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Hands-on Gear Review
Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB Review
Price: $380.00 List | $304.00 at Amazon - 20% off
Pros: Easy to install and use, cozy comfort, nice quality
Cons: Average crash test results
Bottom line: Impressive option with quality features and super easy installation parents will love
The Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB came in first place in our review of 12 top convertible seats. This product managed to earn higher marks in almost every metric than any other option we looked at, and it impressed testers with its super easy belt installation. While it has a lower crash test safety score than a few of the other Britax options we tested, it earned higher scores for quality and comfort, as well as ease of use and installation. Given the importance of installing a car seat correctly and how this ties into a safer riding experience for your baby, we feel the installation scores make the crash test results less concerning. It has a better crash test score than the Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB and for that reason, we prefer this ClickTight over the more expensive Advocate.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Convertible Car Seats of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
UPDATE — April 2017
The original review and testing for this convertible product utilized the Britax Boulevard ClickTight. We have made updates to this review for the ARB version of the car seat that includes a removable anti-rebound bar (ARB) for the rear-facing configuration. This updated review and the buy link included her are for the Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB model. We feel the inclusion of the anti-rebound bar is important and it would be the version we would buy for our children.
The chart shown here provides an overview comparison of the overall scores for the convertible car seat we purchased and tested. The Britax Boulevard CLickTight ARB is shown in blue. Given the high overall score, it is easy to see why it won an Editors' Choice award.
The sections below provide detailed information on how the Boulevard ClickTight ARB performed during testing in each metric.
The Britax Boulevard ClickTight earned an average score for crash tests in this review. All of the seats in this review and sold in the US must meet or exceed Federal safety guidelines as defined in FMVSS 213; which means this seat is considered safe and performed better than some of the competition in an apples-to-apples comparison of results from identical test methods. The test methods BabyGearLab uses are identical to those used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), for a true side-by-side comparison of results. The Britax Marathon had the best overall test results in this review with the recorded G forces being the second lowest HIC results and the third lowest chest clip results.
In comparison, the Boulevard had G force test results that were the fourth lowest for HIC sensors and the second highest for the chest sensor, which hurt its overall rank compared to the competition. That being said the HIC forces are far below the maximum allowable by over 710 points and below the maximum chest forces allowed by almost 10 points.
The charts below show the test data from the test dummy sensors in the Boulevard (shown in black) and the test data for the seats in this review that have the lowest recorded G forces (shown in green) for comparison.
The Evenflo Tribute LX head sensor recorded the lowest G forces during testing than the other options we tested. The Clek Foonf chest sensor recorded the lowest amount of G forces compared to the other products we looked at. The Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB differs from the Boulevard ClickTight by having one of the lowest crash test scores in the review. This is the only metric where the two diverged in their test results, with the Advocate earning only 3 of 10.
Ease of Install - LATCH
The Boulevard ClickTight earned a 10 of 10 for ease of installation using the LATCH system. This score is a tie with the Clek Foonf and similar Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB. The second highest score is 9 shared by the Britax Marathon, Britax Roundabout, and the Chicco NextFit.
While this seat is known for its easy installation using the vehicle belt, it is just as easy to install using the LATCH hooks. The LATCH hooks are the clip style, which makes them more difficult to remove (you'll need to push them in and then turn them sideways to pull out), but they work well and are easy enough to use. The seat feels stable once installed and the LATCH belt is easy to tighten and release, or at least not as difficult to release as some of the competition.
The handle for recline adjustment is located near the foot of the seat, as it is in the other Britax options we tested. The handle placement can make adjusting the angle difficult after the seat is installed in the rear-facing direction, so we recommend adjusting the recline before installation to avoid the hassle of loosening the straps to fit your hand in between the car seat and the vehicle seat.
Ease of Install - Belt
Installation of the Boulevard using the vehicle belt is where it really shines in the competition.
This car seat earned a score of 10 of 10 for this metric tying once again with the Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB that shares its installation design. The Clek Foonf came in second place with a score of 9.
The ClickTight has a relatively unique belt installation method with a built-in lock-off that is virtually foolproof and makes installing this seat the easiest option we tested, by far. The method means there is no more fumbling around with the seat trying to get the belt tight enough or contorting yourself into the back of the seat to apply pressure to tighten the belt. To install the ClickTight you lift the seat bottom up, thread the belt across the seat bottom, remove the slack (do not try to tighten), and then close the seat bottom by pushing it back down until it "clicks" (hence the name of ClickTight). This installation is so easy; we were able to manage it entirely from outside the vehicle without the need for extra pressure on the seat. The seat is very stable and felt secure after every installation, and in every car, we used for testing. Even threading the belt is easier than the competition because once you open the seat, the belt path is right there and easy to access with no need to feed the belt through small openings.
The video below shows an overview of the installation of the Boulevard ClickTight.
Ease of Use
The Boulevard earned an 8 of 10 for ease of use, which is once again the highest score in this metric (it seems to be a pattern here). This score is also shared by the Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB. The second highest score for this metric is a 7 shared by the Britax Marathon, Evenflo Tribute LX and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible.
The lowest score for this metric is a 5 for the Britax Roundabout, Maxi-Cosi Pria 70, Diono Radian RXT, and Safety 1st Alpha Elite products. Ease of use impacts your day to day activities and happiness with a seat, making it one of the more important metrics to consider when choosing a product.
The video below shows some of the features of the Boulevard ClickTight.
The Boulevard only earned a 4 for its buckle ease of use, but most of the competition came in with the same score, and only a few scored higher. The buckle isn't difficult to use and works with one hand, but it is stiff and might be difficult for some people. The buckle is identical to both the Britax Marathon** and the Britax Roundabout. It isn't as difficult as the Diono Radian RXT, which required two hands to operate, but it isn't as easy as the Evenflo Tribute that depresses easily with side clips that pop out on their own. The chest clip is also identical to the one found on the other Britax options and releases without putting your hand under it.
The harness on the Boulevard is a no rethread option that has 14 positions and moves smoothly after squeezing the handle to adjust the height. The harness can change heights with your baby in the seat which is convenient and ensures it always fits properly. Tightening the harness uses the Britax "Click & Safe" harness tightening method where you pull on the strap until it clicks indicating the harness is tight enough. We suggest you still double check the tightness with the pinch test, but we love that Britax is trying to innovate their products to make them easier for parents and safer for children. The strap slides in and out smoothly with little force required to tighten. Loosening the harness is done with a button located relatively deep under the seat cushion and behind a plastic bevel that prevents little fingers from touching it. The crotch strap has two positions that help ensure the right fit for most babies.
The LATCH clips on the Boulevard store in small plastic cubbies on the back of the base and the LATCH tether stores in a hard plastic pocket at the top of the seat back. Both storage compartments keep the connectors safety out of the way if necessary. The Boulevard user manual stores behind the seat back and padding. We think there is a chance the manual could get damaged in this location, but it isn't the worst spot in the group. These storage locations are identical to the Britax Advocate ClickTight.
This ClickTight seat excels in the comfort and quality, once again earning the high score in the review. This seat earned a 9 of 10 tying with the Chicco NextFit. It offers additional padding, a padded headrest, and a thicker seat bottom.
The fabric on the Boulevard is nicer than that on both the Britax Marathon and the Britax Roundabout. The seat bottom is dense and feels thicker and more comfortable than much of the competition. The fabric looks like it will wear well over time and it fits snugly and tucks into the shell, so it looks relatively seamless.
The shell on the Boulevard is almost fully contained. It looks like it will stay clean with a quick wipe and won't get hung up on anything given the lack of nooks and crannies or sharp edges. We like smooth seat backs as they are easier to clean and less likely to cause injury or damage to the vehicle. The Boulevard is made with Expanded Polypropylene (EPP), and we prefer this kind of foam to the more common Expanded Polystyrene (EPS). It is less brittle, doesn't off-gas, and is more environmentally friendly. Only the Britax options in our review use EPP foam.
The fit and finish of this Britax are better than most of the competition. It doesn't quite match the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible, Chicco NextFit, or the Clek Foonf, but it comes close, and we really liked it. The bottom of the seat is smooth and fully covered with a rubber edge and raised lettering. It is unlikely to cause any damage to a vehicle seat or leave significant indent marks.
The Boulevard is the third heaviest option the group at 28 pounds 7 ounces; with the anti-rebound bar, it gains 1.05 pounds in the rear-facing position only. The Clek Foonf is 10 pounds heavier than the Boulevard, which makes it feel light in comparison, but it is still a hefty seat you'll be glad you don't need to move very often. The Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB weighs 30.62 pounds rear-facing.
The lightest seat is the Evenflo Tribute at just over 9 pounds, making it a better option for urban dwellers who may need to carry this seat from taxi to town. On the upside, the Boulevard is fairly narrow at 18 inches, with only two seats in this review coming in smaller. The smallest width is the Clek Foonf and Evenflo Tribute at 17 inches, making the Evenflo the lightest smallest option in the group.
Any application would be a good one for this seat, but it would be a particularly nice seat for parents who want to install with a vehicle belt or who have hard to reach or use LATCH anchors. Also, if your vehicle is pre-2003, it might not have LATCH anchors, making this an even more attractive option given the super easy ClickTight method. For parents in the urban environment, it might be too heavy for lugging around the city, despite it being easy to install with a belt.
With a price of $380, the Boulevard is one of the most expensive options. However, the price seems to match the performance and quality making it a good value in our book. Given the high scores it received in the majority of our tests, we feel the Boulevard more than meets expectations and is worth the price. On the other hand, if the Boulevard is out of your price range, then the Britax Marathon is similar, minus the ClickTight system, and about $100 cheaper.
The Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB earned the first place out of 12 competitors. This seat earned top scores in almost every metric, except crash tests and is so easy to install with the ClickTight installation system that it is tough to beat. The Boulevard is nearly foolproof when it comes to installation, and it is hard for us to stop raving about it. This seat easily won an Editors' Choice award in this review, sharing the award-winning limelight with several other Britax options. With great scores for comfort, quality, and ease of use, it is hard not to recommend this awesome convertible car seat.
Other Versions and Accessories
In addition to the Boulevard, Britax also makes the Britax Roundabout, Britax Marathon, and the Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB which were all tested in this review. The Advocate is the only Britax convertible car seat we tested that did not win an award. Its similarity to the Boulevard and poor crash test results kept it from earning the same level of accolades as its brothers. However, it did rank fourth in this review indicating it is a quality seat with impressive test results in several metrics.
Britax also has a variety of accessories that make car life with baby easier. These include:
Parents might also be interested in the Back Seat Mirror from Cozy Greens. This mirror attaches to the headrest of the vehicle seat with two adjustable straps. The mirror has a convex shape that gives parents a wider field of view. It is crash tested, shatterproof, and requires an adjustable headrest for attachment.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team
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