A New Ride: The Britax Frontier

APR 19, 2008

ETA: The response has been overwhelming so this has turned into a 4-post detailed photo review of the Britax Frontier. All 4 posts are quite picture heavy, so I apologize in advance to dial-up users. :)

Here are the posts regarding the Britax Frontier:

> Post #1 – When we first got the Frontier with comparison pix next to the Marathon.

Post #2 – Answered some visitor questions with photos of my oldest 10 yo daughter in the seat.

Post #3 – Shows car’s belt measurements of the seat installed in my 2001 Ford Taurus.

Post #4 – Shows how high the head rest goes and how much the seat slopes in recline and upright positions. My oldest 10yo daughter is shown in the seat with head rest up.


Yesterday we picked up a new car seat for my youngest daughter. Joshua needed to move up to a bigger seat and we wanted him to ride in the comfortable Brtiax Marathon. Rachel is very independent and likes to climb up into the seat herself. The Marathon is on a base so it sits high. It is hard for her to get in the seat by herself. But this new car seat is low. Perfect! So I let Rachel pick out the color she liked and hubby picked it up: a red and black Britax Frontier.

It is brand spanking new. Literally. Britax just released this model this month. No reviews are even anywhere on the net. But seeing how it was made by Britax, we figured we couldn’t go wrong.

It is nicely padded and sturdy. It goes from a 5-point harness seat to a high-back booster. We figured it would last Rachel a long time since it goes up to 100 pounds.

Sitting in the Britax Frontier

Problem? We can’t get a good tight install in our 2001 Ford Taurus. Because the belt path of the Frontier is behind the seat and we have long belt stalks, we can’t get the seat belt really tight. The car seat is a bit wobbly. I’m really disappointed. For the price of this seat (it runs $279), you’d think it would install easily. Like the Marathon. A nice, easy, tight, clean install.

We’re going to take it to a Certified Safety Technician on Monday to see if a professional can get it securely installed. I sure hope so, because I really am not liking anything else on the market. That coupled with the fact that not much fits 3-in-a-row in the back seat of a Taurus… yea. I hope it fits.

Here are 2 photos showing the tight fit in the back of the Taurus with a Marathon (the baby), the Frontier (toddler) and my non-carseat tween. It is tight up at the shoulders but she has plenty of leg room. Unfortunately she is doomed to be squished in the middle no matter what seat we end up with. And we don’t have the money for a bigger vehicle. Yea… hope I don’t get pregnant again anytime soon.

tight fit

(Yea, she looks happy, doesn’t she?)

leg room

Here are some more photos comparing the Frontier to the Marathon for those Googling pictures of the Frontier (like I was trying to do earlier this week).

Marathon and Frontier fronts

Marathon and Frontier sides

The head rest at the lowest position:

Frontier headrest lowest position

The headrest at up. This is not the highest the headrest can go. You have to unscrew it and adjust it to its highest level. I was too lazy to do so at the moment.

Frontier headrest high (not highest) position

The cupholders (one on each side of the seat) closed and open. I wasn’t terribly impressed by these. One of them wouldn’t stay closed all the way. Annoying.

Britax Frontier cupholder closed Frontier cupholder open

Well, there ya have it. I really like this car seat. It would last us a long time – until Rachel is out of car seats – but the installation is going to be the issue. Pray for a tight install on Monday so we don’t have the hassle of returning a car seat!


ETA 4/24/08:

This past Tuesday we had a certified CPS try to install the seat. No luck! Several others have since received their Frontiers and have tried it in their cars. Seems the Frontier has ALOT of installation issues – maybe even more than the Sunshine Kids Radian! If you came here looking for info on the Britax Frontier, you can find alot here: Car-Seat.org Frontier thread. There are five 400-post threads. The first 5.5 parts concern mostly with speculation about what the Frontier will be like as these were posts before the Frontier was released. Starting with approx. page 12. Britax has been contacted and aware of the situation. Apparently they are going to post more detailed install instructions on their website soon. I’m not sure how that will affect us… At this point, we are planning on returning the seat to Elite Carseats and see if we can fit the Radian80, Nautilus, or Regent in the back.


ETA 4/25/08:

We got the Frontier in a ROCK SOLID installation!! YAY!!

Britax released today “Frontier Installation Tips” PDF file (available here in post #1 of this thread and here on the Britax website). We were able to do a LBP (Long Belt Path) installation with this seat. In our 2000 Ford Taurus, the ONLY place it would install correctly was in the outboard driver’s side position. With the outboard passenger & center seats, the belts were too short for the LBP install. We can live with that since this seat will last Rachel until she out of car seats! Whoo-hoo!

ETA: 5/25/08

I’ve added an 1 month review complete with lots of pictures and answers to some questions I’ve received over the past month. You can find it here >

ETA: 6/6/08
More photo review posts added. See links at beginning of this post.






18 comments to A New Ride: The Britax Frontier

  • I love it when my captcha word is wine…

    That is some carseat. They sure have come a long way since my boys were little. Hope they can get a good install on it for you.

  • I found your blog by way of The Pioneer Woman and thought I would comment. I really like your blog! Your posts are refreshing and honest. I like knowing that I am not the only one that can’t just run out and buy a new car because we want to or even because we need to. We live a happy and satisfying life — thank goodness that we don’t have things too easy. I enjoy the wait because then I really enjoy the reward!!!

    Love the new car seat — very chic!

    Blessings!
    Lacy

  • Trish

    Thank you so much for placing these photos. With the photos and the new belt path, i think this seat will work for us.

  • Lisa

    Hey!
    Ran across your post on eliteseats and was THRILLED to see your pics of the carseat! It’s such a small thing really, but you’d think the carseat manufacturers would put some real life pics on their sites! It makes it so much easier to picture it. (Especially for those of us who have ONLY the internet to look at these seats!) Anyway, thanks again for the pics. (Very helpful!) :thumbsup:

  • Trish and Lisa, glad I could help! I buy nearly everything online so I understand the pain of trying to find detailed info.

    I don’t know about other online retailers, but Elite Car Seats have a return shipping insurance you can purchase when you buy from them. Honestly, it is only a few bucks and so worth it if it ends up that the seat doesn’t work out.

    Good luck with your purchase!

  • Corinne

    Thank you, thank you for posting and then re-posting your experiences with the Frontier. I’m so glad I held off on the Regent because this seems like the seat for my very independent 2.5 yr old. Question: Do the arm rests hinge up to be out of the way?
    Thanks again.

  • I’ve added an 1 month review here >

    It is picture heavy but I’ve included answers to questions I’ve received over the past month. Hope it helps!

  • I’ve added 2 more posts containing lots of photographs and measurements. Links are at the top of this post. :)

  • Oh your poor tween does look most unhappy! Though she will survive and most likely do the same to her kids one day! LOL!

    They didn’t have car seats that “pretty” when mine were little… =P

  • Thanks for sharing these photos, we’re in the market for a new seat and I appreciate the details.

  • Jennifer

    We just got our Frontier seat last week and are having some issues. I love Britax and was really excited about the seat. It is difficult to get a tight fit, once it is in there you don’t want to move it!! Also, our belts keep getting twisted. The bottom buckle keeps getting the belt twisted through it backwards. Have you had that happen? Other than that, our 4 year old loves her seat and fell asleep in it last night. I am considering sending it back, but I would prefer her in a 5 point harness for as long as possible. Thanks for the great review!! :thumbsup:

  • Lisa

    So, I was on the fence about buying this until I saw the pics and thought it was great. I did infact buy the Frontier. :think: Well, I am about 50/50 on it myself. I don’t think my issues are with the Frontier, as much as they are with Britax. It seems that all the great features we’ve come to expect from Britax are inherently missing from this seat! I too, like Jennifer, am having issues with the belt twisting. Anyone who has an earlier version of a Britax seat knows that the “no twist” straps are a huge selling point. (For example my Marathon straps are fabulous and never twist in the slightest!) The webbing is simply NOT the same. It is flimsy and thin. Another thing it is lacking is the velcro that holds the straps to the side. :-o And, I totally miss being able to just move it in or out or to a friend’s car, at the drop of a hat and in 2 seconds! Once the Frontier is in, it is NOT moving. No way. Made that mistake once, and it took me forever to get it back in well.

    BTW, a friend has the Regent and complains about all the same things! So it seems Britax’s standards are going downhill. Or maybe they’re building ‘em on the cheap now, take your pick. It is just disappointing. Maybe these are small things. However, those small things are what set Britax apart from the competition. Not to mention the big bucks you shell out for these seats! Those “little” bells and whistles are what make the price tag easier to swallow.

    The positives: My son LOVES his “race car” seat. He thinks it’s comfy and oh-so-importantly…cool. It stays very clean. We love the cupholders, which are a new thing for Britax if I’m not mistaken. Oh and the armrests, love those.

    Anyway, that is my 2 cents. (Maybe more like 2 dollars worth! LOL) :blahblah:
    HTH, Lisa

  • Lisa

    BTW, I bet you NEVER in a million years thought that you’re post about your new car seat would get this popular!! LOL ;) :lol:

  • […] A New Ride: The Britax Frontier : Hogue Chronicle […]

  • Just wondering: are you still using your seat? Are you still happy with it?

  • Also wanted to add: for those looking to buy the Britax Frontier – you can get great deals here:

    http://carseatplace.com

  • Lisa

    Hey Sara,
    Saw your question. Even though it wasn’t aimed at me I thought I’d add my opinion. I lean more toward hating this seat most days. It is SO difficult to install. I don’t ever move it. If it does have to be taken out, my husband has to reinstall it. (I read several reviews that said the same thing before i bought it, but I guess I thought it wasn’t a big deal or that I wouldn’t have that problem. Well it IS a big deal.)

    The other thing that really bugs me is that once it is installed correctly, it sits so tight against our seat, it makes it impossible to loosen or tighten the harness. That is HUGE for me. There were times this winter when he had a coat on and we could barely get the thing buckled. Then without the coat, the harness was so loose that I often didn’t feel like he was as safe as he should be. (I’m serious, I would use all my strength to pull on the strap & it would barely budge!!)

    One other negative is the fact that you can’t wash the cover of the seat. Previous Britax seats had removable covers that you can just throw in the wash. This one is integrated into the seat, so you have to settle for spot treatment. So much for my previous post about it staying clean! lol Oh, and the straps still twist all the time.

    IMHO, I’d really look at others before buying this one! There HAS to be something better out there! I haven’t even had it for a year and I definitely have buyer’s remorse!

  • Lisa,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to respond!

    Sara

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