Thank you to Britax for keeping my child safe by providing this seat for my review!
As a mother of three kids, I’ve been through my fair share of car seats. With my oldest two children five and seven years older than baby, we couldn’t re-use our previous baby seats and convertible seats as they had reached the expiration date. It was time for us to update.
This time around, not being new to the game anymore and having learned quite a lot about safety, I decided I wanted the best seats I could get for my baby girl. I decided to go with a trusted name and brand, Britax.
I’ve only ever heard great things about Britax, and they always rank at the top as far as safety goes, so when I was asked to review the latest Britax Advocate I was glad to do so. Some of the things on my mind as I thought about what I want in a car seat, and what features I like to see are probably similar to what most parents are thinking.
What is the weight limit? Is the cover easy to remove for washing? Are the straps easy to adjust? Is it easy to install? Is it comfortable for baby? What are the extras that make this seat special? And of course, is it safe?
The bottom line – The first thing I want to address and get out there is the safety. This is of utmost importance to me and the Britax Advocate is one of the best convertible car seats on the market today. It has almost every possible safety feature that one could imagine in a car seat. It is also a comfortable seat that is easy to install and adjust. If you are looking for a safe car seat, you are not going to go wrong with this one.
Keep this in mind regarding safety when considering choosing a seat for your child:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests all car seats before they are approved to be sold in the United States. Child car seats are basically given a pass/fail safety grading by the NHTSA; if a car seat is available for sale in 2014, then it has passed current crash safety standards.
With that being said, the phrase “the safest car seat is the one that’s used correctly every time” rings very true when it comes to keeping your little one safe. Well, some seats are easier than others to install and adjust properly. Confusing instructions and difficult harnesses can make it hard to secure your child in the seat, so choosing a seat that is not only built well, but is easy to install and use is a must.
Is it easy to install and is it safe?
As far as ease of installation — the Britax Advocate is the only seat I’ve been able to install myself, without help from my husband to tighten the latch straps. It is so easy literally anyone could do it because the latch straps are almost like clipping in a seat-belt buckle and just as easy to remove.
If you decide to use the seat-belt installation method, or if you child has outgrown the weight limit for using latch, there is a very convenient storage compartment for the latch connectors so the straps aren’t flying around the vehicle willy nilly — also a great safety feature in case of a collision.
In addition to the latch storage compartment, seat belt installation is made extremely easy with the addition of color coded seat belt lock-offs that lock the vehicle seat belts in place to keep the child seat from moving excessively (these are not in place of the locking action of the seat belt, they simply hold the child seat in place until the vehicle seat belt has to do its job.
Is it easy to use?
In addition to the ease of installation, both rear-facing and forward-facing, the actual 5-point harness is the easiest I have ever used. The Click & Safe feature that Britax uses makes it really easy to determine when you are in within range of acceptable tightness for the harness straps. Britax is always at the forefront of safety features, and this is no exception.
A study released by the NHTSA revealed that 59% of child harnesses were too loose. Loose harness straps leave your child vulnerable to injury during a crash because they may allow your child to move out of position; they can even lead to ejection from the child seat during a crash (information provided by Britax).
Although Click & Safe is still a secondary feature and you still need to check for the proper tightness, having this audible indicator to help determine the correct snugness is a huge help. I absolutely love being able to hear when I’m in the right range, and then a quick finger check lets me know if I need another click or two.
Hugs with SafeCell
This feature was something new to me as I’ve never had a car seat that offered something like this. At first I wasn’t even sure what the HUGS chest pads were for, but after a little checking I learned that they increase the safety of your child by assisting in reducing forward movement while in a collision by adding friction to the harness against your child’s chest as they move forward. Additionally, the SafeCells compress to further manage energy, reducing the risk of head injury.
Safety features aside (which are always important), they also have these nice little ridges on them that help keep the chest clip properly positioned and reduce the chances that your child might pull them down.
No re-thread harness
If you’ve ever had to re-thread the car seat harness in a child seat, you know how huge this is. It truly can be a big pain to try to remove everything just to adjust the straps, so having the option to simply adjust the harness height with the click of a button — yep, it’s awesome!
For rear-facing, the straps should be at or below shoulder height so that your child doesn’t ride up in the seat in the case of a collision. For forward facing it would be shoulder height or above. My daughter is only seven months old so she is rear-facing and it was super simple to find the right height for her.
Tethering – forward and rear facing!
I cannot tell you how excited I am that this seat allows for tethering while rear-facing. It is hard to find many seats that allow this option, and the Advocate is one of a few that does. The reason this is so important is that the tether (Britax calls it the Versa-Tether and it is patented) greatly reduces the amount of ‘rebound’ that may happen during a crash. (Rebound is that movement that occurs after your vehicle has come to a stop and your body is forced back into the seat during a frontal impact.)
Rebound does happen even while rear-facing (the child isn’t forced back into the seat at this point, but instead the top of child seat is propelled back into the seat of the car), so having the option to tether is really great!
Built Solid – safety you can see!
All Britax convertible and booster cars seats since 2010 include integrated steel bars in the frame. This is definitely a premium feature and well worth it. The steel bars strengthen the connection to the vehicle and reduce any flexing of the seat during a collision.
The Britax Advocate also has a True Side Impact Protection system coupled with Side Impact Cushion technology that gives advanced levels of side impact protection. This is achieved with the deep side walls of the seat shell along with energy management cushions on each side of the seat (seen pictured above).
Britax Advocate- great features that you must know about
Now that we have some of the safety aspects out of the way, lets talk about some of the other features you really want to know about!
I really love this added feature and I know you will too! Trust me, the ability to move the straps out of the way, and keep them that way, until baby is seated is pretty awesome. No more digging around under baby’s bottom or behind her back to try to find the straps and buckle.
While the Harness Holders keep the straps out of the way with some handy Velcro, the buckle is held at bay by this amazing little feature that always pops it forward.
Tangle Free Harness
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a car seat that didn’t cause some frustration when tightening the straps. As mentioned previously, the Click & Safe makes it simple to tell when you are in the right range of snugness, but the fact that the straps have never once tightened unevenly nor have they tangled on me is even more impressive!
When tightening the straps, they both tighten evenly — unlike other car seats we’ve used where one may tighten more than the other and then you have to putz around with it trying to loosen and re-tighten to get the right fit. I’ve NEVER had that issue with this car seat, it is the easiest seat I have ever buckled my daughter into.
Is it comfortable?
We recently went on a 2,000 mile car trip (round trip) and my seven month old daughter barely complained a bit. In fact, she probably complained the least of my three children! I’m pretty sure she was quite comfortable during our recent trip, and in fact would be seen smiling more often than not.
If you’d like to take a peek at our journey from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania and back, check out this storybook: Family Trip
Will it fit in my car?
I am probably in a unique position to be able to test this out on multiple vehicles sizes as we happen to have both a compact and mid-sized car, in addition to a van. We chose to install the Advocate in our van since that is the vehicle we typically use when we are all riding together, and that is where all of the previous pictures in this post were taken.
Even though it is really easy to install and uninstall this seat, for the demonstration I decided to use the second Britax car seat I purchased since I had it at my disposal anyway. On a side note, I decided to purchase a second Britax car seat after realizing how much I really liked the one I received for review — I haven’t even taken the tags off yet!
For this test the seat has been placed in a 2007 Toyota Camry (it is not secured as this is just for demo purposes). As you can see, there is plenty of room for rear-facing in both the center position and the position nearest the door (forward facing would allow even more room).
While you can fit three children across the back row, it would be a tight fit to add in an additional booster seat, especially one that has a tall back as the one in the far side of the image does. I would say three convertible seats will not fit across the back seat at all, especially if you are choosing the Advocate as it is even wider with the added side impact protection pillows. Two should do nicely though so if you don’t have three children there should be no issues with fit.
While the Britax seats have no issue forward facing or rear facing in our 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid, you will definitely not be able to fit three kids in the back seat if they all need to be in car seats. Depending on the height of the driver, you may not be able to do rear-facing on the driver side as I did have to adjust the passenger seat forward just a small amount in order for the seat to fit.
To be honest, I didn’t expect this seat to fit at all in the rear-facing position, but it does seem to fit in the space as long as your passenger doesn’t mind not having the seat all the way back. I did not try the middle position since that would require both the driver and passenger seat to be pushed up slightly, plus there is no way the seat will fit butted up right next to the booster seat.
Is it easy to clean?
If you ask my husband he will tell you I don’t know where the washing machine is, but joking aside — there is going to come a point when you will need to clean your seat covers. It may come when you least expect it as you end up with a sick child on a trip, or you might decide that the covers just need a good washing after a bit of use. At some point you are going to hope these seat covers come off easily.
I have good news for you. While I have yet to try to take off the covers myself, I have heard that they are very simple to remove and put back on. Britax created a quick how-to video for their previous model of car seats, but I can’t imagine the process would be much different now.
Car Seat Specs
Obviously I really like this seat. If I didn’t I wouldn’t have gone right out and bought another for one of our additional vehicles, however, for those of you that still need to see the specs I’ve included them below…enjoy. 🙂MSRP (USD) $379.99 Weight Limit Rear Facing: 5 – 40 pounds Weight Limit Forward Facing: 20 – 65 pounds and at least 1yr old Child Standing Height: 49 in or less Child Seated Shoulder Height: Rear Facing – 9 – 16.75 in Forward Facing – 12 – 16.75 in Certified for aircraft travel Infant positioning pillow included for smaller infants
If there is anything I didn’t address or that you have a question about, feel free to leave a comment and let me know!
So tell us….
Do you or did you have a Britax car seat?
What is your favorite safety feature on the Advocate? What else do you think is great about this seat?