Reviewed by Gemma Ingham
I received the Britax EVOLVA 1-2-3 Plus car seat in Black Thunder to review. This car seat is an amazing innovative design that covers groups 1, 2 and 3 allowing the same seat to grow with your child. It is fantastic value for money as will last up to approximately 12 years old. I am a fan of Britax and currently have the Britax Duo Plus in one of our cars so knew I would want Britax again to fit in our second car. I find that as well as being safe and functional, the car seats usually have a good choice of fabrics and designs across all their range.
The first thing that struck me when I opened the box and lifted out the EVOLVA 1-2-3 Plus was how light it was for a large product. It obviously does have some weight behind it, but it was easy to lift up and carry, which makes it easily portable between cars.
I first of all located the instruction book stored easily on the back of the seat and had a read through. The book is easy to read and understand and comes complete with pictures and step-by-step guides for everything you could possibly need to do with the car seat.
The seat is designed to follow your child from Group 1 (approx. 9 – 18kg) all the way through to Groups 2 and 3 (approx. 15kg – 36kg). Up to 18kg the child can be secured by the 5 point harness (an absolute must up to 15kg at least), and after that the child can use the vehicle’s 3 point seatbelt. Most Group 2-3 car seats (from 15kg) do not have a 5 point harness and utilize only the vehicle’s seatbelt, so the EVOLVA 1-2-3 Plus allows a 5 point harness to be used for longer – a major selling point for me. The harness also has performance chest pads that can reduce your child’s forwards movement in the event of an impact.
Almost every element of the car seat can be adjusted to fit your child, with just one hand. The harness height can be adjusted by the use of a simple sliding shoulder strap adjuster at the back of the seat. The height of the headrest can be adjusted to five different positions catering for taller children, by simply pulling up on the headrest adjuster located at the back. The width of the backrest can also be altered by pushing adjusters on the side of the seat. It’s not much of an adjustment but certainly gives a little extra breathing room at the sides if needed. The seat can also be installed reclining or sitting straight up. This does have to be decided upon as the time of installation by moving the spacer wedge to the front or back of the seat as desired.
Reading through the step-by-step installation guide made the car seat sound simple and easy to install – but how did it fare in real life?
Surprisingly well actually! My husband and I are both used to installing Isofix seats so expected to be a bit baffled by installing the EVOLVA with a seatbelt. I also expected it to take about 30 minutes, a few failed attempts and a couple of rows about who was doing what wrong, and what should go where.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. It only took one of us to install the seat while the other watched, we didn’t need to refer back to the instructions once, and not a cross word was uttered. The seat was installed extremely securely in about 5 minutes and left me amazed.
Red belt guides on the seat make it easy to see where the seatbelt should be threaded, the instructions remind you of the path the belt should take, and how to make sure you have a totally secure fit.
Securing your child in the seat is quick and easy with the Click & Safe harness. Simply fasten the harness and then pull on the adjustment strap until you hear a click from the harness tension indicator. This lets you know the tension is tight enough.
Loosening the straps to get your child out is easy enough too, press on the adjustment button near the buckle, pull on the harness and the straps will loosen ready for you to unbuckle and remove your child.
Once your child reaches 18kg, the 5 point harness is no longer safe to be used. Rather than the seat being fitted into the vehicle with the seatbelt permanently, the car seat is just placed on the vehicle seat and the belt is used to secure your child. The instructions give clear steps how to do this by simply fastening the seatbelt over your child in the car seat, and guiding the belt into the red belt guides. It’s pretty foolproof and would be hard to get it wrong.
If you have a child who has episodes of car sickness, the EVOLVA 1-2-3 Plus has a quick cover removal system, and the cover is washable at 30 degrees. The seat is well padded all over, but the headrest in particular seems very comfortable and curves around which should help support their head should they fall asleep in the car. The side wings are deeply padded and provide optimum side impact protection. Finally, each side of the car seat has a swivel out cup holder so your child can keep a drink in the back with them all the time within easy reach.
I have two little niggles about the seat that really are small niggles and not something that would put me off buying it at all.
One is that the ‘spacer wedge’ referred to in the instructions for reclining the seat back or sitting it straight up appears to be a separate piece of equipment on the diagrams. We spent a few minutes looking for it in the packaging before realizing it is actually attached to the bottom back of the seat already and just flips underneath from back to front.
The second niggle is that the adjustment button by the buckle that needs to be pressed to loosen the harness off isn’t immediately obvious. It’s located under a thick layer of padding with no markings in that area telling you it’s there. There is a slit in the fabric of the cover so you can slide your finger down to press it, and once you know where it is you can press it directly through the fabric. But for the first time user, or someone using the car seat who isn’t used to it might struggle to locate it initially.
I’m really excited and pleased to have had the opportunity to review the EVOLVA 1-2-3 Plus. It’s definitely a winner in terms of longevity, value for money and simple design. The Click & Safe harness gives extra piece of mind your child is strapped in correctly, the harness can be used for a longer period than most, everything is adjustable, and it’s available in a good choice of fabrics.
Available to buy in 3 fabrics Black Thunder, Chili Pepper or Smart Zebra from Britax here.