Reviews Archive

Clek Q-Tether: Additional Safety for Clek Convertibles

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The Rear-Facing Tether Is Back—Aussie Style

Clek recently introduced a “new” old safety concept: the Australian-style rear-facing tether. It’s been a few years since rear-facing tethering has been in vogue, but back then, it was the Swedish-style of tethering with which everyone was familiar—where, on only certain carseats, the top tether was anchored to the vehicle’s front seat track when rear-facing. Aussie-style RF tethering was available on Britax carseats because they had (still do!) a V-shaped dual tether that wrapped around the carseat and attached to the vehicle’s tether anchor. Aussie-style tethering is still popular in . . . Australia and Clek is bringing it back to North America to work in conjunction with anti-rebound bars (ARBs) to limit motion during a crash and manage energy.

What makes Aussie-style tethering Aussie-some (sorry, how could I *not* do that?) is that it keeps the carseat from rotating down toward the floor of the vehicle, similar in function to a load leg. In turn, the child stays more upright during a frontal crash, which is the most common type of crash, so that the carseat can absorb those crash forces, protecting the child’s head, neck, and spine.

The Q-Tether is available for $19.99 as an accessory for use with all unexpired Foonf and Fllo models. It limits the ability of the carseat to rotate down toward the floor of the vehicle in a frontal crash, performing similarly to a load leg or to using a Euro belt path which is found on more and more rear-facing only infant seats, including Clek’s Liing. When forward energy is limited, rebound energy, which is typically 1/3 the energy of the initial crash, is reduced as well. What does this mean for your child? The less bouncing around in a crash, the safer she’ll be.

There are 2 parts to the Q-Tether. The part that attaches to the tether anchor has a metal splitter plate on the other end—the splitter plate is typically what a harness attaches to on the back of a carseat. The other piece is a long strap with a loop on each end that wraps around the carseat, is threaded through the unused forward-facing lockoffs, and is attached to the splitter plate. Owners of Clek convertibles are used to “assembling” their carseats for installation (adding the ARB, putting adding the RF base onto the Foonf, putting the seat panel back on after RF installation), so the process of installing the Q-Tether will only add a few more minutes.

Tips to Make the Q-Tether Installation Process Go Smoothly:
  • Install your Clek convertible rear-facing
  • Open both forward-facing lockoffs first
  • Tighten the harness. If the harness is loose, you may accidentally thread the Q-Tether strap underneath the harness on the back of the seat.
  • Make sure the long strap is loosened all the way. If it isn’t fully slack, you may not be able to attach it to the splitter plate, depending on your vehicle’s head restraint design.
  • Additional hands always help because you’re trying to wrap a long strap around a carseat and through 2 lockoffs. Attach the non-adjuster side to the splitter plate first, thread it through the lockoff, pull taut, then close the lockoff. That will hold the strap in place and you can then thread the strap through the next lockoff.
Getting Kids In and Out with the Q-Tether

Alright. It’s the big question and I’m saving it for last. You’re looking at this tether that completely goes around the carseat and thinking, “I have to thread my thrashing kid through this tether, then try to get the harness on him.” Probably similar to putting an outfit on your cat. This is why the Q-Tether is attached with loops on each end of the long strap: the adjuster goes on the door side so it gets loosened and tightened each time your child is placed in the seat.

In my Tesla Model X, I had typical tether issues with the Q-Tether sliding off the shoulder of my vehicle seat when I went to tighten the strap. You can mitigate this by pulling the strap in toward the inside of the car instead of pulling the strap towards yourself; if your child is older, they can pull the strap taut. In my Tesla Model 3, the tether anchor is on the parcel shelf so it’s like any other sedan, except that Tesla wants the splitter plate off to the outside of the head restraint on the outboard positions (check your vehicle owner’s manual if you have a non-movable head restraint). I had no issues with my 2011 Acura MDX.

Model X

Model 3

Acura MDX

If you’ve installed your carseat with the seat belt, you will have a couple of belts to keep your kid’s feet out of when you place them in the seat. If your child likes autonomy (and you have the time), they can climb in by themselves, of course. Our 3-yr old model had no problems climbing into the Foonf in the Acura MDX from the outside and it would have been even easier climbing in from the center seat (Q-Tether adjuster would have gone on the inside if that were his normal spot to climb in). It does take some maturity for that to happen, though. He tried to pull the Q-Tether strap tight, but wasn’t quite able to get the last bit of slack out, despite having a little bit of practice. If the Foonf were his daily ride, I’m sure he’d have no problems whatsoever.

You can’t argue with safety and the Q-Tether offers an extra measure of safety. It’s awesome that Clek is using simple tools to help parents who want to provide an extra bit of energy management should they be in a crash. And it’s great that Clek is providing this safety tool retroactively to owners who already own Clek seats so their kids can benefit from it too!

2020 Graco Extend2Fit Review: The “Shut Up and Take My Money” Convertible Carseat

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Best in class legroom? A 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit?? Superb height limits??? Under $200???? Extend2Fit is a winner!

Extend2Fit SpireWhat’s the one thing most people say when faced with an older rear-facing toddler? “What about their legs? Aren’t they uncomfortable?” Well, no, actually, but Graco has taken the bull by the horns and addressed this issue with their new Extend2Fit convertible carseat. Their engineers have designed a unique tray that slides out to accommodate growing legs as a child sits rear-facing, giving epic legroom while still maintaining legroom for the adult in the front seat. They gave it a 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit then added 2 (count ’em!) cup holders! How do they do it and for a reasonable price point? Keep reading and see if the Extend2Fit is the seat for you and your child.

Weight and Height Limits

  • Rear-facing 4-50 lbs. AND child’s head is 1” below gray harness height adjustment handle
  • Forward-facing 22-65 lbs., 49″ or less, at least 1 year old*

*We recommend rear-facing to at least age 2 before turning your child forward-facing. Since the Extend2Fit has such high rear-facing weight and height limits, why not?

Extend2Fit Overview

  • 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit—a leader for Graco’s convertible line!
  • 4-position leg extension for rear-facing comfort: adds up to 5″ extra legroom!
  • 10-position headrest with no re-thread harness
  • Harness Storage pockets on both sides of seat for storing buckle tongs out of the way
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • 6-position recline
  • Steel-reinforced frame
  • Premium push-on LATCH connectors
  • Two cup holders (mandatory use)
  • Machine-washable cover
  • FAA-approved for use on aircraft
  • 10 yr lifespan before seat expires

Graco also offers four other versions of the Extend2Fit. Here’s a quick overview of the differences:

Extend2Fit with RapidRemove Cover: Has all the E2F features plus an easy-to-remove cover. MSRP $219.99

Extend2Fit 3-in-1: Has all the E2F features plus the capability of being used as a highback booster seat from 40-100 lbs. MSRP $249

Extend2Fit 3-in-1 with TrueShield: Has all the E2F 3-in-1 features plus TrueShield technology, an extra layer of side impact protection. MSRP $279.99

4Ever Extend2Fit: Has all the E2F features, plus the capability of being used as both a highback booster from 40-100 lbs. and a backless booster from 40-120 lbs. MSRP $349

2020 Extend2Fit Fashions

(Pictured from left to right: Spire, Kenzie, Campaign, Gotham, Valor, Solar, Davis)

Extend2Fit SpireExtend2Fit KenzieExtend2Fit Campaign TargetExtend2Fit GothamExtend2Fit Valor WMExtend2Fit SolarExtend2Fit Davis

Extend2Fit Measurements

Harness height: 7”-18”
External widest point: 19.625”
Shell height with headrest: 27”
Shoulder width: 13.75”
Crotch strap depth: 4.5”, 6.5”
Seat depth: 12”
Seat weight: 18.4 lbs.

Installation

Installation was amazingly easy in my ’11 Acura MDX using either the vehicle seat belt or the lower LATCH strap. The LATCH strap is attached to the inside right side of the carseat with a metal bar, so it will never get tangled in the harness straps. The E2F comes out of the box set up with the LATCH strap set in the rear-facing belt path, so unless you are using it for an older child who will be forward-facing, there’s no need to move it. To move the LATCH strap, lift the cover and slide the strap up to the forward-facing belt path.

Extend2Fit LATCH move Extend2Fit LATCH install

The lower LATCH connectors on the Extend2Fit are the deluxe push-on style, called the InRight LATCH system by Graco, which easily snap onto the vehicle’s anchors and remove with the push of a button.

Rear-Facing Installation

This is a feature-rich carseat and as such, there are several things to keep in mind when setting the Extend2Fit up for rear-facing.

4 rear-facing recline settings: Infants 3 months and younger must have a recline that allows the ball in the recline angle indicator to be fully in the light blue circle, but after that age, you can make the recline as upright as your child is comfortable. The recline handle is on the very bottom of the seat and you pull on it to engage the mechanism.

4-position extension panel: If you would like additional legroom for your child’s tootsies, squeeze the handle under the front of the seat and pull the panel out to one of 4 positions. To be fair, there are really 3 extended positions, since position 1 is fully retracted. For kids over 40 lbs., any of positions 2-4 must be used (any extended position). With the extension panel fully extended, it’s the most legroom of any convertible carseat on the market.

Extend2Fit LATCH install extend Extend2Fit RF seatbelt extend

80% of the base must be on the vehicle seat: To achieve a more upright installation and allow more room for the extender to be in positions 2-4, you can move the E2F base out on the vehicle seat. However, you must maintain at least 80% of the base on the vehicle seat at all times. I don’t know about you, but I don’t walk around with a ruler in my back pocket and Graco doesn’t expect you to either: they’ve put a handy dandy sticker on the base showing you the exact amount of E2F base that needs to be on the vehicle seat for both rear- and forward-facing installs. Cool!

Extend2Fit RF overhang sticker Extend2Fit FF overhang sticker

Forward-Facing Installation

There are also some attributes to keep in mind when using the E2F forward-facing.

Use recline position 4 only for children weighing 22-40 lbs.: This is a very reclined position for forward-facing and will leave very little legroom for many kids in most vehicles. Unless your child has outgrown the carseat by height, it’s worth it to leave them rear-facing in this weight range. Kids over 40 lbs. must use recline 5 or 6.

 Extend2Fit ff recline 4 Extend2Fit FF upright

Move the crotch strap to the forward position: The crotch strap has to be all the way out when forward-facing.

No extender: Put that leg extender away. It’s for rear-facing only! No exceptions.

No harness covers: Remove the harness covers and put them in a safe place when using the E2F forward-facing. It’s as if Graco wants you to use this seat rear-facing!

As always with any forward-facing installation, don’t forget to use the top tether regardless of whether you install the Extend2Fit using the seat belt or lower LATCH strap.

For fun, I put the E2F in my husband’s Tesla Model S and it fit nicely both rear- and forward-facing. In fact, it fit better rear-facing because the back seat doesn’t have the side bolsters like my back seat does, so the Extend2Fit was able to sit further back on the vehicle seat, leaving more room for the front passenger seat. Using the E2F in its tallest position, though, won’t work in this vehicle because of the low ceiling height. Even though our back seat is stained with red softball dirt, I didn’t want to risk damaging the headliner by installing the E2F and extending the headrest to it’s uppermost position. I did get it to one position below the highest.

Extend2Fit RF Tesla Extend2Fit FF Tesla side Extend2Fit FF center Tesla

Rear-facing and forward-facing LATCH weight limit: 45 lbs.

Center LATCH installations with Non-Standard Spacing:
Graco allows LATCH installation in the center seating position if the vehicle manufacturer allows it and the LATCH anchor bars are spaced 11” apart when measured at their centers.

Inflatable Seat Belts
Graco has determined that the Extend2Fit CAN be installed with inflatable seat belts found in some Ford Motor Company vehicles. Other types of inflatable seat belts are still incompatible for use with the Extend2Fit.

Locking Clip
Like most other convertibles of its generation, the Extend2Fit does not come with a locking clip. If your seat belts do not lock at the retractor or at the latchplate, you will need to contact Graco for a locking clip.

Fit to Child

The Extend2Fit is designed to fit children from 4-65 lbs. and to fit small babies, a body support and head pillow are included. The body support must be used if the baby’s shoulders are below the bottom harness slots, and it must be removed when the E2F is turned forward-facing. The harness pads also must be removed upon forward-facing. The head pillow can be removed at any time. Though it looks puffy, the pillow actually compresses pretty easily so bigger noggins will be comfy with it too.

My 4 lbs. preemie doll did not fit well in the Extend2Fit; this is not a carseat that will work for a very small newborn. The harness was too high and there was too much space around the hips and crotch. My doll, Romeo, is about the size of an 8-9 lbs. newborn and he fits well without the body support. In the rear-facing fit section, the instruction manual specifies that the harness height must be at or below the child’s shoulders.

Extend2Fit preemie front Extend2Fit preemie side Extend2Fit Romeo closeup Extend2Fit Nora legroom Extend2Fit Emma legroom

Nora, left, is 1 and around 25 lbs. Emma, right, is 4 and about 30 lbs. You can see the abundant legroom the Extend2Fit offers both girls.

Extend2Fit Emma FF

Here’s Emma forward-facing. At age 4, she’s very safe to ride in this position.

Cover/Maintenance/Ease of Use

The cover that shipped on my seat wasn’t the easiest to remove. It was attached in 4 places with tight elastics that had me saying some not-so-nice things and since this is a family blog, there’s no need to impress you with my knowledge of sailor vocabulary (no offense to sailors intended!). Two of the elastics are attached under the extender. If you undo one of those to lift the cover to expose the rear-facing belt path, it is impossible to reattach if the extender is retracted. It is nearly impossible to reattach if the extender is extended at all. I don’t think that over time a child will work the cover up in that location getting in and out of the seat since it’s so tightly attached around the cup holders, but it is poor design. There are also 2 little elastic loops at the top of the torso section that are used by Graco to hold marketing tags. You may try forever to hook those little suckers to something but they don’t go anywhere. It’s OK and not a failure on your part.

I also don’t like elastics because they’re hard to thread through tiny holes or slits to attach to hooks and they don’t last more than a single hot season here in Las Vegas. OK, so I’m clearly not a fan of the logistical design of this cover, though I do like the look. I’m especially fond of the seafoam blue-ish “Spire” cover on the sample I was sent; it’s lovely, though all the E2F covers are sharp-looking. Some of the covers are mesh in the seating area and my experience with mesh is that crumbs can be ground into those little holes and never see the light of day again, so stay on top of the snacks. The cover can be washed in the washing machine on cold and air-dried.

The harness is one long length, but it has a butterfly attachment in the middle under the child’s bum area, so there’s not a possibility of one side being longer than the other. It can be cleaned like any other: dip a washcloth in water and use a drop of mild soap (Dawn, Dreft) to clean it. Be sure to wipe off that soap with the wet washcloth and let the harness thoroughly dry. Set it in full sun if it still stinks. But . . . the harness *is* replaceable, so if it’s just that nasty, buy a new one!

Graco has gone to a 1-harness-slot design on their no re-thread convertibles, which means that it will be more difficult to tighten and loosen the harness in lower “slot” positions because the headrest is pushing on it, causing friction. As your child gets older and taller, there will be less friction and it will be easier to use.

Extend2Fit without cover Extend2Fit back

FAA-Approval/Lifespan/Crash Guidelines

The Extend2Fit is FAA-approved, but you will most likely need to raise the armrests on the airplane seat to get it to fit because of the cup holders.

The Extend2Fit has a lifespan of 10 years and Graco wants you to replace it after any crash.

Extend2Fit Advantages

  • 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit—a leader for Graco’s convertible line!
  • 4-position leg extension for rear-facing comfort
  • 10-position headrest with no re-thread harness
  • Harness Storage pockets on both sides of seat for storing buckle tongs out of the way
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Replaceable harness
  • 6-position recline
  • Steel-reinforced frame
  • Push-on LATCH connectors
  • Easy install in both rear-facing and forward-facing positions
  • Two cup holders
  • Machine-washable cover
  • FAA-approved for use on aircraft
  • 10 yr lifespan before seat expires

Disadvantages 

(In fairness, these aren’t necessarily problems but I list them here to inform you of specific Extend2Fit issues)

  • Lacks a lockoff device for installations with seat belt
  • Seat takes up more space rear-facing when the legrest panel is extended
  • Tightening the harness is not as smooth and easy as some other Graco convertibles
  • Harness strap covers cannot be used when child is forward-facing
  • Recline position #4 is required when the seat is installed forward-facing for a child weighing less than 40 lbs.
  • Cover difficult to remove and reattach in front
  • Made in China

In a carseat universe increasingly dominated by All-In-One carseats, the standard Graco Extend2Fit is a great convertible carseat that is also a tremendous value when on sale.  Not surprisingly, it is one of our 2020 Editors’ Picks Recommended Carseats.

Thank you to Graco for providing the Graco Extend2Fit used for this review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are those of CarseatBlog.

Updated Feb 2020

The Best Car Seats of the Decade! 2010-2019

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Here at CarseatBlog, we like to think of ourselves not just as CPS Techs and Instructors, but also as Connoisseurs or Aficionados of fine child restraint products. Darren, Heather and I have all been active in the field of Child Passenger Safety since the late 1990’s and throughout the last two decades, we’ve witnessed an astonishing wave of safety-related engineering and innovation. Along the way, we’ve learned to appreciate ambitious innovation, exceptional design and outstanding engineering. We’ve seen gems and busts. We’ve seen trends that came and went and those that just took off and changed the game forever. So, what makes a car seat or booster worthy of a “Best of the Decade” nomination? Well, to be honest, it’s totally subjective but greatness often begins when someone dares to think outside of the box, push limits, and ignore the naysayers. To all those rebels out there – we salute you!

We realize that every car seat has downsides but the following products were chosen for recognition because they were either game-changers, trendsetters, incredibly innovative or just ahead of their time!

BEST NEW INFANT SEAT DESIGNS OF THE DECADE

4moms Self-Installing Car Seat – It was only available for a few years before being discontinued but you gotta give 4moms props for innovation. The self-installing car seat created a lot of buzz and gave us a peek into the future of child restraints. Even though they weren’t wildly successful with their first foray into the car seat realm, we hope to see more innovative child restraints from 4moms in the next decade.

Cybex Aton 2  – It wasn’t the first seat in the US to have a load leg but it was the one to popularize this important safety feature and pave the way for others to follow. Thank you, Cybex, for making the effort to bring the load leg to this side of the pond even though our stupid U.S. standards [still] don’t allow you to test with it. And thanks for trusting that American families would take the time to research and educate themselves on this important safety feature. I know it’s still a work in progress but we do appreciate the leap of faith. Lol.

Doona –  It wasn’t the first car seat/stroller combo but it is lightyears ahead of the old sit ‘n stroll that we sneered at back in the day. To their credit, Doona created a unique product that quickly became popular with urban families who rely on taxis and rideshare services. Unfortunately, Doona’s popularity and high price-point has made it a target of counterfeiters. While it has been said that imitation is the highest form of flattery, that doesn’t apply to dangerous, illegal, knock-off baby gear. Please be suspicious of any “really good deals” and only buy Doona products from reputable retailers. Even Amazon has been selling a lot of fakes through 3rd party retailers lately so don’t assume it’s a real Doona just because it’s listed on Amazon.

Graco SnugRide SnugLock – Game-changer! When Graco introduced their SnugLock infant seat bases in late 2016, we immediately knew that this was going to set a new standard for infant seat base installations. The simple 3-step installation requires almost no effort and yet the result is a secure install with either LATCH or seatbelt. Considering how popular Graco infant seats are, the impact of incorporating SnugLock technology on these bases is undeniable. Way to go, Graco!

Nuna Pipa – Although it wasn’t the first infant seat in the U.S. to offer both rigid LATCH attachments and a load leg (the Britax BabySafe in 2003 had those features), this time around the market was ready to embrace this technology and the price tag that goes with it. Pipa’s 5-second rigid LATCH install set a new standard, making Nuna’s first car seat an instant hit. Recently, Nuna released a new model called Pipa Lite which weighs a few pounds less than a standard Pipa but you lose the ability to install it without the base. Will this start a new trend? Time will tell!

Summer Infant Prodigy – A truly innovative seat that was ahead of its time. Unfortunately, poor choices at Babies R Us led to lackluster sales which eventually led to its demise. RIP, Summer Infant Prodigy. Your built-in ratcheting device and smiley face indicators will never be forgotten!

UPPAbaby MESA “Henry” – Trendsetter! The Mesa is an innovative seat in itself but UPPAbaby gets credit for being the first car seat manufacturer to offer a Merino wool blend cover that is naturally flame retardant. UPPA led the way in developing a cover that meets all flammability standards without adding chemical flame retardants. Thanks to their innovation, several other car seat manufacturers have followed suit. Chemical-conscious parents, rejoice!

BEST NEW CONVERTIBLE/ALL-IN-ONE SEATS OF THE DECADE

Britax ClickTight ConvertiblesA game-changer thanks to some outstanding engineering! ClickTight tensioning and lockoff technology debuted on the Britax Frontier/Pinnacle platform and it really was the greatest thing since sliced bread so Britax knew they had to create convertible seats that would integrate this technology and still offer all the other bells and whistles that parents had come to expect from a Britax convertible. Thankfully, the Britax Marathon CT, Boulevard CT and Advocate CT did not disappoint and new standards for seatbelt installations on a convertible seat were set. All hail King ClickTight!

Chicco NextFit Zip – Chicco gets credit for being the first manufacturer to use an integrated force-multiplying system on the LATCH strap to help achieve a rock-solid install with very little effort. This was a godsend for parents and caregivers who struggled with the usual techniques required to install a convertible seat properly. Suddenly, it was possible for anyone, even an elderly caregiver, to install a car seat like a pro! So, how do you make a great car seat even greater? Add a zip-off cover for easy removal and cleaning. It might not seem like a big deal but as someone who has removed and replaced the cover on almost every car seat made in the last 20 years, trust me – this is a beautiful thing.

Clek Foonf – Clek took a gamble that North American consumers would be willing to pay significantly more for a seat engineered with advanced safety features and that gamble paid off! Foonf was the first convertible seat to rear-face to 50 pounds. It also offers rigid LATCH attachments for forward-facing, an anti-rebound bar for rear-facing, a steel-reinforced frame and a patented energy-absorbing crumple system in the base. Clek pushed the envelope, proving that you could sell seats at higher price points and build a loyal following in the process.

Cosco Scenera NEXTLet’s be real, it’s a lot harder to innovate when you are making a car seat that is going to sell for under $50, so great engineering and design teams have to focus on safety and function. The Scenera NEXT is a shining example of both. This little seat is a workhorse and we are grateful for its lightness and compact size which make it incredibly portable. Every family deserves to have safe and affordable car seat options that are easy to use correctly. Kudos to Dorel for understanding that and working hard to engineer safe products for all budgets.

Graco 4Ever All-in-One – Game changer & trendsetter! The 4Ever became an overnight sensation for many reasons. Never before had there been an All-in-One that was so competent in every mode and so easy to use. Even the name was perfect. In the 20+ years that I’ve been involved in the CPS field, I’ve never seen a car seat rise to stardom so quickly. Clearly, the concept of an All-in-One that had a 10-year lifespan resonated with parents from coast to coast. The Graco 4Ever was basically the equivalent of a walk-off home run in the 7th game of the World Series and it’s become the seat to beat ever since.

Graco Extend2Fit – A seat with mass-market appeal and a reasonable price tag, Extend2Fit also became wildly popular from the moment it launched. With a 50-pound rear-facing weight limit and an innovative legrest extension feature, Extend2Fit quickly became a top choice for parents eager to keep their kids rear-facing beyond the toddler stage. The legrest extension was a brilliant idea since we know parents worry that their rear-facing kids look uncomfortable with bent legs. Even though it’s an unfounded concern for the most part, Graco was smart to address the issue and capitalize on that concern.

Graco Smart Seat – You either loved it or hated it but the concept was brilliant and Graco gets credit, once again, for being innovative. The Smart Seat was a unique All-in-One that took the concept of a stay-in-car base to the next level. It was a novel idea but in this case, the concept was better in theory than in practice because the Smart Seat was a beast of a seat. Ultimately, it was discontinued but it still deserves recognition for engineering that was outside the box. Hopefully, other products with this unique feature will become available in the future.

BEST NEW COMBINATION SEATS OF THE DECADE

Britax Frontier ClickTight – ClickTight technology debuted on the Frontier/Pinnacle platform and it really was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Kudos to the engineering team at Britax for innovating at that level. This was definitely a game-changer and it set a new standard for seatbelt installations. The Frontier and Pinnacle have recently been discontinued and replaced by the Grow With You ClickTight and Grow With You ClickTight Plus which are similar but have lower (65 lbs.) weight limits when used with the harness. Even with the lower harnessed weight limits, these seats are still great but what’s up with the awful naming scheme? Maybe the next decade will bring the return of product names I can actually remember without looking them up every time.

Evenflo Maestro Sport – Every family deserves to have safe and affordable car seat options that are also easy to install and use correctly. The Evenflo Maestro Sport proves that a great combination seat doesn’t have to break the bank. It’s safe, lightweight, easy to use and easy to install. I especially love that you can install it with LATCH until reaching the harness weight limit of 50 pounds. The original Evenflo Maestro model was extremely popular and this updated “Sport” model improves on the original in every way without sacrificing a thing. The Maestro Sport generally sells for under $80 which is nothing short of amazing.

Graco Nautilus SnugLock LX  – The original Graco Nautilus model has been around since 2007 and even though it’s still a great combination seat, it was clearly time for an update. In 2018 Graco launched the new generation, Nautilus SnugLock LX and DLX, both of which offer an easy tensioner and lockoff system (aka SnugLock Technology) plus removable armrests and premium push-on LATCH connectors. Since the harness on these seats is rated to 65 lbs. but the LATCH weight limit is only 45 lbs., the SnugLock “arm” helps parents and caregivers achieve a proper installation with seatbelt. Overall, the Nautilus SnugLock LX and DLX models are solid performers that embody all the elements of good design and engineering.

BEST NEW BOOSTER SEATS OF THE DECADE

BubbleBum – This ultra-light, ultra-narrow, highly portable inflatable booster challenged everyone to accept something that was untraditional. Initially, we all wondered, could an inflatable booster actually be safe? Would CPS Techs ever embrace such a product? Would parents buy it? We now know that the answers are yes, yes, and yes! BubbleBum is the little booster that had to work harder than everyone else to earn respect and acceptance.

Chicco GoFit Plus – Let’s be honest, it’s hard to innovate when you’re designing a backless booster. However, Chicco managed to do something that hadn’t been done before and it’s pretty impressive. Quick-release latch connectors are brilliant and useful for families on the go!

Evenflo Spectrum – Its unique design elements combined with enhanced side-impact protection and a budget-friendly price make Spectrum stand out in a crowded field of booster seats. Plus, it’s one of the tallest highback boosters on the market! Cool fashions and bright colors add to the appeal and offer a refreshing break from the usual black and gray (although they offer that too).

Graco TurboBooster GROW featuring RightGuide Seat Belt Trainer – Yes, it’s a mouthful. It’s also the sixth product that Graco has named “TurboBooster” (Can you name them all? It’s possible that I might be missing a few.) But *THIS* TurboBooster is special. Apparently not special enough to get a better name but I digress… This innovative new highback booster is tall, latchable and we love the seat-within-a-seat feature which can be separated to accommodate two kids at once! The compact RightGuide Seatbelt Trainer pops out of the main seat so you can use it to seat a second child (who weighs at least 50 lbs.) for carpooling, playdates, etc., or throw it in a backpack when traveling. The RightGuide Seatbelt Trainer is also perfect for many tweens who just need a small boost in the car to achieve proper fit from the adult seatbelt. Once again Graco gets major props for innovation. But can we please move on to some new names? I’m starting to wonder if they hired George Foreman to name their seats.

Maxi-Cosi RodiFix – Being European doesn’t automatically make you better but in this case, it does. From the lack of armrests (and cupholders) to the rigid LATCH (aka ISOFIX) attachments and recline feature, everything about RodiFix says, “I’m not from around here” in a really cute accent. RodiFix is a unique, high-end highback booster with innovative features that make it easy to install and easy for kids to buckle themselves. But will American consumers accept something that doesn’t have cupholders??? That’s the million-dollar question. Lol.

BEST NEW TECHNOLOGY OF THE DECADE

Evenflo SensorSafe & Cybex SensorSafeAvailable on select Evenflo & Cybex car seats. SensorSafe technology is not just about preventing accidental vehicular heatstroke deaths, the smart chest clip will also communicate to alert the driver if the child has unbuckled their chest clip. This is super handy, especially if your child is rear-facing and you can’t see what they’ve done! The newest version of this technology, SensorSafe 2.0, takes it a step further with a free app that connects to your smartphone. With the app, you receive alerts on your phone if the driver accidentally leaves the child behind in the car, or if the child unbuckles themselves while the vehicle is moving. You also get alerts if the ambient temperature in the vehicle has become too warm or too cold. Additionally, the app offers guidance on installation, how-to videos, FAQs and more.

Looking Ahead to 2020

I think it’s safe to assume that the next decade is going to be full of some amazing new child restraints that will hopefully reduce misuse and continue to raise the bar on safety and innovation. We are already looking forward to the introduction of several new innovative products that we know are coming soon. If you’re curious about what the future looks like, here’s a sneak peek.

Cybex Sirona S Convertible – Available February 2020!