Best Convertible Car Seat: Britax Boulevard ClickTight
Last updated: September 8. 2016. Best Convertible Car Seat Review: The Britax Boulevard takes the crown for best convertible car seat, in our opinion. The Boulevard (which comes in three versions, $296 for ClickTight; $270 for G4; $340 for tor the ARB) enables a child to ride rear-facing to 40 lbs. and forward facing to 65 with the five-point harness. The seat features a no rethread harness, side-impact protection and excellent ease of use. In a recent refresh, Britax updated the Boulevard with what it calls “ClickTight” technology—the seat pops open for an easier belt installation. The result is a rock solid install. All in all, an excellent seat worth the extra price.
Car seat 101
There are three types of car seats: infant, convertible and booster seats. This page focuses on convertible seats. Want to learn a bit more on choosing a convertible seat? Check out our Car Seat 101 for a quick overview.
How we picked a winner
We evaluate car seats with hands on inspections, checking seats for ease of use (installation and adjusting the seat). We also gather significant reader feedback (our book, Baby Bargains has over 1 million copies in print), tracking seats on ease of use, quality and durability. Besides interviewing parents, we also talk with car seat “techs,” certified child passenger safety technicians who install hundreds of not thousands of seats at safety check points.
We’ve been rating and reviewing car seats since 1994. As part of our research, we have also visited manufacturer facilities and watched car seat crash tests. While we don’t personally crash test seats, we compare our reader feedback with crash tests done by organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Consumer Reports. We also look at evaluations of seats by groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which focuses on booster car seats.
The Winner: Britax Boulevard ClickTight
Britax is the king of convertible car seats and the Britax Boulevard is their flagship model.
There are two major headlines for the Boulevard: the new ClickTight base and added side impact protection. Let’s take a look at the ClickTight base—this new feature allows for ease of installation, thanks to a seat base that pops open to help with belt installations. Here’s what ClickTight looks like:
Here’s a quick video on how ClickTight works:
The other major feature for the Boulevard (versus the less expensive Britax Marathon) is the enhanced side impact protection. This takes the form of deep side walls and a head cushion (see below):
Other key features include a quick-adjust (no rethread) harness that moves both the harness and headrest in 14 positions. The Boulevard has seven recline positions plus an automatic level indicator helps guide the correct angle for the seat.
Thanks to its wide distribution, you can find the Boulevard sold in many stores and online. That means you can often snag one on sale: as of this writing. One tip: watch for discontinued patterns, which can sell for 20% to 30% less.
All in all, we found the Britax Boulevard very easy to install. Helpfully, Britax has an extensive series of installation videos for the Boulevard. To explain the difference between the seats, here is an installation video page for the G4 versus the ClickTight.
The difference between Boulevard G4, ClickTight & ARB
As we mentioned above, there are now three Boulevards on the market: the ClickTight, G4 and the ARB. All three seats feature “SafeCell” technology which lowers the seat’s center of gravity and makes it safer in a crash. In the picture below, you can see the SafeCells in the seat base (the red plastic area):
As you might of guessed, the G4 models do NOT have the ClickTight bases (discussed above).
Other differences between the ClickTight and G4 version (besides the ClickTight base): the G4 has 10 harness positions versus 14 for the ClickTight; the G4 has only three recline positions versus seven for the ClickTight. The G4 lacks a level indicator.
Newly released in September 2016, Britax released a third version of the Boulevard: the ARB. That stands for anti-rebound bar. This padded steel bar keeps the seat from rebounding in an vehicle front-facing crash. Britax claims safety testing showed anti-rebound bars reduced seat rebound by 40% and helps stabilize the seat even in side-impact and rear-end crashes. FYI: the ARB model is identical to the Britax Boulevard ClickTight, the only difference is the added anti-rebound bar.
What if you have a Britax Boulevard ClickTight and want to add the anti-rebound bar? Yes you can—Britax is selling the anti-rebound bar as an accessory for $40.
Flaws but not deal breakers
So, what’s not to like about the Boulevard? Well, first, this is a big and heavy seat. The Boulevard’s bulk (23.5″ height; 23″ in depth) may make it hard to fit into smaller vehicles, especially rear-facing. And the seat’s weight (about 30 lbs.) probably makes this a no go for carpools.
There isn’t much leg room when the Boulveard is in rear-facing mode and a child is near the limits of the seat (40 lbs.). This will depend on the slope of your backseat, but just an FYI.
We’ve seen a few complaints about broken buttons on the ClickTight base, which suggests Britax had a few hiccups in its initial production runs. Given the brand’s overall reputation for quality, however, we assumed they have ironed this out by the time you read this.
We also see a few customer online reviews that claim the un-installation from LATCH for this seat can be difficult. We assume Britax is pushing folks to do more belt installations with the ClickTight base, but if you have your heart set on using LATCH, this might not be the best seat if you plan to install and uninstall it regularly.
FYI: All of Britax ClickTight seats were recalled in August 2015; see details here. The seats were fixed and returned to the market in September 2015.
Britax Advocate ClickTight$326.00* at Amazon
* Prices change daily. Shop carefully.
This seat is the same as the Britax Boulevard, with one major difference: the Advocate has added side impact protection cushions that compress to protect the child during a crash. Yep, think of these as side-impact air bags for your car seat. Very impressive seat with one drawback—it is also very large and bulky. As a result, it may not fit into the backseat’s of smaller vehicles.
Are you getting a car seat as a gift? If someone else is buying, we’d suggest the top-of-the-line Britax Advocate ClickTight ($336), which is much like the Boulevard, but adds additional side-impact protection. Similar to the Boulevard, the Advocate has a height-adjuster knob for the harness—hence no need to rethread the harness as baby grows. The only negative: it is a large, bulky seat that may not fit into some smaller vehicles.
To Sum it Up
Britax Boulevard ClickTight
The Britax Boulevard ClickTight ($280) combines both ease of installation and use with excellent safety features. The new ClickTight base pops open to enable a super simple install with a safety belt. The Boulevard ClickTight features a no rethread harness, seven recline positions, enhanced side impact protection and an easy to remove cover for cleaning. Bonus: this seat doesn’t take as much room in the back seat when installed rear-facing (except when it is fully reclined). FYI: there are two versions of the Boulevard on the market: ClickTight and G4. G4 is the older model with much the same features, but lacks the ClickTight base.$296.00* at Amazon
* Prices change daily. Shop carefully.