Reviewed by Jenny Seymour
I was recently asked to review a Joie Transcend 1/2/3 Car Seat. On arrival the packaging was sturdy enough and easy to carry. I would imagine it would be easy to carry from shop to car, but we were lucky enough to have ours delivered to the door. I got this car seat from the online kiddies’ superstore, Kiddies Kingdom – the delivery process was good and the package arrived in good condition.
What is amazing about this product is that it is a forward facing car seat that is fully certified as safe for children from 9kg – 36kg (approximately 9 months to 12 years). It’s marketed as Joie’s most advanced car seat with plush fabrics. Whilst there are many different views on when to move our child to forward facing car seats, my 3rd child was desperate to be forward facing to see what her elder brothers were up to and it made life getting into the car quite difficult on each car journey, trying to come up with innovative ways to entice her into her seat rather than one of her brothers’.
So, when we heard that there was a safe high-backed booster seat option that she could go in although she wasn’t at 15kg, we were intrigued and also very excited! As was Annie!
I immediately sent my husband out to install the car seat, so we could use it as soon as possible. This was met with moans and groans and the request for a cuppa –as he obviously thought this was going to be a mammoth task with a huge instruction manual! In actual fact, the English instructions were only a few pages long and were fairly easy to follow and he was back in declaring victory within 20 minutes! One thing to note is that the car seat comes with a storage compartment at the bottom for the instruction booklet, so you always have it handy if you need to change the car seat for use from one age group child to another or if you have any concerns. One improvement I would like to see with the instruction booklet, which I would find helpful, is if it were in colour print. It is in orange and white and the pictures are in black and white. It would make it easier to follow if it were in colour or photographs.
You can fit this car seat using both ISOFIX latches or simply as you would with other universal car seats. There is a separate booklet with the list of cars that can use the ISOFIX latches and which seat position is best for that car, which is really helpful.
We got the Sunrise colour-scheme which is purple and red – may sound a bit garish, but it actually works! And it’s great to have an option which is not pink-related for girls. If the sunrise colours are not to your liking, there is a grey and black version (not surprisingly called “Raven”), which is really classic and stylish.
Because the car seat is designed to grow with your child and fit such a wide range of ages, it has many ways you can adjust the seat to fit. I like this. You can slide the bottom of the seat forward for greater depth for children with longer legs or just for comfort and of course, there is the usual head adjustment up and down to ensure that the side wings are at the right height to support your child’s head and neck.
There is something I hadn’t seen before called a “side impact shield”. You can pull this out so that it protects the child more from the sides, but these can also be clicked back in if you need the extra room in the car to fit more car seats alongside each other.
Beware – the seat can only be used with the 3-point harness seat belts, not with a lap belt, so must be fitted at either side of the back seat, but not in the middle.
Now for the most innovative thing you may see immediately with this seat. It uses Snugshield™ Restraint technology, rather than the traditional 5-point harness you may be used to. For children from 9kg – 18kg (aged 9 months to approx. 4 years), there is a separate pillow cushion that clicks onto the bottom of the seat (alongside the arm rests). This is the most unusual feature of this seat and one it will take you a while to get used to. I haven’t tried this with younger babies and you would need full instruction I think about this so that you could compare it to the more traditional harness and see how you felt. The technology behind it is that the restraint is cushioned, but would take the force on any incident and reduce strenuous force on a child’s little body.
The one thing I would say at the moment on a bit more of the negative side, is that when my little girl (aged 2½) falls asleep on a journey, her head will sometimes loll a bit and I have been known to pull over and just prop it back up again. I think this would happen in many car seats and depends on the child I think, but also I think this will change as she does get a big bigger and may be because I have not got the height settings right for her age. To ensure the correct head support, the bottom of the headrest must be even with the child’s shoulders.
I can imagine that the pillow cushion will get quite tight quite quickly as my child ages, so I can’t actually imagine it lasting until she is 4 years old. Again though, there are a number of positions for the pillow cushion and you simply twist the grey handles on each side of the cushion to tighten it or loosen it. One for me to check out soon I think. In the meantime, the pillow cushion is soft and comfortable.
Once your child is in the booster seat without the pillow cushion, which applies to my older two boys (aged 6 and 8 years), there is an innovative seat belt path, about head height with the child, to pass the belt through and this helps to ensure that the seat belt is lower than the child’s neck and doesn’t rub. Then, passing the belt under the arm rests means that the tops of the child’s legs are secure and that the belt passes over the bottom of the hips.
There is also one more flexible insert which can be used – the “assemble insert”. This fits over the main car seat as a further layer of cushion until your child gets bigger.
I can safely say that the soft cushions of this car seat are easy to clean! My little one came to watch her brothers play football and as soon as she got into the car in the first week she had the seat, there was thick mud all over the seat as she tried to sit down – ugh! The cushions either click off or have a plastic strip to unfold and the covers went straight in a low wash and left to dry naturally.
The other thing about the seat I love are the memory foam cushions and padded arm rest. These feel very comfortable to touch and I think my children find them comfy and cosy too to give a snug fit.
Finally, but perhaps also important, there is a carry handle at the back of the seat for taking the seat in and out of cars or into the house and I find it fairly light and easy to carry.
Overall, this is a product designed to grow with your child – an investment for the future! Maximum comfort with lots of adjustable features and memory foam cushions. Comfy kids makes for happier journeys!
For more information and stockists visit www.joiebaby.com.