A Carseat Nerd's Blog

A Carseat Nerd's Adventures in Carseats

Evenflo Sympony 65 E3…I kinda like it! April 1, 2013

Filed under: Seat Reviews,Uncategorized — carseatnerd @ 6:18 pm
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Last weekend, I was asked to present Child Passenger Safety to a group of women training to transport foster children. Of course, I was happy to do so! Part of my presentation was letting them touch and oogle seats that might work for their varying needs. They would need to transport kids from newborns through 12 safely and lawfully, while purchasing as few seats as possible and with a tight budget.
I borrowed a few seats from friends to play with and let them explore, one of which was an Evenflo Symphony 65 E3.
Per Evenflo,

For Use Rear-Facing Child Must Meet All These Requirements

  • Weight: 5 – 40 lbs (2.3 – 18kg)
  • Height: 19 – 37 inches (48 – 94 cm)
  • Top of child’s head is at least 1 inch (25 mm) below the top of the child restraint seat back.

For Use Forward-Facing Child Must Meet All These Requirements

  • Weight: 22 – 65 lbs (10 – 29,4 kg)
  • Height: 28 – 50 inches (71 – 127 cm)
  • The tops of their ears are below the top of the child restraint headrest.
  • Age: At least one year of age

For Use as a Booster Child Must Meet All These Requirements

  • Weight: 40 – 110 lbs (18 – 49,8 kg)
  • Height: 43.3 – 57 inches (110 – 145 cm)
  • The tops of their ears are below the top of the child restraint headrest.
  • Age: At least four years of age

To me, this sounded like it might be a good fit. But I couldn’t help but wonder if it was really the wonder seat Evenflo advertises it as. I’ve met many a 3-in-1 seat that failed miserably.  So I got out my trusty measuring tape, my cooperative 6 year old, my extra cooperative newborn doll, and took a seat out of my Pilot.

First, let me talk to you about the fancy SureLATCH connectors. Holy moly, those are awesome! In my vehicle, I really did only have to click-click-press and the seat was tight! I do know that in some vehicles, the Sure LATCH doesn’t work as designed and isn’t as tight as it needs to be for a safe installation.  It’s very easy to change the LATCH strap from rear to forward facing too!

Rear facing LATCH strap

Rear facing LATCH strap. Very clear, right?

You just pull the big ol’ connectors up through the belt path holes, flip the whole assembly up, and stick the connectors back through the forward facing belt path.

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Forward facing LATCH strap!

Ta-da! SO cool!

The other super spiffy thing about this seat is that the harness tightens at the hips instead of at the shoulders. This means that every time you tighten the harness on the child, it lowers the shoulder straps to meet the child’s shoulders and pulls the slack out at the hips. Thus, the shoulder straps are always at the appropriate harness height for each child, and YOU don’t have to move it!

I measured the lowest harness position between 7.5″ and 8″ This is better than some seats, but not as good as others. I think it could work for a good sized newborn, but certainly not for a petite baby or one with a shorter torso.

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The harness comes out between 7.5″ and 8″ on the lowest setting.

You can see here that my doll would not be able to come home in this seat.

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There is about an inch between the doll’s shoulders and the lowest harness position.

If my doll were a little bigger and closer to the size of an 8 lb baby than a 5 lb baby, he would have fit nicely.

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If only he were a little bit taller!

There was a HUGE amount of crotch room for a newborn too. You would definitely need to put a rolled up washcloth between the baby and the crotch strap.

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There’s a good 1.5″ between the baby and the strap. You would need to put a rolled up washcloth here to keep baby from slouching, which poses a safety hazard.

First, I installed it rear facing in my Pilot with the SureLATCH connectors. Like I said, it was super easy. Click, click, push. You do have to push it down pretty hard though to get it truly tight enough.

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Rear facing installation, appropriate for a newborn.

It has handy stickers on the side with directions for which recline position to use for which type of installation too, so you don’t have to remember.

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Handy sticker on the side of the seat showing you the recline options for each installation option.

It had about 13.5″ of legroom for a rear facing child in my vehicle.

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Decent amount of legroom for a rear facing child.

I had plenty of room to install it rear facing in my Pilot. I don’t think it would be too big for a smaller car either.

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Plenty of room for rear facing installation.

It’s super easy to adjust the height of the headrest without uninstalling the seat also, even if installed forward facing.

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To adjust the head rest height, you squeeze the red handle on the back and move the head rest up or down. Super easy!

After I was done playing with the seat rear facing, I flipped it around, which was very easy with the spiffy SureLATCH strap. Click, click, push. If I were using this seat and following best practice ie, rear facing to the limit of the seat, I would not be able to install with the lower anchors in this car for a forward facing child. My lower anchor weight limit is 40 lbs. The seat belt installation was not difficult either, but I didn’t take pictures of it.

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Click, click, push and it was installed tightly. You can see the booster mode shoulder belt guide in red on the head rest.

I had Mr Orange sit in it. He currently weighs 48 lbs and is 47 inches tall. By weight, he has 17 lbs before he outgrows the harness in this seat.   On the CDC height/weigh charts, he runs about 47th percentile.

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6 year old, 47 lb, 47 inch child with the harness properly adjusted.

Unfortunately, he is not likely to make it to the full 65 lb weight limit. There is only about .75-1″ of harness height left above his shoulders.

He has about .75" of harness height left,

He has about .75″ of harness height left.

Since he was close to outgrowing the harness by height, I checked to see how the seat fit as a booster. I was actually pretty pleased on the fit for a 3-in-1 seat. I would like the belt lower on the hips, but over all, it wasn’t too bad. It looks higher in the pics than it was in reality. I don’t think it would actually fit a 57″ child well though. I didn’t have access to a child that big, so I didn’t get to try it.

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Decent belt fit for a 3-in-1!

I have to say though, that I don’t think an average child would be able to buckle it by themselves in booster mode.  The buckle is WAY down there!

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There is no way he can reach down there to buckle it without locking the shoulder belt.

My overall opinion of the seat is that it is very user-friendly, with a good useable period, but unlikely to be the only seat you’ll need to purchase. I would definitely recommend it for a grandparent/daycare provider/carpooler/etc who will be transporting several children of different sizes.

Oh, I almost forgot! You can take the cover off to wash it without taking the seat out of the car too! The cover also moves out of the way of seeing the belt paths easily. No more fumbling in the dark or scraping off your knuckles threading the belt through the belt path!

 

 

 
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