Britax Frontier 85 Review: Summary of Changes

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
Introduction

There's nothing like an updated product to save time writing a full review. Find the old review, update the details and presto, new review! The original Frontier was a pretty good combination booster. In fact, I've been using one daily for over a year and a half. So why the new Frontier? Basically, Britax took the old one, improved the maximum height and weight limits and then went on and addressed all the issues they heard about from customer feedback, like in this thread. Plus, they did it in just over a year and a half. Very impressive!

[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Britax-Frontier-Combination-Booster-Seat/dp/B0038W0JIK/"]Amazon.com: Britax Frontier 85 Combination Booster Car Seat, Pink Sky: Baby[/ame]

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So, the Frontier is no more. It has been replaced with the Britax Frontier 85. In addition, the Regent will be phased out, too. The Frontier 85 is a "Harness-2Booster" or combination (combo) forward-facing child restraint and belt-positioning booster seat. Using the harness forward-facing, it is for children over 2 years, weight from 25 to 85 pounds and from 30 to 57 inches tall. As a booster, it is rated for children starting at a minimum of 40 pounds and 42 to 65 inches tall. In booster mode, there is now a 120 pound weight limit. This is not the same product with higher numbers attached to it. It is revised and improved in many ways.

Summary of Improvements and Changes

  • Harness weight limit increased from 80 to 85 pounds
  • Top harness setting increased almost 2", from 18.25" to about 20" seated height.
  • Standing harness height limit increased from 53" to 57" (Britax numbers)
  • Standing booster height limit increased from 60" to 65" (Britax numbers)
  • Seated booster shoulder height limit increased from 21.5" to 24.5" (Britax numbers)
  • Booster weight limit is now 120 pounds (was not listed for the original model)
  • Lap belt guides updated and now seamlessly join the armrest section with no gap in between
  • Armrests have a sturdier, shorter, fixed design
  • Cupholders are now integrated into the front of the base, rather than extending from the side
  • Harness height adjuster is revised and significantly reinforced compared to the previous one
  • There are now 10 harness height positions, up from 8 in the original
  • Harness strap material is a little less flexible and may help resist folding
  • Harness splitter plate is now a single slot design
  • Chest clip now has a graphic showing correct position instead of a Britax logo
  • The main shell of the Frontier 85 is about two inches taller than before. Width and depth are roughly the same overall, but there are minor variations in the contour. (No cover compatibility, sorry!). According to my scale, it weighs over 2 pounds less than before.
  • The slots for routing the lap belt for harness mode installation are revised. The position is similar to the original Frontier, but the contours are more angled and open. Perhaps this may help resolve issues for those who had trouble with installations in certain vehicles, especially with the short belt path and LATCH
  • LATCH attachments appear to be the same, but now have prominent SafeGuard branding. Unfortunately, there is now only a LATCH adjuster on one side. The original Frontier had adjusters on both sides, perhaps making installation a bit easier in some cases.
  • The strap to adjust the fit of the harness is narrower, along with a narrower adjuster mechanism from IMMI that is a "push type" instead of a "lift type". There is also a small groove on the bottom of the base for the strap, presumably to reduce the chance that friction against the vehicle seat cushion could make it harder to pull.
  • Crotch buckle slots have been revised slightly (5.5", 7" and 8.5" according to Britax). They seem quite similar to the old one in actual use. The buckle also seems a hair easier to rethread and lock into place underneath the base than before.
  • There are now 4 booster height settings, down from 6. Also, the actual maximum booster height is slightly lower than the original, despite the increased limits. I am told this is, in part, because the original Frontier actually adjusted much higher than the specifications indicated for booster mode.
  • For booster use, you may purchase an optional "Secure Guard" clip accessory, similar (but not identical) to the one in the Britax Parkway SG booster. (Under $20 MSRP).
  • The cover I received is the same Red Rock pattern as my original. It is quite similar but has minor variations. The "mesh" material is back, and I know some of us owners had issues from snags and wear. On the plus side, the mesh material does not extend nearly as far down the thigh so this should help from a durability standpoint based on my experience.
  • While the Frontier 85 will launch only with updated versions of the same fashions, I'm told there may be new fashions for later, but nothing is definite right now.
  • The bottom of the shell has a few less rough edges due to the redesign of the cupholders and may be a bit friendlier to leather vehicle seats than before. There are small rubber grips that may help reduce sliding.
  • The recline block now "snaps" securely into place in both positions.
  • The back of the shell has a small threaded hole to store the screw you remove when converting to booster use.
  • The bungee cord for the manual has been replaced by a pocket behind the cover
  • Revised attachment points for the fabric cover
  • Revised plastic belt shield cover

Honestly, this is a very nice list of improvements. Almost every important facet of the weight and height limits was increased. Almost every minor quibble with the original design was updated and appears to be improved. Overall, this really is a prime example of a company listening to consumers and making a good product even better!


Conclusion

Unless it is simply too big or too expensive for consideration, the Britax Frontier 85 is a superb choice if your “baby” is already a big girl or boy! Kids under 2 years old or under 25 pounds should really be kept rear-facing for safety. After that, the Frontier 85 really is the last seat your child will ever need and is almost unmatched for fitting big kids in either the harness or booster.

Kudos to Britax for keeping the price the same as the original Frontier! It should begin shipping in the next month or so and hopefully appear on shelves early in the second quarter. You can preorder the Frontier at $279 [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Britax-Frontier-Combination-Booster-Seat/dp/B0038W0JHG/"]Amazon.com: Britax Frontier 85 Combination Booster Car Seat, Red Rock: Baby[/ame] . That is somewhat expensive up front, but is very reasonable when you consider the benefits and lifetime. Like any type of product, you pay more for premium features and the Frontier 85 is a class leader in many regards. With a 9-year expiration and improved weight and height limits, there's a lot of value for the price, plus it's made in the USA!

Look for a full review with photos at www.CarseatBlog.com coming this week!
 
ADS

2BunniesMommy

New member
I can't love it. It seems nice and everything, but what it really means to me is that there will be no new cover available for my original Frontier. That makes me sad. I have been waiting and waiting for them to get better covers. When I asked in April they said they were. Then over the Summer they said probably in October. In October when I called they said maybe January because they had just been focused on getting out new products and we not doing new covers for the Frontier at the time. This was right around the time the Parkway SG and Advocate were released. So I held my breath and waited for January. Called in January and was told that they didn't know of any plans for new covers. As soon as I saw the Frontier85 mentioned, I knew that must be why, but I was REALLY, REALLY hoping the covers on the new model would work on the old.
I know I am not the only one, but I will stop whining now. Really, it does look and sound nice, but can't let myself love it!
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
I can't love it. It seems nice and everything, but what it really means to me is that there will be no new cover available for my original Frontier. That makes me sad. I have been waiting and waiting for them to get better covers. When I asked in April they said they were. Then over the Summer they said probably in October. In October when I called they said maybe January because they had just been focused on getting out new products and we not doing new covers for the Frontier at the time. This was right around the time the Parkway SG and Advocate were released. So I held my breath and waited for January. Called in January and was told that they didn't know of any plans for new covers. As soon as I saw the Frontier85 mentioned, I knew that must be why, but I was REALLY, REALLY hoping the covers on the new model would work on the old.
I know I am not the only one, but I will stop whining now. Really, it does look and sound nice, but can't let myself love it!

Don't give up hope! I have not been told anything about new covers for the original Frontier. Even though the Frontier 85 covers will not fit the original, that isn't to saythat they won't make any new fabrics as replacements. They might not, I just don't know. There are a lot of Frontiers out there, though.
 

Maedze

New member
I don't know if you can answer this yet, but am I understanding that the max allowable torso height for booster mode is less than that of the original Frontier? :confused:
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
I don't know if you can answer this yet, but am I understanding that the max allowable torso height for booster mode is less than that of the original Frontier? :confused:

It is sort of answered in the bullet points. The published numbers increased for the Frontier 85 for standing and seated height limits in both harnessed and booster mode. My finding is that it is about the same for booster mode, roughly a half inch lower seated shoulder height. That's because the original Frontier adjusted much higher than its published 21.5" seated shoulder height number in booster mode. My son is 4'11" tall and uses the second highest booster adjustment. At that height, the Frontier only fits in our minivan, it's too tall for the back seat of our car...
 

MOM25BOYS

New member
Love all the new revisions with the exception of one and can't wait to get my hands on one of these! :love:

I am kinda bummed about them getting rid of the double LATCH adjuster, but in no way is this a deal breaker for me. Just made it an easier install when doing it by myself and it is one of the features I always loved about the MA's. :p
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
Love all the new revisions with the exception of one and can't wait to get my hands on one of these! :love:

I am kinda bummed about them getting rid of the double LATCH adjuster, but in no way is this a deal breaker for me. Just made it an easier install when doing it by myself and it is one of the features I always loved about the MA's. :p

As far as overall ease of installing with LATCH, I found the new belt path design to more than compensate for the loss of one adjuster. It would have been nice to keep two, but it's still an overall improvement. Of course, I've only put it into two cars so far!
 

Maedze

New member
It is sort of answered in the bullet points. The published numbers increased for the Frontier 85 for standing and seated height limits in both harnessed and booster mode. My finding is that it is about the same for booster mode, roughly a half inch lower seated shoulder height. That's because the original Frontier adjusted much higher than its published 21.5" seated shoulder height number in booster mode. My son is 4'11" tall and uses the second highest booster adjustment. At that height, the Frontier only fits in our minivan, it's too tall for the back seat of our car...

Oh dear, that's a little disappointing. I don't think kids NEED a high back booster much past 8 or so in most vehicles, but the Frontier in HBB mode is a great option for parents with low seat backs.
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
Even so, I suspect it will still accommodate many kids to age 12, given that my son is close to 75th percentile for height at 11.5 years old with room to grow in the Frontier 85. It's actually the width where he seems a little cramped; he's midway between 50th and 75th percentile for weight.
 

Mommy0608

New member
Thanks for the details, Darren. I'll be watching for the full review with photos. :) I was originally planning to get the new Frontier when it comes out, rather than waiting, but now that new covers may be coming, perhaps I'll wait. I was just hoping to get usable cupholders for DD before our cross-country drive at the end of April. :(
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
Thanks for the details, Darren. I'll be watching for the full review with photos. :) I was originally planning to get the new Frontier when it comes out, rather than waiting, but now that new covers may be coming, perhaps I'll wait. I was just hoping to get usable cupholders for DD before our cross-country drive at the end of April. :(

I have no ETA or any other information, just that new covers are likely in the works. So, it may not even be this year I just don't know! Hopefully we will learn more at Lifesavers in April!
 

mburks26

New member
What is the over all height of the seat when the head rest is in the highest postion. I really think my dd is going to outgrow the harness on the GN before she is ready for a booster. DH would kill me if I speant that much money on a seat that is too tall to be used fully.
 

Kat_Momof3

New member
What is the over all height of the seat when the head rest is in the highest postion. I really think my dd is going to outgrow the harness on the GN before she is ready for a booster. DH would kill me if I speant that much money on a seat that is too tall to be used fully.

it's 20" for harness height... according to Britax... so close to 2" taller.
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
What is the over all height of the seat when the head rest is in the highest postion. I really think my dd is going to outgrow the harness on the GN before she is ready for a booster. DH would kill me if I speant that much money on a seat that is too tall to be used fully.

In booster mode, bottom of the base to top of the head restraint at the top position, I think it's about 36" but I'll double check. That is NOT thechild's seated shoulder height or standing height.
 

mburks26

New member
In booster mode, bottom of the base to top of the head restraint at the top position, I think it's about 36" but I'll double check. That is NOT thechild's seated shoulder height or standing height.

Thanks just need to see if its too tall for a few cars. The GN I cant raise the head reast all the way up for booster mode hits the top of the car. I have low seat backs
 

noahsmom24

New member
I think I'm on board with buying the Frontier 85, just have to save. I am kind of worried about the Mesh cover though, Although I know its the best choice for ds to stay Harnessed & then to use as a booster. If he keeps growing the way he is then it is just about my only choice aside from the Regent, but I like the Cup holders & the TSIP on the Frontier, so. :)
 

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