Britax Frontier Car Seat: Two Cup Holders Make Big Kids Happy

The Britax Frontier ($280) is a toddler seat that converts to a booster for bigger kids. It offers side-impact protection and has earned high marks in crash tests. My 3 ½-year-old son Finn calls it his racecar seat and loves to sit in it. Two cup holders and arm rests that fold up make it seem like a “big boy seat” to him.

The harness mode only works facing forward, and it starts when the child is at least two years old and weighs 25 pounds. The capacity in harness mode goes up to 80 pounds! When using the harness, the seat installs easily with LATCH or a lap/shoulder belt. Openings at the child’s hips allow parents to pull the straps tight without reaching around the seat. Just be sure you read the directions first. You have to flip part of the base over before you put it in the car. If you forget this step it won’t install properly.

When the child weighs about 40 pounds the Frontier becomes a booster seat that restrains the child with the car’s seat belt. Without a booster the shoulder strap doesn’t cross a child’s body in the right place and this can compromise safety as well as comfort. Children can safely ride in booster mode until they weigh 100 pounds, which essentially means I could’ve ridden to my prom in this seat. That’s a long-lasting car seat! Note that there’s no need to stop using the harness at 40 pounds. We will continue using it until it’s not possible anymore.

After using the Frontier for several months we did see some fabric wear on the seat. It is made of a nylon mesh similar to a basketball jersey’s fabric and it’s looking kind of fuzzy. Perhaps Finn’s constant kicking of the driver’s seat actually damaged the fabric! I wouldn’t put it past him.

The Frontier was recalled in 2008 because of a problem with the straps pulling loose after parents adjusted them frequently. The company has distributed latches that easily solve the problem for affected seats and adjusted the design for new manufacturing. We found the straps easy to adjust and my son can even fasten the chest buckle himself, but fortunately he can’t get it undone.

We really like the cup holders because it seems I’m constantly passing water back to my little passenger. He likes to be able to keep it at the ready.

This is not the car seat for you if you move it from car to car or if you want to fly with it. It weighs 23.5 pounds before you put a kid in it!

We found that the Frontier sits quite low in my SUV and Finn sometimes has trouble seeing things out the window. This is our first booster seat and we’re told that they often sit lower than convertible seats like the Marathon or Roundabout. If they were taller, they wouldn’t offer a 100-pound passenger enough head room.

The Verdict: The Britax Frontier car seat has many useful features and its two modes give it exceptional longevity.

— Kristen

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