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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.

Graco 4Ever DLX Platinum All-in-1 Car Seat Review: Love It 4Ever and Beyond!

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2019-2020 Graco 4Ever DLX Platinum All-in-One Review

You may already be familiar with the Graco 4Ever, a CarseatBlog Recommended Carseat and a 2019 Editors’ Pick. It is the seat that rocked the car seat world a few years ago by delivering the first true all-in-one car seat that actually functioned well in every mode of use. Graco has now upped its game in the luxury car seat market with the Graco 4Ever DLX Platinum! Everything you loved about the 4Ever, now with premium fabric and features such as a seat belt lockoff for forward-facing and self-tightening lower LATCH connectors. 

      

4Ever DLX Platinum Specs & Features:

  • Rear-facing: 4-40 lbs. and child’s head must be 1″ from gray headrest adjuster handle
  • Forward-facing (with harness): 22-65 lbs and 49″ or less
  • Highback booster: 40-100 lbs. and 43-57″
  • Backless booster: 40-120 lbs. and 43-57″
  • No-rethread harness with 10 position headrest
  • Adjustable base with 6 recline positions (3 for rear-facing, 3 for forward-facing)
  • Easy-to-read bubble level indicator
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Premium push-on lower LATCH connectors with Graco’s EZ Tight™ LATCH (LATCH limit: child weight of 45 lbs.)
  • Lockoff for forward-facing seat belt installations
  • Dual integrated cup holders (assembly required)
  • RapidRemove cover
  • ProtectPlus Engineered designation (tested for frontal, side & rear impact crashes)
  • 10 year lifespan before expiration

  

Measurements:

  • Lowest harness height (with infant insert): 6.5″
  • Highest harness height: 17.5″
  • Tallest booster height: 18.25″
  • Internal rear-facing height: 26.25″ (that’s one inch below the headrest adjustment lever of 27.25″)
  • Crotch buckle positions: 5″ and 7″
  • Seating depth: 12″
  • Internal seat width: 13″
  • Widest external seat width: 19.5″ (at cup holders)

19.5″ at widest point

Lowest harness position

   

Installation/Fit to Vehicle:

In general, the 4Ever is not difficult to install and tends to have good compatibility. I tried it in several seating positions in a 2015 Ford Expedition with the seatbelt and with LATCH. I was able to get a secure install in every position I tried (outboard 2nd row, center 2nd row, center 3rd row) both rear- and forward-facing.

The belt paths are clearly labeled and color-coded both on the seat and in the manual (blue for rear-facing, orange for forward-facing, green for booster).

Installation with LATCH:

The lower LATCH strap on this model features Graco’s EZ Tight™ LATCH, which at this time is exclusive to Graco’s “Platinum” models.

Graco EZ Tight LATCH

Graco has a demonstration of the EZ Tight™ installation here – And yes, in some vehicles like my Expedition, it really can be as easy as it looks in the demonstration. Although you still need to apply force to get it to tighten, in a best-case scenario there isn’t the usual pulling and tugging of the LATCH strap. For people like me with less than stellar joints in the hands, this can be a huge bonus. Unfortunately, the EZ Tight LATCH feature doesn’t work well in some vehicles or seating positions. Sometimes, you just can’t get an adequate LATCH installation no matter how much force you apply to the seat. Luckily, you always have the option to switch to a seatbelt installation if you can’t get the seat installed tightly with the LATCH strap. Reminder – when installed properly, the carseat shouldn’t move more than 1″ from side-to-side or from front-to-back when you test for tightness *at the beltpath*. 

The 4Ever DLX Platinum has a single LATCH strap, which means it needs to be manually switched between the different beltpaths when you switch from rear-facing to forward-facing or vice versa. The process isn’t as complicated as it is on some seats, but not as easy as on some others (see video below). One thing I found frustrating was that the LATCH strap had to be moved not only when changing between rear- and forward-facing but also when changing from a LATCH to a seat belt install. If you are installing this model with seat belt, the LATCH strap and connectors must be stored in the other beltpath, to keep them out of each other’s way.  

Forward-facing LATCH weight limit: 45 pounds. For kids who weigh more than 45 lbs., install the 4Ever with seatbelt and tether.

Center LATCH installations with Non-Standard Spacing: Not allowed. Only use LATCH in the center seating position if the vehicle manufacturer allows it and the lower LATCH anchor bars are spaced 11” apart when measured at their centers (i.e., standard lower anchor spacing).

Inflatable Seat Belts: This car seat CAN be installed with the inflatable seat belts found in some Ford/Lincoln vehicles; just route the seat belt over the closed lockoff when forward-facing. Other types of inflatable seat belts are still incompatible for use with the 4Ever DLX Platinum. There are no issues when using the seat as a belt-positioning booster, although watch to make sure the shoulder belt retracts properly through the belt guide.

Lockoff: All 4Ever DLX models (including this platinum model) have a lockoff for forward-facing installations using seatbelt. There is no lockoff for the rear-facing beltpath but that is less important because you can use the lower LATCH anchors all the way up to the 40 lbs. rear-facing weight limit.

WAYB Pico Review: Just What Your Vacation Needs

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WAYB Pico Folding Travel Carseat Review

Anyone who has ever flown with kids knows the struggle. You have to carry your suitcases, the kids’ carry ons, car seats, whatever random snacks you acquired while trying to keep the kids from ruining everyone’s airport experience, and then you somehow have to get your kids onto the plane, without any free hands to physically wrangle them. Then the car seat needs a seatbelt extender or the buckle is right in the small of the kid’s back and the end result is just that everyone is miserable.

Or you don’t bring a seat and you rent one at your destination and it’s a) not the right seat, b) it’s disgusting, c) you don’t know its history or whether it’s safe, but mostly likely d) all of these horror-scapes above.

Or maybe you’re traveling in a different city and you need to take an Uber or Lyft or a cab with kids. You can pay extra in some cities for a ride share with seats installed, but it’s more expensive and harder to come by and you weren’t the one installing those seats, so it’s still a risk. You can legally choose not to use a carseat in some places but then you have to restrain your kids in a moving car and unfortunately all the crash probabilities and risks don’t go away on vacation. In short, traveling with kids is a mess.

Have I convinced you never to travel? Just hold on for a moment, because the solution to this stress may have just landed on the car seat market.

Several months ago, a new company made waves when they announced a travel car seat. WAYB (pronounced way-bee) claimed to have the solution with a new seat, the WAYB Pico. I was one of many parents and CPS technicians who was very intrigued and as time as passed, I’ve kept my eyes and ears open for more news. A few months ago, I finally got to see it live and in person. My first impression was how small it was, because it is really, seriously small. And yet somehow, abundant enough to live up to its limits. Before I spoil the whole review, let’s dive into the details.

Pico Highlights
  • Forward facing only
  • For children 1 and older (WAYB recommends you wait until age 2), 22-50 pounds, 30-45 inches, and shoulders below the top of the seat back
  • Whole seat weighs 8 (!) pounds and folds very compactly
  • One shoulder harness position, one crotch buckle position
  • Body is made of aerospace-grade aluminum
  • Seat is made with ASTROKNIT™ mesh, which takes the place of foams
  • Pico is eco-friendly, with the majority of the seat being recyclable
  • 4 fashion options
  • MSRP $320, with a fabulous travel bag for $50
Specifications
  • Width of seat: 14.75 inches at the widest point (middle of the torso)
  • Height of seat with headrest in lowest position: 22.75 inches
  • Height of seat headrest fully extended: 27.75 inches
  • Depth of seat: 15.25 inches
  • Harness (torso) height: 16.5 inches
  • Weight of seat: 8 pound
Official Website:  WAYB.com
Fit to Child

The first time I saw the Pico, I was skeptical. It is SO small. I worried that it wouldn’t fit longer torsoed kids or would be outgrown too quickly, especially with a 45” height limit. And part of that was just seeing it in a room without a kid to compare it to, but rest easy, my eyes deceived me.

I put all 3 of my kids, ages 7, 4 and 1 into this seat and somehow they all fit. It might be magic because it’s seriously the smallest seat I’ve ever seen.

I’m going to start with the littlest, who is 22 months, 25 pounds and 33 inches. I was easily able to adjust the seat to hold him totally securely, despite being on the smaller end of the limits of the seat. Now, the tricky part is that he can’t legally ride in this seat in California, despite being within the stated limits of the seat, because he’s not yet 2 years old. If you choose to use this seat for travel, you’ll need to research the rear facing laws at your destination, because you may not be able to use this seat for your younger toddlers everywhere.

My middle kid is 4.5 years old, 41.5 inches and 32 pounds. He also has the longest torso of any child I have ever met. And even with that, he still has a solid 2-3 inches of torso growth left in the Pico. I was absolutely shocked. He fit well and said the seat was so comfortable that he wanted to keep it in the car. That’s a ringing endorsement if there ever was one.

My oldest kid is 7 years old, 47.5 inches and 49 pounds. He has outgrown this seat per the stated limits and I would not use it for him and am not recommending you do so either, just to be clear. I just put him in it because I wanted to get a sense of whether the harness would truly accommodate a 45” inch child and I feel pretty confident in saying that it really will. The shape of the seat definitely gives more room than the written measurements would suggest. My oldest had outgrown it by a sneeze, even though he was almost 3 inches taller than the limit.

The adjustment process is a little tricky at first because the harness adjusters aren’t what you’re used to. There’s one on each hip strap and they resemble a lower anchor adjustment mechanism. You have to tighten each side independent of the other, which is a little tricky at first, but it gets easier with practice and it’s not hard to do. There’s no moving the shoulder straps or the crotch buckle because there’s only one slot, which is kind of great, actually. I do think that chest clip is oddly hard to place on some kids because the straps go so high that your perspective is skewed. So if you decide to get the Pico, stand back and look at the child, not the seat as a whole, to make sure things are in the right spot.

Fit to Vehicle

2020 Honda Insight Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety

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The Honda Insight: King of Small Car Safety and Hybrid Fuel Economy too?

Quite simply, the 2019-20 Honda Insight is an amazing value for safety.  Starting at a street price of around $22K ($23,725 MSRP in LX trim), Consumer Reports said that the all-new Insight is their fuel-economy champ for vehicles that don’t have a plug.  We find it equally impressive that the Insight earns a Top Safety Pick “Plus” award from the IIHS AND a 5-star overall rating from the NHTSA.  More impressive is that it gets the top results of Good/Superior in ALL nine IIHS crash test and safety ratings and a 5-star result in ALL eight NHTSA safety evaluations as well.  That accomplishment is matched by only a handful of vehicles at any price.  Most impressive is that ALL these top ratings apply to ALL Insights in ALL trim levels.  That’s a rarity among vehicles, I believe the only one for 2019 at the time of this publication including luxury models!  That’s mainly because many other models with top crash test results only earn an IIHS award on top trim levels that have the best headlight system and/or a tech options package with automatic emergency braking.

For kids, the Insight is still a small vehicle and like all compact SUVs and sedans, it’s relatively narrow and that compromises what you can put in the narrow middle seat.  While the outboard rear seats are fairly friendly to car seats in general, there will be challenges if you need to put two carseats next to each other or three-across.  The only unusual issue is the presence of fixed rear head restraints.  These protrude forward enough that they could be problematic for some taller forward-facing carseats and high back boosters, so you do need to check your carseat owner’s manual if the head restraint pushes your carseat forward or prevents the carseat from being adjusted high enough.  Some models I installed like the Graco Nautilus SnugLock and Britax Frontier did not have this issue.  The Frontier, however, can be difficult to adjust to the tallest height setting due to the roof.  Also, with the raised seat hump and slightly lower head restraint, taller passengers may not get adequate protection from whiplash in the center seat.  Headroom is already limited, so taller people may not be comfortable in the middle anyway.  On the other hand, Insight has a few inches more rear legroom than its competitors, handy not only for adults but also for rear-facing carseats.

Graco Nautilus SnugLock LX