Will keep my toddler safe until she's ready for a booster!

Mar 21, 2012 (Updated Mar 21, 2012)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Rear-facing, comfortable, high rating in Consumer Reports

Cons:Can be hard to tighten when rear-facing

The Bottom Line: You don't have to spend $200 to get the best.  Listen to Consumer Reports, and me, and you'll get a great safe car seat for your toddler.

We bought the Evenflo Triumph 65 LX Car Seat in the Oh! pattern (exact same car seat as this listing, just a different color).  My daughter was busting out of her infant car seat and at her 1 year appointment the doctor said it was time to upgrade.  Well, we stretched it out a bit because we liked keeping her tucked into the infant car seat when transferring her to and from the house.  However, she is a big girl now so we had to suck it up and make the switch.  We bought 2 of these, one for my car and one for my husbands.

The Rating
The reason we choose Evenflo Triumph is because of recommendations and ratings.  My Consumer Reports Baby Book had marked the Evenflo Triumph as one of 3 recommended car seats out of a list of 20 or so seats.  The other 2 that were recommended were another Evenflo, and a Costco cheap-o brand.  We usually trust that book like the bible because it's done us right in the past.  Even though that book is a few years old and the models have changed slightly, Babies R Us states on their website that this particular car seat is still #1 rated in a "leading consumer magazine".  I assume they mean Consumer Reports since that is where I got the information.  Besides Consumer Reports, I also had good recommendations from family.  My sister bought this a few years ago for her first kid, and now her second kid is using it.  She also bought it a year later for my parents.  The version I have is upgraded slightly since she bought hers, but it still uses the same basic principles.

Rear Facing
The recommendation now is that toddlers face rear-facing until they are 2.  It is not yet a law in all states, but many states are working towards making it a law.  The Evenflow Triumph 65 LX faces either backward or forward.  It can support rear facing up to 40 pounds so your child can technically sit backward for more than 2 years if they are under that weight (and comfy).  Unfortunately, we could not easily put this in the center seat, which is the safest spot for baby.  My back seat bows out a bit in the center making it so the car seat just was not tight enough or stable enough in the middle.  We put it in the passenger side and it fits MUCH better.  When she turns forward, we will probably put her back in the center.  We tested it and it fits fine when it's facing forward.

The Fit
I have an older Sebring and my husband a Dodge Avenger.  The car seat is tight facing backwards in both of our cars, but it fits and still allows the passenger seat to be in a comfortable position.  I've heard Babies R Us will let you take it out to your car to test it.  We didn't do this but you might want to if your car is small.  These seats were made for perfect fit when forward facing, but they do not always fit well when rear-facing.  We did not let the tightness stop us from buying though because we wanted the best rated and most secure car seat.  I was afraid the smaller car seats would not give her as much support and protection.

Installation was a bit rough because we first tried the center seat, and then realized that was not going to work.  My husband had to put a lot of weight onto the car seat in order to tighten the latch system when we had the car seat in the center.  However, when we moved to the passanger seat, he said the latch system pulled much easier and he did not have to push as hard.  We did end up using a rolled up towel, per instructions, to make the seat a bit more reclined and level.  Besides the pulling on the latch strap, it was otherwise easy to install.

Tightening and Loosening the Straps
Even though my family told me it was easy to use, I was a little leery at first.  To loosen the straps you press down on a little lever and then pull. It took me a few tries to figure it out, I just didn't get it at first.  Our infant car seat straps pull out from the TOP, and the Evenflo straps pull out from the BOTTOM.  Once I realized that it became a snap.  Tightening was a breeze from day one - just turn the lever to the desired tightness.  It feels really secure and locks into place.  If you are playing with it in the store, don't let that throw you off too.  

Tightening is a little tough when it is rear facing because the lever and knob do jam into the seat a bit.  I tend to reach over her and use the lever and knob that are on her right side rather than the ones closest to the door.  This is a small price to pay for her safety!  With the infant car seat "pull" system, I never really felt she was in there tight.  With the knob system of the Evenflo, I hear it snap and decide if I want to snap it one more time or not.  It makes it feel really secure.

Adjusting the Straps
Adjusting the shoulder straps is awesome on this car seat.  You just add a little force when you are pulling them up or down and you can get it just right.  Because of this, they can be adjusted anytime as your child grows!  They slide up and down really easily, so there is no threading and re-threading.   Adjusting the crotch strap is pretty easy too, although it will be awhile before we have to adjust it for my daughter.

Washing the Cover
I washed the cover before even putting it in the car because I like to start fresh with a clean car seat.  The cover has hooks around the edges that pull off with a little force.  The hooks are tight, but that is good because it keeps the cover in place securely.  On the seat part of the cover, there are Velcro spots that open up and allow the straps to fall through.  Like I said - no threading!  I found this to be amazing because with her infant seat. high chair, swing, and bouncy chair, we always had to un-thread and re-thread the straps in order to take off the cover.  I was always worried I wasn't re-threading them correctly and therefore making the seat less safe.  Because there is no threading with the Evenflo Triumph, I don't have to worry about messing up the straps and making it unsafe.  It's dummy proof!

The Look
Looks don't mean much when it comes to car seats, it's safety that matters most!  However I did pick the Oh! design because I liked it.  It is a neutral design so kid #2 would be able to use this car seat as well, if my daughter is out of it by then!  The circle pattern is cute and would disguise any stains that may happen with the car seat.  

Her Comfort
Safety is important, but so is my daughter's comfort.  She's always been a good passenger, and she seems to really like the Evenflo Triumph.  Near the end of using the infant seat, she always wanted to sit up a little more.  Even though this seat is in full recline position while facing backwards, she is still sitting up more than she did in her infant seat.  However, she is still reclined enough that she could fall asleep with out her head dropping forward a lot.  She has a big smile on her face when I go to get her, I think she feels like a big girl now!

We have choosen to use the included additional padding (shown in the picture) around her head and her sides for now, but these two pieces are easily removed anytime.  I like to keep her in there snug, and she is a skinny toddler, so these additional pieces just make her seem a bit more snug in this wide car seat.  Once she gets bigger, she can fit into this up to 65 pounds facing forward so it will last her until she's ready for a booster seat.

The Evenflo Triumph is reasonably priced at $150, especially if you get a Babies R Us 20% off coupon!  There are more expensive and cheaper brands, but after my research I feel this is the best choice.  Consumer Reports does a lot of testing so I really trust them when it comes to the safety of my child.   Just remember it's Evenflo, not Evenflow Triumph, which has been my mistake when searching for car seats!

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