Best Versatile Toddler Car Seat 2019

Britax Römer Evolva 1/2/3 SL SICT review

The versatile Britax Römer Evolva 1/2/3 SL SICT can be installed with both ISOFIX and seatbelt fittings, providing a safe journey for your child whatever vehicle they're travelling in.

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At a glance

  • Age range: Group 1/2/3 (nine months to 12 years or 9kg to 36kg)
  • Safety credentials: ECE R44/04; Side Impact Cushion Technology (SICT)
  • Fixing system: ISOFIX and seatbelt or seatbelt alone
  • Dimensions: 61-86 × 51 × 48cm
  • Weight: 8.6kg
  • RRP: £240
  • Guarantee: Two years

Pros

  • Boasts a recline position for all ages
  • Five-point harness
  • Small enough to leave room for two other seats in the back of certain cars
  • Great for smaller children who aren’t big enough for a Group 2 seat
  • Machine-washable cover that's quick to remove

Cons

  • Instructions are a bit confusing
  • Five-point harness quite stiff and difficult to adjust

Key features

  • Advanced side impact protection
  • Soft-Latch ISOFIX installation system connects the seat directly to the car (no need for an ISOFIX base)
  • Performance chest pads
  • High-back booster protection
  • Click & Safe audible harness system
  • Adjustable headrest and harness

How safe is the Britax Römer Evolva 1/2/3 SL SICT?

This forward-facing-only seat can be installed using ISOFIX points (coupled with your car’s three-point seatbelt for added security) or the seatbelt alone.

Most parents will have had occasions when they’ve needed to transport their child in someone else’s car – and not every car will have ISOFIX fittings. This adaptable and flexible seat means you can rest assured that your child is safe no matter what vehicle they're in.

As with the Britax Römer Advansafix IV R, which we also tested alongside the Evolva, the child is secured in the seat with a five-point harness up until they are a maximum of 18kg in weight.

In the event of an accident, the five-point harness distributes the force of the impact across five points – two at the shoulders, two at the hips, and one where the harness buckles between the legs. The performance chest pads on the harness reduce forward movement in a frontal collision. They also spread the force more evenly across the shoulders and chest.

Once your child is 15kg, you can secure them in the seat using the car’s seatbelt. The harness can be stored away inside the seat, however you will need to take the seat out of the car to do this.

Side Impact Cushion Technology (SICT)

SICT is a key safety feature of the Evolva, reducing the impact in a side collision by minimising the distance between the car and the seat. It deforms to absorb the energy of an impact, further protecting your child.

It’s easy to use too – simply adjust the SICT on the side of the seat closest to the door.

High-back booster protection

The seat's high-back booster protects in three ways – the shell of the seat provides head to hip protection in a side impact, the upper and lower belt guides make sure the seatbelt is positioned correctly, and the headrest is padded to provide safety and to make sure your child is comfortable.

Once installed, make sure that the seatbelt and the adjuster strap are pulled tightly to reduce wobble at the top of the seat. This makes the seat feel very sturdy and secure in any configuration.

Overall, the seat is well-designed for safety and there are no parts that could come loose or pose a choking hazard, and no nooks and crannies for fingers to get jammed. The fabric doesn’t irritate or rub at all either.

How does it look?

The Evolva 1/2/3 should last until your child is 12, so you'll need to be sure that they’re going to be happy in it whether they’re a toddler or a pre-teen.

Luckily, there’s nothing babyish about this seat – in fact, both of our tester, Abigail's, children (age two and five) wanted to use it so we were able to test it with an older and younger child.

Because her five-year-old is very slight, he still needed to use the seat's five-point harness during car journeys. This seat allows for that, while still making him feel more grown up.

The seat material is soft and comfortable and is available in seven different colours, some brighter than others but all fairly neutral. Abigail tested the grey marble.

Getting going

Everything you need to get started is included in the box, but Abigail found the instructions very confusing.

The seat cannot be used with ISOFIX alone – the vehicle's own seatbelt must also be used – and she felt that this wasn’t made clear enough in the instructions.

With that said, if you are stuck, there are easy-to-follow installation videos online as well as a support section, contact details and links to social media on Britax Römer's website.

For Group 1 (up to 18kg or age four), if you prefer using ISOFIX points to fit the seat, the seat uses the Soft-Latch ISOFIX installation system. Extend the two ISOFIX latches from the back of the seat, and attach each one to the ISOFIX fittings in your car. Then route the three-point seatbelt through the back of the seat and clip it in. Pull the adjuster strap on both sides to tighten things up. Finally, adjust the SICT button on the side of the seat nearest to the window.

For seatbelt-only fitting, route the seatbelt through the back as per the instructions. Then use the five-point harness to secure your child.

When you use the five-point harness, you’ll know you’ve tightened it correctly when the Click & Safe system gives an audible click.

For Group 2 and 3 with ISOFIX, spanning from 15kg (age three) to 36kg (age 12), the first step is the same. Then simply route the seatbelt around the front of the seat, securing both your child and the seat in place. Without ISOFIX, route the seatbelt as directed to secure both child and seat securely in place.

Abigail felt that the seatbelt routing was quite counter-intuitive so she found it tricky. The online videos show exactly how to route the belt though, so these are really helpful if you do have any doubts.

Once you’ve fitted the seat (you'll only need one person to do this), it can stay fixed in the car indefinitely if you’re using it with the five-point harness. This means that when you do have the school run, or you’re running late, you won't have to worry about correct installation.

The seat doesn’t come with any extras, but, as with all Britax Römer seats, there are plenty of extras available to purchase including spare covers, sun shades and kick mats. The Evolva 1/2/3 SL SICT also comes with a two year warranty.

britax romer evolva 1 2 3 sl sict

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

The real advantage of Britax Römer's Evolva is that you can use it with ISOFIX fittings or a seatbelt. This means it's well suited to families without an ISOFIX-ready car and ideal for those who need to be able to switch the seat between different vehicles.

At 8.6kg, it’s also lighter than other seats we tested, such as the Cozy N Safe Galaxy and Britax Römer’s own Advansafix IV R.

Once the Evolva is safely installed, it adapts well to everyday family life. Before any short or long car journey, both of Abigail's children were able to climb in and out of the seat easily and both were as content and comfortable as one another, despite their age gap. The recline meant that they could sleep if need be too.

The seat was used for day-to-day trips such as the school run and grocery shopping, and on longer trips of up to an hour at a time.

One niggle was that, although the headrest was easy to adjust, if you've been using the five-point harness with a toddler and then an older child uses the seat, you'll need to remove the harness in order to be able to adjust the headrest high enough. That said, it's relatively easy to configure the seat for different age ranges.

Abigail also felt that adjusting and tightening the five-point harness was harder than on the Max-Way, a previous Britax Römer car seat she had used, purchased in 2012.

The button for releasing slack is in a different place to that on the Max-Way, which was confusing for her at first. It's very stiff to pull out the slack when the button is pushed down, and it's hard to tighten too. Once it is correctly tightened, however, it fits really well to keep your child snug and safe.

Because of the age of Abigail's children, they weren’t secured in the seat using the seatbelt so we couldn't properly test this.

The seat felt a little too big and bulky to take on holiday, but it is one of the few toddler car seats we tested that did fit in the back of the car with two other seats without obstructing the driver's view – really important if you have more than two children.

Because it can be fitted with a seatbelt alone, it could possibly be used in a taxi, although we didn't try this.

How easy is it to clean?

Unlike other seats we tested – like the Cosy N Safe Galaxy, the BeSafe iZi Modular i-Size and the Graco Nautilus – the cover was really easy to remove and put back on.

It washed well too, and milk and juice stains came out easily in the first wash. The fabric was also smooth and easy to wipe clean.

What about value for money?

For just £240, you could potentially get a huge amount of use out of this seat – and it’s available for around £130 if you shop around without the need to purchase an additional ISOFIX base.

Packed full of safety features and really versatile for busy families, we think the Evolva 1/2/3 SL SICT offers great value for money.

Final verdict?

Excellent safety features aside, this seat provides longevity and flexibility. You could potentially get 10 years' use out of this seat and the dual fixings mean that it doesn’t matter whether you have a car with ISOFIX points or not, either now or five years down the line.

If you have more than one car or someone else, like a childminder, regularly drives your child to and from school, then this seat could offer the best of both worlds.

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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 Versatile Toddler Car Seat 2019

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