Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB Review
Pros: Easy to install and use, cozy comfort, nice quality
Cons: Average crash test results
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
Britax is a 70-year-old European company that made its way to the US in 1996. In short order, the company became one of the most popular baby gear brands in the country. The Britax company works to design baby products that improve family life and products include strollers and car seats.
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.
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. However, the HIC forces are far below the maximum allowable by over 710 points and below the maximum chest forces allowed by almost 10 points.
While the ClickTight seats are more expensive than the non-ClickTight Britax options, this does not mean they are safer. While we understand this assumption, results from crash testing indicate that the ClickTight models are not as safe as the less expensive Britax Emblem and Britax Allegiance seats. The ClickTight options are easier to install, but if you are looking for a quality seat with better crash test results, you'll need to look outside the ClickTight group.
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 Britax Allegiance head sensor recorded the lowest G-forces during testing. The Clek Foonf chest sensor recorded the lowest amount of G-forces compared to the other products we tested. The Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB differs from the Boulevard ClickTight by having one of the lowest crash test scores in the review. This metric is the only one where the two diverged in their test results, with the Advocate earning only 3 of 10.
The Boulevard also has a honeycomb-shaped component at the bottom of the seat that is designed to absorb the impact of a crash. While it is hard to say that it does this, we like most additional safety features over the standard fare found in most car seats. The ARB version of the Boulevard also includes a removable anti-rebound bar for the rear-facing configuration of this product. This feature is designed to decrease the amount of seat rotation during an accident to prevent the baby from moving too much in the seat.
Ease of Install - LATCH
The Boulevard ClickTight has top-level performance for ease of installation using the LATCH system.
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 installing the seat in the rear-facing direction, so we recommend changing 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 this seat shines in the competition earning the highest result possible.
These photos show the belt path for Boulevard in the rear-facing position (above left) and the front-facing position (above right).
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.
The video below shows an overview of the installation of the Boulevard ClickTight.
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 Boulevard has an installation indicator that helps caregivers determine when the seat installation is at the right angle in relation to the vehicle seat (not recline angle).
Ease of Use
The Boulevard performance for ease of use is once again the highest score in this metric (there seems to be a pattern here).
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 above shows some of the features of the Boulevard ClickTight.
The Boulevard buckle isn't hard to use and works with one hand, but it is stiff and might be difficult for some people. The chest clip releases without putting your hand under it.
The harness on the Boulevard is a non-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 seatback. Both storage compartments keep the connectors safely 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.
The cover for the Boulevard is hand wash only and line dry. This washing method is a bummer given that some of the competition have machine washable covers. On the upside, this cover is relatively easy to remove and comes off in four pieces making removal quick and painless. Even though the cover tucks into the shell for a seamless look, it is still easy to put back on. Given that children can be messy, we think it is important that the covers are washable.
This ClickTight seat excels in the comfort and quality, offering additional padding, a padded headrest, and a thicker seat bottom.
The fabric on the Boulevard is nice. 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 has 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.
The fit and finish of this Britax are better than most of the competition. 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 heavy at 28 lbs 7 ounces; with the anti-rebound bar, it gains 1.05 lbs in the rear-facing position only.
The lightest seat is just over 9 lbs, 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 four seats in this review measuring smaller.
In addition to the Boulevard, Britax also makes a variety of other car seat options
- Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB — This is Britax's most expensive convertible car seat and it is very similar to the Boulevard earning identical scores in most metrics with the exception of crash test results and installation. Because this seat scored lower in our crash test analysis, is slightly harder to install, and costs more than the Boulevard, we recommend the Boulevard over the Advocate.
- Britax Marathon ClickTight ARB — This is the most economical ClickTight in our review with better crash test results than the Advocate but slightly lower than the Boulevard. This car seat has similar features and functionality to the other ClickTight options in this review and identical performance scores to the Advocate. While it is a nice enough seat, for $10 more you can get the Boulevard with the better crash test results.
- Britax Allegiance — This car seat is a wallet-friendly option by Britax. While it does not offer the ClickTight installation method, it is still relatively easy to install and managed a higher crash test score than any of the ClickTight options. This makes the Allegiance an economical option that offers an additional margin of protection.
- Britax Emblem — The Emblem is very similar to the Allegiance, but with a little upgrade in materials and padding including a thicker more substantial headrest apparatus. The two Essentials by Britax options earned similar scores with the only variation being the Emblem having a 1 point lead for comfort and quality. This car seat earned an Editor's Choice award and makes an excellent choice for parents who want higher crash test results at a lower price.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team