LATCH Cosco Triad Review (Honda Odyssey)

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LATCH Cosco Triad Review (Honda Odyssey)

Here's an edited repost of my review of the Cosco Triad. I also have a different version on epinions, but you may need to be a member to view it ( Epinions Review Here ).
We had intended to wait another month or two before replacing our infant seat with a LATCH convertible seat. We really like our Britax Roundabout, as it has had an excellent fit in all cars we've used, and also has the top tether which can be used in front and rear-facing mode. Unfortunately, Britax has kept delaying their release date for the LATCH version, and it is now delayed indefinitely.</p>

I found the Cosco Triad on sale at a local Kmart. Along with the Fisher Price Safe Embrace II, the Triad is the only other LATCH child seat currently available. Century does have an EZ-LATCH retrofit for its carseats made after 9/97. I will post a review of it soon. Also, some newer LATCH models will be arriving soon, including the Britax Expressway forward-facing seat. All the current LATCH options use a flexible strap which is essentially retrofitted onto an existing shell design. Eventually, new models will arrive with solid anchors that should be even easier to install. In most cases, LATCH seats should make it easier to get a safe installation, but it still is not a guarantee. A LATCH seat is not necessarily any safer than a properly installed carseat which uses the vehicle's seatbelts.</p>

I had dismissed the Triad based on our Cosco high-back booster, which has straps that are difficult to adjust/fasten, and always end up tangled. It fits well, but is skimpy on features. The Triad was much more impressive when I saw it on the shelf. It includes a front adjustment to control harness tightness and a two-piece chest clip which reduces strap twisting. The fabric is also more plush, and the seat is a bit narrower which is great for when the kid falls asleep. The wings are fairly deep as well. Now his neck doesn't hang at a right angle... Finally, it has convenient storage nets on each side. It also has reasonable padding all-around, a built in pillow and a removable infant head pad as well. The LATCH straps were attached for front and rear facing modes, though I had to install the included top tether. The only major omission is that it does not have built-in seat-belt clamps. These are not necessary at all with LATCH installation, but they can make installation much easier if you need to use seat belts. EPS foam head protection is not included on this seat as it is on some higher-end models like the Safe Embrace and Britax products.
I bought the Triad for $54.39. That's less than half the price of the Safe Embrace II, and probably one-fourth the upcoming LATCH Roundabout. There was some confusion on pricing. I thought the tag on the shelf said the regular price was $79.99. When I got to the counter, it came up as $67.99, but they said all Cosco was 20% off which bumped it down to $54.</p>

Installation was relatively easy for front-facing mode. The LATCH anchors were a snap. While kneeling on the seat, it was easy to tighten the strap to make a secure installation. The top-tether was the only minor issue. First, it isn't easy to install into the seat, even if you have small hands and fingers. Much like our Cosco high-back booster, it can also take some time to fiddle with getting the right length on the tether, as it does not have a simple mechanism. You have to play with multiple windings of the strap around a buckle. Once made to the right length, the seat is extremely secure. Much like the Roundabout, if you try to wiggle the seat, the whole van moves with it.</p>

Not having to mess with the seatbelts is great. The Triad is in the 2nd row passenger side, so now we can move the captain's chair to the inboard or outboard location without readjusting the seatbelts. You can even remove the chair completely with the carseat still attached. If you move the seat forward or backward, you will have to re-adjust the tether, at least in the Odyssey. On the plus side, you can easily adjust the tether tightness this way by attaching it to the anchor with the seat moved forward, then pull it tight simply by moving the seat to the rear, avoiding the hassle with the tether buckles.</p>

I also tried LATCH in rear-facing mode. Installation was easy, and the fit was good, but not as solid as our Britax Roundabout using the seatbelts and tether. Overall, a very good seat, and an excellent bargain compared to other LATCH seats. I can recommend it for anyone else with a 2001 Honda Odyssey minivan that wants to put a forward-facing seat in the second row. Similar results may apply to other LATCH-equipped vehicles. Again, a good return policy is important, especially if you install in a different location, different vehicle or in rear-facing mode. Consumer Reports did test this model, and said its crash protection was excellent when using the LATCH+tether or seatbelt+tether. I may have opted for the Fisher Price Safe Embrace II if had been in stock anywhere locally for inspection. I'd definitely have considered the upcoming LATCH Roundabout if I knew it would be released before our infant outgrows the infant seat. In any case, the Triad is a very good seat, and a bargain if you want LATCH.
Consumer Reports Article on Cosco Triad</p>

[Take CR's testing with a grain of salt, though. It's worth reading, but they do have inconsistencies. Also, they only rate carseats based on frontal crashes. The Triad did well, but may not be as effective as something like the Britax Roundabout in a side or rear crash, due to the EPS foam head protection and the rear-facing tether. While they rate ease of installation, they don't seem to consider the belt routing, ease of harness tightness adjustment or the problem many seats have with harness strap twisting.]</p>

Some additional comments:</p>

The included tether is barely long enough to reach to the anchor point, which is below the seat on our 2001 Honda Odyssey. I can see where it may be too short for other vans, depending on where the tether anchor is. Cosco does offer a free replacement with a longer tether. I returned mine for the free replacement. It arrived quickly with no hassles.</p>

Also, the Triad includes a seat belt locking clip, which is mounted loosely on the back of the seat. Unfortunately, it rattles when you hit a bump, so I removed it. This item isn't needed in many newer vehicles that have automatic locking retractor systems on their seatbelts. The optional harness covers Cosco sells for this seat are worthless, in my opinion. Don't bother.</p>

The straps can still twist at the legs, so I check them at least every few days to keep them straight. Because of the two-piece chest clip, they are not nearly as bad as our Cosco High-Back Booster. Still not as nice as a Roundabout or Safe Embrace in this regard, however.</p>

So far, the fit is great. The topic also comes up about protecting your seats from gouges. I use a product called "Seatsaver" which can be found at Babies R Us ($12.99) The Right Start ($19.99) and other baby stores:</p>

Works a lot better than a towel for this purpose. I put clear strips of plastic (cut from the edges of carpet/stairs runner found at a hardware store) under the tether straps, too. If your seats do get gouged, you might try a warm iron with steam, but use a towel in between and test first in a hidden area so you don't ruin your seats.
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