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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    68

    Default Convertible/Booster Seat Help Needed -- Britax Frontier or Sunshine Kids Radian XT

    I had the Britax Marathon car seat, but was recently in an accident so must get it replaced. So since my son is a very tall almost 3 Ĺ year old I was thinking instead of getting another Marathon I would get something that had a higher height requirement as I realize we will soon outgrow the Marathon. Currently, I looking at either the Britax Frontier 85 Booster Car Seat or the Sunshine Kids Radian XT SL. I am looking for thoughts, opinions, and or experience with either one, because there are things I like and have read in some reviews already about each of them that I like and donít like.

    First thing is am I reading it currently that Frontier is good in height of up to 65 inches and Sunshine Kids Radian is only 53 inches?

    For instance, I like the face that the Frontier 85 has cup holders, but Sunshine Kids Radian does not. Not sure if Sunshine Kids has aftermarket cup holders that can be added or not. Does anyone know by chance if they do?

    They both appear to have easy adjust and not be re-threaded each time so that is good.

    I like the fact that Sunshine Kids Radian has supposedly 2 recline positions, since currently in my Marathon I donít like how my sons head flops forward when he is sleeping. Now again, I saw some where when you are doing the Latch in Frontier that it does tilt back slightly and offer somewhat of a recline. My real main point on the recline just donít want his head flopping like it does now. Thoughts?

    Regarding the install it appears that some people have trouble with the Latch getting a good tight fit on the Frontier since it only has adjusted one side Latch, but than others say you just have to read the directions carefully and use your knee to help. So anyone have any comments?

    Lastly, in regards to Frontier read that it is really bulky as well?

    Now things that Sunshine Kids Radian has that I like that I donít see Frontier having our ability to fold and carry even though since made of steel will be heavy. I feel the folding would be easy to transport when traveling. Thoughts?

    Also some question the quality of the Sunshine Kids and says it doesnít hold up the best, especially in cold weather. Is that true that anyone can speak to?

    So as you can see Iím trying to decide which of these two seats is better to go with. Also someone mentioned to me possibly looking at well at the Graco Nautilus. Is that something I should look at as well?

    Thanks again for reading my questions and any information anyone would like to offer would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,037

    Default

    Well, here's my $0.02...

    I have a FR85 and a Radian 80, and we tested out a Nautilus, which went back to the store.

    Yes, the FR85 really is that bulky (heavy, wide & tall). When we travelled with it, we checked it with our luggage b/c I didn't think there would be any way it would fit in an airplane seat. I like the FR85, esp. the built in cup holders. However, because it has a low LATCH limit (40 lbs I think), I have to use the seatbelt to install it. The problem is that the seatbelts in my primary car (a Kia) aren't long enough, even when I use the short belt path. So now we have a great car seat that can only be used as a 5-pt restraint in our secondary vehicle (a Buick)...boo. If your 3.5 year old is over the LATCH weight limit, you might face the same issue.

    My Radian 80 LATCHes up to 48 lbs, and I can install it next to a rear-facing car seat (Boulevard or Scenera), which is something I cannot do with the Frontier 85. The Radian 80 installs great in my Kia, but if you have long seatbelt buckle stalks, you might have a problem with installing with seatbelts. There is no base on the Radian, and a seatbelt buckle stalk might encroach into the beltpath of the carseat, which is a no-no. My nearly 5year-old DD is close to outgrowing the Radian 80 by height, and she weighs less than 50 lbs. I should have saved the $ and gone with a Radian 65. I've never travelled with the Radian, even though it folds up, simply b/c it weighs so much it would be a PITA to haul around and it's anybody's guess whether it will install properly into any given vehicle (eg. it doesn't work on our Buick).

    The Nautilus went back to the store after a week b/c of a sticky buckle (tough to get it to release). It wouldn't have met our needs anyway, because as it turned out, the top harness height wasn't any higher than the Radian 80.

    I don't know what I'll do after DD outgrows the Radian (when the tops of her ears are @ the top of the seatback). I guess I'll put her in a high back booster (we already own a TurboBooster) in our Kia and keep the FR85 in our Buick. I guess it's just as well; the Kia has great crash-test ratings, whereas the Buick not so much.

    In your shoes, I'd base my choice on what car you plan to use. If your car is large with long seat belts, I'd choose the FR85. If your car is midsize or smaller, I'd probably go with the Radian XT, assuming you can get a good installation.

    Hope that helps!

  3. #3
    rin is offline Emerald level (3000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    3,081

    Default

    I have the Radian XTSL and have installed in RF in several vehicles. One tip a car seat tech showed me to help get a good install is to shorten the seat belt buckle stalk by twisting it until it connects below the belt path of the carseat.

    Of course this doesn't really help with your question, but I wanted to add that in as a possible way to increase the installation options!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,037

    Default

    Yep, we do the "twist the belt buckle stalk" thing too. It only helps so much, as you can only twist it so many times. I have it twisted in our Kia, but even that trick won't make it fit in the Buick. Now if only there were some tricks to make seatbelts longer...lol.

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