Frontier 85 vs. Diono Radian
January 4, 2013
My son outgrew his Britax Decathlon convertible carseat when he recently turned 5 (43 inches tall, 48 lbs). I had heard many good things about the Diono Radian convertible/high back booster and after comparing the Radian to the Britax Frontier 85, which seemed very similarly rated, decided to take a chance on the Radian. I got it, installed it in my car, used it for a few weeks and decided that I didn't like it as much as my son's old Decathlon. Yes, the Radian is very slim, yes, it can collapse and be carried with backpack straps or fit nicely into a travel bag for checking as luggage when traveling on an airplane, but for every day usage, I didn't like the movement of the buckles and straps - it is tough to pull snug and you pull down instead of up on the pull strap (whereas you pull upward on the Britax Decathlon & Marathon - easier on my back). And when we traveled with it, it was insanely heavy - about 25 lbs. Technically portable, but not practically portable from car to gate through an airport terminal. I'd take the old bulky and odd shaped yet lighter Decathlon over that any day. So, the Radian got banished to my husband car to be used mostly on weekends and I bought a Britax Frontier 85 for my car, which my son rides in everyday. I am so much happier using the Britax, but I think it is because I am used to doing things the "Britax" way.
The Britax Frontier 85 is the next age level up from the Decathlon. I like the way Britax designs their harnesses and buckles, the hugs chest straps, etc... My son squirms too much to be safe in just a high back booster so I want him to remain in a 5 point harness for a while longer. When he is older (and less squirmy) we will switch to using it as a high back booster. I've seen the quality of Britax first hand and know that this carseat/booster will last in good condition until it expires in 5 years. Oh, and I've had good experiences with Britax customer sevice in Charlotte, NC, when I needed more Hugs chest pads for my daughter's Marathon.
Pros:Straps, harnesses, buckles are easy for me to use.
lighter weight than Diono Radian.
Neutral colors and fun colors available.
Britax customer service.
Cons:Expensive but the quality is worth the price.