“All-in-one” baby products are becoming more popular as parents want to get more bang for their buck while striving to be more eco-conscious. High chairs that transform into regular chairs, mini cribs that morph into toddler beds, and car seats that will last you for 10 years of adventures? Yes, please!
Parents: if you’re looking for a one-and-done car seat — the kind that will accommodate your kid from birth through 10 years old — take a peek at the Maxi-Cosi Magellan 5-in-1 Car Seat.
Spoiler alert: it’s one of two “all-in-one” luxury seats on the market (Nuna recently launched the Exec, which retails for $699… yikes!), and — if you don’t mind the large size and the somewhat painful installation — we think it’s generally a pretty good seat (and a great investment)!
Before we begin… the Graco 4ever, Evenflo Everystage and the Diono Radian 3QXT are the other all-in-one seats that compete in this space. Graco and Evenflo are well-liked in the marketplace and they fall more on the budget/mainstream side of the spectrum. Diono is a higher-end brand, while Maxi Cosi is considered more of a European/luxury brand. I wouldn’t say it’s the “BMW” of car seats (that would be Nuna) — it’s more of an Audi.
The Maxi-Cosi Magellan starts around $350. The higher end model, the Magellan Max, has three key features the base model lacks (discussed later) and goes for $399.
Compared to the Evenflo Everystage ($199), the Graco 4ever ($329) and the Diono Radian 3RXT ($299), you’re buying designer jeans instead of a Target brand. And with a designer price, we have bigger expectations: longer lasting, better features, more comfortable, more fashionable, and generally higher quality.
Even at this bigger price point, if you add up the cost of owning three different types of car seats (an infant seat, a convertible seat and a high-back booster — $500 minimum), the price tag of $350 is a bargain, especially if it’s truly the only car seat you’ll ever buy.
As a mom of twins, I was twice as excited about the idea of not having to spend an exorbitant amount of money on various car seats and boosters as my twins grow older.
**Full disclosure: they sent me a sample for this review, but my opinion is my own.
The Seat – General
None of these all-in-one seats are lightweight (or compact) and the Maxi-Cosi Magellan (25 lbs) is no exception, though it is FAA-approved for use on airplanes.
It’s not only heavy, it’s also a fairly W I D E seat, and it may be hard to fit other car seats next to it (let alone two Magellans). I put the Magellan in the middle of my Toyota Sienna minivan’s back row, and when my oldest’s booster is next to the Magellan, she has a hard time getting her seat belt buckled because the Magellan is so wide. Thank goodness for my van’s captain’s chairs!
Note: If you drive a smaller car and/or a car with one row and you need to fit three passengers back there, check out the Diono 3RXT, which is well known as being one of the narrowest car seats on the market.
Regarding the five modes, this car seat works in rear-facing mode (deeply reclined) for infants, for toddlers (not as reclined), in forward-facing mode for toddlers and preschoolers, and finally for use with a seatbelt in high-back booster seat mode. The back does not come off for it to be used as a backless booster.
In reality, most kids switch from high-back booster mode to backless booster mode sometime around the age of 6-8, though it’s true that you could stick with it for longer (up to age 10), if your child tolerates it.
Adjusting the height of the Maxi-Cosi Magellan is where it really shines! To do so, simply press a button and pull the headrest up. There are 14 available heights. Translation: this car seat has a no-rethread harness, meaning you don’t have to remove the seat and perform surgery every time you need to adjust the height — something you’ll want… err, need to do every few months. You won’t find this feature in the Diono Radian 3RXT.
In addition, it has 7 recline positions, which are easy to do with one hand, as well as three adjustable torso height positions. Lowering the torso height when the seat is rear-facing will give the front seat passenger more legroom if you are space constrained.
The installation is our least favorite part of this seat. I had trouble installing it (with the caveat that I’m not the best car seat installer!), and other car seat technicians and parents-reviewers agree. If it makes you feel any better, the Diono Radian is also fairly difficult to install. One reviewer said, “Parents looking at either of these two seats must have longer patience to exhaust.” HA!
The consensus among the masses: whether you’re using LATCH or the seatbelt, the belt paths are small and quirky — the vehicle seat belt barely fits into the lockoff (in some vehicles) and the belt folded over and appeared twisted (it wasn’t).
Pro tip: the instruction manual is difficult to follow. Watch the installation videos on YouTube — they were a lifesaver!
But guess what… I did it!! And if I can do it, so can anyone else.
And now that it’s in, I likely will never take it out. (Just kidding… sort of). The whole process — from unboxing the car seat to adhering the top tether — took about an hour.
This car seat really is incredibly big, plush and cushiony — seriously, I wanted to climb in it and take a nap (especially after the workout of the install!). No but really, if luxury is what you are expecting, these fabrics (“soft goods”, as they say) do not disappoint.
Now that each kiddo has ridden in the Maxi-Cosi Magellan several times, they’ve given me their honest 3-year-old opinions: they like it. Both my girls said that it is really comfortable to sit in – “like a big, cozy chair.”
When it comes to road trips and even day-to-day use, comfort is king; if your child doesn’t like sitting in their seat, you’ll have to endure a lot of complaining.
There’s a higher-end version of this seat, the Magellan Max. For $50 more, you’ll get these 3 convenience features:
- A magnetized chest clip for easier on/off
- Springy shoulder harnesses that pop up to keep the harness out and away while getting in and out
- A springy crotch buckle that pops the buckle forward to allow your kiddo to get into the seat more easily
If you’re spending this much, these three features that allow for easier in/out are probably worth it in this upgraded version.
The Maxi-Cosi Magellan has lots of nice safety features. This seat offers Dorel’s famous Side Impact Protection feature — Air Protect™ — built into the headrest to keep your child’s head secure, especially in the event of a side impact collision.
Additionally, the Magellan offers torso side impact protection, which further protects kids from any sort of crash impact in all modes of car seat use (rear-facing, forward-facing and booster).
The shell is easy to adjust. To raise it, you just push the buttons on the outer part of the seat, and then lift (to lower, push the buttons and slide the shell down).
Other Notable Features
Removable Infant Insert
Convertible car seats don’t always fit newborns well, though this one actually does! In fact, it fits a 7 lb newborn very well, but note that it may not work well for preemies (most non-infant seats don’t).
For infants, the Magellan 5-in-1 comes with a removable infant insert to keep baby’s little head from wobbling around and forward in the car seat.
This car seat comes with two cup holders – one on each side of the seat. They are removable and dishwasher-safe (super helpful for times like when one of my girls decided to empty her sand-filled sneaker into it “just for fun”).
On the downside, the cup holders are super small and narrow and don’t fit regular-sized bottles or cups, which kinda defeats the purpose, IMO. Other reviewers agree.
Zip open the seating area to see the belt path and LATCH. This makes it much easier to route the seat belt in rear-facing mode and access the mini-connectors in rear- and forward-facing mode. Bonus: the whole seating pad can be zippered off and thrown in the wash (because you know that’s exactly where all the crumbs land!).
This is one of those “luxury seat” features… The car seat cover is easily removable (without having to remove the seat from your car!!!), machine-washable AND dryer-safe.
I have not yet cleaned it, but other users say it’s really easy to remove and launder. This is a game changer if you ever had to hose a car seat down after a blowout or puking incident! It’s even more important for a seat that spans this many years.
The most frequent complaint, by far, is the pesky crotch buckle. It’s very short and tends to pinch kiddos on the thighs. Yes, it comes with a crotch buckle cover, but when it’s on, it’s tough to buckle and doesn’t really seem to stop the buckle from digging into their legs.
Other reviewers who have older and/or heavier children say that the short crotch buckle makes the seat uncomfortable for their kids as they grow, though other reviewers didn’t mention it at all.
The shoulder strap cushions are pretty thick, and my girls say that it’s bugging them. Of course, without them, the straps would dig into their skin, so we kept the cushions on!
Overall, there are some challenges with the seat, but I still like it a lot. For the price, I’d expect it to be easier to install and have a longer crotch buckle — but as with all things in life — nothing’s perfect!
Bottom line: The new Maxi-Cosi Magellan (and Magellan Max) is a good option if you’re looking for a long-lived, luxury(ish) car seat, and you have plenty of space in the back seat. Though the installation is more difficult than most, the seat itself has good safety features, is comfortable and good looking, and is super easy to adjust and clean. Though be aware of the tiny cup holders and the short crotch buckle.