Car Seat Advice Needed

by jessicaturner on February 10, 2009

I have begun looking for a convertible car seat for Elias. He is 17 lbs, so we have a few more pounds before he is too big for his KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat . However, I figure I need to start investigating now. I am pretty sure I want a Britax, as they seem to have the best reviews. 

What I don’t know is, should we get the Britax Marathon or the Britax Boulevard? Do you have experience with either of these seats? Which did you like better? 
Or, do you think I shouldn’t go with a Britax and should get another kind? 
As always, I love and appreciate your advice!
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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca February 10, 2009 at 11:55 am

We bought the Britax Boulevard. The side head protectors sold me over the Marthaon. I've heard the Diplomat is good too.

It's very easy to use & we like it a lot! It's simple to adjust & to switch cars.

And this may sound silly, but my father-in-law is a personal injury attorney. He has someone in firm dedicated to car seat research & she also gives installation presentations. Her research had the Boulevard on the top of her list, but Britax in general was highly rated.

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The Thai Family February 10, 2009 at 12:13 pm

We have a Cosco convertible seat and it has worked well. Ours even reclines while still in the rear facing position (so it goes from 5-40 lbs I think). It has lasted through two children so far and against all the wear and tear. Cheaper option if you want to save some money but still a great seat. Founds ours at Toys R Us but you can get them at Target as well. Convertible is definitely the way to go… make sure that it can be a belt positioned booster eventually too and it will last you even longer!

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Misty Rice-Baniewicz February 10, 2009 at 12:26 pm

We have the:
Britax Roundabout Convertible Car Seat – Bellamy

ANd we love it. Its soft, the straps are easy to adjust and I love the big headrest area. I am also a big fan of carseats that recline once they face forward. I can’t tell you how many times my son would fall asleep and with one arm while driving I would be able to reach back there and pull the red latch and recline his seat so he could sleep better without the head falling to his chest.

Good luck on your search.

PS: After you are done with Britex…I have also be a BIG fan of Eddie Beauer carseats/boosters. I think they are fabulous.

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Kelli February 10, 2009 at 1:00 pm

We have the Britax Boulevard and love it! It is so easy to get Caroline in and out of the car and she loves being in it!!

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Amber February 10, 2009 at 1:14 pm

I have a three year old daughter, Grace. We recently had to purchase a carseat for her babysitter's car. I am really a fan of keeping a kid in a 5 point harness for as long as possible and almost all convertable seats that I have found have five point harnesses that only hold weight up to 40 lbs, then you have to use a seat belt to strap them into it. Since she is now 34 lbs, I didn't want to buy another seat (like the ones we have in our car) that only use the harness up to 40 lbs, so we bought her a Radian80; it holds a child in a 5 point harness up to 80 lbs. I have read a very sad story about a three year old who was in a booster; his family was in a car accident and his seatbelt malfunctioned & released him, which resulted in his death. (www.kyledavidmiller.org) It scared me for my daughter…so that is why I went with a Radian80 by Sunshine Kids. I wish that we had not wasted money on two carseats for our cars that only hold up to 40 lbs. Just something to consider. Britax makes a seat that harnesses up to 80 lbs. I'm not sure if it's one that you mentioned. Anyways, that's just my experience.

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Michele February 10, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Now it has been almost 9 years since I used a carseat with my last child and almost 20 years with my first child- but I always loved the Eddie Bauer Brand. Now I know in the years since Joshy they have really taken off with these deluxe models of car seats but my experience is you don’t always have to go with the most expensive as long as it is safe and meets all the federal requirements. Plus you have to remember that he will be getting it dirty- I mean dirty. Between the Cherrios, an occasional McBurger and fries and and occasional- Mom I am goona puke- be prepared for it in a year to look nothing like it does when you take it out of the box.
I do like the second one the best if that helps. :)
Elioas is growing so fast. I absolutely loved the video that Paul made of Elias sitting on his lap. I did not have sound because our speakers are broken but I could see how much he was laughing.
Take care and Happy Car Seat hunting.

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Coty February 10, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Hi! I hope you don’t mind me commenting. I’m a Child Passenger Safety Technician and was directed here by a friend. :)Both seats you’ve mentioned are excellent choices. A couple of things to think about: While the Boulevard has extra side impact protection in the form of headwings, it’s infinite harness system takes away about 1/2″ of height room once used forward facing. The Marathon has no headwings but still has excellent side impact ratings. It is the seat I personally use. Another seat to think about would be the First Years True Fit. Currently it has the tallest shell on the market in the US. This means more time rear and forward facing. My son is almost twenty months old and still happily rear-facing in his Marathon. However, as his tall torso nears the top of the shell, the True Fit has been a blessing. It will give him at least another year of rear-facing. Our personal family goal is three years of age. Children riding rear-facing are five times safer in the event of a crash. And lastly, once you decide on a seat, make sure to have your installation checked out by a certified technician. You can find one via http://www.safekids.org I’ll leave you with that little bit of info, but if you have more questions, I’m more than happy to help!

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Angela February 10, 2009 at 1:25 pm

We have both. And we love both. I bought the Marathon because it had a pretty girl fabric on sale. The Boulevard is for our son.
I buy my carseats at albeebaby.com free shipping and they almost always have a sale. When I bought the Marathon I got for $100 off.

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Megan @ Hold it Up to the Light February 10, 2009 at 1:33 pm

After 3 kids (and more than a few failed carseats), we fell in love with the Marathon. I think the higher models are probably great, but I think they have more than you really need. For us, the Marathon was perfect. It is comfortable fit your child until he is 5 years old, and by that time he will be ready for a booster (probably). I know those higher end ones will work as boosters later, but by that time you will be ready for a lighter weight (easier to haul in and out of cars for carpools and soccer practice)….again, just my humble opinion! Happy shopping!

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Erin February 10, 2009 at 1:45 pm

WE have the Britax Boulevard CS, and I am glad we paid the $30 extra for the “CS” part of it. This is a feature that takes the guessing out of whether or not the straps are tight enough on the 5 point harness-pretty handy especially when the child wears something bulkier than usual, like a coat (or big fluffy dress, in our case). It is literally the most expensive carseat on the market, but worth every penny. As my girlfriend says, can you really put a price on your child’s life? We bought it when Abby was 9 1/2 months old and used it rear facing until she was a year. LOVE LOVE LOVE it and have had no complaints in the 6 months we have used this seat.

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Beth February 10, 2009 at 1:59 pm

We have 2 Britax Marathons for our boys. We all LOVE them! So easy to install/transfer (if need be) and seem very comfortable.

Don’t have experience with other Britax seats, but I imagine they’re all great.

Check out Albeebaby.com or babycheapskate.com for awesome deals on baby products – I think Britax is having some good deals in February.

We have a Graco Nataulius (sp?) and LOVE it too, but it’s forward facing only. We have an Eddie Bauer too, but I am not thrilled with it.

So many choices, huh?
Good luck!

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Anonymous February 10, 2009 at 2:07 pm

We have both the Marathon and the Boulevard. We love them both. Our daughter is almost 19 months and is still rear-facing and has plenty of room to go before we will have to turn her. Please consider extended rear facing for your child.

My advice would be to get a Britax. I know that they are expensive…I know that there are cheaper options out there that “will do just fine”… But, honestly, do you really want to save a few dollars on a piece of equipment that could mean life ro death? With a Britax you are buying one of the best on the market, one of the safest, a great piece of mind.

Also remember…a car seat is only “safe” if it is installed correctly. Please get it checked by a tech.

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Rachel February 10, 2009 at 2:31 pm

We have the Britax roundabout and totally love it. It comes in many different designs. We actually had it handed down to us from family but when we bought the minivan had given it to my mom for her car and went in search of a new one for ours. In all our searching we still settled on the Britax roundabout again and even recommended it to my MIL to buy for our trip out west recently. It is wonderful (you can also use it backward facing if your son outgrows the infant seat but no yet a year old in order to face forward. That is what happened to us with my son).

good luck on your decision.

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AOGF February 10, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Glad to hear you are doing your research. I wanted to share this link with you. Valuable information every parent should know about car seat safety.
http://www.kyledavidmiller.org/

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CM's Mommy February 10, 2009 at 2:41 pm

We have the Britax Roundabout. Our daughter outgrew her Infant car seat at like 7 months (b/c of her length) and we were nervous to switch over and see her reaction…and…she loves it! She is now 15 months and still rear facing (safer). I have been very happy with the seat. We settled on it after reading it got the best safety rating. It’s worth the money for that reason alone. And I happily kissed that darn heavy carrier goodbye!!! (til the next baby of course, lol)

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Jen February 10, 2009 at 2:48 pm

We bought a boulevard for my youngest and love, love, love it. We had an Eddie Bauer for my oldest and fought the straps (they twisted terribly all over and it became almost impossible to adjust the straps). We’ve had the Boulevard since my youngest was about 5 months old and he is now 3 1/2 and still loving it. It was well worth the money. the straps have never twisted and it is very easy to adjust the straps and height without taking it out of the car (another thing I hated about the eddie bauer – getting it in and out to adjust although LATCH makes this process easier).

I highly recommend the Boulevard and wanted to add that I bought ours online (I’m thinking albeebaby) and we saved alot.

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Lee Anne February 10, 2009 at 2:54 pm

We ended up with one called the Radian 80. I can’t say enough good things about these car seats. I have twins and love them to pieces. The boys are very comfortable in them. They are extremely highly rated and hopefully we will never have to buy a booster or anything since they go up to 80 pounds. They also have a Radian 65 that is a little less expensive and holds up to 65 pounds but since I had boys and they are tall we opted for the one that held more weight hoping we will not have to purchase another.

The one great feature about them that no other car seat has is that you actually can fold the seat up and carry it as a backpack if you need to take it for travel or something. When we flew we had the twins so had the stroller, all our luggage and 2 car seats and the 2 of us (my hubby and I) managed to carry it all…I was amazed. And they are very easy to install or move from one car to another.

I know they were designed by someone in the race car field on the side impact features and such so I know they are safe. Good luck in your decision! I think any of the ones you have mentioned are great.

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Andrea February 10, 2009 at 2:56 pm

I just bought Jack a Britax Marathon…he just turned 6 months and is 21 pounds. We love it. It is very comfy for him…

I just wish it had the hood on it so that the sun would not shine in his eyes :( That is the only downside to getting bigger and going into a bigger seat.

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Amy February 10, 2009 at 3:04 pm

I would for sure get the Britax Marathon. The main reason is it does have the best reviews of ones I researched and Im sure this isnt the only child you will have which makes the money WELL worth the investment!

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K,S, C and D the Dog February 10, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Glad to see that you’re doing your research early! You should definitely get more use out of that KeyFit and don’t move out early – Elias is most protected in the infant seat so any move to a convertible should only be because it is absolutely necessary. We had the SafeSeat Step 1 from Graco that went to 30 pound and 32 inches and my son only moved out of it at 14 months.

It’s interesting that you are asking these questions now though as I just recently put up a post on our blog about why Colbmeister is still rear-facing at 18 months. Check it out as there is lots of info that soooo many parents should know and just don’t realize. I hope it helps – http://kstownsend.blogspot.com/2009/02/why-only-rear-to-year.html

As for what seat to buy, we found, after ooodles and ooodles of research that the Sunshine Kids Radian 80 was the perfect choice for us. Not only does it have the highest 5 point harness capability along with the ability to continue to keep the little guy rear facing to 35 pounds, but it is a dream to travel with… IT FOLDS! We fly quite often so this was a big win win on our list. In addition because it has such a slim frame it fits beautifully in the cars and isn’t this gigantic overbearing seat. Our son is very happy in it and we appreciated it’s afforability for the amount of use it will get.

Definitely check it out because rear-facing and high weight harness capacity are a must.

Also, make sure to stop over at wwwHipMonkey.com as they have some great photos and information – this is the non-profit site run by the Kyle David Miller FOundation (http://www.kyledavidmiller.org/) plus the prices there are reasonable, they don’t charge shipping and they even price match!

Good Luck – it’s an important choice!

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Kaitlin February 10, 2009 at 3:42 pm

I take care of several children and I’ve used the Britax Boulevard. He is currently using it and he is 14 months old and has been using it since 6 months I think. It’s a good comfortable fit and I like the sides. His brother, who is almost 3 has been using an Eddie Baur brant, but I’m not sure much more than that.

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Andrea February 10, 2009 at 4:18 pm

The marathon is a good choice. The biggest key in shopping, is finding something with a high Harness weight, not necessarily the overall weight. A lot of them claim to be 20-100lbs forward facing, but that because once you hit 40lbs they are meant to be a booster seat.

The longer you keep him in a harness, the safer he will be. My almost 5 year old is still in a harnessed carseat, Apex 65, and he’ll be there as long as he fits the seat.

Best of luck! There’s a lot of things to look at.

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Melissa February 10, 2009 at 4:18 pm

I have a Britax Boulevard, Marathon and a Regent! The Boulevard is better for smaller kids. I would recommend the Boulevard, and then graduating to the Regent. The Regent is the Britax seat that goes to 80 lbs. I also do not want my child in anything but a 5-point harness, until they are 8 years old AND 80 lbs. I also watched the David Miller video and that has stuck with me (even the song reminds me of him!) My 4 1/2 year old is in the Regent, my 2 year old is in the Marathon, and I watch a 9 month old who I put in the Boulevard. Britax IS the best! England has much higher guidelines that we do in the States.

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Jamie February 10, 2009 at 4:45 pm

We have the Britax Marathon and love it. We purchased it when our son was born. That was four years ago and he is still in it!

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Cari February 10, 2009 at 4:57 pm

You should try them out in your car. The Boulevard is larger in width than the Marathon. We love our Marathon. I got mine for a little over $200 with free shipping. Definately shop around.

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JillEBean February 10, 2009 at 5:07 pm

We have the Britax Roundabout..and love it for a infant-toddler car seat. But we found that once our oldest child was around 3 (but well under the 40 lb limit) that she was just too tall for the way the seat is designed. I would look to find a Britax seat that would ultimately be a booster as well. But Britax in general is a great name, so you really can’t go wrong!

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Paige February 10, 2009 at 5:41 pm

We have the Britax Marathon and we love it. Britax is highly rated for safety and the Marathon fits a child up to 65 lbs. My hubby is a fire fighter and installs tons of carseats and the Britax is easy to install and it fits very well in most car types. Hope this helps!

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Lauren Kelly February 10, 2009 at 5:44 pm

I have no advice on this one, I’m kidless, haha!!! Just stopped by to say hello, my friend :o) Have a GREAT day!!!!

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Jung A February 10, 2009 at 5:53 pm

our little one is in a britax roundabout, and sad to say she is starting to outgrow it! She loves it though!

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Rebecca Louise. February 10, 2009 at 6:02 pm

I like the Britax Boulevard =] xxx.

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gitz February 10, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Hi… I’m your single friend who knows about as much about car seats as I do about how to train my dog.

But I think the Boulevard looks more comfy for my favorite little dude. In case you were wondering.

:)

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The Jones' February 10, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Jessica-
We did a lot of research on carseats and personally chose the Recaro. I love it and both my kids love them. There is the COMO and SIGNO and the only difference is that you do not have to go through the back to adjust the height on the SIGNO and it is a little more expensive. They are around the same prices as the Britax. My son is 3 and is a big boy and still has plenty of room to grow into it. Recaro is who makes the seats for Nascar and they are very very safe seats. Not only are they safe but my kids look so comfortable in them. I believe they go up to 70 lbs and I intend to keep my kids in them until they are at least 7 or 8 years old. I would never use a booster seat if I do not have to. A carseat is much more safe. I have a lot of friends who have Britax and they love those as well. Good luck!

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Lesli February 10, 2009 at 7:46 pm

I own two Recaro carseats and would not buy anything else. We did alot of research on carseats before we bought these and we are totally happy with them. Check them out at http://www.recarochildseat.com

Parents always want to know “what’s the best seat available?” and the answer to that is that all seats certified for use in the US meet the same crash test standards, so the best seat available is the one the best fits your car, your child, and your lifestyle. The seat should fit the seat design of your car, and not be wedged against the front seats. The seat should be comfortable for your child without having to add untested aftermarket accessories or home-made fixes. And it should match your lifestyle needs for portability.
That said, safety standards in the US only require frontal crash testing for child safety seating devices, whereas the German engineered Recaro child seat offers the added piece of mind of side impact crash testing as well.

Recaro child seats are the only child restraint systems sold in the US to receive documented Side Impact Crash Testing.

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Kelli February 10, 2009 at 8:22 pm

we are had the old Roundabout Britax :), you can’t go wrong, we would’ve gotten the Marathon had they made that one for my children. B/c the RB only goes up to 40lbs…so now we are on the search for something for V :)

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Andrea February 10, 2009 at 8:52 pm

We have the Marathon and LOVE it! But either way you go will be fine. Britax car seats are the best:) We bought our older son the Britax Regent, he is 5 now and will probably fit comfortably in it until he is 8!

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Rachel Boldman February 10, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Zeke just outgrew his Keyfit 30 (at 9 months–yay) and is now in the Evenflo Triumph Advance LX. We love it! This is actually the one we took him home from the hospital in, because we were not sure if we would want to use the carrier as a car seat all the time. Anyway, it’s great, but that’s just my experience!

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Deanna February 10, 2009 at 9:17 pm

We love our Marathon! It was worth every penny!!! :)

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denise0480 February 10, 2009 at 9:24 pm

We have the Marathon and absolutely love it…would highly recommend it!
Denise

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Breezy's Mom February 10, 2009 at 9:30 pm

We purchased the Boulevard a few months ago and our daughter loves it. I was able to find one on-line with a discontinued pattern; it was greatly reduced over the newer patterns. Once you decide, do an on-line search to compare prices, shipping costs, etc.

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breebrasil February 10, 2009 at 9:54 pm

I have the Britaz marathon and LOVE it. My friends got it for me for my baby shower – I did no research, but I know I wouldn’t have picked something so nice. It has great adjustability, it is easy to get my boy in and out of. And – bonus – it has velcro for you to hold the straps to the side so you don’t have to fish them out from behind the baby. Go for it!

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dawn224 February 10, 2009 at 11:08 pm

boulevard. I got mine about this time a year ago on amazon – on sale b/c it was an outgoing seat cover pattern.

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Amy February 10, 2009 at 11:33 pm

We have the Evenflo Triumph and LOVE IT!! The straps are soooo easy to adjust and it’s comfortable and not enormous. The Evenflo was actually rated higher by Consumer Reports than the Britax. It’s also quite a bit cheaper. Britax is so expensive and if another seat does the same job for a cheaper price, why not?!

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Suzie Jenke February 11, 2009 at 1:27 am

We actually have both. I prefer the Boulevard seeing as it looks more comfy. They are both very good. My mother has the Britax Diplomat and its just a more compact version of the Boulevard for smaller cars. So I like that one too. Good luck!

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The Luna Family February 11, 2009 at 1:37 am

We have two Marathons for hubby’s car and a Boulevard and Decathlon for my car. LOVE BRITAX! Beware when you are buying off a site that has Britax’s for very cheap. That usually means the DOM (Date of Manufacture) is at least a year old. Carseats are only good for 6 years, so you are loosing a whole year of life there. Britax usually only does sales twice a year. I want to say early Spring and Fall. Happy Shopping!

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Holly February 11, 2009 at 2:29 am

I don’t know anything about carseats, but good luck finding th right one!

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The Kahler Family February 11, 2009 at 3:58 am

We have the Britax Roundabout for our son and we LOVE it! It is so easy to install/ move… I can’t think of a thing that I don’t like about it! Our daughter is in a Britax full back booster… love them!
Good luck, it’s a pricey decision, but one that you won’t regret!
Make sure that whatever you buy, you get it from a place that will let you take them out to your car and put them in to make sure they fit properly. Not all of them fit every car properly and most of the time there is a no return policy. I got mine at USA baby and they were awesome about that! It made a huge difference and actually impacted my purchase, I was originally going to get a different model but it didn’t fit right… and I drive a Yukon, it wasn’t the room that made a difference.
Elias is still a doll!

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JasonI February 11, 2009 at 4:24 am

We did tons of research and finally settled on the Sunshine Radian 80– we can’t say enough great things about this carseat!! We chose it over Britax because it has the same high safety ratings with a narrower profile– we can fit three across the back seat of our CRV, or two with an extra adult passenger if need be.
Hope that helps!!
–Elizabeth

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Kimberly February 11, 2009 at 6:59 am

I love, love, love reading your blog. You are a hoot!!
You are doing such a great job w/ asking others thoughts on this subject!!! WAY TO GO!! I tend to over research, if there is such a thing. I’ve been a britax lover for the last 8 years. (very easy to install, and the straps do not tangle, like with all the other ones!) I just matter of fact purchase another one a week ago. We decided on the Marathon again, because we have been happy with it in the past and the boulevard tends to get in there way with looking out the window forward facing. (our other seats had since expired…6 yr rule) I was blown away early on with the amount of mis-information out there, and the fact that even the hospital that I work at.. doesn’t seem to give the best advice. Go figure. Believe me, I have been working very hard to get them to change what the preach about “add on’s” and designer seat covers. It is a work in progress. I too was unaware that having the fire department or other organization check your seat installation, is NOT ENOUGH!!! Safekids.org and http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/CPSTblog/ has some really great information.

Good Luck w/ your journey for a new seat for your super blessed little guy.

Blessing!

I too found several sites that have them at a discounted price, but I found out the hard way, that the DOM (date of Manufacture) is a little older, therefore it cuts into how long you can use it.

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elana February 11, 2009 at 9:27 am

I just bought the Marathon for my son :)

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Christi February 11, 2009 at 2:32 pm

I was glad to see someone else post about the Evenflo Triumph. We love this seat for our son who is almost 2 years old. He outgrew his infant car seat by 9 months, and the Evenflo has been great. Very easy to adjust the straps, and looks super comfortable. and sturdy. I did research and this was rated well, only Britax was better. But oh, the price on Britax. If there was no other comparable product with good safety ratings, then I’d have gone with Britax. But the Evenflo was very reasonably priced and we’ve been very happy with it. Love how easily the cover comes off and washes in the washing machine. Very important for a messy toddler. And it goes up to 35 lbs rear facing (important since my little boy is in the 75-100 growth percentile in heigh and weight) and 50 lbs front facing.

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Amy February 11, 2009 at 8:47 pm

We have the Britax (but Diplomat) and love it. We will get another bigger (marathon or boulevard) one when we have another little one that needs the diplomat. We needed a 2nd carseat and decided to go with a cheaper one for the car our little one rarely rides in. We got the Evenflo Triumph becaue we had heard so many good things about it. It works fine, is comfortable for her, and all that, but we really dislike it compared to the Britax. It is harder to use and much harder to install correctly than the Britax in our experience. My hubby was so frustrated with it compared to the Britax that we almost returned it, but figured since it rarely gets used that we’d just deal with it being harder to use.

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Teresa February 11, 2009 at 10:14 pm

We have a Britax Marahon. We love it. She is comfortable in the car seat and never complains. And, it’s the safest according to the reports… we chose this one because it was a little less expensive. But, I think any Britax is a good car seat!

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