I put off transitioning my daughter from her infant car seat to a convertible option for as long as possible. Although she can still technically use it, her baby brother will be here soon, and he needs it more than she does. I was nervous because she loves her car seat, and introducing a new one can be about as fun as transitioning to a big crib, going from a bottle to a sippy cup, etc. Babies like consistency. Thankfully, her new Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 MAX won her—and her parents—over pretty quickly.
Compared to an infant seat, this one is quite large. It communicates safety and stability with it’s sleek design, large frame and built-in protection features. Baby gear is fun until you have to put it together or navigate the installation, so I was pleased to find the setting up process fairly easy. I will admit upfront I had my husband’s help along with the manual. Safety anything renders another set of eyes for making sure no steps are missed. (At 7 months pregnant, I am not at my quickest or most capable.)
Speaking of the manual, I thought this one was a bit more difficult to understand. Between two sets of grandparents and our own carseats, I have experience with four different models. I know companies need to be very specific when concerning the wellbeing of a child, but I felt the verbiage and excessive details made it more difficult than it actually was. Even with illustrations, there were many small parts to make sense of. All in all, it took about 20 minutes to read through the instructions and maneuver the setup.
One thing to note is this seat is a convertible car seat, which means it doesn’t have a separate base. I wish there were more of an indication that it has been installed correctly, like there is with our infant car seat (an audible click, red button, etc.) What it lacks in visual cues for installment, it makes up for in aesthetic and stature. This thing is big—in a good way. (Keep in mind convertible car seats stay put. You won’t be toting this on your arm all over town, so a heftier seat is not a bad thing.) Ever heard the phrase “right of weight” when referring to traffic patterns? That’s how I feel about the Pria 85 MAX. It’s large and in charge. We have a regular sedan, so the back row is obviously tight with soon-to-be two tiny riders. But if we can do it, so can you! The good news is once the seat is anchored and buckled in, it’s snug as a bug. It securely sits facing either direction with little wiggle or movement.
Our daughter is still too young to face forward in her seat, but we installed it in both positions for reference before the test drive. There are different parts used for front-facing verses rear-facing (specifically the tether strap found in the back), so don’t be alarmed if you notice some parts not being used during the installation process. Thankfully, we have a LATCH anchor system in our vehicle, so setting it up both ways was similar in that we attached the same parts the same way. If your vehicle does not have an anchor bracket (found near the safety belt buckles), you need to have one installed to use this car seat. After that, all it takes is the threading of the latch connector and buckling of the seatbelt to seal the deal (with some minor adjustment for baby’s size, of course).
Before buckling my little one in, I removed the infant inserts (additional head support and cushion) and assessed the harness. This seat uses a magnetic locking system to fasten and secure the front buckle. Ironically, it’s easier to use one hand than two. I think it’s designed to be simpler than I thought it would be, but it’s counterintuitive to not use more force when attempting to separate two connecting parts. A gentle sliding motion upwards should successfully unlock the buckle. (This is probably good news for anyone with a child who has successfully unbuckled their seat. Just know a grown adult struggled to do it, so hopefully your babe will, too.)
The seat is plush, sort of like a reclining chair. The straps are easily adjustable and do not have to be re-threaded when adjusting the height of the seat. It’s a one-handed adjustment, making it much easier on parents with an ever-growing child. The straps can accommodate a child’s height up to 52 inches.
My daughter seems to love it, like she was sitting on a puffy cloud while we all stared at her and paused for reaction. She seemed comfortable and content (although no baby likes the initial buclking-in process of being confined and restrained). Maybe she was enjoying all the attention, but the test drive was a huge success. By the time we were pulling back into our driveway, she was blowing bubbles and signing to herself.
Keeping the seat clean is simple. The fabric literally unsnaps and is removed easily over the frame. You do not have to rethread the straps or worry about messing with the alignment. It’s machine washable and dryer safe, too. This is a nice reprieve from hauling my other car seat up the stairs to our apartment for spot cleaning. I like my things well cared for and maintained in (as close to) the original condition, so this feature is much appreciated.
One do wish would have been included is a canopy to provide protection from the sun. I realize this is not the case for convertible car seats, and thankfully, there is a canopy that can be purchased as an accessory—although I would pay a little more for it to come with the seat upfront.
Another note on the aesthetic—you can change the color of your seat using a “fashion kit,” should you feel the need to switch it up, or when another one is being washed. (They are $90 to $110 each.)
Speaking of dollar amounts, I do think this product is priced fairly. It converts from a rear-facing seat to forward-facing seat—but not a booster. The flip side to this is the Pria 85 MAX is the only seat to accommodate up to 85 pounds, so it can be used for the long run. It’s also not super heavy to be larger and well-cushioned. I was able to carry it down a flight of stairs with my big belly.
Another pro is this seat comes with handy harness holders. I hate when straps get tangled, so this feature is very helpful for load in and out and keeping things straight. All-in-all, I think it’s worth the money and would recommend it to another parent.
In case you didn’t catch it earlier, the weight and height recommendations are 14 to 85 pounds—broken down into rear-facing (14-40) weight and front-facing (22-85)—and up to 52 inches.
Maxi-Cosi uses Air Protect technology (providing padded safety primarily around the head and neck in a side impact collision) and what they call “CosiCushion” premium fabrics (think padding, padding and more padding) to ensure a quality, comfortable ride for your wee one. I don’t allow food or drink in the car, but if that changes, there’s a built-in drink holder. A snack tray and foot rest can be purchased separately.
As I touched on previously, the Pria 85 MAX comes in a variety of colors and can be changed as often as your heart desires. There are collections of traditional solid colors and special edition prints, textures and patterns to choose from. Happy driving!
Where to buy: buybuybaby.com