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Monday, June 20, 2011

Review and Comparison: Britax Frontier 85 vs. Graco Nautilus

Longtime readers might recall my last car seat odyssey, which occurred after we were rear-ended. After giving up on the Sunshine Radian, I waffled between the Britax Regent and the Graco Nautilus. I eventually ended up getting two Nautilus seats to replace a Britax Marathon and a Britax Roundabout.

When it comes to ease of installation, nothing comes close to the Marathon, which always became immovable after a simple tug on the LATCH belt. With the Nautilus, I have to work harder to install the seat, but it goes in securely, has a "big boy" feel like a booster, and has handy toy compartments and a cup holder. (You can read my review of the Nautilus here.)

Still, when it came time to replace our second Roundabout last fall, I couldn't help but think I'd like a Britax model more. The Regent had been retired and replaced by the Frontier 85, which is a high-back booster with a five-point harness, accommodates children up to 85 pounds, and is apparently a little narrower than the Regent (which my friend K. complained was too wide). I was able to get a decent deal on the Frontier at Babies R Us, so we replaced the Roundabout with it.

Unfortunately, I've been less than thrilled. The seat was easy enough to install (the Regent reportedly was rather difficult), and I like that the crotch strap distance is greater than the crotch strap distance on the Nautilus. But Alex says the seat is not as comfortable as the Nautilus, the crotch strap protector pad always falls off, and if you can make out the area I circled in the picture to the right, there's an elastic strap that holds the car seat cover down in that area that's constantly coming off.

My biggest complaint about the Frontier, though, is that the front part of the seat hangs off the back seat a tiny bit, where the seat curves. Maybe that's not an issue in a larger car with a larger backseat, but it happens in our Nissan Altima. It doesn't seem to be a safety issue, but I'm just not thrilled about it.

All in all, both Alex and I wish we'd just gotten a Nautilus instead of trying the Frontier. It would have saved us about $70-80 too. So needless to say, when it came time to buy our very last car seat recently (the second Marathon expired on 6/15), we got a third Nautilus.

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