Britax Roundabout 55 Convertible Car Seat Reviews
Britax Roundabout 55 – a comprehensive review – the pros and cons!
When my baby outgrew his infant seat, I spent hours researching the facts, and here’s what I discovered regarding the Britax Roundabout 55:
Table of Contents for the Britax Roundabout 55: (Jump ahead!)
- Best Price
- Ease of Strap Adjustments
- Ease of Installation
- Pros and Cons
- Customer Reviews
- Plus detailed photos!
The Britax Roundabout 55 is the updated version of the former Roundabout 40, which had very positive reviews. The main update is the increased weight capacity, from 40 lbs. to 55 lbs., which will allow you to use the Roundabout for an additional year or two of your tot’s travel years! The Roundabout 55′s dimensions are 19.5L x 18.5W x 26H. There are also several additional safety features integrated into the Roundabout 55, which I’ll outline below:
Your baby can fit in this seat until 46 inches in height, and 15.75 inches of seated shoulder height — which is the child’s seated height. The highest harness height slot is 16 inches, a similar height to other convertible car seats. The entire seat weights 17 lbs. The Britax Roundabout’s dimensions are: 19.5 x 18.5 x 26 inches.
Safety Features of the Britax Roundabout 55
The Roundabout 55 features Safe-Cell technology in its base, which is a material designed to compress and collapse inward in case of a crash, which lowers the center of gravity of the seat and counteracts the forward rotation of a child. This secures him by preventing propelling towards injury by hitting the front seat which is directly in front of him.
The Roundabout is built with integrated steel bars in its body, which strengthen its shape and its adherence to the car in case of a motor vehicle crash.
Energy absorbing Versa-Tether is the material which anchors the Roundabout 55 to the vehicle. It features a stage-released tether webbing, which means that in case of a crash, it reduces the force of forward-movement by the child for additional safety, since it does not spring outward all at once like a rubber band, but rather, the energy is released slowly to minimize impact. (Only Britax brand car seats have this patented Versa-Tether material.)
Although there are no government standards for side impact protection, the Roundabout 55 features additional energy-absorbing EEP foam on the side of the headrests, which distributes crash forces and protects the child’s head from intrusion by foreign objects, a leading cause of injury in side-impact collisions where the cavity of the vehicle is not sufficient to protect a child’s body from intrusion, as is generally the case in frontal and rear crashes. During side-impact crashes, there is little protection between the crash impact and the baby, thus the sides of the headrests cushion the blow between the child’s head and the tree or other vehicle which was the object of the crash.
Comfort of the Britax Roundabout 55
The seat padding is thick and plush, and babies and older children alike were very comfortable in their “Roundabout Throne”! The Roundabout’s cover is a nubby corduroy-like plush material, which feels soft to touch, yet does not retain too much heat in the summertime.
There are three reclining positions, which can be easily accessed with a simple lever using just one hand — great for when your other hand is occupied with holding a baby, the car keys, and the diaper bag! The most reclined position is ideal for sleeping, and the most forward position has your child sitting fully upright in the Roundabout.
Ease of Strap Adjustments on the Roundabout 55 Convertible Car Seat
The tightness of the harness on the Roundabout is adjusted by a simple pull mechanism in the center front of the car seat. After securing your child in the 5-point harness, you can pull the strap to make the straps the right tension to secure your child. To loosen the straps, simply lift up a metal lever and then pull down at the straps from their shoulder slots.
The harness slot height must be adjusted periodically to fit your child’s current shoulder level as he grows taller (or if you will be using the same seat for kids of different heights). The harness has several slots, and the straps are threaded into the proper slot and then threaded into a metal clamp in the back of the seat as shown below.
(The Britax Marathon and Britax Boulevard are slightly pricier seats that have a much easier to use feature which eliminates the need for re-threading when you adjust the harness height; their heights can be adjusted without even accessing the back of the car seat, making it unnecessary to uninstall the seat for height adjustments, which is what you must do with this Roundabout. If you will be using the seat for just one child, you’ll probably only need to do this type of adjustment every few months as she grows taller. If you will be using this seat for multiple kids of different heights, then you probably want the convenience of the Marathon or Boulevard – otherwise you’ll need to keep uninstalling the seat to re-thread the harness on a regular basis.)
Ease of Installation of the Roundabout 55 Car Seat
One of the biggest hurdles with the installation of car seats is not the fact that they do not offer the protection that is needed; rather, many car seats are not installed properly by caregivers!
This car seat, like the others in the Britax family, offers a fast and relatively simple installation. The Latch connectors will snap into your vehicle that has been manufactured since 2002, or the seat belt connectors will fit older cars.
Many parents who had used other brands of convertible car seats felt strongly that only a Britax did not budge an inch after its installation! Firemen and police officers who offer installation services regularly recommend Britax car seats for their superior ease of installation.
You will need to read your vehicle’s manual and the Britax instructions carefully, and the process will take a bit of time – like all of these convertible car seats!
Note: Ease of installation is of paramount importance regarding SAFETY if you will switch the car seat between Mom/ Dad/ Grandma/ the sitterâ€™s vehicles regularly. (Unfortunately, statistics demonstrate that someone, at some point, wonâ€™t bother to install the car seat correctly when transitioning to different cars, which severely compromises your car seat’s safety features.)
The Pros & Cons of the Roundabout 55 convertible car seat:
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Pros of the Britax Roundabout 55
The harness tension adjuster is easy to adjust from the center of the seat, no tugging necessary!
Highly rated for safety and user-friendly adjustment features.
The seat is more affordable than its cousins, the Britax Boulevard and Britax Marathon.
Cons of the Britax Roundabout 55
Although this convertible car seat is rated for use from 5 lbs, most newborns are not tall enough to fit into the Roundabout. The bottom slots of the shoulder harness are at 10 inches. When you consider that most newborns are 19-21 inches, it’s unrealistic to expect that fully half their length is torso, and that their legs, neck, and head are less than half. Most babies can start fitting comfortably into the Roundabout 55 somewhere around 2-8 months of age (and you’ll probably want a removable infant seat for ease of transportation during those first couple of months with your newborn.). (Note: This is the case regarding virtually all convertible car seats for newborns, with the notable exception of the First Years True Fit convertible.)
Unlike the Britax Boulevard and Britax Marathon convertible car seats, re-threading of the harness is required on the Roundabout in order to accommodate your child’s growth — which takes a few extra moments of your time.
Best Price for the Britax Roundabout 55 Convertible Car Seat
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It is always surprising to find that the exact same car seat can be found at different merchants with a price discrepancy of $70! After looking through many websites and brick and mortar stores, the best price was consistently found on Amazon.com. It is interesting to note that sometimes Amazon does not show the price of the Roundabout 55 until you add it to your cart. This is an advantage for you as a consumer, as it means that Amazon is selling the item at a price lower than the manufacturer’s recommended price.
Unless you have a local store that is having a closeout on a discontinued model of this seat, your best price is going to be from Amazon, as far as I can tell. (If you are buying an older seat, be aware that car seats expire in 6 or 7 years, so check the date of manufacturing so that you’ll know how many years of usage you’ll have left.)
Customer Reviews for the Britax Roundabout 55
“I had been told by friends that the Roundabout was a great option for a rear-facing car seat to fit into smaller spaces and I have to agree. The seat fits perfectly in the back seat of my Honda CRV behind the front passenger seat and leaves plenty of room for a person to actually sit in the front passenger seat. We also used it in a compact rental car and same thing, still room for the front passenger to sit comfortably.” ~ from L.B. M. in her Amazon review
“We ordered 2 of the Britax Roundabout 55 carseats in smokey pearl, one for each of our vehicles. We have this carseat installed rear-facing in both a 2005 Toyota Camry and a 2005 Chevy Silverado extended cab pickup, and it fits great in both vehicles. In the Camry, the carseat is installed behind the passenger, and there is lots of leg room for the person riding in the passenger seat – the passenger seat is almost all the way back. Our previous carseat was a Graco Snugride, and the Roundabout 55 takes up MUCH less of the passenger’s leg room. In the pickup, we have the carseat installed in the rear center seat. We initially installed it behind the passenger, but rear-facing, this seat was not a good fit – the passenger seat had to be almost all the way forward. However, there is plenty of room for the seat to rear-face in the middle and the seat does not affect the position of the driver or passenger seats at all.
One of the reasons we chose this seat is because it can potentially rear-face to 40 pounds. However, I am almost certain that our daughter will outgrow this seat rear-facing on height well before she reaches 40 pounds. Same thing for forward facing. Right now, our 9 month old is 20.5 pounds and 28.5 inches and the shoulder straps are threaded thru the 2nd set of holes, and is not far from moving up to the 3rd set of holes. However, if we can keep her rear-facing in this seat until she is 2-2.5 years old, and forward facing until she is 4 or so, I will be satisfied.”
~ Colleen from Amazon.com review.
“The things I looked for in a convertible car seat: not too big, easy buckle, easy strap tightening, comfortable for child, looks good in car. I got all of these in the Roundabout 55.
I would definitely recommend this seat. It was very easy for me to get a nice tight installation with the LATCH system. However, I do recommend reading BOTH the car seat manual AND your car’s owners manual when installing a car seat. I learned a few things from the car manual that I wouldn’t have done with just reading the seat instructions.” ~ J. King from Amazon.com review
After doing tons of research, I will keep this simple to help someone out:
1. Installation of this seat is a dream. I have a 4 door 2007 Lexus IS 250 and a 2 door 2002 Acura RSX. Simple installation and easy to adjust. It’s a dream. I ended up buying two of these one for each car since they are on sale at 159 from the regular 199.00 price. i probably would not have been able to afford both if it was at the 200 dollar price.
2. It feels very soft and spongy for my daughters sake – all the other reviews I read also promoted good comfort.
3. Price point was right at 159, this is regular price at 200.
4. Great safety ratings, and also provides coverage on both sides of the child
5. High quality parts, you can tell during installation.
The only con:
It is a bit large and bulky, but I guess that is something I can deal with. ~B. Pradhan from Amazon.com review