We recently moved up to a bigger van, which gave me a perfect opportunity to try out a new car seat! I'd originally intended to just put Cassidy and Asher into new seats, but the seat I had for Brennan was completely incompatible with our new vehicle. So all three of them got Britax Frontier 85's. All in all, I'm very pleased with the seat.
From Harness to High-Back Booster
The Frontier 85 is a great seat — it can harness a child up to 85lbs and serve as a booster seat for a child up to 120lbs!! That's a seat to last as long as you need it to, which is why I picked it.
Even though Cassidy will turn 11 shortly, I wanted something to keep her as safe as possible for as long as possible. At this point, sitting in a car seat is still very much the norm for her, so she'll probably get a couple more years out of the booster. It also has advantages to her — it keeps her up higher to see better, has cup holders, and it has arm rests. The head protection offers a nice place to rest a tired head (not that most of my kids will sleep in the van, but in theory…).
The height regulations for the seat are harnessing up to 57 inches and booster up to 65 inches. Cassidy is at the very end of the seat's harnessing ability, so she'll move to booster mode within the next couple of months.
Asher and Brennan will be in harness mode for quite a long time, and that really does a lot for a mother's heart! I like knowing how well-protected they are. I also feel confident booster mode will keep them safe since it's a robust high-back booster. That's especially important because our van (a 2008 Chevrolet Express) doesn't have headrests for bench seating positions.
Setting Up The Seat
Getting the seats set up for each child was a little challenging, but once I'd figured out the first seat the others were easier (not easy, but easier).
Step one is to read the manual! Britax also has videos on their website if you like a video to guide you.
You adjust things differently depending on if the seat is in booster or harness mode, so I first had to make sure everything was positioned and configured correctly to harness.
Then it was time to fit the seats for each child. The Frontier 85 isn't a seat that you adjust while it's in your vehicle, so you need to set it up in the house and have the child sit in it to get the fit all right. You don't, however, have to re-thread the harness to resize, so that makes things much quicker!! I did have to re-thread the buckle location for all three kids.
I've broken nails and gotten cut and bruised getting seats set up before, but thankfully this one was easier and resulted in no injuries.
Installing the Seat
I can't ever say I've had a fun experience installing a car seat!! The Frontier 85 was no joy, but I didn't expect it to be, either.
The seat comes equipped with LATCH, but only up to a certain weight limit (I think 40lbs). Since all of my big kids are heavier than the limit, we had to use the seat belts for all installations.
I tried to install the seats using the long belt path first, but that didn't work because our vehicle seat belts are not long enough! We used the shorter belt path, which made installation go pretty smoothly. Thankfully our seat belts lock off, so no locking clips were required.
Getting the seats into position and fastened tightly still took some time, even with how easy Britax has tried to make it. It's important to get a good, secure fit and that takes some time. It took a little longer for Asher's seating position, because his seat belt anchors a little father away than in Cassidy and Brennan's seating positions. But all three got a rock-solid fit. We also tethered all three, so the seats are in there solidly.
The kids really seem to like the seats, especially the cup holders. They don't put cups in there, but they do find plenty of other little odds and ends to stuff down inside 😉
There's a wide variety of fabric choices, but I got all three seats in “Cow-moo-flage” which is a nice neutral print that can work for any child. And hey, I think it's cute!
I really like this seat, and that it has such a nice, wide range to it. You can start using it once your child has hit 2 years and 25lbs, on up through boostering to 65 inches and 120 pounds!
You could still have a 25lb 2 year old rear-facing in a convertible seat, so that's my recommendation if you have a little one. But once you move to forward-facing, this seat is a solid choice. Galen is forward-facing in another seat right now, and I'm planning to move him into his own Frontier 85 in the next couple of months (Honor is still rear-facing).
I've always been pleased with Britax seats, and have seen the perform well in two accidents (unfortunately, but I'm so thankful for those seats). I really like the Frontier 85 and how it fits in our vehicle. It's a great seat if you're considering a forward-facing seat!