Reviews Archive

2019 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid/PHEV Video Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety

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The 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles are safe choices for small families on a budget.  Starting with street prices below $23,000 after incentives, the Hybrid SEL trim offers good IIHS crash test ratings and many active crash avoidance features, like automatic emergency braking.  Ioniq is also a competent driver, but doesn’t stand out in terms of handling, braking, acceleration or ride within the class.  Hybrid or Plug-in variant, fuel economy is also a big plus.  Both models provide good value all around, with the major disadvantage being that base trim levels don’t offer automatic emergency braking like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight.

Like the Prius, Insight and any compact car or SUV, there are compromises when it comes to installing carseats.  The middle seat is not very carseat friendly, with a narrow width and longish buckle stalks that can make it challenging to use a carseat or booster there. Pre-teens and small teens would be the most likely candidates for the center seat, as there is also a small floor hump that may reduce the limited legroom even further.  Fortunately, the outboard seats should work fine with most carseats and boosters.  The head restraints are all adjustable/removable and there is minimal crossover of seatbelts and LATCH anchors.

With the narrow width and center seat issues, installing adjacent or three-across carseats will be very difficult.  Like the Toyota Prius, legroom is limited and a rear-facing carseat is likely to require the front seat to be moved forward somewhat.  With the center seat hump and lower head restraint, taller occupants may not get adequate head support in the middle seat.

 

Likes:

  • Good IIHS crash test results, Top Safety Pick Award on Limited/Ultimate trim
  • SEL trim great value with standard crash avoidance features
  • Reasonably priced plug-in model gets ~25 miles all electric
  • Once charge is down, you still get over 50 mpg in PHEV hybrid mode
  • PHEV model has good cargo space compared to Prius Prime
  • Hybrid version gets 55+ mpg combined EPA rating
  • Dash is well designed with nicely integrated display
  • Infotainment and displays are intuitive to use with nice knobs
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard on all trims
  • Floor mounted shifter instead of buttons or joystick on dash
  • Excellent warranty, 5/60 everything, 10/100 powertrain, lifetime hybrid battery failure
  • Driver 10-way power seat with lumbar adjustment and memory on Limited trim
  • Ventilated seat option on Limited+Ultimate trim is unusual in compact economy car segment

 

Dislikes:

  • No NHTSA crash test ratings (as of 6/2019)
  • Center rear seat is narrow and may not work with some carseats
  • Base PHEV and Hybrid Blue trims do not have standard active crash avoidance features
  • Base/SEL cloth seat material feels cheap with a very dated pattern
  • Marginal/Poor headlights on all trims except Limited with Ultimate Package
  • Ride comfort and noise levels are not as good as the competition
  • 6-speed transmission is efficient, but dual-clutch system sometimes suffers from delays in shifting

 

Conclusion:

The 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid and PHEV are targeted squarely at the Toyota Prius and Prius Prime, but usually sell for much less.  We recommend the Hybrid SEL trim that is a great value for safety at under $25,000 MSRP with street prices that are usually a thousand or two lower than the Prius LE, depending on incentives.  Unfortunately, on the Plug-in model, you are forced to upgrade to the PHEV Limited trim to get automatic emergency braking, making it somewhat less of a value in terms of safety.  While it doesn’t stand out as special in any area, it’s a very competent compact car overall with great fuel economy and an excellent warranty package.

 

Thank you to Hyundai USA and DriveShop for the loan of the 2019 Hyundai Ioniq PHEV Limited used in this review.  No other compensation was provided, and all opinions are my own.

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.

 

2019 Toyota RAV4 Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety

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2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Gets Rugged Looks with More Green Cred

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 is an all-new update to the very popular outgoing model that was the #4 best-selling vehicle in the USA, behind the full-size Chevy, Ford and Dodge pickup trucks.  Gone is the cute, stylish exterior that is so common in the compact utility market.  Thankfully, rather than go with the “gaping maw” design of other Toyota and Lexus vehicles, the RAV4 instead has a take on the off-road capable 4WD 4Runner.  Though the emphasis with the RAV4 Hybrid is fuel economy rather than off-road prowess, it still looks more rugged than before, especially in the exclusive XSE trim with blue accents along with a black roof, trim and wheels.

In terms of crash avoidance, the RAV4 has all the essentials standard.  Toyota has been the leader including systems like automatic emergency braking on even the lowest trim levels of almost every model.  Some other brands still only include these features on top trim levels and then make you buy a pricey technology package on top of that, making them expensive if you can even find them on dealer’s lots.  Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are optional on the base LE trim, but standard on other trims.  Have a problem on the road?  Toyota’s Entune 3.0 includes a 3-year subscription to Safety Connect on all trims, allowing for calls for emergencies, roadside assistance and automatic crash notification in case of airbag deployment.

As for crashworthiness, the RAV4 AWD did quite well.  It aced every crash test from the IIHS, with “Good” overall and Good sub-category results in each one, including the newer passenger-side small overlap crash test.  Its forward collision warning and autobrake system earned the top “Superior” rating.  The only blemish is a “Marginal” headlight rating, mainly due to inadequate illumination in gradual curves.  Unfortunately, this kept it from receiving a “Top Safety Pick” award, which is a shame given its excellent performance in all the actual crash tests and front crash avoidance system evaluation.  RAV4 Hybrid received a 5-star overall rating in the NHTSA safety evaluation.  The 4-star frontal crash test driver-side rating was the only blemish there.

In terms of carseats, the second row is a big improvement from the previous RAV4.  There is now minimal “crossover” of seatbelts that often prevented the middle and outboard seats from being used simultaneously for adjacent or “3-across” car seats.  The middle seat is still relatively narrow, but just wide enough to fit a narrow car seat like a Britax Emblem, Clek Fllo, BubbleBum or Harmony Youth Booster.  The seatbelt anchor for the center seat is just behind the buckle stalk of the passenger side seat, so it is technically possible to install adjacent seats if you can find two that will fit properly next to each other.

Passenger Side Seatbelt Arrangement

Getting three carseats in the back will be possible, but also challenging compared to a midsize or larger vehicle.  The LATCH anchors are readily accessible, and Toyota does allow “borrowing” in this vehicle of the innermost anchors from the outboard seats to install a child safety seat in the narrow middle seat, but only if permitted by the child seat manufacturer.  Rigid LATCH carseats are not allowed to use LATCH in the middle seat in this manner. In the RAV4, seatbelt installation is still preferred for the center seat, however, because using the LATCH anchors for the middle seat may conflict with having a car seat or passenger on either side.

2019 RAV4 Seatbelt Layout

The seatbelt buckle stalks are relatively short/flexible, and the head restraints are all removable in all three rear seats, so there are no major obstacles to good carseat installation in most situations. The seat cushion bolsters and center seat “bump” are not so pronounced to cause issues for most carseats.  Toyota does require that the vehicle seat backs for both sides must be reclined to the same setting when installing a car seat in the middle seat.  The only real challenge will be finding carseats that fit the narrow middle seating position to allow for installation of adjacent or three-across carseats.  For example, a narrow booster can be used in the center, like a BubbleBum shown below between a Graco Nautilus SnugLock and Britax Emblem.  While it fits, the narrow middle seat may make it difficult for a younger booster rider to buckle themselves.

2019 Toyota RAV4 3-Across Carseats

2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e Quick Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety

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2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e Offers Traction on Slippery Roads with Amazing Fuel Economy

Quick Look:

Fundamentally unchanged since the 2016 model was introduced, the 2019 Toyota Prius receives a minor refresh this year.  The front and rear styling is updated somewhat and perhaps not quite as futuristic as before.  That may be good news for those who don’t care for the new Corolla Hybrid’s styling.  There is a new AWD version, notable with its standard fog lights, two tone wheel covers and AWD badge on the rear hatch.  The interior is basically unchanged from 2018.

  

The AWD system brings with it a new Nickel Metal Hydride battery that Toyota claims will perform better in cold climates.  The rear axle has a separate electric motor that kicks in at low speeds only.  There’s only 7 hp in the back, so just enough to help with grip on slippery roads.  There is no off-road capability here.  I did not have the opportunity to test the AWD system in snow, but it performed admirably in heavy rain and standing water.  That small rear motor is always working up to 6 mph in all conditions, but only when necessary beyond that until 43 mph.  Overall performance is otherwise similar to the FWD trims.

There’s barely a fuel economy penalty, as the AWD model is rated at 50 mpg combined vs. 52 mpg combined for the same trim in the FWD version.  That’s only the equivalent of less than one extra tankful of 11.3 gallons each year for someone who drives 12,000 miles annually.  I obtained a very respectable 64 mpg for over 200 miles around suburban Chicago.  Of course, I do not expect those kinds of results year round, particularly in winter when cold temps and use of the heater reduce fuel economy considerably.  The only real drawback seems to be the premium of $1400 on the LE trim or $1000 on XLE models.

As for car seats, like any small car, it has some challenges. There’s limited room in back, so an infant or rear-facing only carseat will likely reduce front seat legroom, as is the case in almost every compact sedan and utility vehicle.  Also common among small cars, the center seat is quite narrow, and it will be difficult to find a car seat that fits there.  In the Prius, the middle spot is likely only usable by a slender teen or pre-teen; many carseats will simply not work with the narrow seatbelt system attachments there.  Three across carseats will be a major challenge, as I could not find a combination that worked well, though it may be possible.

Fortunately, I had no issues fitting two carseats in the outboard seating positions.