Cozy ‘n’ Safe Excalibur v’s Apramo One v’s Diono Radian 5
This review of the Cozy ‘n’ Safe Excalibur; Diono Radian 5 and the Apramo One is the follow up to this previous post where we explored options for a child with additional needs who has required a harnessed seat beyond 18kg. We had already ruled out the Britax Traveller Plus; the Britax Advansafix and the BeSafe iZi Plus. These latter two car seats had no room for growth for Master BB who was then just 4 years old (95cm tall). He is now 6 years old (113cm tall). This post is specifically to consider how well these three seats can fit a child at the upper height and weight limits, rather than to review them completely.
Little Miss BB is age 7 in these photos and she is 130cm tall. It is important to note that Little Miss BB is tall for her age, but she also is over the upper weight limit for these seats. However, she did still fit well in the Apramo One and the Cozy ‘n’ Safe Excalibur, and including her in these photos is useful information to show maximum use.
Also, just to point out the obvious; it is clear that we haven’t done the harnesses up in all of the indoor photos – the children were having fun trying the seats out in turn, but the photos are a useful guide to the seat size and harness height.
We can not speak for the safety integrity of any of these seats because we can not crash test them. This is important to note because the Diono Radian 5 recently was branded a Which? Don’t Buy after failing in crash tests. We included the Radian 5 in these photos because there are so few car seats with a 5 point harness with a 25kg limit; and it is good to compare these seats. We are looking at the size of the seat; harness height and overall comfort for an older child. Also, after the Which? results were announced, we spoke to our car seat expert retailer, and asked point blank which of these three car seats did he think we should continue to use. He said to use the Radian 5 but get the seat professionally fitted.
Cozy ‘n Safe Excalibur
The Cozy ‘n Safe Excalibur car seat is the one on the left hand side of our photos (red, grey and black). This seat, according to Little Miss BB is the most comfortable, and it did feel comfortable. The fabrics also felt smart and refined, and out of the three seats, on aesthetics and quality feel, we liked the Excalibur the best. However, what a seat looks like doesn’t necessarily reflect how safe it is. We only had the seat in our car for a few days when the plastic around the harness pull, between Master BB’s legs, snapped clean off. We sent the seat back, and got a refund, but once Cozy ‘n’ Safe heard that we had had issues, they asked if they could send us another seat to try out again. We agreed, because quite frankly, the options we had were so limited, and we really thought we would give the Excalibur a second chance.
The positives of the Excalibur far outweigh the issue we had. The seat is generous, and even Little Miss BB was comfortable. She was able to fit into the harness with the shoulder straps at the correct height. This is no mean feat! There is a good recline on the seat, which was really handy on a late night trip. The Excalibur was easy to live with, once fitted. We never had an issue with twisting harnesses, or with anything not working well.
Fitting the Excalibur in the car was simple. It uses the car’s ISOFIX brackets to latch onto, and the belt routing is simple and easy. There are tether straps with all these seats, and that was simple to clip on. The Excalibur really was refreshing to fit after the other two (which got tested first) and was the seat which felt the quickest to fit straight from the box.
We liked this seat a lot!
The Excalibur can be used harnessed up to 18kg without the top tether and the vehicle belt, OR with the ISOFIX and top tether; harnessed up to 25kg with the top tether and the vehicle belt (you can use the ISOFIX as well as long as the seat belt is still used); or from 18kg to 35kg with the car seat belt as a High Backed Booster seat (the ISOFIX can be used with the top tether if wished for stability).
Apramo were making good progress into moving into the UK market when their head office paused things. We managed to obtain probably the only Apramo One (the grey seat) currently in the UK because we got down on our knees and begged to buy one, because at the time we really had no other option for Master BB.
The Apramo One is so called because it can be used from birth, right through to age 12. It covers a huge 4 stages! Now, our car seat experts have always warned us to by a car seat specifically for the age and stage of our child – this gives a more bespoke fit for a child, rather than making compromises just to extend longevity of use. So, from this respect, we were a little unsure of how well the seat would manage every stage, however we were not here to look at everything the Apramo one could do, but to specifically assess its use for a child up to 25kg. Although the Apramo One looks the smallest of the seats, it amazingly swallowed up both children comfortably.
Out of the three seats , this is the seat that we used the most. It was very padded and comfortable. The harness fitted well. The seat does have a swivel base, which would be really useful for some children (we were desperate for a swivel base when Master BB was aged 3/4 and still needed lifting into a car). The Apramo One does have a recline which was just sufficient for Master BB to nap with, but we suspect it wouldn’t have been for a younger child. This is important because the Apramo One only rear faces until 13kg (approx 12 months of age). We suggest fitting the seat in the reclined position before sitting the seat upright; because otherwise it is impossible to recline the seat once fitted. It was easy to adjust the seat back height by pulling the loop on the top of the seat.
Fitting the Apramo One was hard work! First the ISOFIX connectors needed attaching and the seat belt went underneath the seat. At the rear of the seat, are two chunky red clips. We really struggled with these because they swivelled around, and were very difficult to do up unless everything was in exactly the right position. It took two of us at times to get these done up. There is a tether strap too which was simple to fit. Our big issue with the Apramo One was that the seat belt constantly slackened off. We knew that in an accident, it would be the seat belt and tether strap (not the ISOFIX) that would hold the seat in position, so this concerned us. It may simply have been an issue with our car, but the combination of having to re-tighten the seat belt, whilst struggling to do the clips back up, got a little frustrating.
If the Apramo One arrives in the UK, then this would be a good option. It is vital that the instructions are read and followed properly because there are so many options.
Diono Radian 5
The Diono Radian 5 (the green one) was the first out of the three that we tried. After our experiences with the Britax Advansafix seat having such low shoulder height settings, we took our time and measured and measured this seat before finally committing to buy it. The stupidity of the Radian 5 is that the head rest works independently from the harness height settings. So the latter are fixed in position, whilst the head rest can keep on growing upwards! But logically a child doesn’t grow like that – the shoulder and head move uniformly upwards together. So there is little point having a head rest that extends upwards if the shoulder height restricts use! There is also a huge gap between some of the harness settings which felt a bit iffy when trying to decide where to route the harness.
The most noticeable thing about the Radian 5 is the weight! It weighs an absolute ton. We did grin at the advertising for the Radian 5 which shows how the seat folds and can easily fit into a travel bag. However, I could barely lift this seat, let alone want to carry it anywhere. It is exceedingly heavy for a car seat, but it does have a steel frame inside to apparently offer the most protection. We tried and failed to fold the seat up easily too. There is a tether strap on this seat that needs to be fitted, however there is no ISOFIX fixings for even younger children.
When we bought the seat from our retailer friend, he did laugh and say you will need a degree to fit it! He wasn’t wrong! I have two degrees and believe me I struggled to follow the instructions, identify the parts and set the seat up correctly. We only used the Radian 5 forward facing, but it can rear face until 25kg too. However, as mentioned above, the Radian 5 failed safety testing when rear facing, and the advice from our retailer was to only to use the seat forward facing.
One of the biggest issues which is mentioned in the Which? report, is an issue with the harness straps. Now, we had exactly the same issue – after a number of uses, the harness stopped tightening, no matter what we did. We immediately removed the seat from the car whilst we investigated. It turned out that our harness pads were on wrong (the labels should be on the inside and the exterior should be black – they are wrong in the photos above). It seems so obvious now, but we went back to our ‘opening the box’ photos, and the harness pads actually came out of the box, done up, but inside out! There is no wonder that we fitted them incorrectly, because you assume that everything is set up correctly when you take it from the box.
We also had issues routing the seat belt and handling the seat whilst fitting, because it was so heavy. Due to Master BB’s weight, there was a special braking piece – a “safe stop” that needed to be fitted at the rear of the seat for older children. However, this left the harness literally hanging off Master BB, and our retailer advised us to remove the safe stop to ensure the harness was properly fitted. We have since been told that this part should never have been removed, but what was safest – harness hanging off, or removing the braking piece for an older child? Master BB is heavy but unusually small for his age.
Comfort wise, the children seemed happy in the Radian 5. The seat has a memory foam cover which is comfortable. The seat is narrow (not for the child, but fitting because there’s no sides to the seat), which would make it possible to fit three seats along a back seat of a car, however, good luck with fitting them all!
So even with two degrees, several hours of head scratching, and some expert advice, we still managed to incorrectly fit this car seat, and we were never convinced that we had fitted it correctly. The Radian 5 really is a seat that you need a retailer to help you to fit. Believe me, once installed you will never ever consider removing it again! It wasn’t an easy process. For us, the seeds of doubt about the safety of our child were proven to be well founded when we saw the dramatic ADAC crash test videos of this seat failing testing. We were glad that the seat was already out of the car at that point. As we said at the start, even after this testing, the Radian 5 was the seat out of the three, that our car seat expert would have still chosen for us to continue to use.
This review was just a quick round up of our thoughts on all three of these seats. It is important to bear in mind that we had at this stage exhausted every other possibility of ‘up to 25kg’ harnessed car seat for Master BB and that these were the final three seats which got us over the hump to 25kg. They all bought us precious time for Master BB to grow and understand how to sit sensibly in a high backed booster seat.
We wouldn’t say that any of the three were particularly great options. They all have flaws. Out of the three we felt happiest using the Cozy ‘n’ Safe Excalibur. The seat was by far the simplest to fit; the fabrics were very smart and there was the best shoulder height, along with a decent recline. The Diono Radian 5 for us was simply too difficult to fit, and too heavy, and then combined with the poor crash test result really put us off; especially when we had tried so hard to fit the seat correctly, but we still got it wrong! At least we were reassured that ADAC / Which? also got it wrong! The Apramo One was a good seat. We can’t really say much bad about it apart from the seat belt slack and the clips. It seemed a practical seat and very comfy.
Please note that our comments only reflect our views about the ease of use, seat size and comfort, not about the level of safety in a crash test.
With thanks to Diono for their help; to Apramo for responding to our begging; and to Cozy ‘n’ Safe who wouldn’t let us give up so easily!
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