After my own extremely traumatic and life-changing car accident as a teenager, car seat safety is something I take incredibly seriously.
Rowan had a Britax Boulevard (that replaced a bad buy I hadn't researched well), and I bought him a Britax Frontier 85 as he grew. My daughter went into Rowan's Boulevard, but now it's coming up on its expiration date and I was starting to look into new seats. In my research I saw that people pointed out areas in which Britax was falling behind.
But they just released a new improved line of convertibles (the newest Britax is in the middle of the photo) and I was lucky enough to get a brand new Advocate 70 CS to test out.
Full disclosure: Britax sent me the seat (thank you, Britax), but trust me -- if I hated it, I'd share exactly why. I was weary of the Click-Safe (CS) technology, which makes a clicking sound when the harness is tightened properly. There were complaints about it clicking too soon in older models, but it functions well now (even if I still go by the Pinch Test). Loose straps are the biggest offense in car seat safety, so anything that helps people get the straps tight enough is good in my book. And for those who don't read the manual (shame on you!), Britax sacrificed the name of their company on the chest clip for a little image of the chest chip in the proper location. Smart on Britax's part. (Not smart for those of you who don't read the manual.)
Old seat on the left, new one on the right. Integrated steel bars were also added to the entire length of the seat and, no, it didn't make it heavier. (Thank goodness.) The rubber on the bottom helps prevent sliding and protects the car's seat as well. I learned that the new plastic is black is because it's more resistant to stress fractures, weathering, warping, or any other negative effects from being in hot or cold vehicles and also allows for longer lifespan for the seat -- seven years for the convertibles, nine for the Frontier 85.
The seat sits down deeper into the base now, on top of what Britax calls "Safe Cell Technology." Less forward-motion and more of the crash force is absorbed into the seat and therefore away from the child. It also makes for more leg room which is important when you can keep 2- to 4-year-olds rear-facing especially now that the rear-facing weight limit to 40 pounds. It can forward face until your child is 70 pounds now, though most kids will outgrow it in height first. With the AAP's recommendation that all children rear-face until their second birthday and as long afterwards as their seat allows, new limits like these make it possible for ANY child to fit rear-facing beyond that bare minimum, easily.
Britax kicked royal booty with the new adjustments for the height of the seat. See that little tiny handle up there above the headrest? Yeah, you just squeeze that, and lift. That's IT.
One special thing that only Britax and one other manufacturer allows is top tethering when the seat is rear-facing, though all seats have it for forward-facing. But Britax also has special stitching on the unique Versa-Tether to help absorb impact. The stitches break in stages as the tether is stretched to help slow down forward movement of the top of the seat.
In the accident I was in when I was younger, my face literally broke the window I was sitting next to and I've had multiple surgeries and injections to help deal with the damage from it, so as you can imagine, I take side-impact protection incredibly seriously. Everything I've already mentioned so far is a change in every single one of the new convertible seats, but the thing that makes the Advocate the top of the line convertible is the Side Impact Cushion technology -- those big white rubbery-pillow things on the outside of the seat.
To see visual explanations of the features I just mentioned, here's a video:
Have you had a chance to see the new Britax line? They're available in many stores across the the country already. And even though the Advocate is $369.99, they have cheaper though no-less safe seats as well, and with the right discounts, coupons, and know-how, you can usually knock about $100 off the seats as well, making them cost-comparable with the full-price of other seats.
What do you think of their new car seat?