The Advocate 70 CS (*Est. $ 380) is the biggest and most expensive seat in the Britax line. It has the highest level of safety features of any car seat on the market, including a new, controversial, harness tension alert. The cost, beyond the higher price, is a big, bulky seat that may not fit in all cars.
The Britax Advocate has head stabilizing wings on its deep, protective sides, a seat base with cells that compress in a crash to reduce forward thrust and integrated steel bars to reduce forward flexing in the seat for greater stability. The side impact cushions add another layer of air-filled padding to the top of the seat around the head area. This makes the hard walls of the seat softer for other rear seat passengers and acts like a shock absorber for the seat. Based on Britax's own research this technology diverts side impact energy away from the child, reducing impact by 45 percent - but this hasn't been verified by outside testing.
The Advocate 70 CS has a harness that clicks audibly when it has reached the correct level of tension to safely secure the child. This controversial feature is described by Britax as secondary to parental oversight, but experts say that the indicator might give parents a false sense of security; they urge parents to always check harness security themselves. One user review stated that the click indicator activates before the seat belt is tensioned enough.
The Advocate 70 CS has a rolling adjustment knob that sets the harness at a custom height for an exact fit. The lower LATCH attachments click on easily, the harness won't tangle and built-in seatbelt lock-offs allow you to install the seat confidently without LATCH connectors. The front harness adjuster clicks when the harness is secure. The cover is easy to remove and clean.
The Advocate is plush, roomy and generously padded, and it reclines in the forward and rear-facing positions. But the Advocate's size and weight are important considerations too. With additional side wings, the Advocate has the potential to make loading and unloading rear-facing kids hard and the side wings may feel restrictive to children. The side cushions on the Advocate increase the seat's intrusion into the back seat. And, while other rear seat passengers may like the seat's soft padding, they may not appreciate the extra space it commands. IF you have the room, the Advocate has an impressive weight rating -- 40 pounds rear-facing and 70 pounds forward-facing, making it a car seat that you can keep your child in for the long haul.
No complaints about Britax service were found in our research of the Advocate 70 CS. The Britax website offers comprehensive installation instructions for all car seat models. All Britax car seats carry a one year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship with proof of purchase. Like most car seats, the seat expires and should not be used after seven years. You must have the date of manufacture to download a product manual.
The Britax Advocate 70 CS receives mainly glowing reviews from the parents who use it. The drawbacks to the Advocate remain its size and its price. Experts' are also concerned that the clicking harness is a potentially harmful gimmick, not a safety feature as it is billed. However, for conscientious parents who adjust the harness carefully, the Advocate 70 CS will carry your child in maximum security into their early school age years.
Editors crash-test the Britax Advocate for their car seat roundup. Ease of use and fit to vehicle are also evaluated. To read the full test results, you must be a ConsumerReports.org subscriber.
Review: Convertible Car Seats, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, May 2012
This website, run by professional child passenger safety technicians and instructors, names the Britax Advocate 70 CS one of its top recommended convertible seats. This extremely thorough review includes videos demonstrating the side-impact cushions and seat belt lock-offs.
Review: Britax Advocate 70 CS Review -- Pictures, Videos, and More Pictures!, Heather Watson, Dec. 8, 2010
3. Baby Bargains
The Britax Advocate 70 CS and other new Britax seats earn the highest recommendation of the authors of the book "Baby Bargains." The seats weren't out when the latest edition was published, so the authors added their recommendations in this blog post. They point out improvements to the new seats, including easy-to-remove covers, higher weight limits and new safety features.
Review: Review: New Britax Seats Earn Top Recommendation, Denise and Alan Fields, Sept. 14, 2010
Hollie Schultz includes the Britax Advocate 70 CS on her list of the five best convertible car seats. However, she doesn't include a full review of the seat.
Review: Convertible Car Seats, Hollie Schultz
In about 125 owner reviews, the Britax Advocate 70 CS earns an overall average of 4.5 stars out of 5. Most give it a perfect 5 stars, but a few say they find it hard to install.
Review: Britax Advocate 70 CS Convertible Car Seat, Contributors to Amazon.com
This parenting website awards the Britax Advocate 70 CS the Best if Money Is No Object distinction. How editors tested the products isn't clear, but they are definitely smitten with the safety features on this car seat.
Review: Babble Best Picks: Car Seats, Editors of Babble.com, Jan. 2011
7. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Britax Advocate 70 CS earns 4 stars out of 5 for overall ease of use in the NHTSA's tests. The Advocate is penalized for poor labels, receives 5 out of 5 stars for evaluation of instructions and securing the child, and 2 to 3 out of 5 for installation features.
Review: Child Safety Seat Ease of Use Ratings, Editors of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, As of Aug. 2012