I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Britax makes a solid car seat. Britax has always been known for its convertible seats, and the “MBA” seats (the Marathon, Boulevard, and Advocate) have always been the brand’s bread and butter.
Britax seats are made in the US of A, which is very rare these days!
A quick chronology…. Britax created the beloved “ClickTight” feature several years ago and incorporated it into some of these MBA seats. Then, very recently, the company decided that the Marathon, Boulevard and Advocate would be offered only in ClickTight form.
At the same time, Britax introduced a couple of new economy seats (totally new territory for them) — that are basically the legacy MBA seats, but without the ClickTight feature. These new economy seats, which have been VERY well received BTW, are called the Britax Allegiance and Emblem. In a nutshell, if you want the Britax name, but don’t need the ClickTight feature…. definitely check out the Allegiance and Emblem.
What is ClickTight?
All of these Britax seats are steel reinforced. You won’t find that on cheaper, lighter seats, like Graco.
ClickTight is such a neat feature that other brands (Nuna, Graco, Chicco) have started copying it (no surprise there).
Bottom line: ClickTight seats are SUPER easy to install with a seat belt without the need for Herculean strength.
See it here in action:
Why would you want to use a seat belt to install your car seat?
If your car doesn’t have LATCH or if you are trying to install the seat in the middle position (the safest spot) where there are no LATCH connectors (as in most non-huge cars!), or if your child has exceeded the max weight capacity for LATCH (60 lbs, which is the weight of the seat + your child), OR if you take taxis a lot and such (taxis almost never have LATCH connectors).
In addition to the ClickTight feature, you can choose to add the “ARB” feature, which is an anti-rebound bar. By this, I mean… you can purchase the ARB model (for more money, of course) — or you can buy the regular (non-ARB) model and buy an anti-rebound bar separately, if you so desire.
But wait, what is an anti-rebound bar?
An ARB is a mechanism that prevents the seat from flipping back (in rear-facing mode) while “rebounding” during a front or rear-impact collision, the most common types of collisions. It is better explained here:
Typically, you only find anti-rebound situations on the higher-end seats on the market, and rarely in convertible seats.
If you are paying this much for a convertible seat, may as well get that anti-rebound bar, amiright?
A Look at the Seats
Here’s a closer look at the individual Click Tight seats: the Marathon, Boulevard and Advocate.
Boiling it down, the biggest difference between the 3 seats are the layers of side impact protection, which get progressively more protective as we go up the food chain.
Marathon ClickTight ~ $279 or ARB version ~ $299
The entry-level ClickTight seat, the Marathon ClickTight gives you all the great Britax features: the no rethread harness, the premium fabrics, impact-absorbing harness, the SafeCell technology, and of course, the ClickTight. It has just the standard layer of side-impact protection, which is protective foam.
The Marathon has 7 recline positions and has earned nearly a 5-star rating on Amazon.
Traveling up the food chain…
Boulevard ClickTight ~ $325 or ARB version ~ $375
The Boulevard ClickTight is the Marathon (above), plus two layers of side impact protection, adding enhanced protection for your child’s neck and head. It looks like a pillow around your kiddo’s head. This is the better seat choice if you’re installing the seat in an outboard (or side) position. The pillow also makes it better for naps (less head-flop).
I love the Boulevard; it’s what my youngest rode in every day when she was little. To people in the know, the Boulevard is the preferred seat of the 3 (most people agree that the Advocate is… overkill).
*The Boulevard shell used to be 2″ taller than the Marathon, but this is no longer the case.
The ridiculously easy installation and high-quality comfy design could be the deciding factors that make this ClickTight your seat of choice.
And last and largest is…
Advocate ClickTight ~ $355 or ARB version ~ $385
If you really want to go balls-out in the side-impact protection department, check out the Britax Advocate CT or CT/ARB (anti-rebound), which has crazy huge side-impact cushions. The seat offers the most side-impact protection you can get on the market today; just note that it’s VERY wide and heavy. I mean, it’s a real beast, y’all.
If your child rides in the outboard seating position and/or you or your partner/nanny is a shitty driver (you know who you are!), this may be worth the peace of mind (seriously). For most people, I think it’s overkill.
Note: Many children outgrow a car seat by their shoulder height before reaching the maximum height capacity of the seat. Oftentimes, kids of the same total height will have different shoulder heights. For more on how to measure your child for a Britax seat, see here.
Note: Preschoolers *can* stay in convertible seats for quite a while, but we bought a forward-facing/combination car seat for Lucie when she was 3.5 and passed her convertible seat down to Alice when she turned one. I LOVE the concept of a combination seat because it’s a “big kid seat” that sits totally upright and will convert to a booster when she’s ready; this seat will get her through the next several years and keep her in a 5-point harness (as opposed to a booster/regular seat belt) for as long as possible.
Point being: Once your kid turns 4 or so, they’re usually ready for an upgrade anyway. BUT… if you’re looking for a seat that is both convertible and later becomes a booster, check out the new all-in-one seat, the Britax One4Life, which is about the same price as the Advocate.
YES, Britax allows you to use the side or “outboard” LATCH anchors to install their seats in the center IF your vehicle manufacturer also allows it.
That’s it, folks! I hope you got what you came for and walk away with a good understand of these upper-end Britax seats.
Check out also our Best Convertible Car Seat article to see what else we like. Good luck!