Britax Advocate CS: Safe and Sound

If there is a gold standard in car seats, it is Britax.

Consistently recognized as an industry leader for safety and durability, the brand has taken its reputation to the next level with the introduction of their brand new Advocate CS ($370) convertible car seat.

The first of its kind, the Advocate CS offers babies and toddlers unsurpassed side impact protection thanks to air-filled, energy-management cushions. That’s right, air bags for the car seat!

Click below to read about how the Advocate CS reduces crash forces by 50%.

Unlike air bags in your car, however, these don’t deploy; instead, as they reduce the forces of the crash — by half, according to estimates — the cushions compress, and expel their air through strategically located vents. Side impact collisions are a big threat for children, as there is no “crumple zone” between their tiny bodies and an oncoming car. They’re also more common than you might think: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia estimates that 1 in 4 accidents involve a side impact of some sort. Dr. Laura Jana — a pediatrician and child passenger safety expert — says that with such sobering statistics, parents can’t afford to take chances. “One in four is not inconsequential,” she notes. “In a crash, the force has to go somewhere. The more you can defuse that force and tone it down before it reaches your child, the better.”

The cushion technology at work in the Advocate CS doesn’t come at the expense of other safety measures, either. Just as in other Britax models like the Frontier and the Boulevard CS, the Advocate CS offers ‘True Side Impact Protection,’ a system which distributes forces, shields from vehicle intrusion, contains the head and body, and minimizes side to side head movement. What’s more, like the Boulevard CS and the upcoming Marathon CS, the Advocate CS features a ‘Click and Safe’ harness adjuster so that you hear a click when the harness has been optimally tightened. The list of safety features — like the stability-providing Versa-Tether and the Harness Ultra Guard System, which reduces forward head movement and gently cushions the neck and chest — literally goes on and on.

Now for more mundane (and less scary!) concerns. The Advocate CS weighs 21 pounds, which is lighter than other convertible car seats I’ve used. The air cushions are clearly visible upon viewing the Advocate CS, but they only add ½ inch to the profile of the car seat overall when compared to the Boulevard CS, for example. The Advocate CS comes available in five prints; Kathryn is overtly girly, but the remaining four — Onyx, Moonstone, Opus Grey and Opus Tan — are fairly gender neutral. Like all Britax seats, the fabrics are plush and smooth against baby’s skin, as well as easily removed for washing.

The Advocate CS comfortably seats my 45 lb, 5-year-old son as well as my 30 lb, 2-year-old son; both boys are well within the weight requirements of 5 to 35 lbs for rear-facing infants and 20 to 65 lbs for forward-facing toddlers aged 1 and up. The maximum height is 49 inches. On a related note, we greatly appreciate that the Advocate CS provides us with the ability to tether our youngest child, who rear-faces. It’s not a common feature, and it’s deserving of a mention. Installation was fairly straightforward and Britax, as always, does a masterful job of including color photos with its instruction manual, which definitely helped.

When it comes to safety, the Advocate CS is quite simply in a class all its own. The additional safety features don’t come cheap, however! “People don’t want to pay the money,” Dr. Jana concedes. “But they don’t realize the amount of engineering that goes into making these seats.” If you’re the type of mom who will spare no expense for the kind of peace of mind the Advocate CS will buy, then its worth the splurge. Dr. Jana goes on to point out that over time, when you consider the extended use the Advocate CS offers, the increased cost over less safe seats is small. “I don’t know a parent who wants to do the bare minimum when it comes to safety,” she adds. “There are minimums for some things… you can skimp where you want to skimp, but not when it comes to safety.”

— Missy

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