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Hands-on Gear Review

Britax Roundabout Review

Best Value Award
Price:   $180.00 List | $144.00 at Amazon - 20% off
Pros:  Reasonable price, easy to install, lighter weight
Cons:  Rethread harness is harder to use than non-rethread
Bottom line:  Great, easy to install option with a reasonable price
Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 
Manufacturer:   Britax

The Skinny

The Britax Roundabout scored 74 points out of 100 in our review of convertible seats, which gave it a 5th place rank out of 12 products. With only four seats scoring higher, and a price that is lower than the majority of options we reviewed, it is easy to see how it won a Best Value award in our review. This seat earned nice scores for ease of installation. It also scored well in our metrics for comfort and quality as well as crash tests. We think parents will really like this seat and with the money they save over the other Britax car seats we reviewed they are unlikely to even miss the non-rethread adjustable height mechanism, which is the only real downside to the Roundabout.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Convertible Car Seats of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD
Mom-in-Chief
BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Friday
May 6, 2016

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The Britax Roundabout is the only brand of seat that has the "SafeCell" impact protection, with an integrated system of safety components that include a V-shaped tether with 2 strap design to minimize seat rotation, and staged release stitches that slow and reduce forward movement during a crash. The Roundabout installs using on/off lower anchors that lock in place with a click and release with a button push. The seat works rear facing for children from 5-40 pounds and up to 46 inches tall and forward facing for children 20-55 pounds and up to 46 inches. For comfort, the seat has three recline positions, plush foam padding and fabric, and a removable body pillow for smaller children. The Roundabout also features a two position buckle strap and is engineered, tested, and made in the USA with global components.

The Britax Roundabout
The Britax Roundabout

Performance Comparison


This comparison chart shows the overall scores for each seat tested in this review. The Britax Roundabout is shown in blue. It is easy to see why the Roundabout earned a Best Value award compared to the scores and prices of the competition.


The sections below provide details on how the Roundabout performed during testing for each metric. Metric scores were used to calculate the overall score for each seat.

Installing the Roundabout in the rear facing position is very easy
Installing the Roundabout in the rear facing position is very easy

Crash Test


The Britax Roundabout has crash test data that are relatively impressive for the group of seats we tested. Sled crash testing data was taken from sensors placed in the head and chest regions of the crash test dummies used to record the amount of G forces that impact the body during a simulated crash designed to the same specifications as those used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in their testing.


All of the seat on the market in the US meet or exceed the Federal Minimum safety guidelines outlined in the FMVSS 213, and should, therefore, be considered safe; some seats seem to offer an additional margin of protection as indicated by their better than average sensor results. The Roundabout has G force data for the head sensor that is lower than 7 other seats we looked at, and chest sensor data that is lower than 4 of the competition in this review.

The charts shown below include the crash test data from the head and chest sensors for the Roundabout (shown in black). They also include crash test data for the products that had the least amount of G forces recorded for each sensor (shown in green) for comparison purposes.


The Clek Foonf had the least amount of G forces recorded in the chest sensor during testing, while the Evenflo Tribute LX had the least for the head sensor for all the seats in this review.

Installing the Roundabout in the rear facing position is very easy
Installing the Roundabout in the rear facing position is very easy

Ease of Install - LATCH


The Roundabout scored well in the ease of installation for LATCH system with a 9 of 10.


This score ties with the Chicco NextFit and the Britax Marathon, but comes in one point below the high for the metric of 10 earned by the Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB, Britax Advocate CliCkTight ARB, and the Clek Foonf.



Installation of this seat is very similar to the Britax Marathon. The LATCH anchors seem perfectly placed without the need for assistance from us. Installation is simpler than that with the vehicle belt because you won't need to thread the belt or take apart the seat to find the belt path. We found it is easiest to attach both side anchors with a lot of slack before tightening them both down. For forward-facing it is easiest if you tighten the tether first to avoid the strap getting caught behind the seat, but you'll still want ample slack in the LATCH strap to get both sides attached to the vehicle anchors. Loosening the LATCH strap is a little more difficult than tightening, but with any luck, you won't need to do this very often. It also isn't as difficult as some of the competition, so it is hard to get too upset by this feature.

The recline adjustment handle on the Roundabout is hard to use when the seat is installed rear facing  which is when you will need it.
The recline adjustment handle on the Roundabout is hard to use when the seat is installed rear facing, which is when you will need it.
The Roundabout is correctly installed when the level line is parallel to the ground
The Roundabout is correctly installed when the level line is parallel to the ground
Using the recline adjustment handle is easy in and of itself, but after the seat is installed rear-facing (which is when you will need the recline adjustment handle) you won't be able to reach the handle. So we recommend you make the change before installation or at least before you tighten the straps and secure the seat to the vehicle. To determine if you have the correct recline for installation, you will need to ensure that the line on the seat side is parallel to the ground. While not that difficult to manage, we prefer the bubble or ball style level over the line.

The Roundabout is one of the easiest in the group to install
The Roundabout is one of the easiest in the group to install

Ease of Install - Belt


Installation of the Roundabout using the vehicle belt is almost as easy as with the LATCH. It earned an 8 of 10 for this metric which is 1 point below the high score of 10 earned by the Britax Boulevard ClickTight and the Britax Advocate ClickTight.


The low for this metric is a 5 earned by the Safety 1st. This seat proved difficult to install tightly no matter what configuration we used.

The rear facing installation on the Roundabout is easy enough to thread even though you will need to lift the seat bottom to manage it
The belt path on the Roundabout is under the seat padding and has two belt lock offs to keep it secure
 
The photos above show the belt routing path for the rear facing installation, including lifting the seat padding to thread the belt and use the lock off (right).

The belt path on the Roundabout is easy enough  but you will need to lift the back padding to use the belt lock off
The belt path on the Roundabout is easy enough, but you will need to lift the back padding to use the belt lock off
The 2 part belt lock off on the Britax Roundabout required a screwdriver to pry open. It isn't as user friendly as some of the competition  but having a hard to use lock off is still better than not having one.
The 2 part belt lock off on the Britax Roundabout required a screwdriver to pry open. It isn't as user friendly as some of the competition, but having a hard to use lock off is still better than not having one.
The worst part about installing this seat with the vehicle belt is the belt routing path. The pathway is hidden under the seat whether you are installing it forward or rear facing. This means you have to sort of take the seat apart to thread the belt. It will feel like the seat is dismantled before you find the pathway. The belt lock-off is also a challenge and requires the use of a screwdriver to get it open. This is neither convenient nor the best lock-off in the group, and we think possibly a little dangerous given that the screwdriver is sharp and one wrong move and it could cut your hand or damage the seat. Once you have the belt threaded, however, it is a piece of cake to pull the belt tight and close the lock off. This seat felt very secure no matter what car we tested it in, or what direction it was facing.

The Roundabout buckle is difficult to use compared to the competition  but it isn't the hardest one in the group
The Roundabout buckle is difficult to use compared to the competition, but it isn't the hardest one in the group

Ease of Use


The Roundabout is not a stand out for ease of use. Perhaps in part due to its rethreading harness height adjustment process. The seats that earned high marks for ease of use, for the most part, included a non-rethread harness adjustment.


The high for ease of use is 8 for the Britax Boulevard ClickTight and the Britax Advocate ClickTight. The second to the highest scores in this metric is 7 shared by the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible, Evenflo Tribute LX, and Britax Marathon.

The harness retention attachment points on the Roundabout don't work well and it is difficult to get the straps even to meet the attachment points
The harness retention attachment points on the Roundabout don't work well and it is difficult to get the straps even to meet the attachment points

The buckle on this Britax isn't the best, but it is identical with the Britax Marathon and on par with much of the competition. The Chest clip is one of the easier in the group with only the Diono Radian earning a better score. The Roundabout chest clip works well and doesn't hurt your hands to use.



Right the harness release button on the Roundabout is under a fabric flap and easy to use
Right the harness release button on the Roundabout is under a fabric flap and easy to use
The Britax Marathon has an easy to use non-rethread harness height adjustment. Unfortunately, it's little brother the Roundabout does not. However, the threading of the harness is not difficult to use, just time consuming and it requires removing the child from the seat to accomplish it. It has four shoulder height adjustment positions and one rear facing crotch position and two forward facing positions. Both straps hook on the same splitter plate, which makes it a little more difficult than those that have separate hooks, but it still isn't a challenge. The slots for threading are large and are clearly defined by the cover. The tightening strap is located at the foot of the seat and is easy to use. Loosening is a hidden lever under the fabric cover near the foot of the seat. The lever is easy to use, and one of the few you lift instead of push.

The LATCH storage on the Roundabout is on the base in the back and they click in to stay in place
The LATCH storage on the Roundabout is on the base in the back and they click in to stay in place
The manual for the Roundabout is stored behind the seat back padding inn front of the belt lock off
The manual for the Roundabout is stored behind the seat back padding inn front of the belt lock off
The Roundabout LATCH storage is easy enough to use with anchor points on the back of the seat for storage and bands to tie up the excess straps. The tether hooks on the back as well, and the excess strap is stored in a fabric pocket on the backside. They may or may not keep the straps out of the way. The user manual is stored behind the seat back padding in front of the belt path for the vehicle belt installation. This is probably not the best location as the book cannot be accessed with the baby in the seat and could become damaged by spills and other accidents.

The fabric on the seat wraps around the shell with elastic and is relatively easy to remove because it doesn't have a headrest to get in the way. You will need to unthread the shoulder straps to remove it entirely from the seat. The cover is machine washable and lays flat to dry. We like the covers that can be machine washed. It may be something you never need, but if your child ever gets sick in the car or spills a milkshake, you'll be glad it is an option.

The Roundabout might have scored higher for quality and comfort if the fabric was seamlessly attached to the seat as opposed to wrapped around like a slip cover
The Roundabout might have scored higher for quality and comfort if the fabric was seamlessly attached to the seat as opposed to wrapped around like a slip cover

Comfort/Quality


The Roundabout managed a relatively high score of 7 of 10 tying with the very similar Britax Marathon. The Chicco NextFit, the Britax Boulevard ClickTight, and the Britax Advocate ClickTight** came in with 9s thanks to very thick padding with the best LATCH storage.


Fabric on the Roundabout is a bit rougher feeling than that on the Marathon, making it slightly less comfortable but still nicer than most of the competition. There are softer velvety strips in the head region of the seat, but these are sort of useless until your child gets fairly tall. The padding on the seat is really nice, and the same thickness as the Marathon.

The seat back on the Roundabout does have some nooks and crannies  but it isn't as busy and convoluted as some of the other products we tested
The seat back on the Roundabout does have some nooks and crannies, but it isn't as busy and convoluted as some of the other products we tested
The Marathon and the Roundabout have a similar shell back with lots of grooves and cracks; the only difference is the lack of adjustable headrest making the Roundabout marginally easier to clean. The Britax Boulevard has a closed back that creates a sleeker look and can be wiped clean easily. The foam on this seat and the other Britax options is the Expanded Polypropylene (EPP), which is more environmentally friendly and doesn't off gas. We prefer this type of foam over the more common Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) that is stiffer and more brittle, but more common is seats and in bike helmets.

The bottom of the Roundabout is not entirely smooth  but it doesn't have any protrusions that could damage the vehicle seat
The bottom of the Roundabout is not entirely smooth, but it doesn't have any protrusions that could damage the vehicle seat
The overall fit and finish are very nice on this Britax as it is on most Britax models. The fit of the fabric on the shell is fairly snug; it isn't as sleek looking as some of the others, but still very nice looking. The infant insert fits neatly in the bottom of the seat, and it doesn't look sloppy like many of the others that fold in on itself. The bottom of the Roundabout is not completely smooth, but there are no sharp corners or protruding edges that would damage the vehicle seat if left for a long time.

The Britax is one of the lighter seats in the group with a weight of about 16 pounds. However  it is 19 inches wide  which makes it wide enough that 3 seats across in a back seat might not be possible
The Britax is one of the lighter seats in the group with a weight of about 16 pounds. However, it is 19 inches wide, which makes it wide enough that 3 seats across in a back seat might not be possible

Weight


The Roundabout is about 16 1/2 pounds, which puts it in the middle of the road for weight. The heaviest seat in the review is 38 pounds for the Clek Foonf in the rear facing position.


The Roundabout is 19 inches wide with only three seats in the group measuring wider. The lightest and one of the narrowest in the group is the Evenflo Tribute at a little over 9 pounds and 17 inches. The widest seat in the review is the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 at 21 inches wide. The weight and size of the Roundabout are better than average for the products we tested, and it scored well in this metric tying for the high score with the Britax Marathon.

Best Applications


In many ways, this Britax seat is the same as the Marathon. The primary difference is the Marathon has a non-rethread harness height adjustment while the Roundabout doesn't. Otherwise, they are indeed very similar seats with no significant differences. With a price tag of $180 and the fifth highest overall score, it is easy to see why the best application for this seat is anyone looking for a quality seat that is easy to install and has nice features and functionality for a reasonable price.

Value


With only three other seats in this review sporting lower prices, it is easy to see why this option is a good value and won a Best Value award in our review.

Installing the Roundabout is almost the easiest in the group to install
Installing the Roundabout is almost the easiest in the group to install

Conclusion


The Britax Roundabout is a great seat that came in 5th out of 12 products in our review. It offers a nice comfortable seat that has easy to clean fabric, and it is easy to install no matter which configuration you need. This seat scored higher than average scores in almost every metric and impressed us with its similarities to its more expensive and higher ranking brother, the Britax Marathon. With a list price of $180 that can often be found cheaper on sale, it is easy to see why this high ranking, budget-friendly seat won a Best Value award, and why testers liked it over the majority of products in the review.

Other Versions and Accessories


Britax makes several convertible car seats, including those in this review. We did review the Britax Boulevard ClickTight, a step up from the Marathon, and it scored the highest overall in this review. The Britax Advocate ClickTight ARB also scored well, but its lower crash test results mean we'd recommend the Boulevard over the Advocate.

Britax offers some accessories to use with the Roundabout. These include:
  • Britax cup holder — Some parents feel a cup holder is a necessity and might overlook the Roundabout because it doesn't come with one. This handy accessory means you can have your chosen car seat and a cup holder with the purchase of this accessory.
  • Britax travel bag — This travel bag makes carrying your car seat from place to place easier and it helps protect the seat during travel. The zippered bag keeps all of the components of the seat safely contained inside the bag and prevents any part of the seat or straps from getting caught on other items. We think a travel bag is a must-have for taking a car seat through the airline check-in process.
  • Britax kick mat — A kickmat like this one provides additional storage pockets for organizing all of baby's necessities, and it protects the seat back of the front seat from dirt and damage caused by tiny kickers. Once baby is sitting forward-facing it is only a matter of time until they figure out the seat back in front of them is fun to kick. While you may not be able to stop them fron kicking, you can stop any potential damage from happening ot the seat with this cost effective solution.
  • Britax vehicle seat protector — This mat installs between the vehicle and car seat to protect your car from any possible damage and spills that go hand-in-hand with using a car seat. Given the long term investment of your vehicle, it makes sense to protect it from baby related accidents and rub marks caused by long term car seat installation.
  • EZ buckle belly pad — This cool buckle pad has two main functions, additional comfort for baby, and easier buckle access for parents. This buckle pad has been crash tested and is compatible with all Britax convertible car seats. It holds the buckle forward and off the seat so baby won't be sitting on the buckle when its time to secure the harness. No more baby bum searching for the missing buckle.
  • Seat saver waterproof pad — This cool car seat insert protects the fabric and padding of the seat bottom from liquid accidents and spills. This machine washable pad places a waterproof barrier between baby and the car seat bottom. Any diaper mishaps or spilled snacks land on the protector instead of the seat saving you time and energy during cleanup. This pad is moisture wicking and can also keep baby drier until you get home.

The Cozy Greens back seat mirror
The Cozy Greens back seat mirror
The Cozy Greens Back Seat Mirror from Cozy Greens is a great accessory for any parent to keep an eye on baby from the front seat. The mirror is attached to a flat base that fits against the front of the headrest and is kept secure by two adjustable straps. Amazon users seem to love this accessory and claim that it provides a much clearer reflection than many other back seat mirrors.
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

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