Britax B-Safe Ultra Review
Pros: Easy to install with belt and w/out base, comfy, lower price
Cons: Heavy, below average crash test analysis, harder to use LATCH
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
Britax believes families can enjoy every moment more if they have the right product to make life easier. The company tries to create products with intuitive safe designs with children in mind. Britax has been creating baby gear for 70+ years and came to the USA in 1996.
The B-Safe Ultra crash test results indicate a basic level of protection compared to competitors in this review.
While the sensor results in our crash test of the Ultra do fall within with Federal guidelines (FMVSS 213), other competing seats have better results indicating a potential additional margin of protection compared to the Ultra.
The charts compare the Ultra (in black) to the products with the best sensor results for each region (head and chest). The head sensor (HIC) top performer is the Chicco Keyfit 30 (in green) with a 330 compared to the Ultra's 598. The Keyfit 30 has the best sensor readout in the group with a value the furthest from the maximum allowed of 1000 (lower is better).
The Cybex Aton 2 (in black) chest sensor result of 44 is the best or lowest result in the group where lower is better and the Ultra chest result is 57. The maximum allowable result for this sensor is 60, putting the Ultra close to the limit.
Britax claims some kind of side impact protection (SIP) and has a honeycomb-shaped impact zone on the shell of this seat to "absorb forces." We were unable to locate any information on how these features were tested or even if they were. There is no Federal requirement to test these kinds of features or claims for truth or efficacy. Plus, there are no agreed-upon definitions for things like SIP when it comes to the car seat industry. We would love more transparency about these features and what they bring to the table.
Ease of Install - LATCH
The Ultra earns its lowest installation performance with the LATCH system in our tests. Given that LATCH is supposed to be an easy way to install a car seat to ensure a stable connection, it is a shame that the Ultra fails to offer ease of use in this test. While it is challenging compared to some of the competition, it isn't a struggle either.
This Britax offers push-button LATCH connectors (above left) that click-in to anchor points on your car. The clips attach easily when you push them directly on to the U-shaped anchor points and the tightening straps (above right) are easier to operate than some of the competition. The seat did bounce a little and wouldn't stay firmly against the vehicle seat in one of the test vehicles, but not the other two.
The Ultra offers an adjustable foot base (above left)to help find the right installation angle based on the level (above right) guidelines on the side of the base.
Ease of Install - Belt
Installing the B-Safe Ultra is easier using the vehicle belt and the final connection feels more stable than when using LATCH.
The Ultra has a lock-off that works well and is similar to the lock-offs found on the other Britax seats we've reviewed. It isn't the best lock-off and it can be challenging to thread the belt through the space. Once again, in one test vehicle (a Subaru Outback) it struggled to stay put and feel truly stable. The base can work its way up one side and then the vehicle belt would tighten preventing it from sitting flat again. This results in the need to start over.
Ease of Install - Without the Base
Installation of the Ultra without the base is also easier than using the LATCH method. This Britax has a European pathway that is not color-coded like some of the nicer competitors.
This pathway utilizes the lap and shoulder parts of the vehicle belt to pull the carrier snuggly into the vehicle seat. This installation method feels more stable (with less movement) than the other two in our opinion. We didn't need a towel or pool noodle to securely install the Ultra without the base.
Ease of Use
The B-Safe Ultra performs about average for everyday ease of use.
The Ultra's buckle is similar to other Britax buckles and operates smoothly without difficulty. The chest clip is also the same as other Britax options with an easy-to-press release button and parts that slide together without skipping.
To tighten the harness the Ultra has a smoother strap that is easier to pull than previous models and we like the easy to find and press release button. While the button sits on top of the padding and isn't hard to find, it also isn't soft enough for children to alter.
The shoulder strap height is a non-rethread style adjustment where the headrest assembly moves up or down as needed. The clip on the back of the seat is easy to squeeze and the assembly moves smoothly without a problem. The shoulder straps have six positions and the crotch strap has two, which is enough to ensure a secure fit for most babies.
The Ultra's handle has squeezable release levers on both sides of the handle where it connects to the carrier. Simultaneously squeezing the levers allows the handle to rotate to one of four possible positions. The levers are some of the best in the group with a larger size and smooth movement. The handle doesn't rub on the carrier or the canopy.
Carrier and Base Connection
Once the carrier is well aligned, it drops easily onto the base with an audible sound when it connects. Releasing the carrier from the base is also an easy process using the lever on the back of the carrier.
LATCH Anchor and Manual Storage
The LATCH connectors tuck under the base on each side. If properly stowed, they shouldn't impede the carrier base connection. The manual has a storage pocket on the top of the base which isn't that convenient if you need to travel without the base and can't remember how to install the carrier sans base.
The Ultra is the nicest Britax in the review with only slightly better than average quality and comfort than the competition. The padding is adequate and better than other Britax options and the fabric looks nice, but the strange mesh material could snag and will collect gunk. We also worry it might chafe sensitive skin. The shell is nice, but still not as sharp looking as similarly priced options. The overall fit and finish are good for the price point, but we think some of the material choices are strange (we're looking at you gunk catching cover).
The Ultra canopy is sharp looking and is one of the few canopies in the review to include ventilation via a peek-a-boo-window. While not absolutely necessary, a window and ventilation can be useful if you use the carrier as part of a travel system with a stroller.
This Britax weighs 11.61 lbs which makes one of the heaviest in the group and the heaviest Britax option in this review. As your everyday use includes lifting the carrier with a baby inside, the weight could be important to your decision-making process. However, unless you'll be carrying it for long distances, we recommend using weight as a tie breaker instead of your number one priority.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz