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on November 3, 2010
Don't even blink at the price or anything else that really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of life. We were in a freeway rollover accident yesterday in our Honda Pilot that completely totalled the car. My precious 4 year old daughter was all strapped in tight in this carseat and walked away without even a scratch. As soon as I finish up this review, I am buying another one. Seriously, when you are in an accident like that, won't you be glad you put your munchkin in the safest seat possible, even if it can be a pain in the neck to install and annoying to get the cover off to clean? Also should note my 22 month old son was in an Evenflo Triumph (also gets high safety ratings). Thank God he was totally fine, but the strap that attaches the carseat to the anchor in the car literally ripped in half horizontally. It is a miracle that he is okay, because I shudder to think he could have been flopping around with only one anchor attached in addition to the over the seat tether...
3636 comments802 of 825 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 8, 2011
I own a Britax Marathon which I still use for my younger child, and had purchased the Britax Frontier 85 as a long term seat for my oldest child, currently 3 years old. Occasionally I need to remove the car seats and install in another vehicle. The Marathon can be done with ease. The Frontier, is the most frustrating installation I have ever experienced. I believe it is due to a cheaper design. The Marathon offers 2 independent straps for the latch system. Each is pulled individually for a taught fit. The Frontier however, only offers 1 pull strap for both latches. This may have saved $10 in design and construction costs per unit, but for the customer , far more a struggle than the Marathon design.

What makes it difficult is how incredibly easy it is for the strap to become twisted and tangled in an area behind the seat which you have no visual nor access to. I have read some of the positive reviews here and one individual was questioning intelligence for those that are having difficulty with the installation. I am a technical engineer by day with a master's degree, and can assure you, I am not lacking intelligence. I am also a volunteer firefighter, and have knowledge and experience on how to install, uninstall and in emergency situations, cut these seats in half.

Their customer service is what may save them from losing me as a customer. The representative acknowledged that if you pull taught when the strap is in a twisted state, that could cause it to want to twist during successive pulls. They are sending me a new set of straps to try. Ultimately I'd rather see an independent 2 strap design like the Marathon.
2828 comments262 of 321 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 28, 2010
Automobiles are not built to protect small passengers in a crash - even small adults! If you want to increase the odds your child will survive a collision, I recommend keeping him or her in a booster seat as long as you are able to do so. The Britax Frontier 85 is more than just a booster - it is a booster with a top tether which significantly increases the safety of the seat. A 5-point harness is safer than the seat belt, and that's how my petite 9-year-old rides. The law says 8 or 80 but I feel that law should be more stringent. I plan to keep my daughter in the harness until she reaches 85 pounds and the belt-positioning booster until she is 12 or older. I have taught her that safety is more important than "image" - I don't care that all of her friends are allowed to ride in cars with no booster of any kind. The vehicle's seats and belts are NOT designed to protect your small riders. I'll say it again - a Britax Frontier 85 is well engineered to increase small riders' odds of survival in a collision.
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on November 30, 2010
I was all set to buy the Graco Nautilus carseat, but was still wondering if Britax Frontier 85 might be better. Both carseats were not being sold in any stores for me to go and check them out, so I decided to order both and test them out. I am SO glad I did, because in comparison, the Britax was BY FAR the better seat! And believe me, I REALLY wanted to love the Graco seat.

I would recommend to anyone to pay $100 more for the Britax Frontier 85, cause you get so much more in the long run!

Here's why:

1. The furthest crotch strap slot on the Graco Nautilus measured at 6.5 inches from the back of the seat. On the Britax Frontier 85, the furthest crotch slot is 8.5 inches! My son was almost sitting on the Graco crotch strap in its furthest position and he's only 10 months and SKINNY. With the Britax, he has plenty of room to grow and most likely will not be sitting on the crotch strap!

2. When I put my son in the Britax Frontier 85, his back and head were straight and aligned (no curving of the spine). In the Graco Nautilus, my son was hunchback cause the seat or headrest pushed his head forward and curved his spine. That totally made me question how it would affect his developing posture.

3. The material on the Britax Frontier 85 is sooo soft and smooth, but still SAFE (rock hard on the outside, cushiony on the inside). The material on the Graco Nautilus is awful! The seat is rigid and feels like sand paper/cardboard!

4. The harness strap on the Graco Nautilus is kinda short when pulled to the limit and doesn't look like there's much room to grow in it. Pretty disappointing when they claim a child can be harnessed up to 65 lbs! I highly doubt that! BUT the harness strap on the Britax Frontier 85 is LONG!!!!! And here's the best part -- I'M HIS MOTHER AND I WAS ABLE TO SIT IN THE SEAT AND STRAP MYSELF IN! I am 5'1 and 105 lbs, and I was able to sit comfortably in the Britax and strap myself in harnessed no problem! Most importantly, the crotch strap was still NOT under me. That means my son can grow to my size and still remain harnessed! That is phenomenal!!! Not that he'll need to be harnessed when he's my size, but the option is there! That's how I know I made the right decision.

My son hasn't been in the Britax for a drive yet (cause he's still too little), but I imagine it will be very comfortable (to the point of sleeping in it). And when he sits in it in the house, he doesn't squirm or scream (like he did in the Graco Nautilus). He loves it! Go for the Britax Frontier 85 over the Graco Nautilus... you will thank me! I returned the Graco Nautilus ASAP!

UPDATE: I did not realize that this seat specifies the child must be at least 2 years old. So with MUCH regret, I have to send it back. I still love it very much!!! And because I loved it so much, I decided to go for the Britax Marathon 70 -- also a fantastic car seat for my 10 month old son. I am now a total Britax fan! They truly make the best car seats I've ever seen. They are very expensive IMO, but so worth the money! I will be purchasing the Britax Frontier 85 in the future for sure, unless Britax comes out with an even better model by then! All I know is that every car seat I buy from now on is going to be a Britax! :)
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on January 13, 2012
I bought this seat a few months ago, managed to get it installed and everything was fine. Until my daughter threw up in it. It says do not machine wash. Are they INSANE??? After I struggled to get the cover off, I washed it in the sink 3 times with detergent and once with spray and wash, resorting to scrubbing with a toothbrush in the crevices. It still stank. I HAD to put it in the washing machine, it still smells bad, so it's in there again right now. Also, the top section of the cover does not come off, I wiped it down thoroughly, it still reeks. And how on earth do you clean the foam pad underneath the seat? The straps I managed to clean by dunking them in a bucket and using a toothbrush to scrub them. Luckily I still had her old car seat so I have been able to use that for now while I figure out this mess. I really don't have the money to waste on an expensive car seat that can't get washed well. Kids throw up Britax! How realistic is it to have a booster seat that is supposed to last for several years and not expect some poor parent to have to deal with cleaning puke out of the horrendous thing?
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on March 1, 2012
I was debating and debating for MONTHS on which car seat to choose...the britax or the graco 3 in 1 natalius. I narrowed these 2 seats because they both get awesome reviews for safety. We have britax (roundabout and marathon) so I was already familiar with this great product. I love the frontier and I am so glad that I made this choice! I know that britax is #1 in safety and they are well built...that was not my concern. My main concern was comfort. I wanted to be able to go on car rides (long trips) and rest easily knowing that my boys would nap great in the car...without their heads slumping forward! Nothing drives me crazy like that does......they do not nap well and I can not concentrate knowing their poor little necks are being tossed all over the place. We have been in town and they have fallen asleep with no head slump at all. I am very happy with this pruchase.
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on June 25, 2010
We replaced our Britax Wizard (like Boulevard) with this seat, as my 6 y.o. DD is 48.5" and the max ht for the Wizard is 49". In addition, convertible car seats tend to raise kids up high, so that her feet were dangling quite a ways up from the floor. She was also ready for some "big girl" features, like the cup holder. My only concern with the new Frontier was that the back sits up straighter and I was worried she may not be able to fall asleep like she used to in the Wizard - it's a rare occurrence these days but when needed, it's NEEDED! I was also worried I might not be able to install it myself but figured I could seek out help if not.

First of all, the packaging was a breeze to open. Always a nice feature! I took the seat out and had my DD sit in it inside the house so I could adjust the crotch-buckle and wing height before installing. Both were easy to do (although I DO prefer the dial-adjuster on our old Wizard, especially for making adjustments once the seat is installed - more on that later). I then moved the seat out to our Toyota 4Runner and installed it myself, in about 10-mins, in the back, center position. It probably would have taken me less time if our center belt was easier to tighten, but that's no fault of the seat. And it actually makes for a tighter fit - when I try, I can't budge the seat. The seat does seem to be a tad wider than our old seat, although I didn't take any measurements, but previously, I could fit 2 booster seats on either side of our seat and now I seem to only be able to fit one. Since we only have one child, this isn't much of an issue except when asked to carpool more than one child. It may also just be the way I've got it installed, or possibly the boosters I'm using (Compass, high-back boosters). Maybe something like a Graco backless would fit fine but I haven't tried yet. The rear-tether strap was also easy to adjust and tighten .

With installation out of the way, we went to comfort. DD immediately loved the seat, but I know her and the newness of something can influence her liking it so I waited until she'd ridden in it more often before making a final determination on the comfort. For one, the cup holders are nice and don't really get in the way of anything. I guess having retractable ones would be a good idea but maybe they'd then have to be moved within the seat, making them not as desirable - I don't know. But for us, they work as is and well.

As for ease, she is easily able to do and undo her buckles by herself, just as in her old Wizard. I will say, I felt the crotch-strap adjuster in the Wizard was easier to use and access than the Frontier, but it's not like it's difficult on the Frontier - just different and if I had to pick one over the other I'd pick the Wizard. But I can see that maybe the Frontier's design would prevent a child from self-adjusting. This was never an issue for us and in fact I'd often ask DD to help pull up on the lever if she was too tight so I could properly pull the straps out from the front seat. This really isn't an option anymore but not really a problem either. Possibly because it's summer and she's not wearing any layers but come fall, winter and spring where the number of layers she wears varies from car-ride to car-ride, it could become a bit more annoying. It is actually easier to use the lever now than before, but it's just a bit tougher to access as it's under the seat-cover and there's no access slot like in the old Wizard. This is minor though, really.

Another, less minor but still relatively small issue is with the wing-adjustment. Our Wizard has a dial feature that, while slower to move up and down than the Frontier, was placed on the side of the head rest, making access to it easy. On the Frontier, the adjustment is a squeeze-and-pull from the back, which is fine when the seat is out of its packaging, or when the wings are adjusted so high up that there's plenty of space for your hand, but when the seat is installed and the wings are still low enough that there's little space between the car seat and the seat of your vehicle, it makes it a tight squeeze to fit your hand in and adjust the wings. I had to actually undo the tether strap and seatbelt to loosen the car seat away from the vehicle seat to adjust the wings up. Now that I have though, it's at a height where I can better fit my hand back there to adjust when I need to. I'd say this is the only thing I really don't like about the seat but again, it may have been a necessary change, especially since this seat converts to a booster and a much higher wing-elevation. And if so, well then it's certainly a trade-off I'm willing to live with.

On to comfort. As I mentioned, DD could easily sleep in the old Wizard when she was tired. But it reclined a bit and when I saw her sit in the Frontier I thought she might be too upright to fall asleep, or that if she did that her head would flop forward. Well, so far she has fallen asleep twice in this seat and her head has stayed up just fine. I have to say, I really love side-impact protection for the safety factor but also for the comfort factor - without those wings, I can't imagine how she'd still sleep on longer rides. She also really loves that she has so much more freedom, including being able to touch the ground with her feet in the new seat with it being much lower in the car. Of course I can't see her face as easily now but I generally don't need to or can just adjust myself when I do need to. She also says the seat is comfy. The Wizard had side impact wings also so there's no adjustment for her with having any sight blocked. I have read people say they're worried about some kind of mesh cover on the back of the seat and I almost can't see what they mean. I mean, I SEE the material but I don't see that it could be a wear-and-tear issue. I also like the removal of the Velcro side patches which used to keep the straps in place when not in use to prevent twisting. I guess on the Frontier you're supposed to use the arm-rests for this purpose, but our straps aren't long enough (unless we adjust them to be every time we exit the car - not practical) to do this. But this is of no concern to me as we never used the old version anyway and things just got stuck to the Velcro, especially dance recital costumes!!! The straps are thick enough that they don't twist and we go easy on the seat.

One other small area of concern for me is the chest buckle. It tends to slide down closer to DD's stomach during a car ride, no matter how often we adjust it up. This was the case with the Wizard also. Yet I see my friend's Boulevard buckle stay in place on her daughter so I wonder if it's just us and if so, why. I've never seen DD lower it and have asked her if she ever does and she says she doesn't so no too sure what it can be. For now we just check it when we strap in and adjust as needed.

We also love the look of this seat (Rushmore). I'm not a fan of cutesy prints, especially gender-specific, as it's harder to pass down or sell if that's your plan. The non-folding arm-rests have also worked well for us, and as mentioned earlier, so do the cup holders. If DD weren't as skinny as she is, the crotch-buckle could possibly constrict her a bit early, but I don't think it will be an issue for her or even average sized kids. If your child is thicker, especially in the thigh area or mid-section, you may want to try this seat in person first to see how the fit is.

In all, it's a great seat! At age 6, DD is almost 45lbs, 48.5" and finally feels like a big girl in a 5point harness seat! Having a vehicle w/o side-impact airbags means that I'm willing to spend the extra on the car seat I feel will keep her safer, longer, and offers its own side-impact protection. She loves it and is comfortable and I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to install and adjust. IMO, another winner from Britax!
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on May 24, 2012
I've owned 6 Britax seats, one was in a fatal accident with my child in the seat, who only suffered a broken leg. I am a huge fan of britax, but this seat is awful. My child is 50lbs and installing with the seat belt, short or long path is very difficult and hard to get tight. The big issue is the cover will not stay attached to the seat bottom no matter how many times I reattach it, therefore, when my child climbs in the seat the whole cover gets wadded under her bottom. This happens every time she gets in or out of the seat, multiple times a day. It makes it impossible to tighten the harness. When contacting Britax they know of the problem and basically said it will be a very long time before it is fixed. Now I am stuck with an expensive seat less than a year old that is a constant problem. I wish I would have went with the graco nautilus or Radian.
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on September 10, 2010
I have owned multiple Britax seats and I love this brand for safety, comfort and ease of install- until now. We moved our 4 year old into this so that grandma can use the old Decathalon car seat in her car. This will last longer and my daughter LOVES it. I love that she can stay in a 5 point harness longer and it has side impact protection. She likes the cup holders, arm rests and how comfy it feels. I have it installed in the middle seat of a volvo xc70. There is no LATCH there so I have always used the belt. I figured that it would install like all the others. I read the instructions and headed out to install it. 54 minutes later it was in. 5 more minutes and it was going back. There is no belt lock-off so I had to get the car's locking mechanism in the belt to stay tight enough. If not, I had to unbuckle the whole thing to release the lock and start over. I really didn't think I could get it tight enough. An hour for install is ridiculous. I just dread the day I have to take it out for some reason. That night I also installed a Boulevard 70 CS in the passenger rear with latch and it took me less than 5 minutes. I also put her other seat in grandma's truck using the belt in 10 minutes- you have to lift the seat to get to the tether anchor or it would have been 5. This seat is just VERY hard to get installed tightly with any ease. Be prepared and hope you get lucky enough for it to go in quickly.

November, 2012
I know that it has been awhile since I posted this review, but I wanted to add an update. I now have THREE of these car seats for all of our cars or ones that my daughter rides in. I totally love it and have finally figured out installation. There are times it takes me closer to 15 mins to install, but usually I can get it in in less than 5. I have installed it in other models when we go on vacation, too. I learned to lift the cushion on the interior of the seat and pull the seat belt from inside to get a tighter fit. Usually this works, but the fact I am still using the car lock off does require more work. The reason you can't use lock offs on this model is because of the weight limit. Also, the Volvo does have LATCH, just not in the center seat. You shouldn't use LATCH once your child is more than about 40 pounds. I recently converted it to booster mode and it is even better. Love this seat and would recommend it to anyone, even with the installation issues at first. It really is worth the cost for safety, high weight limit and 5 point to booster conversion. She is 6 1/2 now and I would never use a regular booster- this is simply much safer.
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on April 28, 2011
1) My son likes his booster seat - the cupholders, the arms, the lower position (and therefore more legroom than a higher positioned seat)
2) easy to wipe clean

1) The arm rests are hard and fixed - when climbing in/out, they poke the kid in the side, but also offer a sturdy hand grab for climbing in/ out.
2) Installation is not as easy as other Britax models such as the Boulevard and the Marathon, both of which we have. I've seen so many other reviews on this seat which mention the difficulty, I might as well share my experience. I have a Ford Escape (latch).

Putting in a baby seat is never a delicate act. You have to manhandle the things like alligator wrestling or branding a cow or something.

Other Britax models use a buckle for each latch: Connect the latches loosely, jam both knees (kneel) with your whole weight into the seat pull up hard on straps on either side at the same time, and the seat feels like it's mounted to the frame. I don't dread taking these seats in and out.

The Frontier, OTOH, has a different latch. The buckle is only on the right side - the left side is a continuous belt with the right side buckle. If you latch both sides, then put your weight in the seat and pull the strap, the buckle cannot be tightened as much as it needs to be. Although back-front motion is minimal, the seat has too much side-to-side wiggle. The trick is to position the buckle first, then get the hook to the latch.
1 - latch the left side
2 - on the right side buckle, push it all the way up until the buckle is almost inside the seat's body. Ensure the belt, not the buckle, rests against the booster frame.
3 - position the seat in place.
4 - while holding the latch hook as close to the latch as you can, squat (feet in the seat) in the booster facing the car rear with your whole weight and bounce up and down until the latch catches. You have to have long arms or an assistant. If your traps/ clavicles aren't sore, you aren't pulling hard enough.

Caveat - if you break the seat or a body part, don't blame me. I'm a 6'3, 200 lbs guy and I haven't had issues. Once in there, the seat feels firmly in place.
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