I agonized over the convertible carseat for several months. You would think that after having put together the convertible carseat review this choice would have been a breeze but it wasn’t. The hardest part was narrowing down what things we should really be considering when making the decision. Ultimately, I realized the important factors for consideration are safety, lifestyle and budget. Walking yourself through those three characteristics will make your life much easier in navigating the sea of convertible carseats out there!
In the end we settled on the Britax Boulevard 70. I thought it would be helpful to walk through each important consideration, my thought process and how the Boulevard ended up being the choice.
Things to consider when buying a seat:
Obviously, this is a no brainer. Generally speaking, all convertible carseats on the market are safe. What does differ is the level and placement of padding and what you have to decide is where you are comfortable settling. For example, the Britax Advocate (currently retailing for about $285 but suggested retail is $379) is one of the most heavily padded on the market but all that padding and foam making it bulky and big. On the other hand the Combi Cocorro (retails for about $190) is much, much smaller, fits in smaller cars and is more lightweight than the Advocate but has less, plush padding. This is NOT to say it is not as safe as the Advocate but simply different. In fact, the Cocorro has tru safe side impact protection all its own. These are the two extremes of the spectrum and perhaps most of you will settle somwhere in between. More on these two seats later.
Our choice: I tend to be extreme when it comes to safety, like would wrap Eloise is bubble wrap if that was acceptable sort of extreme. I trend more towards the Advocate but it is SO huge. I liked that the Britax Boulevard had the true side impact protection and a base with SafeCell technology (which basically means it is designed to compress in a crash and help lower the child/seat’s center of gravity) but was still manageable size wise. I should note this seat is still on the bigger end of the market. However, I thought it to be a good compromise in safety vs. functionality. Here is a good comparison of three of the Britax models.
2) Car size & lifestyle.
Several seats on the market get negative remarks from parents because they don’t fit well in smaller cars or simply don’t fit at all in their cars. I had a friend with a small to midsize, 4 door sedan, who purchased the Britax Marathon and had to push her front passenger seat up so far it was basically unusable. The lesson here is to measure, measure and measure again before purchasing. If car size is not so important i.e., you have a large car or SUV then your options remain more plentiful. If you have a smaller (or even midsized car) your options may be reduced slightly. For example sake, the Advocate we mentioned above measures: 21 x 22.2 x 26 inches and the Cocorro measures: 17 x 14.6 x 28.2 inches which is quite a significant difference!
Lifestyle is another factor to consider. Are you going to be switching the seat between cars often or traveling with the seat? This makes seat weight is a serious considereation. To use our two examples again, the Advocate weighs 25.8 and the Cocorro weighs 11.8 pounds – more than 50% lighter!! The Cocorro gets rave reviews from urban parents that are constantly switching between cars or transporting from one place to another. The Cocorro is a good option for urban lifestyles (think Zipcars or other on-demand type cars) or for those that have multiple carseats across one row of seat in a car due to its compact size.
Our choice: I have a Chevrolet Tahoe so car size was not an impediment to my choice of seat. While Tyler has a car, we can drive my car around so switching between cars wasn’t really a necessity – both of these facts were checks in the “yes” column for the Bouleavard. I will say that even in my roomy car, the passenger seat is further forward than it has ever been. It is still completely comfortable for a passengers but worth noting nonetheless.
Budget is always a serious consideration and convertible carseats can be total budget busters. As mentioned, the Advocate is one of the more expensive on the market whereas the Cocorro is more mid-priced. There are some other great, budget friendly options and it is not necessary to spend $200+ on a seat. On the other hand, this should be a seat you have for the next three or more years so it is an investment that you should be worth your money.
Our choice: The Boulevard is on the expensive side but we bought it when Diapers.com was having a 30% off sale so saved significantly – look for these types of sales, they seem to happen ever so often. You can follow us on Facebook, too as we always share a deal that good! I also liked the safety technology behind the Britax models and the brand reputation speaks for itself. I also felt the price was fair for a piece of gear that we will have for the next three years (which is more than I can say for most pieces of gear!).
All in all how happy am I with my choice? VERY. I love the Boulevard 70. It was easy to install and the instructions were easy to follow. After a quick glance at the instruction manual I was able to figure out how the seat worked (reclining, tightening and loosening of the straps, rear vs. front installation, etc). My fear was Eloise wasn’t going to be a fan of this bigger seat that somewhat obstructed her view of the window but she loves it! At this point, I don’t have any negative remarks – hard to believe, right? It did take some getting used to when it comes to getting Eloise in/out of the seat but it is all user based and not seat based! Overall, I would highly recommend the Boulevard but here are a few other great models I considered and you should to:
Evenflo Sureride 65 DLX – the Evenflo Sureride 65 DLX is very well loved by parents. The best part of this seat? THE PRICE! Average retail price is about $100 which is excellent compared to others on the market. The Sureride is relatively lightweight (13.6 pounds), sized well to fit into most car types and come with a cupholder. Parents love the Sureride for it’s overall functionality and usability and also note the fabric breathes nicely in warm temperatures. The Sureride is a great “main” seat but is also a worthy option for grandma’s car or a second car. If we get a second seat it will be this one.
Britax Marathon – I liked that this model was slightly less expensive than the Boulevard while incorporating most of the safety features. The one feature that is lacking is the true side impact protection which was a deal breaker for me. But hold on, this is still a fabulous seat (remember I said I would wrap my child in bubble wrap?!?). You can see the difference here – it is in the head wings – the Boulevard has larger headwings whereas the Marathon’s are smaller hence only the side impact protection instead of the true side impact protection the Boulevard touts. All in all I would totally recommend this seat. It encompasses all the awesome safety features we love about the Britax at a lower price than the Boulevard and Advocate.
Chicco Nextfit – We all know and love Chicco for their KeyFit30 and suprsingly the Nextfit is relatively new to the market. The Nextfit gets rave reviews from parents who love it’s nine, yes, nine recline positions and handy level indicators that help ensure the seat is installed correctly. Parents also love the easy install but some note that is tougher to get their little one comfy and “installed” quickly. Your mind can be at ease knowing the Chicco excellent reputation is behind this seat. I consider this a great option and would also work well as an infant seat, too (as would most of these seats.
Good luck with your choice and remember, at the end of the day you know what is best for you and your little one!