Sunshine Kids Radian Review


New member
Sunshine Kids Radian Folding Car Seat (Avg retail $199 with free shipping)

General Product Info from:

Radian™ is a Convertible Car Seat for rear-facing children 5 to 33 pounds and forward-facing children (from at least 22 lb) up to 65 pounds in a 5-Point harness system. Maximum child height is 49 inches. Radian folds, making it perfect for travel with the kids and convenient storage.
Product Features:
Five shoulder positions and three buckle slots provide the best harness fit.
Wide belt paths with rounded edges allow easier installation and tightening.
V-shaped tether can be used rear-facing, LATCH equipped. (Tether is not IMO, v-shaped)
Folds to 6.5 inches thick for convenient travel and storage.
The only car seat made with a full, steel alloy frame, for incredible strength.
4-panel system of EPS safety foam for increased safety, including side-impact protection.
3 inches more interior shoulder width of any car seat in its class. Its unique design is more than 2” narrower on the outside making it easy to fit 3 seats across.
3 inches longer seat bottom and the forward-facing recline option provides increased comfort for longer rides and more leg support for the older child.
Radian is approved for Aircraft Use.
Exceeds all US safety standards
Product Dimensions:
Product Dimensions Open – 28.5"H x 17”W x 16"D
Product Dimensions Folded – 28.5"H x 17”W x 6.5"D
Product Colors:
Champagne - tan and charcoal ultra-suede fabric
Coastal - steel blue and gray ultra-suede fabric
Desert - two-tone tan ultra-suede fabric
Granite - gray and black, ultra-suede fabric


Compatibility in different Vehicles:
The Radian does have some compatibility issues. If you have seatbelts that come out well-forward of the seat bite and no LATCH available this may not be the seat for you. Also, rear facing installs where there is a medium-length female buckle stalk or locking latch plate may not work. All LATCH installs and other installs that I have tried have been great, with a top tether making the installation even more secure. LATCH can be used until the child is 48 lb, then the seatbelt MUST be used. The Radian is quite narrow and fits well with other car seats and in three-across situations.

The LATCH strap is attached with a webbing strap to the seat and is very easily moved from the rear-facing, forward-facing, and storage positions. The LATCH connectors are the Britax-type push button clips and are adjustable by pulling one strap tight. The top-tether is a single and easily adjustable strap and there is also a storage compartment for it.

Rear-facing use:
The Radian has a “foot” or “boot” that must be used for rear-facing. This makes it a little more difficult to use than a seat with an adjustable base (like a Britax convertible), but it still works well. It can be tethered rear-facing.
As far as recline angle, it’s not able to be adjusted at lot, but I have gotten a 40-45’ angle easily without using the tether to add more recline. Because of this, the Radian will take up slightly more room than a Britax convertible would rear facing for older kids who don’t need the 45’ recline. The space seemed about the same with a Radian and Britax 65 lb convertible both reclined to a 45’ angle.
My 32 lb almost three-year-old daughter seemed very comfortable rear-facing in this seat. She is just under the rear-facing weight limit and has only in the past month or two started riding forward-facing on a regular basis.

Forward-facing use:
This is a great seat for forward-facing, especially for older kids. It sits quite upright, but the sides are deep enough to do a good job for sleep support. I would say it has sleep support similar to a Graco Cargo, but more than a lot of other combination seats. Because it is not up on a large base it is easier for older kids to get in themselves and looks a lot less like a “baby” seat.

Comfort and Appearance:
This seat got my daughter’s gold-star comfort rating. She was asleep within five minutes on her first ride in the afternoon! (Forward-facing) The padding is nice and there are no rough edges or un-padded areas. I have had problems with my daughter getting red pressure-marks in her Evenflo Chase combination seat and even after five hours buckled in the Radian seat there were no marks on her and no complaints. The seat is also very comfortable to sit next to because of the narrow seat and low profile. It was installed in the center third row seat of a Chevy Uplander (mini-van) with my husband and I on either side for the five-hour trip and was much better to sit next to than out Evenflo Chase. It was narrower, and smoother on the outside edges.
I have the coastal (blue) color and it has so far help up great with two weeks of constant use and moving. In the last week I have USED it in eight different vehicles and four different airplanes- so that’s a pretty good record.
The cover is relatively easy to take off with some practice. It requires hand washing with mild detergent (I used Woolite Dark) and line drying, but looks just like new when it dries. It took over 24 hours for mine to dry, but I didn’t wring the cover out aggressively and I live in a humid area.

Use during air travel:
We successfully installed the Radian forward-facing on the two different types of commercial aircraft on our recent trip. No belt-extender is needed since the fabric can be opened to access the belt-path. The buckle was nearly in the middle of the seat and can be pulled tight by once again accessing the belt path. As a bonus, because the seat is low it worked great with the tray tables.
I did not have the chance to install the Radian rear-facing on the airplane, but imagine that it would be substantially more difficult. First, the “foot” would have to be added to the seat if it has been folded up and the belt bath would be a lot more difficult, if not impossible, to access. I may try on my next flight if there is time. On the positive side I would feel comfortable using the Radian forward-facing for any child over 1 yr and 22 lb on an aircraft because the crash dynamics are different from that in an automobile and the likelihood of an accident are much less.
The folding feature is great for transportation purposes. The seat is heavy so you won’t be running through the airport as you might wish! I was able to carry it on my back using the harness straps that some though the back over my shoulder. My husband could not get the strap over his shoulder and was quite frustrated trying to carry it and ranted a bit about how backback straps should be a standard feature. The seat did fit in our Zooper umbrella stroller folded, or unfolded with a child in it. I imagine it would fit in many strollers this way. I will also consider trying to use a luggage carrier on our next airport adventure next month when we may not bring the stroller at all. I don’t have access to the bag available for the Radian, but will probably purchase one and update my review later. I had also considered routing a strap through the unused harness slots for a makeshift backpack straps, but want to check and make sure this would not damage the seat or affect its safety in a collision.

I would recommend this seat in a variety of different situations. It’s nice to have another option to harness past 40 lb or for taller kids.
Aside from the size/folding issue I would still recommend a Britax convertible for a primary rear-facing seat because it is easier to use and more compatible in general with different vehicles. Although there is no reason the seat wouldn’t work for a young baby, the Britax seats seem to “look” more comfortable for rear-facing kids, especially those under one year. It would make a great second rear-facing seat or a travel seat that will last most children for the full 7 years if used from birth.
As long as the fit was good in the vehicle I would recommend this hands-down for forward-facing kids over 30 lb. It’s easier for them to climb into, looks less like a baby seat, and has harness slots higher than the Britax convertible seats, but is smaller then the Husky. The only disadvantage is that it does not have the SIP wings of the Boulevard. It does have EPS foam in sides of the shell.

Photos: Seats/Radian/

Joy Miller
Mommy and Child Passenger Safety Technician
Tester: 34 mo old 34" 32 lb


New member
where is the side impact protection located? in the body? the description reads that it includes SIP but you mention it is not in the wings(near the head).

thanks for the help! i am trying to figure out the future configuration for my 43" 4.5 yr old and my 36" 27 month old. i need 2 of my 4 seats to have SIP.


New member
I already PMed you- but for other's info:

There are no SIP wings like on a Boulevard or Parkway, but the shell does offer SIP because of the EPS-foam lined shell the is designed to protect the head in a collision.


New member
PattyM said:
where is the side impact protection located? in the body? the description reads that it includes SIP but you mention it is not in the wings(near the head).

Have you ever seen the SIP wings that stick out on either side of the child's head in a Britax Boulevard? Well, like the Britax Marathon and Decathalon, the Radian does NOT have these wings. However, the sides of the Radian seat-shell, in particular by the head/shoulder area, are lined with EPS foam (the kind found in bicycle helmets), which offers SIP. What skipskin was trying to say is that, like the Marathon and Decathlon, the Radian does not offer the true SIP (with the wings) that is touted as a safety feature for the Boulevard.



New member
FWIW, I installed Julie's Radian in my 1993 Suburban today. It installed VERY well in the 3rd row lapbelt and 2nd row outboard (locking latchplate), but not at all in the 2nd row ALR lapbelt.
I've finally gotten around to installing my Radian RF this past weekend, just to see how it fits in my vehicle. Here are some of the stats:

Vehicle: 2003 Chevy Astro, 8-seats (2 bench seats in back).
LATCH and Tether equipped: both outboard seats in front row; tether only in back row passenger-side outboard.
ELR seat belts (retract automatically, but only "lock up" with sudden force; requires use of locking clip).
All following installations are front row, outboard.


LATCH: The RF base/foot/boot/whatever you want to call it, is fairly simplistic but easy to install, and considering that it gets wedged up into the seat bight, seems solidly-enough attached. In my vehicle, however, the base is the same width as my LATCH anchors!! The base covered them up, and made it very difficult to get a solid installation. I finally gave up and went to using the vehicle's ELR belts with the locking clip.

Vehicle belts: As stated, it was necessary to use a locking clip. I didn't have to wrestle with it nearly as much as I do with my AOE RFing to get a solid install, and was able to do it myself with just my own body weight against the seat. It wasn't rock-solid like I get with FF/LATCH, but it was acceptable. The latching (receiving) end of my vehicle's seat belts lays a bit high against the RF beltpath, but it wasn't impossible to get it tight enough. The locking clip did end up being enclosed within the beltpath, however, but TMK this shouldn't be a problem.

The angle of the seat was almost a perfect 45 degrees before I tried using the tether. Per the manual, tether is not required, but is still recommended for RF use. Also per the manual, it pictures using a tether anchor *in front of* the seat when the Radian is installed RF. It shows the rear anchors as being used for FF. In my first bench row, there are no tether anchors forward of the bench. The only option would be to run the tether under the seat to the rear anchor. Does anyone know if this is acceptable? I'd rather use the tether than not, but not if the only option is using it incorrectly. Oh, also, tethering the seat made it recline a bit lower than 45 degrees. It lays pretty flat! Maybe 55-60 degrees. Possibly ok for a young infant (?), but not necessarily so for an older child. Good thing I'm not needing to use this seat RF at this point, nor do I envision needing to in the future. :)


LATCH: This seat installs FF like a dream in my Astro using the LATCH. Postion the Radian between the anchors, click on the LATCH connectors, tighten. A little knee in the seat to provide some weight, and it's rock-solid. Attach the tether under the vehicle seat's headrest, down the back and onto the tether anchor. Tighten. DONE.

Vehicle belts: Only slightly less simple. Must attach and adjust the locking clip first, which is only a little tricky, again due to where the locking clip lays against the beltpath. It takes a little more pushing and body weight to get the seatbelt fastened once everything is in the right place. Probably easier with two people, but I was able to manage it on my own and got an acceptable installation. The tether proved to be of substantial help in keeping the seat stable with the seatbelt, whereas with the LATCH install, the seat was already rock-solid and the tether just seemed to be a safeguard.

I haven't tried installing this seat in the back bench row yet. The passenger side outboard has a rear tether but no LATCH, and a fraying seatbelt that needs to be replaced, so no safe way to install it there currently. Driver's side outboard has no LATCH, no rear tether for FF, although I could technically do a RF installation with seatbelt and the tether anchor on the seat in front of it. No reason to bother attempting it right now, though, so I think I'll pass until the weather gets cooler.

Hope this info is helpful to somebody!


New member
To keep the recline not more than 45' attach the RFing tether, but pull it just till the slack is out, NOT tight. You would have to call Sunshine Kids about using the tether under the seat. Britax says "no," but SK may not.

One other question. Are you SURE you need a locking clip. If you are in doubt, use one for sure, but to my knowledge all cars after 97 have to have lockable seatbelts (except in the drivers seat). They can lock by pulling them all the way out, OR with a latchplate that lock. I have heard some people say that sometimes the locking latchplates don't work well, and they have to use a locking clip, but your van is new enough that it shouldn't be required.


New member
the way the LATCh law is written allows vehicle manufacturers to not include a locking mechanism on seatbelts in positions with LATCh, so some manufacturers removed them in some vehicles oin those positions.
When I had my seats checked last week, they showed me how to use the locking latchplates, but we all had a hard time getting them to reliably stay locked. The ease with which they will release makes it iffy using them. When I find it necessary to switch from LATCH to the seat belts, I will use the locking clip just to be on the safe side.

I haven't contacted SKJP about the tether anchor question yet. Anyone who has, or knows, I'd appreciate the info. As it is, I have no need to RF the Radian, but if I ever need to for someone else's child, I'd like to know how best/safest to install it WRT the tether.



New member
Okay, that makes sense. :) I just didn't want you to be going to all the trouble using the locking clips IF you have switchable retractors and didn't know it.


New member
Just wanted to add my 2 cents. :)

We got our Radian today and it installed forward facing in the center position of our 2005 Dodge Neon with LATCH with no issues. I had my husband tighten the bottom strap and it is in solid -- it doesn't wiggle at all. We also used the top tether.

I had a harder time installing my Britax Galaxy in the same position in the same car.

I am totally happy with it!!! My DD is 3 years old, 37" high and 32 lbs.


Senior Community Member

Compatibility in different Vehicles:So far i've had this seat in my normal every day car that's a land rover discovery, and it's installed with the LATCH and teather in the out board seat behing the driver. I have tried seat belt instulation and i think it would be possible if i had someone who was a little bigger (like dh) to put some extra weight into tightening it, we'll cross that path later on. I have also had a GREAT install in a ford explorer '02 i think it was, it's my best friends husbands truck and she was picking up dd last week, no latch so we used the middle lap blet that has locking retractor, it's took some pulling but it was like a rock when i was done, also it wasn't tethered. I've also put it in my dh's police cruiser that's a crown vic 02 no latch so seat belt that rectracs (clicking) got an eceptiable install, but it still moved about 1/4 an inch or so on the belt path again no top tether.

Latch: I LOVE this latch it's the easy britax style, dh can even figure out thoes! LOL very easy to tighten if you pull it though the veclro "holes in the seat cover, ROCk solid in my car with in minutes.

Rear-facing use: I've put the seat in only briefly b/c dd that typically uses it is 35lbs but i put her in the scenera and my younger 2 yo rfing the radian to see how the install was. the boot kinda worries me if i lose it, and also the fact that it's not adjustable, but the recline was fine. I wasn't able to use it tethered rfing b/c i wouldn't find ANYWhere at all to put the D ring kinda mad me made, but what can you do. it dose take up a LOT of room rfing, even in a big car like a land rover, there is NO way it could go behind the driver side.

Forward-facing use: So easy to install w/ latch, we use the slight recline b/c dd still falls sleep a lot in the car. the back tethere is kinda v shaped but not britax v shaped, it has a small v by the car sat then joins to on strap, better teather then cosco but not as nice as the BIG v that britax has. DD can get in the seat VERY easily b/c it doesn't have the HI sides that most convertables have... All and all we really do like this seat a lot

Comfort and Appearance:DD loves the seat it's the blue that's not avaliable any longer, she says it's so soft, microswade feeling . she is able to sleep in it and most of the time her head will not flop forward, she is using the 2 second to the top slots and i think will not out grow this seat till about 6 years or so. She likes the middle chest clip is very easy to use and she can help with some of it.

Overview : I would definantly recomend this seat if you can get a proper install, and if you are needing a smaller seat. i still can't get 3 across though with a scenra, radian and parkway... but still slimer then most.!!

You can see picutres in my siggy link below! :)


New member
Ok, here's my opinion of the Radian 65.
I'm not even attempting a rear facing hookup, there's just not enough room in our cars with the front seats all the way back like we drive. DD at 34.5lbs is over the limit anyway. No other babies are planned and if one happened to arrive, a newer vehicle would definitely be in the immediate budget.

1999 Toyota Camry -- Center seat position. Facing forward. I used the locking clip since I distrust the pull out/lock seatbelt system that may or may not be installed. It's not mentioned in my car manual.

It was difficult getting the seat absolutely tight. There's a slight hump and the seat is wider than the center spot. The seatbelt stalk was almost jammed into the opening of the belt path on the carseat making it harder to get tighter. If I had passengers, they would have difficulty buckling in. I wasn't happy no matter what I did. Outboard would probably be easier, but around here, I do NOT want her in that position.

Even with the base pulled out for a slight lean, imo, it's still too upright if she fell asleep. Her head would loll about. Probably having a small pillow or rolled up towel would help.

1996 Jetta (Trek edition)-- I am absolutely thrilled with the Radian for that car! Excellent hookup with the rear center lap belt (I used the locking clip to ensure that it remained tight). The seatbelt stalk fits just up against the entry of the belt path. Very stable and secure. Much easier than the Camry to install and there's plenty of room for passengers on each side of the Radian.

I was also very surprised to discover that there was already a tether hook on top of the back dash. I was able to hook up the 'safe stop' and the rear tether within 5 minutes.

I am pleased to say that the Radian is 'one' with the Jetta. It feels as if it is a part of the car and not an addition. Absolutely rock solid and I"m much happier with my daughter being with my husband in that small car than ever before. The car seat back slants slightly more than in the Camry and I think she'll be much more comfortable over a long period of time.

I don't have LATCH in either of my cars, so that was unchecked.


Admin - CPS Technician
Just to clarify... a locking clip is NOT appropriate to use on a lapbelt. Your installation is unsafe with it on. This page has more info on seatbelt types, and if you find your Toyota has switchable retractors, I would recommend using them, versus the locking clip A) because it's just as safe B) Locking clips are such a pain :p :)

Anyway, glad it's working so nicely in the Jetta, and the top tether is in there...bonus!



New member
FWIW i got a really nice tight fit in the center position FF using the lap belt with one full twist in the female buckle in our 91 honda accord (going to try FF outboard and FR outboard at another time, my hands hurt from getting all three other carseats to fit in the backseat ).


New member
We have our Radian RF in the 2nd row captain chair behind the driver in our 2004 Odyssey. It took me a minute to figure out the latch and I couldn't tighten it tight enough - but when my husband came home - he sat on it and tightened it right up! (Total time - 10 minutes for installation and it's SOLID!)

As for fit - my little bean is 18 months old and is using the 2nd lowest slots! I put my 5 yr old (big boy!) in it and he has about 2 inches to go and I also put my 6 year old (boys) in it - and he had about a 1/2 inch left to the top slot!

They all fit in it fine! We went with this seat unstead of the Marathon b/c when I sat my older kids in the Marathon they looked SO cramped! They had plenty of shoulder room in the Radian! It looks like it will last our little bean the entire life of the seat (6 yrs!) YEAH!!!

I haven't tried it FF or in any other seat in the car - but I will try them all and post my findings!


New member
I have our Radian installed FF on the drivers side captains chair of our 04 Odyssey. The seat is for my 43lb, 43 inch almost 5 year old son. Because he is over 40lbs, I have to use the seatbelt to install instead of latches. It installs very well, but was difficult. It is easiest to install with two people, one to kneel in the seat and one to tighten the seatbelt. I had to twist the female end of the buckle two times to get a tight install. I have not tried to install this seat in any other place in the van yet, but when we go on long trips I would like to install it in the third row next to my daughter so they can both watch dvds together.

I love the seat. My son has almost three inches of torso growth in it. Although it is a narrow seat he has plenty of shoulder room. My 6 year old daughter is the same size as my son and also still fits in the seat.


New member
Has anyone tried out the new Radian80? Also, the Radian65 and Radian80 don't have a way of attaching to a compatible stroller do they? I'm pretty certain with their folding design that it's not possible, but it couldn't hurt to ask could it? :)


New member
I don't know of any convertible seat that is compatible with a stroller, only infant seats.

The Radian 65 and 80 are the same seat with the same top slot heights, no kid will actually get to 80 pounds in this seat before getting too tall for the top slots.

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