(Update: Click here to read about the new, updated DUALFIX i-SIZE car seat launched in 2018)
Since becoming a dad, I’ve found that a car seat is one of the most used baby and toddler products we’ve owned. With things like toddler classes, nursery, days out and visiting family, it’s hardly surprising that Toddler L has rocked up a huge amount of hours sat in the back of a car.
As such, deciding what car seat to get is a pretty huge decision and one to not be taken lightly. When you factor in things like safety, cost, size, group, extended rear facing, bla bla bla, it’s hardly a straight forward choice to make. For the last year, Toddler L has been using the Britax-Roemer DUALFIX when in the missus’ car after Britax kindly sent us one to review.
This is a Group 0+ and 1 car seat, meaning it’s suitable from birth to 18kg (roughly four years old). It’s also extended rear facing which is something we personally see as being very important in a car seat. So, below you’ll find my review of the DUALFIX car seat based on over a year of usage with a growing toddler. (Please note: this review focuses solely on using the car seat in the 0-13kg weight setting and in the rearward facing position).
The product is described as:
The award-winning DUALFIX combines eye-catching design with state-of-the-art safety technology. Its 360-degree rotation means parents can choose when to switch their child from rearward to forward facing. Its host of safety features ensure a safe journey from newborn to four years. Product highlights include:
- 360 degree rotation – rearward facing from birth to 18 kg or forward facing from 9 to 18 kg
- Easy entry – 90 degree rotation for easy placement of the child
- Superior protection – side impact protection plus performance chest pads and Pivot Link System
- Ready for the smallest child – newborn insert for additional comfort and support
- Perfect fit – height-adjustable headrest and single-handed adjustable harness
- Uninterrupted comfort – multi-position recline for sleep or awake
- Practicality in mind – quick-remove cover, no need to remove harness
- Washable cover for the rebound bar that protects it from rubbing marks and dirty feet
The first thing I noticed about the DUALFIX was just how good looking it was. The car seat is available in six different colours – we went for Black Marble which is predominantly dark grey, but also features black with orange detailing. I rarely get my rocks off thanks to car seats, but I’m happy to admit that I consider the DUALFIX one of the most attractive car seats I’ve had the pleasure of laying my eyes – and hands – on.
The next thing I noticed was that the car seat was all in one – the base unit and the car seat are attached together and can’t be separated. I wasn’t actually expecting this as I assumed the car seat would come off the base, similar to how you can attach and detach other car seats onto an ISOFIX base. Not that we needed it to separate at her current age (3), but as a baby, we had her old car seat in and out of the car all of the time. We wouldn’t have been able to have done this with the DUALFIX.
When it comes to installation, I’ve found the DUALFIX to be pretty easy to put into the car and move between cars. It installs via ISOFIX, so you need to locate the anchorage points in the car – the metal bars between the seat cushions – then push the locking arms on the car seat towards the anchorage points (plastic guides are supplied if you need them).
As you push the base of the DUALFIX back towards the rear of the car, the locking arms slide into the car seat, there’s an audible click as the ISOFIX engages and the safety indicators go from red to green. You then push the car seat back as much as possible so that the rebound bar touches the back of the seat.
Once that’s done, you lower the foot prop at the front of the car seat until it touches the floor – this is done by two buttons on the leg that you hold in. Again, a green indicator will show on the base of the foot prop to indicate when it’s fitted correctly.
Give it a wiggle to ensure there’s little movement and jobs a good’un. To remove the car seat from the car, you hold in two little buttons on the locking arms which disengages them from the ISOFIX achorage points – you can then take the car seat out.
It’s worthwhile mentioning two things about installation. As the seat and base are attached, getting the car seat into the car can be a bit awkward – it’s quite bulky and relatively heavy. In addition, it took me a couple of goes to extend the locking arms – I’m used to pressing a button on the side and manually moving them out, yet on the DUALFIX, you pull a strap which extends them. It makes complete sense, but stumped me the first time – reading the instructions may have helped!
The real magic – and my favourite thing about the DUALFIX – happens when you go to put your kid into the car seat. The DUALFIX has 360 degrees rotation, meaning that the seat can turn in a full circle whilst fitted into the car. This allows easy entry – rotate the seat 90 degrees towards the door, pop in your kid, then rotate it back again. So rather than struggling to get your kid into the car from the side whilst breaking your back, you can turn the seat and have it all in front of you. Brilliant.
There’s a grey button on the front centre, which when depressed, allows you to rotate the car seat on the base using your other hand. When you spin it to face forward or towards the rear, you can feel it lock into position and can see that the grey button has popped up to hide the red indicator.
It’s worthwhile noting that the car seat must be fully upright or reclined to allow rotation, and that there’s a safety feature which means that the car seat won’t rotate to be forward facing – only rearward facing – when the child is less than 13kg.
The DUALFIX ‘knows’ this because you adjust the car seat to match your child’s weight. There’s another grey safety button at the front (side) of the car seat, which allows you to slide the car seat up or down to select the correct weight – the two settings are either ‘0kg to 13kg’ or ‘9kg to 18kg’.
From here, you have three different recline positions which you can select. This is great, but as the car seat only rotates when it’s fully upright or reclined, it’s a little annoying if you have to adjust the recline to then rotate the seat. As such, Toddler L has used the lower weight setting in the most reclined position 99.9% of the time.
This means that we can just rotate the seat straight away and don’t have to mess with adjusting the recline. We have tried the 9kg to 18kg setting as technically she’s in that bracket now, but we found that she was very upright in it. This meant that when she tried to sleep, her head flopped forward which constantly woke her. It won’t be long before we move her to the higher setting, but for now, we’ll stick with what she prefers.
Another thing I like about the car seat therefore is that it’s extended rear-facing. At 3-years old, Toddler L can still face backwards, which evidence has proven to be safer if we ever got into a car accident. In fact, you can rear face in this car seat until 18kg, which is approximately 4-years old, but as Toddler L has always been on the small side, I think she’ll still fit when she’s well over this age. For us, extended rear facing is very important.
When it comes to actually getting your kid into the car seat, this again is an easy process. The DUALFIX uses a five-point safety harness, which means it goes over the shoulders, around the waist and between the legs. You place your child’s arms through the straps, interlock the two parts of the buckle, then push them into the buckle slot which is in between the legs. It can then be tightened using the one-pull adjustment strap, which is the strap that comes out of the front.
I’ve had no issues at all with the straps and harness. This is the thing that bugs me the most about car seats – we’ve had two previous car seats where I’ve felt that it’s not tight enough and Toddler L has got her arms out. Not with the DUALFIX though – I’ve always found that it tightens easily, it fits snugly, and Toddler L has never managed to escape.
When it comes to the actual seat, it feels very padded – and therefore secure – around Toddler L. The body of it curves around the head and body area, to almost cocoon her in there and provide safety in the event of an accident. I take my product reviewing seriously, but not enough to deliberately cause an accident in order to try the car seat out!
We’ve also had the ‘pleasure’ of washing the car seat after Toddler L was sick in it. Why there’s not a ‘sick test’ for car seats alongside things like safety, I’ll never know. I found that the cover came off with ease, washed well, and then went back on the car seat in a relatively straight forward manner. It’s not a two second job, but it was easier than the car seat she uses in my car.
The last thing to note is that the car seat adjusts. There is a height-adjustable headrest and harness which can be moved up as your kid grows. This is really simple to do as you use the loop that comes out of the top of the headrest to pull both the headrest and harness up. There’s also a newborn insert – which provides extra comfort and safety for your baby – which can be removed when your little one is big enough.
The black marble DUALFIX’s RRP is £440, so it’s definitely on the hefty side price wise. However, having said that, it’s been out for a few years now so the price does fluctuate if you shop around. A quick Google suggests that you can get a DUALFIX in one of the other colours from £300 – a significant saving compared to the RRP.
It’s still expensive when compared to other car seats, however you are getting more for your money – extended rear-facing, 360 degrees swivel and ISOFIX to name a few. As it’s also birth to four, you arguably get your money’s worth in the long run.
We absolutely love the Britax-Roemer DUALFIX. Without question, it’s the best car seat we have owned to date. Not only does it look good, but it’s extended rear-facing, attaches via ISOFIX, is easy to install, is comfortable, the straps are tight and has the incredible 360 degree rotation which makes it much easier to get your kid into the car seat. Having a car seat without rotation feels so primitive now!
That’s not to say I don’t have one or two small gripes though. It’s heavy and a bit of an awkward shape, so although it’s easy to install between cars, it can be a little awkward. Similarly, as the car seat and base are attached, it’s not a portable solution for a young baby – the baby would need to be put directly into the DUALFIX in the car, rather than into a detachable car seat which could then be put into the car. There’s also the slight annoyance that the seat only rotates when it’s fully upright or reclined – if you have a middle recline selected, it adds another step to the process.
That being said, none of these issues have actually impacted us on a day to day basis – I’m picking fault for faults sake. Being two-years old when we got it, we’ve not had a need to take the seat out of the car (other than switching between cars) and she’s always been in the most reclined position which has made rotation easy.
All in all, I can’t recommend the DUALFIX enough. We’ve used it for the last year and I’m hopeful we can get another 1.5 years out of it too. If you’re looking for an extended rear facing ISOFIX car seat, then it doesn’t get much better than the Britax-Roemer DUALFIX.
The DADventurer Star Rating
5 out of 5 stars
Like this? Then check out the new, updated DUALFIX i-SIZE car seat launched in 2018.
Disclosure: The DUALFIX car seat was sent to me by Britax with the purpose of writing an honest review in exchange for the product.
Disclosure: This post includes an affiliate link(s).