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The Safest Combination Carseats? New Crash Protection Ratings from Consumer Reports

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Topping the Combo Seat Ratings from Consumer Reports are Graco Nautilus SnugLock, Evenflo Maestro Sport, Chicco MyFit LE and Cosco Highback Booster

Five years ago, Consumer Reports implemented a new, more rigorous crash test for carseats and started releasing their ratings to subscribers. CR’s goal in creating the new test wasn’t to recreate the wheel. We know every carseat on the market here in the U.S. must be able to pass a basic frontal crash test (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213), therefore we consider all carseats on the market to be “safe” because they can all pass this baseline test. However, we also know that all carseats are NOT created equal and it would be naive to assume that they all provide exactly the same levels of protection.

Consumer Reports set out to find which seats provide additional margins of safety, above and beyond FMVSS 213, and so they developed their crash test to be more rigorous than the federal standards. Their crash test ratings scale will indicate a “BASIC,” “BETTER,” or “BEST” rating to indicate how well the child restraint performed as compared with the rest of the seats in that “peer group” category. One main focus of this new crash test is head protection, since head injuries are very common in crashes, even among properly restrained children.

Source: Consumer Reports Video

The seats tested in this round are considered “combination” seats (a.k.a, harness booster, harness-2-booster or toddler/booster seats). Combination seats are forward-facing only seats that have a 5-point harness but can also be used as a booster once your child outgrows the harness. Combination seats are “Stage 3” seats, most appropriate for preschool and school-age children who have outgrown their rear-facing convertible seats.

 

We were already aware that there were issues with certain combination seats that they tested in this round. The Britax Frontier ClickTight Harness-2-Booster, Britax Pioneer Harness-2-Booster, Cosco Finale DX, and Harmony Defender 360 all experienced some sort of structural damage during this very challenging crash test. Please see our previous article on the subject for more detailed information on what went wrong during testing of these seats. Now that we have the full ratings, we know that the Graco Atlas was also downgraded to a BASIC Rating after experiencing some structural damage during this test.

All of Consumer Reports’ crash testing is performed at an independent, outside testing facility. The test utilizes a contemporary vehicle seat (2010 Ford Flex 2nd row seat) with a floor below it, unlike the government test which has a 70’s era back seat bench with no floor. There’s a “blocker plate” (pictured right) installed in front of the test seat to simulate the front seat in a vehicle. The blocker plate is intended to recreate the interaction that happens in real life crashes when the child (or a rear-facing carseat) interacts with the back of the front seat. In addition, the speed of this test is set at 35 mph (instead of 30 mph which is standard in FMVSS testing). Those who follow vehicle ratings will recognize the 35 mph speed as the same speed used to crash new vehicles in the NCAP program. CR’s new crash test applies 36% more energy to carseats than their old test protocol and a more severe test results in a greater distinction among carseat performance.

In this round, Consumer Reports crash tested 23 combination seat models with various dummy sizes, using LATCH or a 3-point lap/shoulder seatbelt as required depending on the weight of the dummy being used. Several combination models that received a “BEST” rating for crash protection are also some of our favorite budget-friendly seats, the Evenflo Maestro Sport and Evenflo Evolve/Transitions/SafeMax.

 

In addition to the Crash Protection Rating, Consumer Reports gives each model an overall numeric score. This score is based on the Crash Protection Rating plus other factors, such as ease-of-use and fit-to-vehicle in various modes.

The new Graco Nautilus SnugLock LX was the top overall performer in terms of their overall score. Here at CarseatBlog, we agree with this assessment. The new Nautilus SnugLock LX is an awesome combination seat with excellent features and it deserves its place at the top of the ratings even though it received a BETTER crash protection score (not a BEST rating as we would have preferred to see). Still, a BETTER rating for crash protection in this very demanding test is perfectly acceptable in our opinion.  The SnugLock LX has also been one of CarseatBlog’s Recommended Carseats and an Editors’ Pick.

On a separate note, we feel the need to caution our readers that the combination seat with the second-highest overall rating is a seat that we would never recommend under normal circumstances. Although we’re happy to see any seat perform well, the Cosco Highback Booster Car Seat is not a bargain for most families despite the low price tag. The Cosco Highback Booster seat is only rated up to 40 pounds with the 5-point harness and most toddlers outgrow it even before they reach that weight because the top harness slot height is so low. If you need to replace it after a year because your preschooler outgrew it, then it wasn’t really a bargain – know what I mean? If you’re on a limited budget and looking at combination seats for kids who are at least 2 years old, you’d be much better served by the similarly rated Evenflo Maestro Sport which is a lot taller and rated to 50 lbs. with the harness.

Subscribers to Consumer Reports can see the complete ratings for all car seats HERE.

April 2019 Carseat, Stroller and Baby Gear Deals, Sales & Coupon Codes

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DEALS TRACKER: We find the lowest prices for April 2019 on car seats, strollers and baby gear. Bookmark this deals page and check back frequently for the latest bargains and promo code offers, so you find them here first before they sell out!

We’re the baby gear deal experts so we know where the really good deals are, on the stuff consumers actually want to buy. We scour Amazon and other retailers to find the best bargains. We don’t just rely on automated tools and other deals pages, so we find the best deals for you first. This is the resource other deal pages use to find deals!

What you need to know about Amazon pricing: it’s FICKLE. When a product’s price is reduced we rarely know how long it will remain at that price. Sometimes it’s a few days, sometimes it’s a few hours. The best advice we can offer you is to ACT QUICKLY if you see a great deal on something you really need or just seriously want. Just adding something to your cart does not guarantee you that item at that price – you must complete the checkout process to seal the deal. Most items on our list offer FREE SHIPPING & FREE RETURNS to Prime members but always double check this before you put the item in your cart and checkout. Not a Prime member? There’s a 30-day FREE trial. It’s a no-brainer! Try it out and score some great deals. You can always cancel before the 30 days is up if you’re not sold on the many benefits of an Amazon Prime membership.

Looking for more info on a certain carseat or booster? Check out our REVIEWS page. We have in-depth reviews of over 100 carseats and boosters. Prefer to shop at other stores? If you received great advice from us or discovered a good deal here and share it with friends, please mention us and share* our links to AmazonAlbee Baby, Diapers.comTarget.com, Walmart.com, Kohl’s, and BuyBuyBaby.

Select Editors’ Picks:

These carseats are among our Editor’s Picks and are reader favorites, too!

This list will be updated any time we see a great deal or promotion code below recent average prices, so you don’t have to wade through dozens of normally priced models to find the bargains. You can help us (and your fellow shoppers) by leaving us a comment if you find a deal on a carseat, booster or popular stroller that isn’t posted yet. We recommend that you bookmark this post, as we will update it regularly throughout the holiday season! If we see a bargain price on a popular model from our Recommended Carseats List, we’ll update as soon as possible!  This post and others at CarseatBlog contain affiliate links.  Please read About CarseatBlog for our affiliate policy and see our Marketing Disclosure.

Chicco KeyFit30  

Infant (Rear-Facing Only) Car Seat Deals:

Indicates a CarseatBlog Recommended Carseat 

Britax B-Safe 35 in “Raven”, “Cardinal” or “Dove” for $179.99 20% Off

Britax Endeavours in “Circa” for $229.99 

Chicco KeyFit 30 in “Oxford” and “Eucalyptus” for $179.99 ☆ 

Chicco KeyFit 30 in “Moonstone” for $160.00 

Chicco KeyFit 30 Zip (with cold weather boot) in “Minerale’ for $206.99 ☆ 

Chicco Fit2 Infant & Toddler in “Arietta” and “Tempo” for $251.99 10% Off

Graco SnugRide SnugLock Extend2Fit 35 in “Haven” for $157.93 30% Off Plus $3.17 Off Coupon

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 DLX in “Gallery” for $143.99 20% Off

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite in “Oakley” for $165.96  25% Off Plus $3.27 Off Coupon

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 30 in “Gotham” for $139.99

Graco SnugRide Click Connect LX *Extra Base* (with lockoff) for $34.30 

Graco SnugRide SnugLock *Extra Base* (with lockoff) for $44.79 

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Nido with Load Leg in “Atmosphere” for $290.96 

Safety 1st onBoard 35 LT in “Monument” for $94.08

 

Britax Boulevard CT - splash Graco 4Ever -azalea

Convertible & All-in-One Deals:

Indicates a CarseatBlog Recommended Carseat

Britax Advocate ClickTight in “Venti” for $314.99  20% Off

Britax Advocate ClickTight with ARB in “Circa” for $341.99  10% Off

Britax Boulevard ClickTight in “Cowmooflage” or “Verve” for $251.99  10% Off

Britax Boulevard ClickTight with ARB in “Circa” for $296.99  10% Off

Britax Marathon ClickTight in most fashions for $251.99 

Britax Marathon ClickTight with ARB in most fashions for $259.99 

Britax Allegiance in “Prism” for $169.99 

Britax ClickTight Anti-Rebound Bar Accessory for $36.89 

Clek Fllo 2018 in “Noire” for $299.99  21% Off

Cosco Scenera NEXT from $34.88 ☆ 

Diono Angle Adjuster for $9.59 ADD-ON ITEM

Evenflo EveryStage DLX All-in-One in “Reefs” for $179.99  22% Off

Evenflo EveryStage DLX All-in-One in “Crestland” for $183.99  20% Off

Graco 4Ever in “Matrix” and “Studio” for $269.99  10% Off

Graco Extend2Fit in “Gotham” for $134.99  31% Off Plus $2.70 Coupon

Graco Milestone 3-in-1 in “Gotham” for $159.99  30% Off

Graco Recline n Ride 3-in-1 in “Clifton” for $179.98 34% Off Plus $3.62 Coupon

Graco Sequel 65 in “Caden” for $114 DEAL ENDED

Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 in “Darcie” for $179.99  

Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 in “Black Toffee for $199.99 ☆ 

Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 in “Black Crystal” for $229.99 ☆ 

Safety 1st Grow & Go 3-in-1 in “Shadow” for $127.49 25% Off

Safety 1st Guide 65 in “Seaport” for $95.55

Britax Frontier CT - kaleidoscope Evenflo Maestro - Keller

Combination Seat Deals:

(Forward-Facing with Harness + Booster) 

Indicates a CarseatBlog Recommended Carseat

Britax Frontier ClickTight in “Cowmooflage” for $251.99 10% Off

Britax Pinnacle ClickTight in “Mosaic” for $269.99  10% Off

Chicco MyFit in “Gardenia,” “Indigo,” Canyon,” and “Fathom” for $179.99 10% Off

Chicco MyFit in “Lanai” for $159.99 DEAL ENDED

Chicco MyFit LE (with SuperCinch LATCH) in “Starlet” for $199.99 ☆ 

Chicco MyFit LE (with SuperCinch LATCH) in “Starlet” and “Anthem” for $224.99 ☆ 10% Off

Evenflo Maestro Sport in “Crestone Peaks” for $69.99 

Evenflo Maestro Sport in “Aspen Skies” for $63.99 20% Off

Evenflo SafeMax Combination in “Crimson” for $138.99 DEAL ENDED

Graco Atlas in “Glacier” for $93.99 28% Off

Graco Nautilus SnugLock LX in “Arctic” for $197.99  10% Off

Graco Nautilus SnugLock LX in “Cutler” or “Zale” for $205.99  

Graco Nautilus 65 LX in “Landry” for $134.99 10% Off

Graco Nautilus 65 LX in “Sylvia” for $117.89 

Graco Affix Evenflo Amp - blue flames

Booster Deals:

Indicates a CarseatBlog Recommended Carseat

Britax Skyline (with LATCH) for $99.99  

Clek Oobr in “Drift” (with Rigid LATCH) for $199.99  

Graco Affix (with LATCH) in “Pierce” for $44.19  SOLD OUT

Evenflo Big Kid AMP in select fashions from $32.99 

Evenflo Spectrum in various fashions from $51.29  

Maxi-Cosi RodiFix (with rigid LATCH) in Navy for Out of stock  No Free Returns

Safety 1st Incognito (for kids 60+ pounds) for $17.00 

 

 Britax travel system  Graco travel system - soho

Travel System Deals:

(Infant Carseat + Stroller)

Britax Pathway Travel System with B-Safe 35 Infant Carseat in all fashions for $319.99 

Britax B-Lively Travel System with B-Safe 35 Infant Carseat in all fashions for $319.99 

Evenflo Pivot Modular Travel System with SafeMax Infant Carseat in Navy for $299.99 

Evenflo Pivot Modular Travel System with SafeMax Infant Carseat in Grey for $279.99 

Chicco Vario Travel System with KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat in “Teak” for $269.99

 

 

Baby Jogger Vue BOB Duallie

Stroller Deals:

Single strollers

Baby Jogger City Tour in “Violet” for $129.99 

Baby Jogger 2016 City Mini 3W in Black for $181.99 

Baby Jogger City Mini GT in “Crimson” for $251.99 

Baby Jogger 2018 City Select in Red for $370.89 

BOB Revolution Flex Jogger in 4 fashions for  

BOB Revolution Pro Jogger in Black $499.99 DEAL ENDED

Chicco Liteway Stroller in Sunset for $79.99 

gb Pockit Stroller in “Monument Black” for Check on Amazon

Graco Snugrider Elite Stroller Frame $79.99 

Maxi-Cosi Maxi-Taxi Stroller Frame for  

Summer Infant 3D Lite in Black for $89.93

Double Strollers  

* accepts one infant carseat; ** accepts two infant carseats; @ requires adapter sold separately

Baby Trend Universal Double Stroller Frame for $72.00 ** 

BOB Revolution Flex Duallie Jogging Stroller in “Canyon” for $543.99 DEAL ENDED

Britax 2017 B-Agile Double Stroller in “Red” for Check on Amazon 

Graco Modes Duo Stroller in “Balancing Act” for $239.00 **  

Graco Modes Duo Stroller in “Basin” for $249.00 ** 

Graco Roomfor2 Stand and Ride Stroller in “Gotham” for $105.99 * 

Graco Ready2Grow Click Connect LX Stroller in “Glacier” for $140.99 ** 

Graco Ready2grow Click Connect LX Stroller in “Gotham” for $155.99 ** 

Joovy Twin Roo+ Stroller Frame for $97.65 @**  

UPPAbaby G-Link Double Stroller “Pascal/Grey” for $399.99 

 

Other Baby Gear Deals:

Graco Pack and Play  Fisher Price high chair

Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard with full-size bassinet in Pasadena $54.99 

Graco Blossom 6-in-1 High Chair $170.09

Graco Slim Snacker High Chair $49.99

Graco Simple Sway Baby Swing in Abbington $89.99 

Fisher-Price SpaceSaver High Chair $39.99 

Fisher-Price Sweet Snugapuppy Dreams Cradle ‘n Swing $119.99

Winco Unassembled Wooden High Chair in Mahogany Check on Amazon

 

More deals will be posted as they become available. Find a deal that isn’t listed here? Leave us a comment and let us know what you found! If you found a great deal here and share it with friends and social media, please be courteous and mention us and please consider using and sharing our links to AmazonAlbee Baby, Diapers.comTarget.com, Walmart.com, Kohl’s, and BuyBuyBaby.

This post and others at CarseatBlog contain affiliate links.  Please read About CarseatBlog for our affiliate policy and see our Marketing Disclosure.

Last updated 4/22/2019

*If you monitor our page and share, please consider mentioning us. We spend a lot of time searching out deals and compiling the best ones. We’re happy if you spread the word, but please be courteous and use our links and credit our website when you do. Thank you! 

2019 Chicco NextFit Convertible Lineup: NextFit Sport, Zip & Zip Air

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I recently had the pleasure of being invited to Chicco HQ to check out what’s new and coming soon in the carseat department. Here’s what I can share at the moment – the NextFit lineup has been expanded and there are now several different NextFit “trim levels” with different features and options! They are also dropping the “iX” labeling on this new lineup although all of these seats are the updated models with the new style lock-offs and the 9-position headrest.

NextFit Sport

The Sport model does not include an infant insert cushion. Therefore, it is not suitable for newborns and the starting weight limit on this model is 12 lbs.

  • 12-40 lbs. Rear-facing
  • 22-65 lbs. Forward-facing
  • 9-position, no-rethread harness
  • 9-position base
  • SuperCinch LATCH attachments
  • Lock-offs for RF & FF seatbelt install
  • Bubble level recline indicators
  • Cupholder (can attach to either side)
  • Harness strap covers & buckle cover
  • Fashions: Black, Graphite, Shadow
  • MSRP $249.99

   

 

NextFit ZIP

  • 5-40 lbs. Rear-facing
  • 22-65 lbs. Forward-facing
  • EZ zip & wash cover
  • Infant insert for babies 5-11 lbs.
  • Harness strap covers & buckle cover
  • 9-position, no-rethread harness
  • 9-position base
  • SuperCinch LATCH attachments
  • Lock-offs for RF & FF seatbelt install
  • Bubble level recline indicators
  • Folding cupholder (“cup-folder”)
  • Fashions: Corvus, Geo, Vivaci, Juniper, Nebulous, Carbon
  • MSRP $299.99

       

 

NextFit Zip Air

  • 5-40 lbs. Rear-facing
  • 22-65 lbs. Forward-facing
  • EZ zip & wash cover
  • Breathable 3D Air Mesh backrest
  • Infant insert for babies 5-11 lbs.
  • Harness strap covers & buckle cover
  • ComfortFlex hip strap covers
  • 9-position, no-rethread harness
  • 9-position base
  • SuperCinch LATCH
  • Lock-offs for RF & FF seatbelt install
  • Bubble level recline indicators
  • Folding cupholder (“cup-folder”)
  • Fashions: Azzurro, Rozzo
  • MSRP $329.99

 

 

Will Skinny be back in 2018? A plea for more narrow carseats & boosters.

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Discontinued width-adjustable Britax StarRiser/Comfy

Skinny is in high demand – that is, if you’re a carseat or booster. Unfortunately, skinny is also very hard to come by these days and that’s a real problem. In a time when many Americans are downsizing their vehicles –  increased laws and awareness are keeping more kids in carseats and boosters longer. The combination of these two factors is creating a real space problem.

We need more seats that can fit in narrow seating positions and in those tricky 3-across situations. Manufacturers really need to work to address this issue because if I see one more Turbobooster without armrests because they’re trying to make it fit next to another carseat – I’m going to lose my mind!

Suggestions for CR Manufacturers:

Work on designing new, narrow seats, or perhaps booster seats that are width-adjustable and pay particular attention to how your various models fit/puzzle/mesh next to each other.  

Current Options:

For those parents and caregivers who can’t wait for future seats – the Cosco Scenera NEXT is a neat little convertible that is going to work in a lot of tight situations. But it’s very compact and really meant for infants and small toddlers.

The Evenflo Tribute convertible can be a saving grace in many 3-across scenarios too but again, it’s not that big and many kids will outgrow it by height before hitting 40 lbs.

The Safety 1st Guide 65 convertible is narrow and will last longer before being outgrown but some parents wind up dismayed when their child falls asleep and has “head slump” – an issue caused by the tilted headrest.

The Diono Radian models have built their reputation on being narrow and working well in a lot of 3-across scenarios but they have their quirks and incompatibility issues in some cases. Whenever possible, you should “try before you buy”.

I’ve seen the Harmony Defender forward-facing combination seat recommended for people looking for a slim seat but not everyone wants a carseat that has to be assembled like IKEA furniture.

The Graco Tranzitions (aka Graco Wayz) is often recommended for families on a budget who need a slim forward-facing seat but it’s really not that narrow (although it does have a low profile) and it can be incompatible with some seatbelt installations once the child is over the LATCH weight limit.

The brand new Chicco MyFit forward-facing combination seat is being released this month and seems very promising since it’s only 17.5″ wide! We are currently evaluating its abilities and will have a full review posted soon.

The forward-facing only IMMI GO is a narrow option that some parents may want to consider but it’s not a traditional carseat and it lacks solid, side structure and head support. Plus, you really need to install it in a seating position with a full set of LATCH anchors (lower anchors & tether). It requires tethering, installs quickly and easily with lower anchors but is generally incompatible with most seatbelt installations.

Another non-traditional product for kids 3+ who weigh at least 30 lbs. is the Ride Safer Travel Vest. The vest is available in 2 sizes; small (30-60 lbs.) or large (50-80 lbs.). There is an optional tether strap that can be used with either size vest and there is also a narrow backless booster (Delighter) that can be purchased for use with the vest.

Last but not least, the Britax ClickTight Convertibles, the Clek Foonf Clek Fllo are all narrow convertibles but they’re pricey and out of reach for many families on a budget.

In the last two decades, the industry has been very focused on bigger and wider. No doubt this is due to the fact that American kids are getting bigger and wider, not to mention they’re staying in carseats and boosters for much longer than in the past. Plus, there has been a strong, steady demand for higher-weight carseats and boosters that can accommodate bigger/older children. This is all well and good but you can’t focus exclusively on bigger and wider because if the bigger seats don’t fit in smaller vehicles, then what?

What do you think happens when a family of 5 trades in their Tahoe for a Prius? And what happens at a check event when a car pulls in with 3 kids in the back of an old Corolla and all 3 need to be in seats? My CPS program stocks Evenflo Tributesinstitutional models of the Maestro and Harmony Youth Boosters but sometimes it’s not enough and parents are forced to make those “tough choices”. Do you put a kid up front? Let the oldest ride without a booster in back even though he clearly still needs one? This is reality. This is what we’re dealing with at events all across the nation because of space issues.

Manufacturers, you can help those of us in the trenches (and those who are personally in these predicaments) by meeting these challenges and making more 3-across-and-small-vehicle-friendly seats. We also desperately need more affordable options for our CPS programs that work in these tight situations! I know we can’t fix or solve every incompatibility that we encounter but this particular problem seems to have some possible solutions that are realistic and within reach. I hope you’ll agree.