Best All-Round Baby Car Seat 2019

Joie i-Spin 360 review

Rigorously tested and incredibly easy to use, the Joie i-Spin 360 gets our vote for Best All-Round Car Seat.

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At a glance

  • Age range: Rear-facing from birth to 105cm or 4 years old; forward-facing from 15 months to 105cm or 4 years
  • Safety credentials: ECE R129/02; Smart Ride™ lock-off; Guard Surround Safety™ panels for side impact protection; Tri-Protect™ headrest
  • Fixing system: ISOFIX
  • Forward-facing dimensions: 65 × 58 × 62-76cm
  • Rearward-facing dimensions: 65 × 58 × 51.5-62cm
  • Weight: 13.9kg
  • RRP: £300
  • Guarantee: Two years

Pros

  • Spins with ease – one-handed operation so very simple to get your baby in and out
  • Extended rearward-facing seat with the option to face forwards from 15 months
  • Integrated ISOFIX connectors that make installation easy
  • Six recline positions – allows newborns to lie as flat as possible
  • On-the-go recline that adjusts without the need to reinstall the seat

Cons

  • Some issues with the floor leg fixture
  • Design makes it difficult to carry the seat to and from the car

Key features

  • Smart Ride™ lock-off helps to keep your baby rear-facing until it’s safe to turn them forward
  • Guard Surround Safety™ panels auto-engage when harness is tightened
  • Multi-height headrest and harness system adjust simultaneously and require no re-threading of the harness – it's a one-handed operation too
  • Customisable infant body and head support
  • Headrest offers security with three layers of protection inside the wings
  • Plush, deluxe cushioning and fabrics
  • Built-in side ventilation
  • Easy installation using ISOFIX
  • Five-point safety harness, with shoulder and lower buckle covers, that tightens with one pull motion

How safe is the Joie i-Spin 360?

Joie's i-Spin 360 is packed with safety features that will give you confidence and peace of mind when travelling.

Side panels in the seat automatically engage when the harness is tightened, which adds extra side impact protection, and the headrest offers three layers of protection inside the wings.

If you want to switch from rear- to forward-facing, you need to slide a panel at the base of the seat – this warns that only children over 15 months should be able to face forwards.

The seat feels really safe and secure once fitted – it’s reassuringly sturdy – and there’s plenty of padding, so you can rest assured that your baby is safe and protected at all times.

While there is lots of padding, the fabric won't cause any irritation. There are also no loose bits that could pose a choking hazard or nooks and crannies where little fingers could get trapped.

How does it look?

This really is a smart and elegant seat, not babyish at all, so a four-year-old will be just as happy in the seat as a newborn.

The Joie car seat looks and feels expensive due to the super chunky padding and the sleek, shiny fabric. It also looks and feels well-made.

Available in three colours (deep sea, grey flannel and coal), the simple design will appeal to most parents. We tested the coal colourway, which, in reality, basically means black.

Getting going

The i-Spin 360 is easy to install thanks to the ISOFIX fittings – it slots right into place straight out of the box.

Our tester, Sam, found that one of the advantages of car seats that are fixed to an ISOFIX base (as opposed to seats that come with separate ISOFIX bases like the Maxi-Cosi Rock, for example) is that there's no fiddling around to fix the seat to the base, and no tricky removal either.

Plus, in order to remove the seat from the ISOFIX fixings, all you have to do is press one button on either side of the chair. It’s refreshingly simple.

The floor leg fixture is easy to install except for two niggles – the floor leg automatically drops down when you take the seat out of the box. This means that it clatters down and hits your knees when you carry it, and then dangles there while you take it to the car.

And it’s really tricky to pull the floor leg upwards once it’s down – you have to squeeze the two side buttons with some force and even take the weight of the chair so it slides up for the perfect fit in your vehicle.

How can you tell it's been properly installed?

However, you can be assured that the keg is properly fixed due to the installation indicator on the top of the base, which gives you confidence that everything is safely in place.

The seat comes with two handy guides that are attached to the seat, and the instructions are clear and concise. An instruction manual is also available on the Joie website alongside an installation video.

There’s no getting away from it, this seat is heavy, and Sam found it quite frustrating that its smooth and almost egg-shaped design means that there isn’t anything to grab hold of when you’re lifting it in and out of the car. You have to cradle the seat in your arms – quite disappointing in an otherwise well-designed baby car seat.

As this is an ISOFIX seat and quite heavy, you’re likely to leave it in the car. But if you do move it from car to car, it can be installed quickly and simply once you’re used to the fixings. The built-in installation checks also mean that you can be sure the seat is correctly and safely installed every time you use it.

The seat comes with a two year warranty – you will need to contact the retailer from where you bought the seat for guarantee enquiries. There’s a support section on the website with FAQs, manuals, contact details and links to a blog and social media should you need them.

joie i spin 360 car seat

What's it like to use day-to-day?

You will have to tug hard on the straps to adjust them to the right size – especially when pulling on the front strap to tighten it around your baby's shoulders. However, Sam did feel that this might become easier the more you use the Joie car seat and the straps felt very secure overall.

Annoyingly, the button to release the straps is one of those hidden ones that you have to search around for underneath the ample padding.

Apart from this though, this seat is an absolute joy to use once installed.

All parents know how tricky it can be to get a baby in and out of the car (leaning over and fiddling around with straps and buckles etc), but the great thing about this seat is that it can be spun round using one generously large button, making the process smooth and effortless.

You can move the seat one-handed to face you, then you can pop baby in, do up the harness (again one-handed) and spin the seat around to face the right way.

It also comes with a safety feature which won't allow you to rotate the seat fully unless it’s in the correct position, but the correct position will depend on whether your child is in a front- or rear-facing position.

But this thankfully doesn’t affect the ability to rotate the seat to face you as you pop your baby into it.

You can also move the backrest up and down using just one hand – it's so easy and practical when you need to adjust this for your growing child – and it’s simple to switch the seat between rear- and forward-facing too. You just squeeze the paddle at the side of the seat.

As with the Britax Dualfix i-Size, if you have two of these seats in the back of the car, then, depending on the car model, you might have an issue rotating both seats at the same time.

The simplicity of the Joie i-Spin 360 once installed though means it’s easy to use on a day-to-day basis, taking some of the stress out of those sometimes tricky school and nursery runs.

On longer journeys, the seat is very comfortable and Sam's twin babies were really sung, safe and comfy.

As this is a seat that is best suited to being left in the car once installed, you do need to take your child out of the seat at the end of the journey, which inevitably means waking them up.

The Joie 360 spin feature is so useful.

How easy is it to clean?

On a day-to-day basis, spills and accidents can be mopped up with a wet wipe, leaving the seat looking as good as new. Even spilled milk and juice were easily removed with a damp sponge and soapy water during testing, leaving no visible stains behind.

For a more thorough clean, the cover comes away very easily – there are two clips under the bottom of the seat fabric at the front to remove the cover, but, other than that, it’s like sliding a big sock on and off.

The cover and padding can then be machine-washed at 30 degrees or below.

What about value for money?

This seat is so easy to use every day, and it’s well-made, premium in quality and long-lasting, making the £300 price tag very reasonable indeed.

Final verdict?

The Joie i-Spin was the best seat we tested for all-round usability, comfort and feel.

The biggest advantages are the easy one-handed push/pull buttons that mean you can keep one hand holding a bottle while the other tilts, swivels or reclines the seat, and the excellent safety features that will keep even the most cautious of parents feeling reassured.

Practical, functional, safe and stylish, this swivel seat is a great buy, especially if you're looking for a product that will, quite literally, go the distance.

About Mumsnet Reviews

All Mumsnet product reviews are written by real parents after weeks of research and testing – this includes recommendations from the Mumsnet Talk boards. We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust. Sometimes, we earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. However, we never allow this to influence our coverage. Read our how we test page to find out more.

For more information about what to look for when buying a baby car seat, check out our buyer's guide.

All prices correct at time of publication

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Awards

  • Best All-Round Baby Car Seat 2019

How we test

After lots of research, we handpicked 14 of the best car seats on the market to put to the test, collating the models most frequently searched for and most highly rated both on Mumsnet and across the web.

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Most new parents need a car seat, not least to get their baby home from the hospital. But how do you know which option is right for you and your lifestyle?

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