Maxi Cosi is making some serious advances in the convertible car seat market this year, including the amazingly versatile Maxi Cosi Magellan 5-in-1 (on our list of the top 10 best convertible car seats), and this Maxi Cosi Pria 85 Max. Maxi Cosi is well known for making high quality, safe, versatile, and super comfortable (posh even!) car seats that look fantastic and function really nicely. Of course, you'll pay a steep price for all of that style and functionality, with the Pria 85 Max coming in at about $315.
But even with that relatively high price tag, this convertible car seat is definitely worth considering if you're looking for a premium experience. That being said, let's get into the results of our hands-on review!
Pros: Superior fit and finish, style, and fabric quality, Premium LATCH connectors, Durable and easy-clean fabric, Easy installation, Cup holder, Machine washable cover, Approved for air travel, No-rethread harness, Beefy Air Protect side impact protection.
Cons: Bulky and heavy (24 pounds), Only 3 recline settings, No booster modes, No steel reinforced frame, No energy-absorbing foam, ClipQuik magnetic chest buckle.
Full Review: Usually about $315 or so, and available in several color options. This convertible car seat it all about style, comfort, and functionality. Let's start with style and comfort. While the one we tested was the relatively boring Night Black color, the Pria 85 Max is available in some pretty funky styles, like the trendy Graphic Flower, burlap-like Nomad Sand, and the bright and bold Red Orchid. The common theme is that they all look fantastic. And the brand isn't Maxi Cosi for nothing - these things provide maximum coziness for your baby! All of the fabrics and areas of the seat are soft and plush, everything is padded and soft-touch (like the crotch buckle guard), and the infant insert provides additional plush supports to fit babies down to only 5 pounds. The fabric is self-wicking and provides pretty good ventilation for the hotter months. So, it's definitely super stylish and comfortable, no doubt about it.
Now let's get into some of its functionality. This seat supports babies as small as 5 pounds and up to 40 pounds in the rear-facing position (as long as they are under 40" tall). When turned around to front-facing after your baby reaches at least 1 year old, it supports toddlers and bigger kids from 22 up to 85 pounds (and 29" to 52" tall). There are three recline positions to suit these varied heights and weights: position 3 is for rear-facing, position 2 is for babies 22 to 40 pounds, and position 1 is for kids from 40 to 85 pounds. Basically, position 3 is the most reclined, position 2 is medium recline, and position 1 is nearly upright.
The harnesses do not require re-threading to adjust harness and headrest height, and from what we could tell in our testing, the height adjusted between about 7 different positions that extend pretty far down (for infants) and pretty far up (for bigger kiddos). There are really nice shoulder pads included. Adding to its adjustability, there are 3 crotch buckle positions, and it comes with it installed in the middle/medium position.
So there's a lot of adjustment here, but to be honest the adjustments were one of the more difficult aspects of the car seat. The harness and headrest height adjustment was difficult to engage and use, using a handle at the top of the headrest. Same thing with the recline adjustment, which uses a big red handle at the bottom rear of the seat: it's cumbersome and clunky to use. Of course, you won't be using those adjustments every day, so that's not a huge issue.
Other adjustments, such as the harness tightness, were very smooth and easy to use. Even when rear-facing, the adjustment strap could be easily accessed and pulled on for tightening. The LATCH system is modern and easy to adjust. Routing the vehicle's belt is relatively easy for forward-facing, but a bit of a pain to fit through the tight opening for rear-facing positioning.
The cup holder was a good size, and we liked that it's integrated as opposed to something your toddler could pop off and throw around the car; although it does make it a bit harder to keep clean, but we'll take that trade-off.
The Pria 85 comes in the regular and Max models. The difference between them is that the Max adds several core features. First, the Max supports smaller babies, with the Max going down to 5 pounds but the non-Max version only going down to 14 pounds (and doesn't have an infant insert like the Max). Second, the Max machine washable fabric just like the non-Max, but the Max's fabric is more breathable and self-wicking. Third, the Max versions (including the Mico Max and Magellan Max) use the new ClipQuik chest clip device. This device uses a sliding magnetic clip that is supposed to make buckling and unbuckling the chest clip much easier. Is it easier? Well, for the first 10-15 times we used it, it was a bit of a pain in the butt. It took us a while to figure out exactly how to position our hand and how much to press our thumb to make it work. Once you figure it out, it's great and we see the allure, but until then you might be a little frustrated by it. And let's not mention when your care-giver tries to use it - be sure to take the time to teach grandma, the babysitter, and anyone else who might be transporting your baby!
A couple other little things: the harness hold-back clips are a nice touch, but realistically you need to dramatically loosen the chest straps to get them to reach all the way up to the clips. And that seemed a little silly. Also, we love the big Air Protect side impact system, which is really the most substantial side impact head protection on the car seat market. But it's also a little bit crinkly when you push in on it; like a combination of memory foam with a potato chip bag embedded inside. Not that your child will really be pushing on it, just something we noticed.
Verdict: We really love a lot of things about this Pria 85 convertible car seat, and we are consistently impressed with Maxi Cosi's new releases and efforts to become a front-runner in the car seat market. It's really on point with its style and comfort, and that alone might be worth the somewhat hefty price tag. But for the price, we were expecting a few more safety features (maybe an anti-rebound bar, reinforced frame, energy-absorbing foam), and thought that some of the adjustments were a little cumbersome to use. Good stuff here, with some limitations to consider.