Question Which Britax for 2005 Pontiac Vibe and 2005 Ford Focus HB?

seattle mom

New member
I've looked through multiple posts on this and other websites, and I'm still having trouble deciding on what convertible carseat is safest for our 2 family cars, and I'm hoping you might help clear things up!

(1) We have a 2005 Pontiac Vibe and are looking at getting either a Britax Marathon, Boulevard CS, or Decathlon. My daughter is a chunky baby: 20 lbs and almost 27" long, and I'm worried that the crotch straps may be too short on some of the Britax models. However, the Vibe didn't perform that well in side impact crash ratings (and doesn't have side airbags), so I'm wondering if the Boulevard is a better option. I haven't been able to find all the models in stock (granted I've only done a cursory look) so I'm also unsure which would be the best fit for our car. Given the crotch strap issue and the side impact protection, which seat would you recommend? We'd like to have her RF in the middle of the back seat for as long as possible. Which seat would be best for this? (My husband is 6'3" and I'm 5'9", if that makes any difference.) I've heard the Boulevard can only be tethered to 50 pounds; what is the importance of this in terms of safety?

(2) We also have a 2005 Ford Focus HB, which did even worse in side impact testing. I visited the carseat data search engine on this site ( but didn't find any information for any Britax seat other than the Marathon. Again, which seat would you recommend for this car? Do we need to opt for the Boulevard since the Focus HB performed so poorly in side impact crash testing? Do you know if there's any convertible seat that will fit in the middle rear position in this car?

(3) I know you recommend getting the seat that fits best in the car, but since not all these models are carried in all stores, and since it takes quite a while (or so I hear) to get them installed properly, how can we ensure we get the carseat that fits best?

(4) I've heard conflicting things about using LATCH in the middle rear seat. Can you use them, or are you supposed to use the belt instead?

Sorry for the incredibly long post. My daughter's safety is my number one priority, and I want to make the right choice for her carseat. Thanks for your help!


New member
Ok, I doubt I can answer all of your questions, but I will at least try.

1. Is there a reason you are only looking at these three seats? Is there a reason that you only want Britax? They are great seats, but there are others that are good too. If I were picking between those seats, I would get the Marathon. People have had trouble with the Decathlon adjuster and I just think the Boulevard is too expensive. That is only my opinion. I'm not sure about the Boulevard only being able to be tethered to 50 pounds. That doesn't sound right, but like I said, I am not sure.

2. I have installed several seats in a Ford Focus and haven't had any issues.

3. My best advice is to go to Babies R Us and try seats out in your car. Keep in mind, you can always return a seat. As far as it taking a long time to install it properly, it doesn't. Read your vehicle manual and your car seat manual. If you do that, you shouldn't have a problem. Also, visit a car seat tech near you. Here is a link for some techs on here Also, visit You will find all the techs in your area.

4. As far as LATCH in the middle, it depends on your vehicle. Read your owners manual. My LATCH manual seems to be MIA, so I can't look it up for you. Maybe someone else can. LATCH is not necessary for a good installation. The seatbelt should work just fine.

Hope that helps.

seattle mom

New member
Thanks so much for your help! I realize I asked LOTS of questions, and I appreciate your willingness to try and answer them all! I'd only listed Britax seats because I've heard consistantly great things about them in terms of safety, ease of use, etc. However, I'm open to other brands, if you have other options you'd recommend. I was leaning towards either the MA or the BV, so you've helped me eliminate the DC. If price weren't an option (though of course it always is!), would you recommend the BV over the MA? Does it really have better side impact protection?

Thanks again for your help. I'll be going to Babies R Us this weekend to try out different seats in my car. :)


New member
I would check out The First Years True Fit. It is also $149. The TF will allow you to rearface the longest by height as well.

I greatly prefer the Marathon to the Boulevard and I wouldn't bother with the Decathlon because it only rearfaces to 33 lbs and it has adjuster issues.

Do you travel by air with any amount of frequency?


I have a Pontiac Vibe and a Marathon. It RF very nicely outboard, but in the middle the hard plastic shell came (in my opinion) too far into the front passenger space. I whacked my head off of it just getting into the car after I installed it in the middle. I decided that it would compromise the safety of my husband and I in the event of a crash, so I put the Marathon RF outboard instead.



Ambassador - CPS Technician
We have an '06 Focus Wagon - I suspect the back seat is similar. We're using a Sunshine Kids Radian FF in it, and it works great. (I'm afraid I don't know how well it works RF.)

The Focus does allow borrowing for centre LATCH, but the carseat must allow it too. The Radian doesn't (unless the spacing is standard, which it's not in the Focus.)


seattle mom

New member
Thanks for all the great advice. We probably fly 2-3 times per year, so that's not a huge issue but one that we should probably at least look into a bit. I think we'll be trying out a lot of different seats in the store this weekend!


New member
Given the lack of side airbags and otherwise poor side crash ratings, I'm inclined to go with the Blvd over the Marathon. However, like others said, I'd seriously look into the True Fit or the Radian. The primary advantage with the Radian is that it's a narrow seat. Since you have small cars, that fact might become critical. Especially if you have another kid. It can be a bit of a pain to install RF, but it's something to consider besides the Britax.

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