Monthly Archive:: July 2012

Britax Advocate 70 G3 Convertible Carseat Review – 3rd Generation Improvements & Updates

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What can I say?  It’s a great seat that has been improved with a couple minor updates.  This quick review will not be as detailed as many of our reviews, because the G3 series models are nearly identical to the previous models.  Please read our current reviews of the Pavilion 70-G3Advocate 70 (and Boulevard 70), Marathon 70 (Part I, Part II and Part III) and Roundabout 55.  So, yeah, we’ve covered them pretty well and for good reason.  While they may not have the very highest weight or height limits around, they do tend to be very easy to install and to use, compared to many other products.  They also tend to be very compatible with most vehicles, and can even fit rear-facing where some other models won’t.

Here is a list of the current Britax G3 convertibles.  Pricing is as of Nov, 2012, and includes free shipping and returns from Amazon.com .  Please see our review of the newer Britax Marathon, Britax Boulevard and Britax Advocate G4 review as well!

Britax Advocate 70 G3, currently $288.39 at Amazon, MSRP $379.99

Britax Pavilion 70 G3, currently $264.99 at Amazon, MSRP $339.99

Britax Boulevard 70 G3, currently $243.99 at Amazon, MSRP $319.99

Britax Marathon 70 G3, currently $227.49 at Amazon.com, MSRP 289.99

So, what’s new?

First, the EZ-Buckle System.  Most of us have encountered the annoyance of putting a child into a carseat and then having to dig around under them to fish out the buckle.  This simple improvement causes the buckle to flip forward every time the child gets out of the seat, so that it is *RIGHT THERE* the next time they climb in.  Couldn’t be simpler!  This feature is on all of the new Britax G3 models, but not on the Roundabout 55.

Next, the new HUGS pads with SafeCell Technology.  It’s not really the same as the SafeCell tech they put in the base of the shell, but the pads are now thicker and designed to absorb more energy in a crash.  The only catch here is that these new HUGS pads are tethered to the shell, restricting their movement down the straps to some extent.  That also means that for those familiar with Britax convertibles, you can no longer easily loosen the straps by grabbing the HUGS pads or putting your hand behind the HUGS pads to loosen.  Instead, you must use your fingers and pull on the straps themselves to loosen them.  Not a big deal, but it is a little different than what you are used to doing now.  These new HUGS pads appear on the Boulveard 70 G3, Pavilion 70 G3 and Advocate 70 G3.

There are a couple other minor updates as well.  The versa-tether system now has an energy absorbing feature built-in.  Presumably, this will slightly reduce the forces on a child in a crash.  Also, on the Advocate model, the innovative side impact cushions are now black, rather than grey.  As for value, a few other convertibles may be bigger, but you can see here that the Advocate 70 G3 will fit some kids up to age seven.  My son turned 7 a couple months prior to the photo (right).  He is about 57 pounds and 52″ tall and was right at the limit of the Advocate by height at the shoulders.  Even so, the shoulder room is limited for kids that big and there is also a standing 49″ height limit listed in the manual.  Given that he is 75th percentile for height and weight, I expect most kids will make it to at least 6 years and 50 pounds before outgrowing this seat, some longer.

Don’t forget the new Britax carseat accessories (sold separately)!  Below on the left you can see the Advocate 70 G3 with the optional Britax Vehicle Seat Protector.  It’s thin and flexible and works well to protect the seat cushion and contain small spills, too!  The boy is 3.5 years old, weighs 31 pounds and is about 37.5 inches tall.  On the right, you can see the torso portion of optional Britax Head and Body Support Pillow.  It gives a little more comfort and support for babies and smaller kids.  This 2.5 year old girl has just about outgrown the accessory torso pillow; she weighs 26 pounds and is around 35″ inches tall.  There is also a head pillow included, but it is not used on seats like the Advocate that have True Side Impact Protection.  Instead, the head support would be more appropriate for the Marathon 70 G3 and B-Safe infant seats.

 

That’s it!  There’s really not much to complain about with these updates, except that the harness is not as easy to loosen as it was on the previous version.   It is also still compatible with the Britax Infant Positioning Insert for use with small baby or larger newborn, just be careful when you install and remove it, to avoid tears in the foam.

Key Advantages of the Advocate 70 G3:

  • SICT side impact cushions for energy management in a side impact
  • Generally very easy to install with LATCH
  • Easy front adjustment for harness height with 10 positions
  • EZ Buckle System is great!
  • Two crotch strap positions
  • Better than average fit rear-facing for smaller cars
  • Rear-facing versa tether.  I know my clients love the added stability this provides.
  • Click & Safe.  I realize some advocates and certified technicians can get a better harness adjustment themselves, but for most parents and caregivers, the current CS system usually provides a reasonable harness adjustment with one pull and click!  You can always keep pulling if you need it a little tighter or simply pull it again a second time.

Disadvantages:

  • At an MSRP of $379, it is among the most expensive carseats on the market
  • Loosening harness is not as easy as other convertible products
  • Rear-facing height limit isn’t as tall as some other models
  • Seatbelt installation can be tricky in some vehicles using built-in lockoffs
  • Width.  The SICT cushions make it rather wide.  For a narrower seat, opt for the Pavilion 70-G3 that is essentially the same as the Advocate 70 G3, but without the SICT feature

Conclusion:

Without a doubt, we will be updating our Recommended Carseats list to include one or more of the new G3 models.  If you have the width to fit the Advocate 70 G3 and will be using it in an outboard seating position, I highly recommend it.  If you have limited width or plan to install in the center seat, then you might save a few bucks and opt for the Pavilion 70 G3 (with the Click & Safe Feature) or Boulevard 70 G3 (without Click & Safe) instead.

You can find information from Britax on the Advocate 70 G3 here.  Thank you to Britax USA for providing the sample used in this review.  No other compensation was provided and the opinions in this blog are solely those of CarseatBlog!

 

After a Crash

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I’m fortunate to have only been in a few small fender-benders, all in parking lots or on streets where it was easy to pull over. I’ve often wondered what people are supposed to do when their crash happens in the middle of a busy roadway. Do you move out of traffic? Do you stay put so the police can see where the cars wound up, and therefore determine fault more easily?

My instinct, especially as a mother and safety advocate, is that I should try to get my car out of traffic, but is that the right choice?

I decided to stop wondering and called up Officer Chris Goodwin with the California Highway Patrol to get his advice.

“Our number-one priority is safety,” Officer Goodwin said. “Documentation is second.” Many accidents start off as minor property damage but turn fatal when other cars strike the vehicle or people stopped in a roadway.

Here are Officer Goodwin’s tips.

  • If you can move your car out of traffic, do it. If you’re on a busy city street, turn onto a side street or into a nearby parking lot. If you’re on a freeway, pull to the shoulder. If you’re near an exit, you can get off the freeway entirely to find a safe place to park. As soon as you do, call 911 to let them know you were in a crash and exited the freeway for safety. This will let police know where to go and will also document that you’re not trying to commit a hit-and-run.
  • If you’re in the middle of a freeway or busy street and can’t move your car, put on your flashers, keep your seatbelt on, and call 911. Do not step out into traffic! Goodwin said it’s not uncommon for people to start exchanging information right in the middle of freeway lanes. Don’t be one of those people!
  • If your car is disabled in the lane closest to the shoulder or sidewalk, exit carefully and stand where it’s safe (i.e., out of traffic lanes), preferably behind a guardrail if you’re on a freeway.
  • While you’re waiting for police to arrive, get out your license, registration, and insurance information. (And before you get in the crash, make sure you have your most current information in the car.) Goodwin said people often don’t have those ready, and it causes delays.
  • Use that camera! Almost everyone has cameras on their cell phones these days. If you do, put it to good use. While the police are taking statements, photograph all of the cars involved on all sides, even if a side doesn’t have damage. Better yet, take video and narrate as you’re doing it. Take photos or video of all the people involved, too. Goodwin said that insurance fraud is rampant, and documenting damage and the people involved will help keep other parties from claiming subsequent damage or claiming that additional people were involved. When you get home, upload the video to your computer, and burn one disk for yourself and one for your insurance company.

As for determining fault, the police can do that even after cars have been moved. They’ll look at statements from witnesses and the parties involved, and will examine crush damage, debris, and skid marks. “That’s what we do for a living,” Goodwin said. “We’ll dig and dig until we figure it out.”

Our Grand Afternoon Adventure

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It’s another summer day. I roll out of bed sometime well after my 8a alarm goes off (set because, you know, I’ve planned to get up early and actually accomplish something), mutter some general words of acknowledgement to my 12 year old who has no doubt been on his computer since 6a, notice that my 10 year old dd is nowhere to be found—must still be lying in bed, taking after her mama, lol. After I’m attacked by my little mutt who is desperate to see me after a long night away from me, her favorite person, I make my way downstairs to gag down some breakfast and read the newspaper. The rest of the day follows in similar lazy fashion. That’s a typical summer day. But today was different! We had a purpose today!

I had a meeting this morning, so before I left, I told my ds that after lunch, we were heading out for a Big Adventure. He’s the type that needs plenty of warning and lots of coercion to do even fun activities—takes after his dad, sigh. When I returned, we had to eat a quick lunch due to scheduling beyond my control. The kids were not happy. This did not follow our carefree, eat-when-we’re-hungry summer schedule. In order to get out of the house on time, I had to bribe the kids with stale gum. Whatever it takes, eh?

The kids were intrigued when we arrived at the Park & Ride station. We’ve taken buses before in other cities as tourists, but never in our own city. We’ve never needed to since we always have a vehicle available. The Park & Ride station serves as a transfer station, so we when we sat at the proper benches, it was pretty obvious from the signage where we were going. The kids took turns guessing why—“We’re meeting someone at the airport?” “We’re picking up a package from the airport?” “We’re picking up carseats from the airport?” “We’re picking up a package from Ikea at the airport?” “We’re picking up a bike for daddy at the airport?”

Can you guess where we were going?

I was pleasantly surprised by the ride. The bus was perfectly on time. It was clean. It didn’t have any odors. It wasn’t too hot and was pleasantly air conditioned. The bus driver was friendly and joked with my kids and me as we boarded. The other riders weren’t scary. It was everything I wasn’t expecting!

Our grand adventure took about 50 minutes and, despite being an “airport express,” included several stops downtown to pick up passengers. My dh saw our bus as we drove near his building and texted “There you go” and “Bye” as we passed. I saw how the driver secured a wheelchair passenger and my kids saw the passenger sleep soundly as we drove around the city. So, for $6, we had a Grand Adventure to the airport and I didn’t have to worry about traffic at all.

OK, I know you’re dying here—what did we pick up at the airport? ‘Cause this sounds like a one-way trip, doesn’t it? I picked up my latest review, a 2013 Lexus GS 450h. Getting it home was another adventure, as it always is.

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro Booster Review – der beste neue kindersitz? (that’s German for check out this awesome new booster!)

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Sometimes good things come to those who wait. This is definitely the case with the Cruiserfix Pro highback booster from German manufacturer, Kiddy. We first previewed this exciting new product in the spring of 2011 and then we waited. We saw it again at the ABC Expo in the fall. Then we waited some more. Just when I was starting to think it had all been a dream we got the word – the Kiddy seats had landed on our shores! But would the Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro live up to all the hype and anticipation? I had my fingers crossed!

 

Kiddy CFP Specs & Features:

  • Weight range: 33 – 100 lbs (15 – 45.3 kg)
  • Height range: 38 – 60″ (Child’s ears must be below top of seat back )
  • Age requirements: No minimum age requirement but product is recommended for children approximately 4 – 12 years of age
  • Highback booster only (cannot remove back and use as a backless booster)
  • Rigid LATCH “K-fix” connectors for lower anchors (optional funnel guides for lower anchors come with seat)
  • Adjustable in both height/shoulder width and leg depth (ht and width adjust simultaneously – not independently of each other)
  • Various types of  thick energy-absorbing foam (Honey Comb V2, EPP & EPS)
  • Additional comfort foam lines bottom and lower sides of shell
  • Kiddy Shock Absorber “crumple zone” technology in lap belt area
  • 8 year lifespan before expiration