When my then 6-month-old son outgrew his infant seat in Sept. '03, a friend gave me her handed-down Eddie Bauer 3-in-1 carseat to use so that I'd only have to buy one seat instead of two.
Recommend this product?
The Cosco Eddie Bauer 3-in-1 is a convertible child safety seat. Mine was not LATCH-equipped (manufactured Apr '00), however they do come with LATCH now. The seat can be used rear-facing for children 5 to 35 pounds, forward-facing harnessed up to 40 pounds, and as a belt-positioning booster up to 100 pounds, for children 19 52. The Cosco Eddie Bauer 3-in-1 expires 6 years from the date of manufacture, unless it has been involved in a car accident. Follow Cosco and NHTSA guidelines to determine if a car seat needs to be replaced after an accident. The seat is approved for aircraft use, except when used as a belt-positioning booster.
I have successfully installed my 3-in-1 forward-facing only, in a 1994 Honda Accord and a 2004 VW Passat sedan. Both installs were in the rear center seating position, with the seatbelt, without the base. I had to use the locking clip (included) with the Accord installation. For what it's worth, I also tried to install my 3-in-1 in the outboard positions in the Passat (yes, with and without the base), and could not get it in as tightly as I could with it in the center.
The installation was not complicated, nor was it difficult, once I knew how it would fit, and where.
I could NOT get an acceptable install in a 2002 Nissan Xterra, either rear or forward-facing, with or without the base, in any seating position. This could be due to the Xterra instead of the 3-in-1, as the Xterra's rear seats are angled, and all three positions' belt buckles have a long stalk.
I could NOT get an acceptable rear-facing install in the Accord or the Passat, with or without the base, in any seating position.
The 3-in-1 is pretty easy to use. To loosen the harness, just pull up the lever and pull on the harness. To tighten, pull on the strap by the lever. The chest clip stays in position, and is easy to buckle and unbuckle (although dh did have trouble with the release at first, since it's hidden behind the harness).
I was not impressed by the straps on my 3-in-1. I called Cosco for new straps after receiving the seat, since the ones on it were twisted beyond salvation. Well, two months into using the seat and they were all twisty again. Every time I put my son in, I would try to untwist the straps and lay them flat before buckling him in.
Since I never had this installed rear-facing, I have no experience with the harness adjustment while rear-facing, but I believe it would be difficult to get at the lever since it's so low on the seat that it would probably be pushed into the seat back while rear-facing.
Harness Height Adjustment
The harness height adjuster on the 3-in-1 is the bomb!! All you have to do (once you uninstall the car seat) is move the bar in the back, up a slot. No rethreading! Now, the manual makes it sound really easy to move the bar up, but there are these things that you have to push on to get the bar out of one slot, so it's not just a 1-handed operation.
There are 5 harness slot heights on the 3-in-1. I did not know this, but the top-most slot is for booster use only! My son was on the top slots, in the 5-point harness, for TWO MONTHS before I found out I was using the seat incorrectly!!! At which point I got rid of the seat, since he was over the highest position for forward-facing in the harness, he was just 31-32 pounds (& nowhere NEAR ready for a booster), and I realized that it was almost April '06 (when the seat expires).
The manual for my 3-in-1 was hidden in the base. Which was great for when I needed to look anything up, since the base was in the garage and not under the seat! :) Maybe I've gotten used to reading poorly-worded documents that come with everything related to babies, but it was pretty easy to follow, and did lay everything out somewhere (at least, that I needed to find).
Some things that could have been better
1. Straps that don't twist!
2. Ability to wash & dry cover! I've been lucky in that I have another seat to use if I have to wash the cover. It is air-dry only, and takes a while. NOTE - do NOT wash the straps!
3. Ability to remove and reattach cover without trying to dig through all kinds of nooks and crannies to hook up those little loops!
4. Put all warnings in manual at the front of the manual, organized by rear or forward-facing, LATCH or seatbelt install.
In conclusion, this is NOT the only seat you'll ever need, no matter what Cosco says. My son outgrew this as a harnessed seat at less than 3 years of age, height-wise (I'd be more specific, if I'd paid attention to usage of the top slots!). By law, he could not have used it as a belt-positioning booster even if the seat had not expired, as he was not yet 4 nor 40 pounds.
Other carseats owned:
Britax Marathon (outgrown)
Sunshine Kids Radian
Evenflo Triumph (outgrown)
infant seat (don't remember manufacturer, but it was Eddie Bauer branded & part of a travel system)
Age Range of Child: Other