Best Overall Toddler Car Seat 2019
Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro i-Size review
Extended rear-facing up to age four, the Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro i-Size is packed with safety features and is a breeze to use on a day-to-day basis.
At a glance
- Age range: Six months to approximately four years – 67 to 105cm (max weight 18.5kg)
- Safety credentials: R129 (i-Size) – includes side impact protection
- Fixing system: ISOFIX with 3wayFix base (sold separately)
- Dimensions: 47.5 × 61 × 500-595cm
- Weight: 7.55kg
- RRP: £229 (3wayFix base is an additional £200)
- Guarantee: Lifetime warranty
- Rear-facing until around age four
- Easy to fit with the ISOFIX base
- Five-point harness stays open so you can get your child in and out of the seat easily
- Adjustable headrest and harness so that the seat grows with your child
- Four recline positions when both rear- and forward-facing
- ISOFIX base needs to be purchased in addition to the seat
- Not as much legroom as other extended rear-facing car seats we tested, like the BeSafe iZi Modular i-Size
- Takes a while to dry after washing (because of all the lovely padding!)
- Rearward and forward-facing, fully reclining in both positions
- Optimal safety in case of side-impact collisions
- Visual and audible feedback confirm correct fitting, minimising the chance of incorrect installation
- The 3wayFix base, part of the 3wayFamily car seat range, can also be used with the Maxi-Cosi Jade (a carrycot and car seat hybrid) and the Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus
- Easy-to-remove, machine-washable cover
Extended rear-facing, looks comfy, very easy to fit, easy to wash vomit out of - I love it!
How safe is the Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro i-Size?
If your child is travelling in a rear-facing position, their whole body will be protected in the event of a collision as the seat absorbs the impact over the whole head, neck and spine. As with the BeSafe iZi Modular i-Size, the Maxi-Cosi allows your child to stay rear-facing in safety and comfort up until the age of four.
This toddler car seat is fitted into the car with an i-Size base, which you'll need to purchase separately or as part of a bundle. The base is compatible with other seats in the range though, so once you’ve invested in one you won’t have to buy another.
The base slides easily into your car’s ISOFIX points, and once these points are securely in place you’ll hear a beep and the indicators will turn green. When the support leg is correctly in place, again there's a beep followed by a green light.
Next, simply click the seat into place on the base and check for the beep and green signal to let you know everything is safe and secure – no need for a seatbelt, a top tether or anything else.
Because the seat complies with the R129 regulations, side impact protection is mandatory. The regulation ensures improved protection in front and side collisions, and much better protection for your child’s head and neck. It is also mandatory to have these seats rear-facing until your child is at least 15 months old.
A five-point harness keeps your child securely in place. The harness straps are really easy to pull tight but are also well-cushioned, so you can be sure that they are safe and comfy at the same time. The headrest is also simple to adjust so that your child's head is well protected as they grow.
The Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro i-Size is a big seat, there's no doubt about it and, as with BeSafe, it would be difficult to have more than two of these in the back of the car. But that does mean that the seat feels reassuringly solid, whether rear or forward-facing.
Although it’s a big seat, it doesn’t distract the driver or obstruct their view at all – although, as with all rear-facing seats, you might want to invest in a mirror to keep an eye on your child while you're on the move.
There's no danger of loose parts finding their way into curious mouths or small fingers getting trapped. The seat fabric is lovely too, and doesn’t irritate or rub in any way.
How does it look?
As an upgrade to the Maxi-Cosi 2wayPearl, the Pearl Pro i-Size is a really luxurious-looking seat that's well-padded and aesthetically pleasing.
It is quite curved, so it looks more like a baby car seat than some of the other seats we tested, like the Cozy N Safe Galaxy or the Britax Römer Advansafix IV R, so it may not appeal to your four-year-old as much as it does your two-year old.
But it’s a great-looking seat nonetheless. Well-designed, sturdy and made from 100% polyester, it comes in a choice of 10 colours, some of which are a bit more outlandish than others.
Our tester, Anna's, seat was in the nomad blue design, which she felt was a lovely colour and great at hiding stains.
Once you have the base and the seat, the instructions are very clear and easy to follow. There are plenty of diagrams in the instruction booklet, and there are also pictures on the seat itself.
Both the seat and base units have audible and visual installation feedback, which means you can be completely confident that everything is fitted correctly. It's so simple that it would be very difficult to get things wrong, even in a hurry, and installation is only a one-person job.
In Anna’s opinion, the five-point harness is the best thing about this seat and it's the feature that made the Maxi-Cosi her favourite product overall.
When you press the harness release button, the straps pop open and loosen automatically, so you don’t have to fiddle around trying to adjust the straps to get your child in and out of the seat. It's a lifesaver if you're trying to wrestle an uncompromising toddler into the car and the harness is secure enough not to be clicked open by small fingers.
The harness is simple and quick to adjust too and switching from forward to rear-facing (and back again) is also a breeze – things that make using this seat a pleasure rather than a chore.
If you lose the manual, there are copies available on Maxi-Cosi's website alongside an FAQ section, customer service contact details and links to social media. There are no instructional videos on the site itself, but there are some on YouTube.
The Pearl Pro i-Size doesn’t come with any extras, but there are a range of accessories available to buy, including a summer cover, sun canopy, back seat mirror and cup holder. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee.
What's it like to use day-to-day?
During testing, Anna's two-year-old was happy in this seat, however it did need to be reclined for comfort. Without reclining, she found her son was a little too upright.
While there wasn’t as much legroom in rear-facing mode as in the BeSafe iZi Modular i-Size, there was enough room for him to feel comfortable. At 88cm tall already, Anna felt that it still left him with plenty of growing room.
Using the seat day-to-day was practically stress-free for Anna as it fitted in well with the family's routine. This included trips to nursery and to school (getting her child in and out of the seat twice on each trip), to the supermarket and to lots of evening activities.
The seat tilts to provide the most comfortable position at any given time and the headrest adjusts easily – all offering minimal fuss and bother for a busy mum of two.
Added to this, the four recline positions meant that Anna's toddler fell asleep on long car journeys, and the padding in both the seat itself and on the harness meant that he was content throughout. These longer trips were up to two and a half hours long, so the seat was really put through its paces.
Her son couldn’t climb into the seat himself before each trip, but this was the case with all the rear-facing seats she tested. He could climb out himself at the end of the journey, but this was more difficult when the seat was in a forward-facing position because of the support leg.
The support leg also prevented Anna's older child (aged five) from climbing through the car to get out when his own side of the car opened onto traffic, meaning she had to go round to that side to let him out. With that said, this will be an issue with all seats that have a support leg.
It will be worth noting as well that the ISOFIX base you need to be able to install the seat means that it couldn’t be used in a taxi or an aeroplane, so it wouldn't be an option for holidays.
How easy is it to clean?
Anna's seat was a mottled shade of blue which hid a multitude of stains, but these stains did also wipe off very easily.
The cover was much simpler to remove than on lot of the other seats we tested, like the Cozy N Safe Galaxy, the Graco Nautilus and Maxi-Cosi’s own AxissFix Air – the Velcro poppers and elastic make the job completely stress-free.
The fabric stood up well to machine washing and stains typically came out first time. Milk and juice were easily washed out, but a few slight stains remained from smoothies. The hardest part, however, was drying the cover – it’s so padded that it took 24 hours to dry even in hot weather, so it would be worth investing in a spare cover.
What about value for money?
At £229, excluding an additional £200 for the base, the Pearl Pro i-Size isn’t a cheap seat by any means. But there are bundles out there that will save you a bob or two, so it’s definitely worth shopping around for a deal.
Despite this, it’s so easy to use and allows your child to rear-face up to the age of four, which will likely make the hefty price tag worth it for a lot of parents.
Easy to clean, a doddle to install and a pleasure to use day-to-day, we love the Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro i-Size. Simple as.
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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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