Convertible and FF car seats for 2002 Lexus RX300?

Elee

New member
PLEASE HELP! DS is 10.5-months-old, 21 pounds, and 29".
When he outgrew his Graco Snugride, we purchased a Britax Boulevard, but now would like to return it and buy something else ASAP! :( It does not fit well RF in the rear center seat of our 2002 Lexus RX300 SUV (no LATCH in the center); it seems impossible to achieve a secure/tight fit. Also, the crotch strap is so short, making the harness really hard to snap in and even tougher to unbuckle; DH and I spend a long time struggling with it everyday! :confused: Finally, the Boulevard is so bulky that the 2 side passenger seats of the car feel quite uncomfortable.

We're very interested in the Safeguard, but it's only FF. So we thought that we should buy our second convertible car seat now -- a lighter one for our other car and for travel. And then we could use it RF in the SUV until DS is ready to go FF (maybe in the Safeguard).

So we have a few questions:

Which is the best convertible car seat for my car? (Considering first the features, then the size and weight of the car seat; price is less important so long as you're getting more for the $$). We had thought the Sit N Stroll would be just want we needed, but it got such bad reviews in the forum...

Is the Safeguard as good as they claim and worth its high pricetag? Does anyone know how well it would fit the Lexus SUV?

Has anyone had similar issues w/ the Boulevard? It seemed like it would be such a great seat that we're really surprised by all the problems we've had!
 

bensmom

Admin - CPS Technician
Your son is so young, that I wouldn't think about using a forward facing seat at this time. Personally, I'd figure out a way to make the BLVD work, because it's an awesome seat that fits well in most cars.

Are you locking your seatbelt when you install the seat? Is there a "bump" in the middle seat that is making the base not sit well? Have you tried behind the passenger instead (either with LATCH or the safety belt?)

In terms of the harness, are you loosening the harness before you try to unbuckle it? Are you tightening it after you buckle it?
Have you visited a child passenger safety technician to help with the install?
 

Patriot201

Car-Seat.org Ambassador
It sounds like it will still be quite a long time before your son is ready to FF. At only 10.5 months old and only 21 pounds, he probably has at least another year or a year and a half left before he needs to go FF.

I am a bit surprised that the BV doesn't work well in your car. I would try the seat in an outboard position and see if that works better for you.

Have you consulted a CPST?
 

Elee

New member
Thanks, your suggestions w/ the harness do help make it a little easier to buckle/unbuckle the baby. But I still don't understand how the crotch strap can be SO short. At less than 11 months, he's already almost sitting on top of the crotch strap buckle... What will happen when he's much bigger? It seems uncomfortable.

We did consult a CPST for our Graco Snugride initially, but not for the Boulevard. DH feels that, w/ his engineering background, he's capable of getting the seat installed as well as it could be... That's why I'm asking these questions here!

I think the problem with the fit is that the Boulevard's lock-off arm happens to be physically located too close to the vehicle's belt buckle, making it very hard to remove all of the slack from the vehicle belt. Moving it from the middle seat to the outboard position may improve this problem, but isn't the child safer in the middle?

Thanks again for your help!
 

wendytthomas

Admin - CPST Instructor
Staff member
You can twist the female end of the stalk up to three full times to shorten it, that'll make it easier to tighten the seatbelt over the carseat.

Piper sits on her buckle in her Wizard, but I just yank it out from under her to buckle her in. Lots of tickling ensues. :)

Wendy
 

Elee

New member
If I switch to the Marathon, would the fit be any better, or are they basically the same seat with different padding & features?

Does the Marathon have an adjustable or longer crotch strap than the Boulevard? (There were some similiar complaints regarding Boulevard's crotch strap on Amazon's reviews!)
 

bensmom

Admin - CPS Technician
Thanks, your suggestions w/ the harness do help make it a little easier to buckle/unbuckle the baby. But I still don't understand how the crotch strap can be SO short. At less than 11 months, he's already almost sitting on top of the crotch strap buckle... What will happen when he's much bigger? It seems uncomfortable.
I agree that they do seem short, but you'll get used to them (maybe the Snugride is just long?) FWIW, my son is almost 3 in a Marathon and there's still room to buckle.

How reclined is your seat? Is the baby's bottom sliding out from the back of the seat? This could make it harder to buckle.


We did consult a CPST for our Graco Snugride initially, but not for the Boulevard. DH feels that, w/ his engineering background, he's capable of getting the seat installed as well as it could be... That's why I'm asking these questions here!
Ask away. Whenever I help parents with a seat, they look at me dumbfounded afterwards and say "that's it"? Unfortunately, car manufacturers and carseat manufacturers seem to make something that should be easy, difficult, until you know the tricks :)

I think the problem with the fit is that the Boulevard's lock-off arm happens to be physically located too close to the vehicle's belt buckle, making it very hard to remove all of the slack from the vehicle belt. Moving it from the middle seat to the outboard position may improve this problem, but isn't the child safer in the middle?
Can you either open or close the lockoff nearest the buckle and basically ignore it when installing your seat? What I try to do is buckle the belt, then I pull straight up on the shoulder portion of the belt, while putting my knee into the seat. Once you get it tight, try closing the lockoff opposite the buckle, not next to the buckle.

In terms of middle over side, yes, middle is safer (since in a side impact, you don't know which side you would be hit on), but a good installation is better. All properly installed carseats in the back seat are very safe.

HTH!

Please post back if you have more questions!
 

scatterbunny

New member
My dh thinks he's a carseat installation expert, too, simply because he's got an engineering type of brain. :rolleyes: Still, they don't know all the tricks that a certified child passenger safety tech knows; these techs see these seats over and over and learn tips and tricks for various vehicle+carseat combinations.

Twisting the female buckle end should help.
 

wendytthomas

Admin - CPST Instructor
Staff member
My dh thinks he's a carseat installation expert, too, simply because he's got an engineering type of brain. :rolleyes: Still, they don't know all the tricks that a certified child passenger safety tech knows; these techs see these seats over and over and learn tips and tricks for various vehicle+carseat combinations.

Twisting the female buckle end should help.
My neighbor thinks he's good too, but then his daughter tipped over when they went around a curve one day. I told his wife (a good friend of mine) that he's simply not allowed to do it anymore, and that if I caught either of them with a locking clip in hand I was going to take them away. LOL They have no idea what's going on. Well, she does now. I made her install both of her seats in both of her cars in front of me last time.

Wendy
 

Elee

New member
Thank you so much for all of your suggestions!

We re-installed the Boulevard (still in the middle seat) with 2 twists of the vehicle buckle and leaving the lockoff nearest to the vehicle buckle open. It fits very nicely now.

Your suggestion of loosening the harness before buckling has also helped. I still don't like how short the crotch strap is, but it's okay. With the seat in a much better position, now more upright, DS doesn't slide down over the crotch strap as much.

Can you either open or close the lockoff nearest the buckle and basically ignore it when installing your seat? What I try to do is buckle the belt, then I pull straight up on the shoulder portion of the belt, while putting my knee into the seat. Once you get it tight, try closing the lockoff opposite the buckle, not next to the buckle.
Is it safe to leave one of the lockoff's open, as we've done above?
Also, when is it necessary to use the tether?
 

scatterbunny

New member
I'm so glad it's working out better now! :D

Yes, it's safe to use one or both lockoffs.

The top tether can be used on Britax seats both rear-facing and forward-facing. I would use it now. You would use the D-ring attachment that came with the seat and hook the tether to a non-moveable point of the vehicle, usually under the front vehicle seat somewhere.

Do a search on "rear facing tether" and you'll find tons of info. :)
 

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