Evenflo Symphony DLX Convertible Child Car Seat

Evenflo Symphony Child Car Seat
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This is a super cushy, easy-to-use convertible car seat that should serve your child from birth until they no longer need a car seat. We love ours but it is quite wide so may prevent you using the middle seat in your car.

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We often scour for good deals, and when we were expecting our Little Monkey I realised that car seats are much cheaper in the US. Trying to be clever, I ordered one to be delivered to a freight forwarding company, because it looked like shipping costs would still leave us better off than buying locally.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t realised that volumetric rates kick in for particularly large parcels, and we very nearly made an expensive mistake. Luckily for us, good friends were about to take their infant to the US for a holiday, so we diverted our seat to them for use while they were away. Once their holiday was over they brought it home and delivered it to us.

As it turns out seats imported from the US should be accredited with a sticker on arrival. Despite being readily available here, the seat we bought and imported directly doesn’t have this. So we are a wee bit naughty, and I don’t recommend our method for purchase.

However, we are very happy with the seat — and it is available from many retailers in New Zealand — so I thought I’d review it.

Car seats have a huge number of parameters you might base your selection on. What will work for you and your family will depend on which are important to you. The first thing to check is that it will fit in your car. We have a VW Golf, which we like for zipping around Wellington’s narrow and windy roads. It’s not super spacious so we wanted a seat that didn’t take up too much room lengthwise.

We were also keen to keep our kids rear-facing for a decent length of time, since it’s safer, and liked the idea of a convertible seat that would last for a long time so we wouldn’t have to keep switching.

We looked at various reviews and there were two convertible seats that seemed to tick most of our boxes; the Evenflo Symphony and the Diono Ranier. The Evenflo took up less space lengthwise (but a lot more widthwise) so that’s what we went with.

(side note: you can get an angle adjuster for the Diono seats which reduces the length they consume, but you can’t use it until your child has good head control. Because we wanted to use the seat from birth it wouldn’t have worked for us for baby #1. The Diono Ranier is a great seat, though, so we got one — with angle adjuster — for the toddler when we were expecting #2, and I’ve reviewed it here)

The Evenflo Symphony looks like a seat you’d want to sit in if you were a baby. It’s got plenty of padding and looks super cosy. I’d happily recline in an adult version. Not sure you could get a car big enough to fit it in, unfortunately…

Like most modern seats, you can install it with Isofix or the seatbelt (never both!). It’s very easy to install with either — though I like to say that correctly installing a child car seat is basically the entrance exam for parenthood, so it’ll probably still take a wee while the first time you do it.

One of my favourite features is the no-rethread harness, which means the shoulder straps are on a slider. When your child grows you just pull them up the track a little. Many car seats require you to unhook the straps and move them up a notch, which can be annoying. It’s also very easy to tighten the straps once your little one is strapped in.

It’s pretty bulky and heavy, so it’s not a great option for travel or frequent switching between vehicles. It is really wide so is definitely not an option if you want three seats in a row. And — a minor quibble — the chest strap can be a wee bit stiff to undo.

The rear-facing height limits are lower than the Diono seats, though our average-height Little Monkey still easily fit it at 21 months (when we moved him into the Diono to make way for his little sister).

We haven’t used it on a bigger kid yet, and we’re envisaging, because the limits are a bit lower, that our kids will do some swapping back and forth between the two. Or, if we decide that we want another child we’ll probably have to get something narrower, but that’s very hypothetical and frankly seems like insanity at this point in time. And would also require a new car.

I think it’s a great seat if, like us, you have a small car and want to keep your kid rear-facing for a while — or if you want the cushy ride option. Though I’ve provided the links to buy online, you are definitely best to check it fits in your car, so if you don’t know someone who has one it’d pay to go to a local store. And they are pricey but regularly on sale, so plan ahead and see if you can nab a bargain.

Awesome or Average: Awesome

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