User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Pros:LATCH system clips
Harness to 65 lbs
Cute cover prints, plush fabrics
The Bottom Line: Nice seat with nice features, if you can afford them
I'm a practical girl. I wasn't about to spend $250 on a car seat when there were $45 ones that did the job just fine. I know the prints are super cute and people raved about them, but we just weren't in a position to spend that amount on car seats.
Recommend this product?
But.. on child #4, I decided I had to try one to see what the fuss is about. And found a sale I couldn't say no to.
I use an infant bucket seat until 20 lbs and then moved our babies into a convertible seat from our first kids until 40 lbs and then I got to go car seat shopping again. I've learned alot about car seat safety since first having kids and buying car seats and now know that the higher weight limits on the harness system is important for your child's safety. The longer you have them harnessed, the safer they are. So when buying the convertible seats initially I was planning on transitioning into boosters at 40 lbs. Which could be fine. Except I had a 40 lbs 2 year old who was not in the least bit ready for a booster. And I learned harness are safer, anyway.
The Marathon is an appropiate seat rear facing 5-35 lbs and forward facing to 65 lbs. This gives you an extra 25 lbs more than a traditional convertable car seat for forward facing harness capability.
We had 2 kids approaching 40 lbs and thus outgrowing their convertible seats at the same time. One child was 4, one was 2. We purchased the Graco Nautilus and the Britax Marathon, because The price on the Graco was great and it converts to a booster, which I felt were important features I wanted for our 4 year old. The Britax became our 2 year old's seat and it was mostly out of curiosity that I had to try it. I wasn't about to buy 2 for curiosity sake.
Installation- When I first got the Britax out of the box I didn't find installation as intuitive as with other car seats. Our vehicles have only 1 LATCH location, so I first installed it with a seat belt. I actually had to dig out the instruction book to see if it meant to go over or under the black bar with the seat belt buckle. The tether is simple to use. With a lap belt on a bench seat, it wiggles substantially without the tether and a rolled towel.
The LATCH clips are amazing to use- if you've ever tried to use other LATCH clips, you'll love these- you simply push them onto the Metal rings and they click in place. To release, you push a seat-belt type button and they come right out- you're not wresting with the clip trying to press the little metal piece, push, lift and pull at the same time. They have pockets to store them if installed with a seat belt, which is a nice feature. Again, I had to consult the instructions as to how to change the straps to be facing the right direction for forward facing installation- you lift the seat cover and move them across the bar - you don't actually remove them.
Size- it's big. I haven't tried it rear facing, since my son was over it's rear facing weight limit, but it does obstruct my rear view in a minivan if in the middle seat. Knowing it will still fit him at 65 lbs makes it an overlook-able problem. It is not as big as our Graco Nautilus and about the size of the Radian we had used previously with the exception that the base of the Britax is wider. It is smaller than the Nautilus.
Features- the seat belt has rubber slides called hugs which I don't fully understand their purpose, but they do seem to keep the seat belt from twisting horribly. The seat also has velcro on it and on the straps to keep the staps to the size when getting child into the seat. I haven't found them terribly helpful.
The Buckle has a fairly short strap. I expected more complaints about it, but haven't gotten any from either kid. The buckle does not "click" until the second belt is buckled in. Again, I had to consult the instruction book to know this was normal. I honestly was a bit freaked out that I couldn't get it to fasten or buckle when the first buckle would.not.click. no matter how many times I placed it in the buckle.
The fabric of the cover is soft, almost plush. The seat seems comfortable enough and it reclines enough and gives enough support to support a nap in the car.
But both kids prefer the Nautilus, incredibly. They like the cup holder, the cubbies in arm rests for their stuff and they feel it is a 'big kid seat.' It does look more like a booster than a car seat. The Britax lacks the cup holder, cubbies and honestly looks like a car seat, only bigger. The Britax is a more appropriate seat for a younger child than the Graco, since you can use it rear facing. The Nautilis cannot rear race and is not shaped to support a young child or baby well.
The 65 lbs weight limit on the harness is great from a safety standpoint, but I forsee a place in time when my 3rd grader wouldn't want to be seen riding in something that looks like a car seat. Especially when picking up their friends whose parents aren't as aware of safety and don't use harnesses or even booster seats.
So, honestly, I think the Britax is indeed a nice seat. And I would certainly consider it as my only seat after my babies graduated from an infant bucket seat. But if I was to compare it to cars, it's like a luxury SUV - there are other cars, some just as safe, some with similar features, the purpose being to get you safely from place a to place b- some vehicles are more enjoyable to travel in than others.
Some things are unique to Britax, the LATCH buckes specifically. And the date they "expire" is longer than your typical 5 year expiration date of other car seats.
So, yes. I'm glad I bought one. I like that it's easy to use once you read the instructions and I like that my child is safe. I'd buy it again. But I wouldn't say it's the "only" car seat out there to buy.
Amount Paid (US$): 200
Age Range of Child: 12 to 36 Months