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2013 Buzz Guide: Gear

The best new car seats of the year

2013 is shaping up to be a revolutionary year for car seats, with four big releases in the works. Our Gear Guy, Jamie Grayson, has the deets.

“UPPAbaby strollers have quite a following now, so I expect a lot of parents will be psyched about the brand’s first car seat. Suitable from 4 to 35 pounds, the MESA Infant Car Seat is truly one of the easiest I have ever installed—simply connect the LATCH and press the base down. It tightens and compresses into the seat in one step; it took me less than 30 seconds. I also love that you can adjust the harness height from the front of the seat, not to mention the brilliant one-push button release in the handle, which makes it incredibly easy to detach the seat from from the stroller base. The Mesa launches this spring and will retail for $279.99.

The Cybex Aton was a bit misunderstood when it was first introduced in the US a few years ago. But now my favorite infant car seat is returning, with an improved design and a few new safety features: the base of the Aton 2 now has an adjustable load leg—nearly standard in Europe—which redistributes energy to the floor of the vehicle in the case of a crash, and also prevents rotation of the seat. The Aton 2 also has LSP side-impact technology built into the carry handle, which means a flap swings up and reduces the space between the automobile door and car seat. The Aton 2 is compatible with most strollers that can use a Maxi-Cosi adapter. The Aton 2 launches this spring; SRP is still TBD.

Chicco has completely nailed it with their new Nextfit Convertible Car Seat, which has a rear-facing weight limit of 40 pounds, a forward-facing weight limit of 65 pounds, and a harness height of 17.5 inches. There are a whopping nine recline positions to allow for the varying angles and contours of rear car seats; the LATCH system simply slides through the seat to switch from rear to forward-facing; the harness actually adjusts in width as it gets higher (without rethreading, I might add); and the amazing SuperCinch technology built into the LATCH connectors allows you to apply minimal effort when installing. BAM. It launches this spring and will retail for $279-299.

And finally, the most highly anticipated car seat of 2013: the Foonf. Let me just say, it was worth the wait. With a rear-facing weight limit of 50 pounds (the highest on the market) and Greenguard Certified fabric, the Foonf is basically sweating excellence. When it comes to forward-facing installation, the Foonf uses what basically amounts to metal bars that you click in the lower anchors in order to slam the seat into place. It’s hard to explain in words, but I installed the Foonf sitting down. Sitting down, folks. Bonus: the Foonf is quite narrow, so you can fit three-across in the back seat of many cars—yet the seat interior is about 1.5 inches wider than other convertible seats. I am obsessed. The Foonf is available now, and retails for $449-$499.99.”