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  1. #1
    CPS Technician strollerfreak's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
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    Saline, MI
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    538

    Thumbs down Sunshine Kids Radian Review

    I ordered this direct from Sunshine Kids with the intention of using it for my oldest DS (5yo, 43" & 40lbs) in my DH's work/pool vehicles (typically a Ford Escape or F-150) since I have two younger children whatever it was needed to be very narrow to work in a 3 across scenario. He had been riding in a Graco UltraCargo, but has outgrown the harness by weight.

    Cosmetics -

    The seat is cosmetically appealing. I purchased the "Granite" which is grey/black. The fabric quality is very nice, and has a micro-suede feel to it. There is velcro on the sides of the cover, and it's thick, stiff velcro, not chintzy cheap stuff.

    Hardware -

    The chestclip is very easy to use. Might even be the easiest one that I've ever used, extremely user friendly. The straps are middle of the road in twisty-ness, not as non-twist as Britax, not as twist-prone as Cosco. They are softer than the Britax ones, so I would fathom a guess that this may contribute toward the small twist factor. The buckle is easy to work. The buckle tounges fit well into the buckle recepticle, however the slot where the harness feeds through seems to be a smidge smaller than the width of the harness strap so it has a tendancy to "fold" a smidge at that spot. If not consistantly checked and reflattened, this appears that it could create a permanent fold. The recline mechanisim for forward facing is easy to use, and well labelled. The LATCH strap has the nicer "Britax" style clips that release with the push of a button. These store on the back of the seat by clipping into a designated storage area that is well labelled. (Yaay! No more chicken straps to keep them from flapping in the breeze!) The v-shaped tether anchor has easy to use components, and again has a storage area on the back of the seat. The rear-facing foot detatches, and I fear that it will get lost by many parents as it will be separated from the carseat itself while it is in use in the forward facing position. The rear-facing foot is easy to attach, and well labelled on how to install. The foot tends to get "stuck" when you try to remove it, and you may have to wiggle it and play with it to get the section that clips on to the forward facing recline bar to release. The splitter plate for the harness is a newer style, both shoulder straps slide into one slot, I'm not fond of this one. I prefer the traditional triangle shaped splitter plate with separate slots for each strap, as with the square shaped one, it makes it difficult to cram both straps into the slot...and if you move kids around between seats as much as I do, that needs to be easy to do.

    Ease of Use - Folding
    The seat is very easy to fold. There are two latches on the back/bottom curve of the carseat that you flip forward, and then push on the base of the carseat to fold. Secure the fold by velcroing the red strap around the obvious gold colored metal bar (since the seat arrives folded, this is seen when taken out of the box). To unfold, unvelcro the red strap, and push down on the seat bottom until a distinct "CLICK" is heard.

    Ease of Use - Forward Facing

    This seat is easy to adjust the harness in the top slot. All slots are reinforced, so you can use any slot for forward facing. HOWEVER, when I used the middle slot (top rear-facing slot, 3rd from the bottom) in the forward facing position it made it nearly impossible to adjust the harness. The splitter plate would get "stuck" going around the bend of the seat in the back. I had to reach my hand between the top of the vehicle seat and under the bottom of the Radian and PULL the harness adjuster strap down to make it around the "bend". This was not an easy adjust, and I would NOT want to do this everytime I used the seat.

    Ease of Use - Rear Facing

    This seat is not easy to adjust the harness in the rear-facing positions. Again, the splitter plate gets caught around the bend of the carseat and you must pull the shoulder straps down at the exposed back of the carseat, and then pull the harness adjuster strap by the childs feet to get a good adjustment. While not as difficult to adjust as the above described scenario, it still is not a smooth "1-pull" adjustment and could easily get tiresome. (It reminds me of adjusting the ComfortSport in the rear-facing position...only worse.)

    Installation - LATCH

    I have only had the chance to install this seat in one LATCH equipped vehicle, a 2008 Ford Escape. It installed well in the rear-facing position with the LATCH system in the center of the vehicle. It installed rock solid in the forward facing position with the LATCH system in the center of the vehicle. I did not get a chance to use the tether as I was not going to use the carseat, I was just trying installations, and it was about 10 degrees outside!!

    Installation - Seatbelt Rear-Facing

    I have tried three installations rear-facing with the seatbelt. 1999 Chevy Suburban 3rd Row center, lap-belt only & 2nd row driver's outboard, lap/shoulder belt and 2008 Ford Escape center. In the Suburban 3rd row center I could not get an acceptable installation. As tight as I could get it the seat would still move more than the acceptable 1" at the beltpath. In the Suburban 2nd row outboard I did get an acceptable installation, it was very difficult and I had to twist the buckle stalk to make it fit. In the Escape I did get an acceptable inatallation with the seatbelt but it again was difficult.

    Installation - Seatbelt Forward-Facing

    I have tried several installations forward-facing with a vehicle belt in 3 different vehicles and have only had ONE acceptable installation. This acceptable installation was not in a typical seating position so I don't even count it.
    With this extremely poor performance issue I can not recommend this seat to anyone.
    In the Suburban... 3rd row outboard (lap/shoulder belt detachable for removeal of 3rd row), the combination of the placement of the belt path and the type of seatbelts made for an extremely loose unable to be remedied fit. The seat moved 4+ inches at the beltpath. 3rd row center (lap belt only), the position of the beltpath positioned the latchplate right at the corner of the beltpath and would not lay perpindicular to keep the vehicle belt locked. I could not get the latchplate into the beltpath, nor by twisting the belt stalk could I remedy the situation. At the best, the seat moved 6+ inches at the beltpath. 2nd row outboard (lap/shoulder belt) the position of the belt path, and the latchplate again came together at the corner of the belt path making the installation unacceptable. I could not twist the buckle stalk as it is shared on a cable with my DD's carseat and it was trying to twist her buckle stalk as well. At the best, the seat moved 3+" at the beltpath, possibly more as my DD's carseat was right next to it prohibiting me from trying to wiggle it further.
    In the Escape... Center position with a lap shoulder belt. The fit on this one at first try appeared to be acceptable, however once I kept wiggling it started moving more, and more, and more until it was moving 6+" at the beltpath.
    In the 1998 Mustang...due to a family emergency transportation situation, I installed this seat in the front seat of my husband's Mustang with the vehicle seat pushed all the way back. I did get an acceptable installation in this position, however it was difficult, and since this is not a typical installation this should not count as a good install. Also, after the seat had been installed overnight, the vehicle belt had managed to "fold" over in the beltpath so that it was not laying flat anymore and was essentially folded in half.

    On a scale of 1-5, with 1 being "DO NOT BUY!" and 5 being "YOU GOTTA HAVE IT!" this seat would recieve a 2.

    **IF** you can get a proper installation it could be a very nice seat, however with the severe installation issues and non-user friendly harness adjustments while using the rear-facing slots, I am compelled to not recommend this seat to everyone. This is definately not a seat for Joe & Jane Schmoe to walk in off the street and purchase. Jane would be pulling her hair out, and Joe would be peeved that he spent $200 on "THAT?!"

    If you are considering purchasing one, make sure that you have a technician help you install (hopefully prior to purchasing) it to assure that it does fit your car and your child properly.

    http://www.epinions.com/content_222245785220

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  3. #2
    CPS Technician
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Nebraska
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    Except for the installation issues, I have liked ours. I still need to figure out the ffing seatbelt install in the next 14#, lol.I can get it installed all other ways though and the LATCH install was easy. AJ is in the 2nd to op slots ffing and we have no problems w/ the harness adjuster. We had problems when Evan was in it rfing, but only until I got the latch plate under the seat and then it was fine after that. We have an 01 Taurus. I have been reccomending this b/c until the recent FP seat, there wasn't another higher limit option besides Britax. I have not tried to hide the rough install problems though.
    Jennifer, Special Needs CPST, peds nurse, and CSFTL Admin mom to:
    AJ-13 (five steps), Evan-11 (nbb),
    Ilana-9 (nbb) ,
    Olivia-7 (hbb), and
    Unity-3 (rf and ff)

  4. #3
    Senior Community Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    737
    I didn't really have much more trouble installing the radian than any other seat. It took a bit more time, but I am extremely happy with them...I have two. RF and FF. I was considering the husky for my 4 year old, but the size of it just didn't make if feesible for us. I need to sit in the back because of my 3 month old and I could never manage that with a husky. I think my four year old will make it at leat to 6 1/2 maybe 7. By then she should definately be more mature and more ready for a booster. Hopefully, it will last my 3 month old until she is ready for a booster too. Anyway, I am very pleased with it, and I think the install issues depend on your car. I didn't have any real problems. I use belt for FF and latch for RF. I also like that I saved a couple hundred bucks over the Britax. I would reccomend these if asked.

  5. #4
    CPS Technician strollerfreak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Saline, MI
    Posts
    538

    More installs & video clip

    I took the Radian to a used car dealership yesterday to try an install in a 2001 VW Passat (sedan) a friend of mine had been waiting for my review and was hoping that this seat would work for her. She has 3 kids under 3 and her oldest is 39lbs and holding; as he's only 3 he's not mature enough for a booster and since she has a 3 across situation her HWH options were limited.

    I tried the Radian in the center seating position first with the vehicle belt and was very close to getting an installation that was within the 1" rule. The biggest problem appeared to be the vehicle headrests, they pushed the top of the CRS out away from the vehicle seat, and they were nonremovable.

    I then tried the Radian in the passenger side seating position. After much wiggling and finagling with the vehicle belt to feed it back into the retractor, I finally got a solid installation! I was ecstatic to finally get a good installation in ANY vehicle with the vehicle belt using the FF beltpath.

    Later in the day after my husband got home from work, I asked him to shoot a video clip of how badly the seat installed in the 3rd row of my Suburban. Here is a link to that clip. I apologize for it being sideways, it was shot with a digital camera and I can't "turn" the picture.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8tRNyM3oqU
    I also have a short video clip of me actually installing the seat because my hubby thought it would be funny to take a video of my butt. (Nice.) I won't post it here, but if you would like to see it, I have it on my camera and plan on actually doing a video of me installing the seat from A to Z in the next day or so.

    I have not had issues with using LATCH to install the seat using the FF beltpath, it has installed great using LATCH that way...the big concern there is that you are only gaining an extra EIGHT pounds out of the TWENTY FIVE you could be since after 48lbs you MUST use the vehicle belt, and if you can't get a good vehicle belt install, then you have just wasted a ton of money and finagled with a seat that's frustrating to use for longer than you needed. There's a big price difference between a Cosco Scenera that goes to 40lbs harnessed for $40, or even a Graco Cargo (or Clone) that's $80, that only harnesses to 40lbs, than this seat that harnesses to 65lbs, but is only usable to 48lbs with LATCH (if you can't get a good vehicle belt install) for $200. That's alot of extra money for just 8lbs, so it really comes down to each family specifically.

    I understand that this seat will install different in every vehicle, but I still have to give this seat a big thumbs down. I've done several installs with this seat now now that I've installed other typical carseats in with no issues, and have had severe installation issues with. For an extra $50-70 that the standard Joe Schmo would pay, not using the tech discount that SKJP was offering originally, a Britax is a MUCH easier seat to work with.

  6. #5
    CPS Technician strollerfreak's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
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    Saline, MI
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    More installs + video

    (I tried to post this yesterday and it must have gotten lost in cyberspace. That or my daughter decided to close the window on me before I posted it and I didn't notice. )

    I tried the Radian in a 2001 VW Passat (Sedan) Saturday morning for a friend of mine. Since the seat is not compatible with my vehicles, and she had been interested in one, I wanted to confirm that it was either compatible or incompatible with HER car.

    I tried to install it in the center seat first FF with the lap/shoulder belt. I came very close to getting within the 1" rule, but not close enough. I beleive that a big factor in that was the vehicle's headrest. It was non removable, and barely adjustable, and it was pushing the top of the CRS forward a good bit.

    I then moved on to the passenger side FF with the lap/shoulder belt. I finally got my first acceptable installation with the lap/shoulder belt in the FF position!! It was not easy, took two attempts, and then lots of finagaling with the vehicle belt pulling at the latchplate itty bits at a time, and then forcing the belt back into the retractor up at the top, wiggling & bouncing in the seat, and leveraging myself off the ceiling of the vehicle down in to the carseat. This particular sedan even had leather seats and I still managed to get a good install. Would I want to take this seat in & out on a consistant basis? No, but it did work.

    After my husband got home from work on Saturday afternoon, I asked him to shoot a short video of how badly the Radian fits in my Suburban since SKJP doesn't beleive that anyone is having problems installing it.

    This is that video. I apologize for it being sideways, it was shot with a digital camera so I can't turn it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8tRNyM3oqU

    That video was shot after I did everything in my repitore' of tricks to get a good installation. When I got it installed, the latchplate ended up *in* the beltpath, but as soon as I tested for movement, the latchplate & buckle recepticle came out of the beltpath and there was tons of movement as you can see. There is normally a Britax Husky installed in that seating position for my oldest son, though I have also installed a Graco UltraCargo, an Evenflo Chase, and a Britax Wizard & Marathon in that position as well, all with success.

    Yes, the LATCH installation in the Escape is good and fine, but you also have to take into consideration that LATCH is only good until 48lbs, and the extra cost that this seat is so that you can get that HWH option. If you can't use the HWH to the full extent of it's capabilitys because you can't get an acceptable installation with the vehicle seatbelt then what is the point of paying an extra $120-160 for this seat rather than the Cosco Scenara, or Graco UltraCargo which also have LATCH and harness to 40lbs instead of 48lbs? It really does come down to cost effectiveness & compatibility for each unique situation. Because of the issues I have run into, and other techs have run into in regards to installation, I can not ethically promote a seat that has had so many installation issues using the vehicle seatbelt when there are so many vehicles still out on the roads that are not equipped with LATCH.

  7. #6
    cliffnotes
    Guest

    Easy install on Radian FF with seatbelt

    HI- Just wanted to post that I was able to easliy install the Radian FF using a seatbelt on the rt side of my 2000 Subaru Outback. I have a Roundabout RF in the center and there is plenty of room on the left side of back seat for another Radian or adult passenger. I'm very happy with the carseat and am thrilled that I do not need to buy a larger car if we are blessed with a 3rd child. Neither seat will budge- I used some of that plastic shelfliner stuff to make both seats a little more tacky.

  8. #7
    CPS Technician
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Crunchy Town, California
    Posts
    616
    I realize it's not great for everyone, but I did get a rock solid seatbelt and LATCH(not at the same time obviously) install in my 2000 Ford Focus. http://photobucket.com/albums/v11/mo...us%20pictures/

    FF is was great. RF was pretty hard. I couldn't use LATCH outboard while RF b/c the base was too big and was sitting over the LATCH anchors. The only real problem I noticed, is that when it's installed FF in the center, the harness is very hard to adjust. When installed FF outboard(either seatbelt or LATCH), it works just fine. Very strange, but I'm sure it's b/c the plastic doesn't cover the harness on the bottom of the seat.
    I still prefer my Britax and i'm really hoping that it'll fit in the truck. In fact, I should go try right now.
    Janice, no longer a CPST, and now a single Mommy to C, 10 and big enough to pass the 5-step test and S(born 12/9/09), in a Roundabout 50.

  9. #8
    CPS Technician
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Nebraska
    Posts
    3,680
    Jennifer, Special Needs CPST, peds nurse, and CSFTL Admin mom to:
    AJ-13 (five steps), Evan-11 (nbb),
    Ilana-9 (nbb) ,
    Olivia-7 (hbb), and
    Unity-3 (rf and ff)

  10. #9
    Admin - CPS Technician joolsplus3's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Chesterfield, VA
    Posts
    21,249
    We've been using ours for a few weeks in my Honda Odyssey for my 6.5 yo dd. It's fit well in the captain's chairs with LATCH and belt and in the third row with belt (but not without effort...it's rather a lot of work to install it with the belt...not something I want to do a lot, certainly not 'fun' like I usually find my Britaxes, lol).
    She still has some growing room in it...her only complaint was on a 2 hour-each-way drive the harness rubbed her neck somewhat till I told her to put her shirt up on her neck (I took off the harness covers...they are usually more trouble than they are worth for us, but in this case I'll put them back on).
    http://s7.photobucket.com/albums/y25...nts3-06138.jpg (she was sitting up really straight to give us an idea how much growing room she has...normally she's much more smiley!)

    Julie
    CPST since 2003, pu"R"ple since 2008, three kids growing too fast since 1997, 1999 and 2006

    Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good

  11. #10
    Taryn
    Guest
    My six month old DD absolutely loves her XTSL. I have a Jeep Liberty and she is installed rear facing in the center of the back seat. The seat is too big to sit RF behind the passenger or driver's side, so I suppose that could be a downside to some, but since she is our only child it's not a problem for us. I was able to get an awesome install using the seat belt and haven't had any issues with it since. The only downside I have found to this seat Is that adjusting the harness while RF is a pain in the butt. It was hard to teach myself to not loosen her straps when I get her out everytime, but after that it really hadn't been a problem. We love our new car seat!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails image-1651702763.jpg  

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