Called the seat of choice "if Grandma is buying" by one respected review site, the Britax Boulevard 70 and 70 CS (formerly known as the Britax Boulevard) are two of the priciest car seats on the market, but experts agree that the safety and usability features are outstanding. In addition to all the features of a high-end Britax car seat, the Boulevard adds a custom harness height adjustment knob, increased side impact protection and, in the case of the Boulevard 70CS (*Est. $340), a harness that provides parents with an audible click when the child is secure.
The Boulevard adds cushioned head stabilizing wings to deep, rigid, foam padded sides that protect against vehicle intrusion and contain side to side head motion. The seat base has cells that compress in a crash, lowering the child's center of gravity to reduce forward thrust. Integrated steel bars strengthen the connection to the vehicle and reduce forward flexing in the seat for greater stability. The seat's energy-absorbing tethers stabilize the top of the seat in both the forward- and the rear-facing positions to reduce the motion of the seat. The five-point harness is thick and sturdy with guards that hold it in place. One new safety feature of the Boulevard 70 CS is a harness alert 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 the security indicator might give parents a false sense of security, warning that parents should always check harness security themselves. One user review stated that the click indicator activates before the seat belt is tightened sufficiently.
In addition to a no-thread harness, the Boulevard has a rolling adjustment knob that sets the harness at a custom height for an exact fit. The 70 CS model embellishes the front harness adjuster with audible click informing you when the harness is secure. 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.
Like all Britax seats, the Boulevard is plush, roomy and generously padded for comfort. The seat reclines in the forward- and rear-facing positions. But, just as those side wings prevent the child's head from moving in a crash, reviewers say they make everyday riding a bit more restricted. Older children in particular, may rebel against blocked side views and less head room. Also, the Boulevard's sheer size can be problematic. Reviewers say the bulky side wings can pose an obstacle when loading babies into the rear facing position, and owners of small cars are warned to take careful measurements before springing for this seat.
No complaints about Britax service were found in our research of the Boulevard 70 or 70 CS. The Britax website offers comprehensive installation instructions for all car seat models, but you have to have the date of manufacturer to download them. 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 can't argue with the sensibilities behind the Boulevard's advanced safety features. By eliminating as much of the child's movement as possible during a crash, chances of injury are reduced. The price of this increased safety is a more restricted environment for the child. And, in smaller cars, this added bulk just may not fit. That said, experts and parents agree that if you have the space and are not turned off by the price, the Boulevard will see you through with an added sense of security.
ConsumerReports.org crash tests the Britax Boulevard 70 and Boulevard 70 CS for its 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
2. Baby Bargains
The Britax Boulevard 70 and 70 CS are rated in this comprehensive and trusted baby gear guide. Authors Denise and Alan Fields discuss how this and other convertible car seats measure up for safety and performance.
Review: Convertible and Forward Facing-Only Car Seats, Denise and Alan Fields, Ninth Edition, 2012
3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Boulevard 70 and 70 CS receive a high rating of 4 out 5 for overall ease of use. The lowest ratings are for the evaluation of labels, while the seats receive 5 out of 5 for evaluation of instructions and securing the child. The seats receive middle ratings of 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
The Britax Boulevard 70 CS receives an average rating of 93 out of 100 in more than 40 owner reviews, and the Britax Boulevard 70 receives 94 out of 100 in more than 280 reviews putting them collectively among the highest-rated convertible car seats here. Owners find them safe, comfortable, stylish and easy to use.
Review: Britax Boulevard 70 CS Convertible Car Seat Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com
The Britax Boulevard 70 overall average is 4.7 stars out of 5, with more than 50 owners posting reviews. Almost all give it 4 or a perfect 5 stars. As with other Britax seats, parents appreciate its safety but say it is quite bulky.
Review: Britax Boulevard 70 Convertible Car Seat, Contributors to Amazon.com
Britax Boulevard 70 was a finalist in About.com's Readers' Choice Awards for best convertible car seat. Readers commented on the Boulevard's side impact protection, overall sturdiness and high weight ratings, among other features. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
The Britax Boulevard 70 is listed in Heather Corley's top eight convertible car seats. Corley commends the seat's height-adjustable side impact protection and ease of installation. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Top 8 Convertible Car Seats, Heather Corley
The Britax Boulevard 70 CS makes the list of Parents' best car seats. Editors point out that the high weight ratings mean that the seat can provide maximum protection well into a child's toddler years.
Review: Best Car Seats for Babies and Toddlers, May 2012
The Britax Boulevard 70 is the top recommended Britax car seat on Bobby's Best. The choice was made based on the increased side impact protection on the Boulevard. Bobby's Best was furnished with a seat from Britax for review purposes.
Review: The Product: Next Generation Convertible Car Seat, Editors of BobbysBest.com, As of Aug. 2012
The Britax Boulevard earns 4.7 stars out of 5 in more than 20 reviews. Owners say it's comfortable and they think their child is safe, but it is heavy and bulky.
Review: Britax Boulevard 70 CS Convertible Car Seat in Blueprint, Contributors to Buzzillions.com, Aug. 2012