Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 convertible car seat … why we love it, why it’s babywearing friendly, and why it’s better than Britax

After a massive disappointment with the Orbit Baby Toddler Car Seat (which you can read about here) I performed an extensive 6-month research on convertible car seats. I went to stores to actually test them out – I played with them, I put my son in them, and I read all about them. I went through many specs and reviews and finally I had our top contenders – Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 and Britax Marathon 70. They are the top two convertible car seats on the market that fall in the price range between $250-$300 – Britax being the number one seller in the USA and Maxi-Cosi being the number one seller in Europe.

Both have some similarities:

  • Excellent reviews on Amazon.com – 4.5 stars out of 5
  • They allow for a 3-position recline
  • Manufacturers pay attention to crash energy management
  • Both fall into the “below $300” price category.

Nevertheless, we chose the Pria 70 over the Marathon 70 for several reasons. I took the time to prepare a comp table for the analytic crowd. Feast your eyes on this…

First and foremost, Pria’s Air Protect offers true side impact protection which keeps the head, neck, and spine aligned, and reduces head injury in the event of a side crash. The Marathon does not offer this feature. You’d have to jump over the $300 limit and get either the Britax Boulevard 70 or the Britax Advocate 70 ($320 – $380) to get the true side impact protection.

Another major pro is that Pria is the first (and only) convertible car seat on the market that can accommodate newborns comfortably and safely. Although other convertible car seats have a minimum weight limit of 5 pounds, it is not feasible to place a newborn in these car seats for the following reasons: the harness slots are too high, there is too much wiggle room around the baby, and the recline angle is too steep for newborns who don’t have any head & neck control yet. Hence these convertible car seats are neither safe nor comfortable for newborns (that’s why new parents end up buying infant car seats for the first year or so). Pria, however, comes up with revolutionary TinyFit insert which is almost like a seat within a seat. The insert is nicely padded with side Air Protect cushions and provides the correct recline angle for newborns.

PRIA 70 convertible car seat with Tiny Fit insert

This truly is a seat that can be used from birth through toddler-hood all the way to school age. This saves you money since you can eliminate the need for an infant car seat. Just one thing you should know – you won’t be able to take this car seat out of the car and dock it onto a stroller frame like you would an infant car seat. If you plan to babywear or if you don’t mind taking your baby out of the car seat to put him/her into a stroller, then this is not an issues for you. Let’s just say this car seat is very babywearing friendly.

Also, Pria’s padding is much thicker, it’s more plush and provides more comfort, which is particularly important during those long drives. The Marathon felt hard, uncomfortable and bumpy as opposed to the plush Pria. Pria’s fabric is also more attractive and much nicer to touch. And it’s easy to wipe stains off of it too. Marathon features velour-like fabric, which I suppose can get very hot and sticky in the summer. As far as the overall look, I think Maxi-Cosi car seats are much more visually appealing and modern when compared to Britax car seats.

Oh, and did I mention that Pria features an integrated soft cup holder? This little detail turns out to be pretty huge. The days of him tossing his unwanted drink or snack on the floor and mommy miraculously extending her arm and searching for it are gone. He sips, he takes a bite, he plays with a little toy. He then puts it into the cup holder where it’s neatly waiting to be picked up again whenever he feels like it – without mommy even knowing. Spot on,  Maxi-Cosi!

You might also want to know that Britax car seats rate higher as far as harmful & toxic chemicals are concerned. The most recent testing performed last year by Healthy Stuff found high contents of bromine, lead and other dangerous chemicals in Britax Marathon 70 convertible car seat in Jet Set (4.6). While Pria 70 was not available last year (it came out towards the end of 2011), the older Maxi-Cosi model, Priori, received much lower rating of 0.6 for Maxi-Cosi Priori convertible car seat in Lily Pink, and 0.8 for Maxi-Cosi Priori convertible car seat in Total Black. In fact, Britax car seats rated high so often that the company finally decided to do something about it and in March 2012 committed to phase out hazardous flame retardants and PVC from children’s car seat. I will post an update once new test results for Pria 70 are available.

Installation was very fast – the entire installation took just 2 minutes – 3 clicks using the LATCH connections. Then we tightened up everything and double checked. So simple. We have a smaller SUV and there is plenty of leg room for both my son and the person in the front seat.

When we installed the car seat, our son was 18 months old, 23.5 pounds, 32 inches. We installed the seat forward-facing (although he could still ride rare-facing). We used the 2nd recline angle as suggested by the manual and it’s perfect – not too upright so his head never falls on his chest like it used to with the Orbit Baby Toddler Car Seat. This is how Maxi-Cosi explains recline versus crash energy management:
“For children who ride forward-facing in the Pria 70, there are 2 different recline positions. For children between 22 pounds and 40 pounds, recline position 2 is required. For children between 40 and 70 pounds, recline position 1 is required. These recline positions allow a more reclined riding position for younger children and a more upright position for older children. Not only does this provide an appropriate riding position for different sized children, but the required recline angles also improve crash energy management.”  (note: recline position 3 can only be used while rare-facing)

Yet another thing I have to mention – Maxi-Cosi’s customer service is impeccable. For example, when I opened the box I didn’t find a manual along with two clips. I dealt with their customer service via phone and email and they always answered in a timely manner and shipped everything I needed immediately. I should also mention the manual and the clips were actually not missing … I randomly discovered them when I rode in the back seat and noticed a little black tag (with a book picture on it) on the side of the car seat. I checked underneath the padding and there they were! The manual and both clips! I couldn’t believe I missed it. So just in case you are having the same problem, check out the picture below to see where to look for it.

Convinced? Now all you have to do is pick one of the three stylish color combinations. We have the Pria 70 in Walnut Brown – in my opinion totally gorgeous. It’s a very nice taupe color (which I’m very into right now) with chocolate brown accents. Or you can go with Total Black (black and grey are always chic) or Intense Red to add a pop of color to your car interior.

UPDATE 11/2012: Pria 70 with TinyFit insert in Intense Red is no longer available according to Maxi-Cosi website. But don’t be sad if you’re up for some color. Maxi-Cosi has recently introduced a new line of Pria 70 convertible car seats without the TinyFit insert and these come in 5 fun and sophisticated color combinations. So if you are buying the car sear for a toddler and don’t need the infant TinyFit insert, this one might be a great fit for you.

Pria 70 convertible car seat - 5 new colors

I highly recommend this car seat. It’s safe and comfy for my son who actually loves car rides now (= less headache for mommy). And no, the Air Protect cushions are not blocking his view. If you are still not convinced, feel free to conduct your own 6-month research.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Picture of Intense Red car seat with TinyFit insert via Maxi-Cosi

Picture of Walnut Brown + Total Black + Intense Red car seats via Maxi-Cosi

Picture of Dress Blue + Mineral Grey + Steel Grey + Sweet Cerise + Walnut Brown car seats via Maxi-Cosi

40 thoughts on “Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 convertible car seat … why we love it, why it’s babywearing friendly, and why it’s better than Britax

  1. Based on your helpful review, we purchased two of these – in red – for our twins. The seat is great & sturdy; but we noticed that the fabric leaves a slightly tacky/sticky feeling on the hands. Did you notice this on your carseat?

  2. Thank you for your feedback! I haven’t noticed any issues with the fabric. I would assume the red fabric is made of the same material as the brown one but I could be wrong. I suggest you get in touch with their customer service to clarify this. This is their customer service email, they usually respond pretty quickly: CRelations@djgusa.com. Alternatively, for information and advice about any of their products, you can email them at consumer@djgusa.com. You can also try calling them at (800) 951-4113 (7am – 6pm EST Monday through Thursday, and 7am – 4:30pm EST on Fridays).

  3. Thanks for the contact information. We’re in touch with customer service, and they’re sending another pad set out for me to try. In the meantime, I’ve put the car seat fabric thru two runs in the washing machine; the stickiness on the fabric had diminished significantly. I think it might be due to the fire retardants used in car seats, but wasn’t able to get a confirmation on that. I’ll let you know what happens in the end. Stay tuned!

    • Hi Dana, as for particular questions related to crash management I recommend you to contact Maxi-Cosi directly at the email address or phone number above. I was going back and forth between the Pria 70 and Britax myself. Good luck with your decision!

  4. Hi- I am looking for a new seat for my boy who is about to turn one and outgrowing his infant seat. I read your review on Amazon and it was really helpful! I am still deciding which seat to buy, but I really like the Maxi Cosi (although it is out f stock on Amazon right now). Anyway, I was wondering how easy it is to get the fabric off the seat to wash it and if it fits the same after the fact. Thanks!

  5. I haven’t heard of Buy Buy Baby. I just looked it up and I have one but it’s over an hour away. Maybe I will take a mini road trip and check it out! It is way easier to make a decision when you can touch and feel! Thanks I will let you know what I pick!

  6. Thank you for such a thorough review! I have the Maxi Cosi Piazzo Travel System and we love the infant car seat so I’m convinced that the Pria 70 is the one for us. By the way, I love your son’s blanket! Can you tell me what brand it is?

    Thanks!

  7. Thanks once again for all this information. I just received in the mail today the Maxi-Cois Pria 70 in Mineral Gray today. LOVE it!!! I don’t know why I ever doubted buying this.

    • Depends what car you have and how old is your child (and if his/her legs are long). For instance, our car is pretty roomy, so we didn’t have to push the front seat to the front. However, our son was 18 months when we got it (he is long with long legs) and he didn’t have much space for legs there, so we ended up installing the seat forward facing. But if your baby is around 12 months (or if the baby is small) this should not be a problem as babies usually have their legs contained within the seat, not hanging down.

    • Yep, very easy (despite the fact he doesn’t always cooperate)😉 I would suggest going to Buy Buy Baby or a similar store and test the seat with your child to see if you like it.

  8. Thanks for all the info!We are going to have our second one now and Im definately getting this.My only question now is what stroller should I buy with this ??All help appreciated!!:)

    • Thanks! Glad the review of the Maxi-Cosi car seat was helpful – my son is going to be 3 this summer and we still love it🙂 As for the stroller, it all depends on your budget and needs (i.e. do you need an all-terrain stroller, a city stroller, lightweight etc). One thing to remember though – you won’t be able to dock this car seat into any stroller. If you like to take the baby out of the car in the car seat and attach the car seat to the stroller, than you will need to get an infant car seat (Maxi-Cosi has great infant car seats).

  9. Thanks for this post! I’ve been between the Britax and Maxi Cosi and have had such a hard time making heads or tails of everything and this post really helped clarify all the details…I’m going to order a Maxi Cosi tonight on Buy Buy Baby🙂 Also – for the person who asked about what stroller to get – I ADORE my UppaBaby Vista…I mean I LOVE IT!

  10. I’ve pretty much set my sights on this car seat. I do have one question though. On the Steel Grey and the Mineral Grey — They seem to be a lighter fabric/head rest color. Do you think these are going to appear dirtier than the others just from general use? Thank you!!

  11. Hi, great review and I got the Pria 70 which we love. I was just wondering if you know of any light covers for it that will keep it cool in summer? I got the car seat in black/grey and it can get really hot where we live. In hindsight, I probably should’ve got the light grey one.

    • Hmmm… Don’t know any lighter covers made for the Pria 70 but I am sure someone on Etsy.com would gladly make you a custom cover from some light fabric of your choice. Something you could slip over the car seat on a hot and sunny day.

      • Thanks, I’ll look into that on Etsy. I just got a reply from Maxi Cosi. They said there are plans for a summer cover for the Pria but not available yet.

    • Well, frankly, just about anything will stain easily with a messy toddler/preschooler🙂 Ours has had some stains because my son likes to eat and drink there but it has always washed. The fabric has been privileged to meet strawberries, grapes, oranges, chocolate, all kinds of crackers, tea, juice … you name it. It would have to be a plastic cover to withstand a kid.

  12. Hi, I was wondering if the seat had memory foam-like padding? I am torn between the Snugli all in one & the maxi cosi 70. Does your kiddo seem to remain cool in this seat? The Snugli has temp regulating fabric & memory foam padding….

    • It’s padded very well but I don’t think it’s memory foam. Yes, he stays pretty cool in it in the summer. I think your best bet is comparing the two in person. I actually did that too🙂 Good luck!

  13. Hello, we are purchasing this today and we are just trying to find out, is the fabric machine washable? …. our 5 month old is quite a happy spitter.

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