The Safety 1st Complete Air 65 (*Est. $180) convertible car seat's high weight ratings, enhanced safety features and ease-of-use features, including a no-rethread harness height adjustment and push-button style LATCH tether connectors, please parents and reviewers alike. The Complete Air 65 offers weight ratings of 65 pounds forward-facing and 40 pounds rear-facing. The Complete Air 65 comes in three models, the basic unit (*Est. $180), the Complete Air LX (*Est. $210) and the Complete Air SE (*Est. $240). The LX and SE have a 3-position recline, and the SE features premium fabrics and custom embroidery.
Safety 1st is the first company to use air technology to protect infants from side impact in a crash. Developed in partnership with Kettering University's Crash Safety Center, this technology places air-filled pillows around the child's head that divert crash forces away through a precise release of air through tiny holes in the cushions. It can be somewhat challenging to envision exactly how this air technology works, especially because the air only releases when extreme crash forces are deployed. Safety 1st features videos on its website that show the crash testing in action for those who need to see to believe. In addition to the air release, the seat has two air filled cushions that surround the child's head, and it is easy to see how this level of cushioning would prevent side-to-side movement of the head. Although they also obstruct the child's view out of the seat, some reviewers say these pillows are great for napping.
Thanks to air technology, the Complete Air 65 is noticeably lighter than most seats with similar weight capacities, making it easier to transport. The harness height is easy to adjust with no re-threading, and the lower tethers attach to the car's LATCH anchors via a push-button, saving parents the hassle of digging between the seats to get a good connection. However, parents and reviewers say rear-facing installation is harder and that it is difficult to get the recline angle just right. Some parents use a rolled towel to bolster the seat. The seat cover is not easy to remove, but it is machine washable.
For the price, the Complete Air 65 offers nice features. It comes with a cup holder, and the air filled cushions provide a soft ride. However, reviewers say the side-impact cushions don't fit quite as well around an infant's head. The Complete Air 65 LX and SE have a three-position recline, but the basic model does not. It offers high forward-facing weight ratings of 65 pounds and rear-facing ratings of 40 pounds, which should last through your child's car seat years. The biggest issue may be fit to car. A number of parents complain that it doesn't fit in even larger cars and vans.
If you misplace your car seat's instructions, be forewarned that you will need both the manufacture date and the product number to download the instructions from the website. That's inconvenient if your seat's already installed. The website's product support FAQ section may be a better bet if you have questions about the seat's operation. Just be forewarned that it will often direct you to the manual.
Parents and reviewers love the Complete Air 65 for its weight ratings, safety and ease of adjustment. While the technology is recent, and it hasn't been tested as thoroughly by outside sources, for many parents it offers a greater sense of security.
ConsumerReports.org included the Safety 1st Complete Air 65 in its round of convertible car seat evaluations. The Complete Air received a rating of very good in crash test performance and was also evaluated for ease of use, and rear and front facing fit to the vehicle. To read this report, you must be a ConsumerReports.org subscriber.
Review: Convertible Car Seat Overview, Ratings, and Recommended, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, May 2012
The Safety 1st Complete Air 65 LX is included in the list of recommended car seats at Carseatblog.com. The car seat is recommended for parents of taller children due to its high height rating.
Review: Recommended Carseats, Editors of CarSeatBlog.com, As of Aug. 2012
3. Baby Bargains
The Safety 1st Complete Air 65 is discussed and rated in this excellent baby products buyer's guide. 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
In more than 35 reviews, the Safety 1st Air Protect Complete Convertible Car Seat earns an average of respectable 4.2 stars out of 5. Parents say it's large and that the leveling feature makes the seat recline too much, one customer called Safety 1st and they advised her to use a rolled towel to even out the seat. Other say it's secure and comfortable for their children.
Review: Safety 1st Complete Air 65 Protect Convertible Car Seat, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Aug. 2012
The Safety 1st Complete Air 65 was a runner up in About.com's Readers' Choice Awards for best convertible car seat. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
The Safety 1st Complete Air gets this parenting website's Best Overall Car Seat award. How editors tested the products isn't clear, but their review is thorough and thoughtful. The writers of this article are true believers in the air safety technology and say that this seat delivers true peace of mind.
Review: Babble Best Picks: Car Seats, Editors of Babble.com, Jan. 2011
Blogger Christie Haskell discusses the reasoning behind the AAP's recommendation to keep toddlers rear facing longer, and she includes statistics. She recommends the Safety 1st Complete Air 65 as an affordable seat that allows you to keep your child rear facing longer.
Review: Rear-Facing Car Seats Aren't Just for Babies Anymore, Christie Haskell, Dec. 13, 2010