The Cosco Scenera is a fixture in reviewer top pick lists, and with its budget price and high crash test ratings, it's not hard to see why. The majority of parent/user reviews are also positive, although there is some consensus that the Scenera isn't as easy to install as some seats, and parents and reviewers alike note that the Scenera boasts no frills or extras. This is a bare bones seat, but it seems to be effective at keeping kids safe.
The Cosco Scenera receives a crash test rating of excellent from one independent testing organization, higher than most of the most expensive car seats. However, other reviewers comment that the Scenera lacks expanded polystyrene (EPS) energy absorbing foam and side wings, which protect against side impact crashes.
The Cosco Scenera does not have a no-rethread, height-adjusting harness, and some parents say its straps need to be smoothed regularly to keep them from twisting. It has a front harness tension adjuster. Government testers don't find it particularly easy to use; they say it needs clearer labels to help users install it correctly, and it doesn't have the best installation features. Parent feedback, on the other hand, indicates the Scenera is not difficult to install. The seat cover is easy to remove and is machine washable.
Comfort on long trips may be an issue with the Scenera. It has a two-position recline, but some owners complain about thin padding and say their child does not seem comfortable. It is smaller than other car seats and gets good fit-to-vehicle rankings, but that's because it has a lower upper weight limit rating, which limits its long-term use. It has removable cup holders.
For the price, the Cosco Scenera is a safe car seat, and it was a runner up for Best Convertible Car Seats under $150. However, with a maximum weight rating of 40 pounds front-facing, the Scenera lacks the capacity to take toddlers into childhood. This means that parents will have to buy another convertible car seat when their child outgrows this one or switch to a seatbelt positioning booster seat sooner, which negates some of the initial cost savings and is not considered as safe over the long term
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ConsumerReports.org goes a step further than other reviewers by subjecting a small selection of convertible car seats to its own crash tests. Editors don't discuss individual models in detail, but it's helpful to see how the Cosco Scenera measures up to more expensive seats in safety and performance. To see the test results and summaries, you must be a subscriber.
Review: Convertible Car Seats, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, May 2012
2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Cosco Scenera scores only 2 stars out of 5 in the NHTSA's ease-of-use tests. Experts here test the Scenera both forward- and rear-facing, and they rate its labels, instructions and 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
3. Good Housekeeping
The Cosco Scenera is one of eight car seats reviewed in Good Housekeeping's Best Convertible Car Seat Reviews. Reviewers note its budget friendly price and lightweight maneuverability as top features.
Review: Best Convertible Car Seat Reviews, Editors of Good Housekeeping, 2012
Heather Watson has contributed a detailed post on the Cosco Scenera to this blog about "all things child passenger safety." The Scenera makes the site's list of recommended car seats.
Review: Dorel Cosco Scenera Review: A True Workhorse, Heather Watson, May 2012
5. Baby Bargains
The Cosco Scenera gets a short review 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, performance and features.
Review: Convertible and Forward Facing-Only Car Seats, Denise and Alan Fields, Ninth Edition, 2012
Buzzillions.com offers an easy-to-use interface and aggregate pros and cons lists. The Cosco Scenera earns an average overall rating of 4 stars out of 5, with more than 400 owner reviews posted. Most owners have nothing but praise for the seat, but a few say it's tricky to install in some cars and the padding seems thin.
Review: Cosco Scenera Convertible Car Seat, Contributors to Buzzillions.com
Viewpoints.com hosts more than 150 owner reviews of the Cosco Scenera, which gets an overall rating of 81 out of 100 from more than 175 reviewers. While price is the Scenera's standout feature, it gets good feedback for being safe and easy to install as well. Several complain that the straps twist and the seat is not well-padded.
Review: Cosco Scenera Convertible Car Seat Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com
Heather Corley commends the Cosco Scenera for its safety and basic, straightforward features-that will fit within a strict budget. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Top 8 Convertible Car Seats, Heather Corley