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Hands-on Gear Review
Britax Roundabout ReviewPrice: $180.00 List | $188.99 at Amazon
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
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 2018
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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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