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Old 07-16-2003, 12:37 PM   #1
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Britax Wizard

<A HREF="http://www.britaxusa.com/products.cfm?action=ShowProduct&pro_id=E1B65DDE-13AE-4AB6-BEE87A144FAFBCB5" TARGET="_TOP"
><IMG SRC="http://www.britaxusa.com/images/products/Wizard_denim_200.jpg" ALIGN="middle"></A>Britax Wizard

<b>Introduction</b>

The Wizard is the latest convertible seat from Britax, and is the newest Britax model with the unique, "Enhanced Side Impact Protection." This model can be used rear facing for children 5 to 33 pounds, and front facing for children above 1 year old and from 20 to 65 pounds. The height range is from 18 to 49 inches, and the maximum height allowed is when the tops of the child's ears are above the top of the restraint. While similar to the Britax Marathon, the Wizard also adds the innovative harness height adjustment system found in the Britax Advantage. This allows parents to change the harness height to fit their child using a knob, even without removing the seat from the vehicle. Some photos can be found here:

http://www.pbase.com/carseat/britax_bodyguard

http://pages.ivillage.com/momika/car...otos/id32.html

<b>Features and Advantages</b>

<i>Side Impact Protection</i>- After frontal impacts, side impacts are the most common and severe. Most child restraints provide good protection in frontal impacts when used properly. Unfortunately, side impact testing is not mandated and has not been a main design feature for most carseats and boosters in the USA. With very little vehicle structure between a child and a side impact, these crashes are so dangerous that a recent IIHS study showed that they cause the most fatalities for properly restrained children. The Wizard is based on the Britax Marathon, but features the new side impact wings in its headrest lined with EPS foam. This is the same type of foam used in bicycle helmets. The Wizard has been designed and tested for improved performance in crashes from the side. As a secondary benefit, the wings can also be handy to support the head of a sleeping child.

<i>5-point harness to 65 pounds</i>- This is the type of harness that child passenger safety advocates recommend for safety. Along with the enhanced side impact protection, the 65 pound limit on the harness is one of the best features of the Wizard. Most other harnessed seats are limited to 40 pounds. While most kids above 40 pounds can use a booster, some may not be mature enough to remain seated properly in a lap and shoulder belt. In other cases, parents may prefer to keep their child in a 5-point harness beyond 40 pounds because it may offer somewhat more protection in side impacts and rollovers than a 3-point lap and shoulder belt. Britax includes an easy-to-use two piece chest clip, and separate tongues for each side of the buckle. Unlike older Britax models, this one does not include the "puzzle buckle". The straps do appear to be the no-twist type found in other Britax models. Comfort pads are included to cushion the child's neck from the straps and a belly pad keeps the buckle from touching the child.

<i>High Rear-Facing Limits</i>- In addition to the 65-pound rated harness, this model is also exceptional for its increased rear-facing limits. Rear-facing is the safest way for kids to travel. In particular, young children face an increased risk of head and spinal cord injury when moved to front-facing seats. While children may be front facing once they are 1 year AND 20 pounds, that is the absolute minimum. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids be rear-facing as long as their convertible carseat will allow. With a tall shell and 33 pound limit, the Wizard will accommodate many kids rear-facing until they are 2 or 3 years old and some even longer. The legroom is a little more cramped for older rear-facing kids than it is with a Britax Roundabout; this is not a safety issue but could be a comfort issue.

<i>"Floating" HUGS</i>- Britax has included an updated version of its HUGS harness system. This includes rubber pads on the harness straps to decrease the forces on the child's neck in a crash. It also helps position the chest clip properly at armpit level. The chest clip is a two-piece type. The HUGS pads are optional when used rear facing, but are required front-facing. While the HUGS pads do require periodic adjustment, they should not be an annoyance. The new rubber pads have nicer rounded corners, unlike the previous version that had "tabs" at the end.

<i>Easy Harness Adjustment</i>- Like many seats, the Wizard has a front harness adjustment to tighten and loosen the harness. A lever is lifted to loosen the harness, and a strap is pulled to make it tighter. In addition, a knob is provided to adjust the height of the harness to the level of the child's shoulders. No more guessing about which slots to use and no painful procedures to rethread the straps. You can even adjust the height with the child in the seat and the seat installed in the vehicle! It is recommended to keep the harness straps at or slightly below the shoulders while rear-facing. They should be at or slightly above the shoulders while front-facing. This is a great feature, though it is important to make sure you adjust the slots in the plastic headrest/shell for height rather than the fabric cover. Once the head restraint and harness straps need to be adjusted to the maximum height, the child may continue to use the restraint until the tops of the ears become level with the top of the restraint shell or the child's weight exceeds 65 pounds.

<i>LATCH</i>- The Wizard includes two flexible straps to attach to the lower anchors found in newer vehicles. Britax includes adjusters on each side to cinch the strap tightly. The attachments themselves are among the nicer ones on the market, and push-buttons make them easier to remove than some other models. Storage pouches are included for when the LATCH connectors and tether are not in use. The LATCH connectors must be switched from side-to-side when changing from rear to forward facing use. It requires opening the rear-facing locking clip, feeding them through the slots in the front, lifting up the bottom of the cover and routing the LATCH straps from one side to the other. This procedure is explained in the manual, and is similar to most convertibles in difficulty. Britax indicates that the lower LATCH attachments may only be used for up to a 48 pound child, unless your vehicle owner's manual states that the lower anchors are rated higher than 48 pounds. Otherwise, the seatbelt must be used for installation above 48 pounds. The top tether can significantly reduce head excursion and the likelihood of injury in a crash, and should be used at all times. Britax also allows their versa-tether to be used rear-facing, unlike most other manufacturers. This can help the parent get the appropriate recline for infants, and to stabilize the installation a bit better. While rear-facing seats are inherently very safe even without a tether, this is a nice added feature.

<i>Seatbelt Lockoffs</i>- Like all Britax convertibles, the Wizard includes handy seatbelt lockoffs built into the seat. These can serve the function of a locking clip in many older vehicles that do not have seatbelts that can properly secure a child seat. The lockoffs can also be used in conjunction with newer seatbelts that do lock, and this can help with the installation of the carseat.

<i>Recline Adjustment</i>- A reclined an upright position are available. These are adjusted with an easy pull handle at the base of the seat. The reclined position may be needed to achieve the maximum 45 degree recline required for newborns when rear-facing. Older babies with adequate neck strength and head support may have less recline when rear-facing. When front-facing, the upright position MUST be used for children above 33 pounds.

<i>Padding and Comfort</i>- The Wizard is nicely padded and comfortable. My son and daughter had no complaints, though the headrest and crotch strap are snug on my son. The side impact protection also provides a great headrest for a sleeping child. While it can restrict visibility somewhat, certain fabric choices will have mesh viewports. Mine had the "New Blues" denim fabric without viewports. It is soft and seems durable, too.

<i>Aircraft Certified</i>-This seat has the FAA certification to be used on aircraft. Airplanes will not have lower anchors for the LATCH system, however, so it will be installed normally with the seatbelt just as if it was being installed in a car without LATCH. Instructions for airplane use are included.

<i>Manuals</i>- Two manuals are included. One is attached to the seat with a flexible cord that prevents it from being lost. The manuals are clear with nice diagrams and color photos to help installation.

I recommend the Wizard, especially if your child is seated in an outside seating position that is closer to a possible side impact. It is easier than most convertibles for ease of installation, and I particularly liked the ease of installation rear-facing with LATCH. Installation is relatively easy in our 2001 Honda Odyssey and 2000 Subaru Outback, front-facing and rear-facing with the seatbelts OR LATCH system. As with all carseats, the Wizard will be incompatible with some vehicles, but it appears that it should be a good fit in most. LATCH is primarily a convenience feature, as it is easier to use in most vehicles. Even so, it is recommended to use whichever system results in the best fit. A top tether should always be used with LATCH or the seatbelt. The Wizard is larger than most convertibles. The base also raises the child higher off the vehicle seat than many other models. While this may add to comfort and to the child's view, it's still a good idea to make sure it will fit your child and vehicle correctly before you purchase it!


<b>Disadvantages</b>

<i>Visibility/Headroom</i>- The tradeoff for side impact protection is that some kids may find the head wings to block visibility. The wings are very close to the head, and this could also be an issue for children who prefer a bit more room. In some cases, they might even be too tight for comfort, especially around the ears of big kids or those with large heads. It can help to make sure the head section is adjusted as low as possible, keeping the harness slots in the plastic shell level with the top of the shoulders. That can help keep the ears in the wider portion of the head rest on top. Also, Britax has an updated foam insert that is a little roomier. Parents who own an older Wizard should contact Britax with their serial and batch number to see if they can be sent the updated comfort foam pad. This updated pad does NOT affect the EPS safety foam in the headrest. Previously, Britax had allowed parents to modify the original foam pads but they now prefer to send a replacement when necessary. Britax is also apparently shipping new Wizards modified to give more headroom. My daughter is 3 years old, around 31 pounds and almost 37 inches tall. She fit very well in the Wizard rear-facing, with some room for comfort on the head rest with the original, unmodified foam padding. Her legs were bent at the knees rear-facing in the reclined captain's chair of our minivan, and cramped while rear-facing in the back seat of our wagon. My son is 4.75 years old, about 44 pounds, 44 inches tall and a seated height of 24 inches. He does fit properly in the Wizard front-facing in either vehicle. His head is very snug in the head restraint. His ears fold forward sometimes, especially if it is adjusted too high. He has a little room above his shoulders to the maximum harness height position. Both kids are between the 50th and 75th percentile for height and weight, though both are over the 90th percentile for head circumference. So, most kids should have a bit more headroom.

<i>Crotch Strap and Harness</i>- The harness tightness adjuster is similar to the type found on many carseats, and works well. While it probably doesn't belong in the disadvantage section, it is not the simple and extremely easy to use push-button system that some parents who own Roundabouts may expect. With the higher weight limits, Britax switched to a heavier-duty mechanism. Some parents did not care for a similar harness adjuster found on the Britax Marathon. I note that I did not find any problems with the adjuster on my Wizard; it works smoothly to tighten and loosen the straps. Because of the headrest, it is a little more difficult to get the child into the harness than a similar model like the Marathon. My only real complaint is that the crotch strap provides less room than the Roundabout, and can be a tight fit for larger kids near the upper weight limit. It is fine on my daughter, but quite snug on my son. Britax may also have a rerouting suggestion for the crotch strap issue in the near future to address this issue.

<i>Fabric Care</i>- The cover is fastened with elastic, similar to most convertibles. Removal and reattachment is typical, but does take a little time. Instructions are included for this procedure. Britax recommends to hand wash cold, with mild soap and line dry. Do not machine dry the cover!

<i>Price</i>- Though I think it is a great value for all the safety and convenience features, it is one of the most expensive child restraints.

It is important for parents to try ANY carseat before they buy it. In the case of the Wizard, you should make sure you are comfortable with the fit around the child's head, and with all the adjustments. You should also make sure it installs properly in your vehicle, and visit a certified child passenger safety technician if you have trouble. For many parents, these disadvantages will not be an issue at all. Those with concerns about the side impact head protection from a comfort standpoint might consider the very similar Britax Marathon instead.

<b>Conclusion</b>

The Wizard is the latest convertible from Britax with some great safety innovations. The ease of installation and adjustments is exceptional, at least for us, in our vehicles, with our kids. The increased weight and height limits are also key features found in few other models available today. The side impact protection alone makes it a choice to consider if you are using it in an outboard seating position. Most convertible carseats with a 5-point harness should provide reasonable side impact protection, though the Wizard should be at least a small improvement. On the other hand, models like the Wizard and Britax Bodyguard should have a significant advantage in side impacts for kids over 40 pounds who would otherwise be using a backless booster or other booster that offers minimal side impact protection.

Used from birth, this seat should last many kids for a full 6 years. Like many manufacturers, Britax recommends a six year limit on the use of their restraints. I've only used the Wizard for a few days, so keep in mind these comments may change as I get more experience with the seat. I will update this review as it is necessary.

Details on the Britax Wizard can be found here:
http://www.britaxusa.com/products.cf...E87A144FAFBCB5

<b>For more information on carseat safety please visit:

http://www.car-safety.org

http://www.seatcheck.net</b>
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Old 07-20-2003, 09:25 PM   #2
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I know I saw pics of your kids in the Wizard yesterday. I don't remember where I found them. Would love to look at them better if you could point me in the right direction, please? TIA

Davina
Gabriel 26months, Husky
Brody almost 8 months, rfing FPSE
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Old 08-04-2003, 11:06 PM   #3
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Crotch Strap Position

"My only real complaint is that the crotch strap provides less room than the Roundabout, and can be a tight fit for larger kids near the upper weight limit. It is fine on my daughter, but quite snug on my son. Britax may also have a rerouting suggestion for the crotch strap issue in the near future to address this issue."

I have a Marathon and agree with this. Did Britax give any further details? There is only one slot for the crotch strap position I can find. I am wondering how they intend to re-route it OR will it only be an improvement made to later models because it involves re-designing the shell by adding a second position?

Thanks!
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Old 11-06-2003, 12:55 PM   #4
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How would you choose between a Wizard and a Bodyguard? Both sound like excellent seats. I have a 3-year-old who's about 32 pounds, so he's not ready to move into a Bodyguard yet, but I'm looking ahead as he's putting on weight and height.
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Old 01-06-2004, 10:11 AM   #5
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Britax Wizard

I am hesitant to purchase the Wizard because it's
so new and hasn't been tested by Consumer Reports
yet. I am trying to decide between the Marathon
& the Wizard for that reason. My son is in the
car with me alot, travelling to and from daycare
every weekday, so I don't mind spending the money on the Wizard if it really offers more protection.

Has anyone seen any testing of the Wizard by other than Britax?

Kathy
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Old 01-10-2004, 08:48 AM   #6
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I wouldn't worry too much about Consumer Reports. They don't have your vehicle or your child to do testing. Proper fit in your situation is far more important than the fit with a dummy in one of their test sleds or vehicles. Also:

http://www.car-safety.org/guide.html#cr

Either model will be very safe if installed and used correctly. Pick whichever one you like based on fit, features and ease-of-use:-)
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Old 01-12-2004, 03:01 PM   #7
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Smile

Thanks once again Darren! We plan to bring our son to the store with us this weekend and try both out in both our vehicles to see what works best.
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Old 01-24-2004, 10:32 AM   #8
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I tried to find the information on the Britax Web site about removing some foam to make more room around the head. The link you provided no longer has that information - nor can I find the information anywhere on their Web site. Do you know if they've retracted that recommendation? I'll probably try calling Britax directly on Monday but was hoping to purchase the car seat tomorrow (just found out my baby is 26 inches so he's grown out of his infant seat).
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Old 02-03-2004, 10:53 AM   #9
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I am not sure

I do not know if they have changed their recommendation. You can still find some information and the original drawing at one of their retailers-


http://www.elitecarseats.com/britax-...car-seat.shtml
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Old 02-03-2004, 02:41 PM   #10
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I have been advised that consumers who purchased the older version of the Wizard may call Britax for a replacement foam insert already cut to the correct dimensions. Britax representatives can advise customers if they have the older version, last produced around September 19th, 2003.
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Old 06-12-2004, 09:39 PM   #11
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EPS Foam insert

Hi Darren. I have 2 Marathons and I had Britax send me the larger EPS inserts. Are the inserts for the Wizard to increase shoulder and heaadrest room?

Thanks,
Alysa
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Old 06-26-2004, 08:51 AM   #12
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Hi- These inserts replace the ones around the head. They essentially remove the comfort foam to the sides of the head on the side impact protection wing. That gives kids a bit more room around the ears.
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Old 07-14-2004, 12:42 PM   #13
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Hi,

Thanks for all the advice. I bought the Wizard based on what I read here and have been using it for my 15-month old daughter for about 6 months now. I think it is very well made and easy to use in my Volvo XC90. The base is large, however, so there is less arm room for the side passengers. I have one big complaint with it - I took it on an airplane and fed the seatbelt through the back to make it forward facing (it is WAY too big to face rearwards in the coach section). When I pulled the seatbelt snug, the clip on the seatbelt went behind the carseat. This wasn't a problem until I tried to unbuckle the carseat. Since you have to lift the front of the clip to unbuckle it, it was extremely difficult to do since you ran into the back of the carseat. I spent about 10 minutes trying to maneuver it out and I had three other passengers try to help. We finally got it out, but it took a lot of sweat and sore fingers before it was accomplished. Has anyone had a similar problem?
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Old 08-13-2004, 03:42 PM   #14
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I haven't tried it on aircraft, but we love it in our SUV! Here's a picture of my rear-facing toddler in the Wizard
http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/RFAlbum/LeilaWiz.aspx
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Old 12-21-2004, 08:42 AM   #15
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JUST SHARING....

I recently wrote a review at epinions > http://www.epinions.com/content_149746585220 < got any feedback or ideas on what I should alter/add?
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