Britax Allegiance Review
Pros: Price, easy to use, best head sensor crash test
Cons: Less padding, somewhat harder to install using vehicle belt
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Essentials is a Britax company that consists of budget-friendly products for parents looking for safety and quality without the high price. Britax launched the Essentials line as a "value brand" to help delineate the difference between the Britax car seats and value versions that cost less. Currently, Essentials includes the Allegiance and the Emblem convertible car seats. Recently, Britax absorbed the Essentials line into their ordinary Britax group of products.
The Allegiance earned a respectable score for crash test results and the BEST head sensor (HIC) results in the review. All seats sold in the US must meet or exceed the FMVSS 213 Federal Safety guidelines. Therefore, all of the seats in this review are considered safe and provide at least a basic level of safety. Some seats, as indicated by better than the average test results, potentially offer an additional margin of protection. The Allegiance is one of these products.
The Allegiance has the best HIC result out of all the products with a 186. The next closest is 218 for the Britax Emblem with a 218. The maximum allowed for this test is 1000 with lower results being better as it means fewer Gs exerted in the head area. The chart below shows the results of the sensor.
The chest clip sensor result (g clip) for the Allegiance is 43, where the maximum allowed is 60, and lower results are always better. The best for the group is 33.4 earned by the Clek Foonf. The Allegiance result is well below the maximum allowable result and is better than seven of the competitors. These results give the Allegiance one of the best-combined results for the group. Not too shabby for a value seat.
Ease of Install - LATCH
Installation of the Allegiance is easiest using the LATCH method, which makes sense as this should theoretically be the easiest installation method for any seat. While it lacks a center strap or self-ratcheting straps, the Allegiance manages to be easy to install because it has two straps instead of one for a tighter, more secure fit. The straps require more strength to pull than those with unique features that help you, but it isn't as challenging as some of the competition, and most parents will find it manageable.
The Allegiance has the push button style of LATCH anchors that we find more comfortable to use. Pushing the anchor into place and pressing a button to release is more straightforward than the clip style.
The level of the Allegiance is located on the base side and is a line (above left) you observe in relation to the ground under the car, not the car itself. If the angle needs adjustment, you can use the angle adjustment underneath the seat (above right) to find the right angle for proper installation.
Ease of Install - Belt
Eventually, all convertible car seats need to be installed using the vehicle belt and the Allegiance is no exception. While not as straightforward and simple as the LATCH it is still fairly easy to install using the vehicle belt. It isn't that installing this seat with your vehicle belt is difficult; it just isn't as easy as some of the competition.
The belt pathway is harder to use and threading the belt means removing the cover and padding so you can find and use the lock-off (above left). Even so, the fabric can get in the way of the lock-off leaving you wishing you had a third hand. Is it manageable? Sure. Is it simple and easy? Not really. The lock-off can be hard to close and harder to open if you get the seat belt nice and tight (above right).
Rear-facing installation with a lap/shoulder combo (above left) is the most difficult to thread and tighten. The forward-facing installation (above right) is somewhat easier and the one you are most likely to have to do at some point if your car has LATCH thanks to weight restrictions as your child grows. Plus, it is also the most stable installation when using the vehicle belt.
Ease of Use
The Allegiance earns a respectable result for ease of use, just one point below the high for the metric. Your daily interactions with this seat are unlikely to cause any frustrations thanks to a straightforward design with features that work as expected.
This seat has the same buckle and chest clip as the other Britax options. They are stiff but manageable without additional effort or hands. The harness height adjusts by squeezing the top and sliding the assembly/headrest up and down. This process is easy to do with your baby in the seat with no need for rethreading. It has ten shoulder strap height positions and two crotch strap positions for a personalized fit for most children.
The Allegiance has a harness tightening strap at the foot of the seat and a release button right above it under the cover. Both are straightforward and work without excessive force.
The LATCH anchors store on the seat base and click in place on the back of the seat (above left). The storage location keeps the straps out of the way, so they don't interfere with the installation and aren't accessible by little ones. The manual storage is behind the fabric in a pocket on the seat back. This location prevents little ones from playing with it, but it does mean it damage can happen if your child gets sick or spills something.
The cover of the Allegiance is easy to remove and replace. It needs hand washing and line drying, which isn't as useful as machine washable, but we will take it over spot clean only.
The Allegiance offers less padding and fabric that feels less durable than more expensive Britax competitors. This car seat is nice looking but basic in design and the materials used. While it is well designed and the elements come together pleasingly without mistakes, it doesn't feel as sturdy or durable as the traditional Britax line. The lack of extra padding and self-containment hurt the Allegiance in this metric. Compared to the competition, it lacks significant features for comfort, and it looks sloppy with the straps and back exposed. The overall fit and finish are good, and the Allegiance's score for this metric is only two points lower than the high.
The Allegiance weighs 18.5 lbs and is 18.8 inches across. These measurements are part of the equation that helped the Allegiance perform better than average for weight and size.While a weight over 18 lbs seems excessive, it isn't that heavy given when you consider that most of the competition weighs more. The same concept holds true for the width measurement where several options are wider than the Allegiance. If you need to fit more than one safety seat or a combination of seats and people in your backseat, we suggest measuring your vehicle or buying from a retailer with a generous return policy.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz