I guess living in a country that produces automobiles makes me expect models to evolve slightly year after year, with new features added and improvements made, problems fixed, that sort of thing, and then every few years, there's a big redesign.
And I guess that the same mentality is not prevalent in the Netherlands. Instead, when they have some improvements, the baby gear companies there like to introduce entirely new models. Bugaboo did it with the Cameleon, which is an evolutionary step from--but not substantially different than--the original Frog.
And now Maxi-Cosi has done the same thing with their car seats. The Tobi debuted a few months ago, and while it has a host of nice features, it appears to be just a better Priori. And not even wildly better, just a Priori with some of the rough edges polished off.
The Tobi's most prominent differences from the Priori are: 1) stiffened, padded straps which don't require digging around for the buckles, admittedly, a handy everyday feature, and 2) an integrated, adjustable shoulder strap and headrest which can be raised together. This is a significant improvement from the current slide-and-tug-into slots mode of the Priori, and it also cleans up the fabric on the headrest (just one set of strap holes). But that is a feature you'll only care about once every six months when you change it.
[That said, due to repeated machine washings following our Priori pukefests, our seat cover is falling apart exactly along the shoulder strap holes. The seams are fused, not sewn, together, and I'm sure they were not tested to withstand Brutal American Washing Machines. FWIW, the manual says to handwash with mild detergent, and the 12 month fabric warranty is expired anyway, so we're SOL.]
Other than that, though, the Tobi has all the features of the Priori, good [goodlooking, side protection system, reclining lever reachable from the front, which is huge] and bad [weighs a ton, base has near-unreachable crevasses which can fill with puke, is occasionally sold by clueless idiots on ebay.de].
Which is pretty spectacular, because the Tobi is anywhere from EUR60-120 more than the comparable Priori XP. A Tobi in Black Reflection fabric is EUR259 at babycare.nl, while a Priori XP is EUR199 (actually, it's marked down to EUR169 now). I'm looking forward to hearing from anyone who's shopped for Maxi-Cosis recently, especially if you opted for the $120 seat belts.
2012 update: Check out US-spec Maxi-Cosi car seats at Amazon [amazon]
Maxi-Cosi corporate site [maxi-cosi.nl, note the difference between English website and UK models]
Babycare in the NL ships to the US [babycare.nl]
And while they don't yet show the Tobi, dt reader David had a great experience buying their Cabrio from Baby Huys [babyhuys.com]
Previously: Why I love and hate the Maxi Cosi Priori