Formerly known as the Britax Roundabout, the Roundabout Classic 50 (*Est. $160) has long been considered the best value in Britax seats. While it has always had lower weight ratings, it has always maintained many of Britax's standout features, including fully padded side impact protection, a top tether that works in the forward- and rear-facing positions, and general usability and comfort.
The Britax Roundabout 50 Classic gets consistently high crash test ratings. Among its chief safety features are deep, rigid sides with energy-absorbing foam and side-impact protection. Unlike many other car seats, the Roundabout Classic's energy-absorbing tether stabilizes the car seat from the top in both the forward- and the rear-facing positions, dramatically reducing the motion of the car seat and thus reducing the impact of a crash to the child.
The Roundabout Classic comes equipped with push-button, seatbelt-style attachments that connect from above to the car's anchors without digging in between the seats. The Roundabout Classic is smaller and lighter than other Britax seats, making it easier to maneuver and fit in cars. The Roundabout Classic has thick, nontangling harness straps that are easy to adjust in length from the seat front. However, the harness must be re-threaded to adjust the Classic's height, and you have to take the seat out of the car to do this.
The Roundabout Classic has high weight ratings: up to 49 inches and 5 to 35 pounds rear-facing, and 20 to 50 pounds forward-facing. It will take children from infancy to childhood. Like all Britax seats, the Roundabout Classic's chassis is lined with high-quality foam that provides softer cushioning as well as energy absorption in a crash. The Roundabout Classic offers rear and forward facing recline positions to keep kids comfortable, and the protective side wings provide a comfortable point for sleeping. An attachable cup holder and a travel cart for airport use can be purchased separately.
No complaints about Britax service were found in our research of the Roundabout Classic. The Britax website offers comprehensive installation instructions for all car seat models, however, you must know the manufacture date, which can be inconvenient. 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.
Consumer Reports crash-tests the Britax Roundabout Classic for its latest 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
"Baby Bargains" covers several Britax car seats, including the Roundabout. Ratings are based on features, parent feedback and manufacturer reputation.
Review: Convertible and Forward Facing-Only Car Seats, Denise and Alan Fields, Ninth Edition, 2012
3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The federal government tests how easy car seats are to use. The Britax Roundabout 50 gets 3 stars out of 5 overall, both front- and rear-facing. Testers also give it subscores for its labels, instructions, installation features and how easy it is to secure the child.
Review: Child Safety Seat Ease of Use Ratings, Editors of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Britax Roundabout 50 Classic earns 4.7 stars in more than 15 reviews, with owners saying it's easy to install and comfortable for their child. Its predecessor, the Roundabout, averaged 4.5 stars in about 670 reviews and was a Reviewers' Choice Finalist for 2010. It earned overwhelmingly positive reviews for being comfortable, durable, adjustable, easy to install and easy to clean.
Review: Britax Baby Roundabout 50 Classic Kathryn, Contributors to Buzzillions.com