I just read Jen's story of shopping for a new car seat, and I don't know what's more unbelievable:
- that the Maxi-Cosi Tobi doesn't install correctly on cars with either cloth or leather seats [what's left?],
- that the Priori "is a No-No" in Fords, Volvos, or Honda SUV's, or
- that they actually found a sales person at a Babies R Us.
Wait, scratch the sales person; the BRU manager spent an hour with them testing all the carseats to make sure they fit in both family cars. Apparently, it's the only way this store will let a carseat out the door.
Anyway, one carseat that didn't make it out was the one Jen went in for: the new Maxi-Cosi Tobi. According to her account, the Tobi's new over-instead-of-under seatbelt path [see below] results in improper or impossible installation in both their cars [an Accord and a VW Polo] and in many others.
Not that I'm calling for a slackness revolution for the certified car seat installation expert industry, but this BRU manager sounds like a total Carseat Nazi. I'll chant "safety first, install it properly" all day if you want, but it just seems implausible to me that the new top-of-the-line model from the biggest carseat maker in Europe can't be installed in two of the most popular cars on the road. Likewise, that that same manufacturer's existing model, the Priori, is somehow blanket-incompatible with entire marques-ful of cars.
If the problem is seatbelt length, maybe extenders are the easy solution, but still, if this story holds up, Tobi's got some slings and arrows of outrageous fortune coming its way. Read Jen's story in full after the jump. [And while I'm thinking about it, does anyone know of an official carseat-car model compatibility matrix that includes Maxi-Cosi? Carseatdata.org is US-only.]
Please, PLEASE, go and see it 'in person', and try and fit it into your car. We headed down to our local Babies R Us, where they shipped in a seat just for us, as I was rather taken by the retracting seatbelts etc etc. We have the Cabrio at the moment, and I was keen to stick to MC.
We got the manager to help us fit it (she was the only one trained), to check it worked in both our cars (Honda Accord, VW Polo). We spent an hour - Priori, Tobi & a Britax - trying them in 2 cars. The Tobi fit - almost. MaxiCosi have changed the way that the Tobi fits into the car - the seatbelt goes all the way over the top of the seat and slots/hooks into a flat channel behind the top of the seat, secured with pull down clips (as opposed to through the bottom under the reclining bucket).
It means that you need a LOOOOONG seatbelt, one that doesn't 'lock' when you let it go (like the Honda and many newer cars). And it doesn't fit properly - either with leather seats (Honda) or cloth (VW). Even when tightened to the utmost, it shook around, and the manager refused to sell it to us. And I can't see, from the new design, quite HOW it would be secure in any car. Sure, it could be our cars - but apparently not. It doesn't fit in ANY car to the standard of the Priori. Which we opted for - it fit snug as a bug, and was WAY easier to put in.
The Tobi was given a big thumbs down - and this is from someone trying to sell us a car seat. We are lucky, as she cared more for us getting a good car seat than making the extra ¬£50. The lady fitting it said - I quote - "I hate this seat". And she is the primary fitter for a store that does a considerable business in selling and fitting car seats (they won't sell them unless they fit them personally). Their only competition in the area is Mothercare, whose staff I don't rate at all, especially when it comes to customer service.
You have been warned. Try before you buy.
PS when we asked about changing cars, apparently the Priori is a No-No in Fords, Volvos and Honda SUVs. Well, we're ok on the Ford front... ;)