2018 Graco Nautilus SnugLock LX/DLX Combination Seat Review

The Graco Nautilus has long been a go-to combination seat. Ever since its inception, the original Nautilus model has provided a tall harness for forward-facing kids, has served as a good booster for kids old and large enough not to need the harness anymore, typically fits kids and cars well, and is generally a reliable seat. It seemed like there wasn’t much that could make it better…until now.

Graco recently released the all-new Graco Nautilus SnugLock, which combines all the features we love about the original Nautilus with a SnugLock feature that cinches, locks and tightens the seatbelt for a less-complicated, secure installation.

To clarify, this is a forward-facing only carseat that can also be used as a highback booster and eventually as a backless booster. Graco refers to it as a “3-in-1” product which can be confusing because many consumers think a 3-in-1 carseat always means Rear-Facing/Forward-Facing/Booster. However, in this case, it means Forward-Facing/Highback Booster/Backless Booster. This is a Stage 3 carseat that is most appropriate for pre-school and school-aged children.

Let’s take a look at the specifications and features.

Nautilus SnugLock Weight and Height Limits:
  • Forward-facing with 5-point harness: 22-65 lbs., 27-49″ tall, at least 1 year old
  • Highback booster without harness: 40-100 lbs., 43-57″, at least 4 yrs old
  • Backless booster: 40-100 lbs., 43-57″, at least 4 yrs old
  • Backless booster with arms removed: 40-120 lbs., 43-57″, at least 4 years old

   

Nautilus SnugLock Overview:
  • 3 forward-facing seats in one (harness + highback booster + backless booster)
  • SnugLock feature for easy, secure 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)
  • Removable armrests when in backless booster mode (gives older kids more hip room)
  • 6-position no-rethread harness
  • Energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Premium push-on LATCH connectors
  • 4-position recline in harness mode
  • Steel-reinforced frame
  • 10-year lifespan before expiration
  • Built-in storage for the harness when using in booster mode
  • MSRP LX $219.99/DLX $249.99
Nautilus SnugLock Trim Levels:
  • LX models include all features listed above
  • DLX models include all features listed above plus enhanced soft goods and a RapidRemove™ cover which can be removed without uninstalling the seat

GM Recalls Certain Chevy, GMC & Cadillac Models Due to Faulty Seatbelt Retractors

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General Motors is recalling several 2018 and 2019 GMC, Chevrolet, and Cadillac vehicles due to seatbelt assemblies that might not switch to locking mode when used to install child restraints.

Normally with these vehicles, caregivers would lock the seatbelt by pulling the webbing all the way out when installing child restraints. In the affected vehicles, seatbelt assemblies for the second and third row may fail to lock when the webbing is pulled all the way out. This can leave the seatbelt and child restraint loose, and could prevent the child restraint from working properly in a crash, increasing the possibility of injury.

What vehicles are affected?

This recall includes 15,800 vehicles from the following models:

  • 2018 Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2019 Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2018 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2019 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2018 GMC Yukon XL
  • 2019 GMC Yukon XL
  • 2018 Cadillac CT6
  • 2019 Cadillac CT6
  • 2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV
What’s the fix?

GM will notify owners. Dealers will inspect the rear-seat retractors and will replace the assemblies if necessary.

What do I do in the meantime?

GM’s official position is “await notification,” but people can take steps in the meantime. If you own one of these vehicles and have a child restraint installed with the seatbelt, check to make sure the seatbelt is locked. (Once you have installed the child restraint, pull the seatbelt webbing all the way out, then feed the excess back into the retractor. If the belt is locked, you shouldn’t be able to pull the webbing out again.) If the belt locks, there is nothing to worry about at this time. If the belt does not lock, you have some options:

  • Try a different seating position in the vehicle
  • Install the seat with lower anchors (LATCH) if your child is within the LATCH weight limit and the seating position is equipped with lower anchors
  • Use a child restraint with a built-in lock-off
  • Use a locking clip

It is important to note that this problem does not affect the emergency locking function of the seatbelt. That means the belt will still lock as usual in a crash or hard stop when it is restraining an adult, an older child not using a child restraint, or a child using a booster seat where the seatbelt goes over the child’s body.

More information:

You can click here for the official GM statement, and you can contact the following numbers for more support:

  • Chevrolet Customer Service: 1-800-222-1020
  • GMC Customer Service: 1-800-462-8782
  • Cadillac Customer Service: 1-800-458-8006
  • GM Recall Number: 18315
  • NHTSA Toll Free: 1-888-327-4236
  • NHTSA (TTY): 1-800-424-9153
Official NHTSA statement:

NHTSA Campaign Number: 18V673000

Manufacturer General Motors LLC

Components SEAT BELTS

Potential Number of Units Affected 15,800

Summary

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain 2018-2019 Cadillac CT6, Escalade ESV, Chevrolet Suburban, Volt, and GMC Yukon XL vehicles. Certain second-row or third-row rear seatbelts retractor assemblies may not automatically lock when the seatbelt is fully pulled out of the retractor, possibly preventing a child seat from being properly secured. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, “Occupant Crash Protection.”

Remedy

GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the rear seatbelt retractors and replace them if necessary, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Cadillac customer service at 1-800-458-8006, Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020 or GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782. GM’s number for this recall is 18315.

Notes

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

 

UPPAbaby Knox Convertible and Alta Booster Preview

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2019 UPPAbaby Knox Convertible Carseat and Alta Booster Preview

We knew UPPAbaby was unveiling new seats at this year’s ABC Kids Expo, so we made sure to get to their booth bright and early on the first day so we could bring you all the details. The company is expanding their lineup with a convertible (called Knox) and a booster seat (Alta).

Knox

The Knox (named that because it keeps your child secure, like Fort Knox) has a lot of great features, including an innovative solution for reducing the downward rotation that happens when a rear-facing seat moves down and toward the front of the vehicle in a crash. Being able to reduce downward rotation helps immensely to reduce potential injuries to a rear-facing child. Until now, the only ways to significantly reduce downward rotation have been with load legs or Australian tethering, in which the top tether goes around the shell of a rear-facing seat and connects to the car’s top tether anchor.

Because of various regulatory issues, it’s unlikely we’ll see a convertible seat with a load leg in the U.S. anytime soon (though I’d be happy if someone proves me wrong). Australian tethering is a lightweight solution, but it also means there are straps running between the back of the child restraint and the car’s tether anchor, making it harder to load children in and out of their seats.

UPPAbaby’s solution is to use what they call a “Universal Tether.” This looks like the normal, single-strap tether parents are used to (typically for forward-facing), but when the seat is rear-facing, the tether can be routed around the back of the seat and attached to the car’s regular top tether anchor. Because it only routes around one side of the seat, it leaves the other side clear for easy loading of the child.

 

The Knox also features the company’s SMARTSecure system for installing both rear- and forward-facing. That consists of a channel for the lap belt, with an indicator that changes from green to red when it senses the seat is tight enough. Once the belt is tight, the shoulder portion slides under the lock-off closest to the retractor that keeps it secure. (When installing with lower anchors, the LATCH belt goes through the same channel as the lap belt, so the tension indicator will work for that mode as well.)

The Knox is rated from 14-40 pounds rear-facing and 25-65 forward-facing. You’ll notice that 14-lb minimum is much higher than most convertibles on the market. Because most parents start off with infant seats and don’t tend to put their children in convertibles until later anyway, the company feels it was able to create a better seat by focusing on a narrower range of child sizes. The higher weight minimum also means the seat installs more upright than it would have to for a newborn, which means it will take up less room in the car.

Parents who want to use the Knox from birth will have the option of purchasing a separate newborn insert. The insert is very substantial, raising the baby up so the lowest harness position will be at or below their shoulders. The insert is angled to add the additional recline a newborn would need (without requiring the seat itself to be reclined more). The design also allows an infant’s head to tilt back farther, helping to keep the airway open. If parents choose to purchase the newborn insert, that can be used from 5 pounds until the child has good head control and their shoulders reach the lowest harness position. (More exact requirements might come as the company finalizes the product.)

  

The Knox features side-impact pods on both sides and EPP foam throughout the seat. Plus there’s a removable cup holder!

The Knox should be available in the summer of 2019. Regular fashions will retail for around $399, and the Bryce fashion (gray wool with no flame retardants) will retail for around $449.

You can see the Facebook Live video we did from the show, highlighting Knox’s features (please note that in the video, the UPPAbaby rep shows to route the shoulder belt through both lockoffs, but it’s really only supposed to be routed through the one closest to the seat belt retractor):

  

Alta

UPPAbaby’s new highback booster is the Alta, which will be rated for 40-100 pounds and up to 57″. (It sounds like the company will recommend that children be at least 5 years old to use the seat, but we don’t know yet whether that will be a requirement or just a recommendation.) We measured the top belt guide position at about 20″.

   

Safety features include a lap-belt positioner that is required to be used at all times to help ensure proper belt fit and to reduce the possibility of a child submarining under the belt. The Alta also has rigid LATCH to help keep the seat secure when unoccupied and positioned properly when in use. The LATCH mechanism is very easy to access and store, as you can see in this quick video:

Like the Knox, the Alta has side-impact pods, EPP foam, and a removable cup holder.

The Alta should also be available in the summer of 2019, and will likely retail for somewhere around $179. (Pricing is not finalized yet.)

We’ll bring you reviews of both seats as soon as they’re available!