Evenflo car seats are a brand that I’m very familiar with. My parents own 2 previous models and both they and my daughter like them quite a bit. The seats are small, lightweight and very comfortable. The seat padding itself is very comfortable and the design leads to a high degree of safety, as the way it curves seems to almost envelope your child from impacts, especially around the side.
The re-designed 2016 model of the Evenflo Symphony LX takes those successes and looks to make things better compared to previous models. The basic shell and functionality is very similar but the overall look has been re-designed a bit to make it easier to use. Let’s take a look at the seat.
Small in Stature
The nice thing about the Evenflo Symphony Carseat is that it’s fairly small in height and stature which means it can easily fit into most passenger sedans. When you have bulkier seats and especially 3-in-1 styles, you can’t easily fit them in compact or mid-size cars. Clek is guilty of this. The Clek Foonf (one of, if their their most popular model) is gargantuan in comparison. We have this seat installed in our SUV and it barely fits in there. It can’t even get through the door of a car unless it’s shoved in sideways. Forget about standing it up. Even with this seat installed in my mid-size sedan (Toyota Corolla,) my daughter is forward facing and still has her legs touching the backs of my seat. I don’t even have my seat that far back as I’m not terribly tall (5’ 9) but this has to be a problem and worry with a lot of parents.
The Evenflo Symphony seat is manufactured with children from infancy (approx. 5lb) to the end of when they will no longer need a seat. This comes at approximately 9 years of age or when the children has outgrown the usefulness of the seat. That’s based more on height than weight. The seat supports children up to 110lb but once they have passed 57 inches in height (4’9,) the seat is of no more use.
Installation on Evenflo Symphony seats are pretty simple. If you are rear facing the child (which is legally required up until they are 1 but recommended to at least 2 years of age,) you must tilt the seat upward from the base into position number 3. The seat comes out of the box defaulted to stage 1 and can easily be tilted back in seconds by pulling the orange latch at the bottom of the base and sliding the seat back. Installation can either be achieved through the Universal Anchor Tether (UAT) straps on either side of the base of the seat or through a belt path. As I have with many previous car seat discussions, I remind again that the seat must be placed in the middle of the back seat unless you cannot do so (if, for example, you have 2 seats installed as you cannot share UAT latches.) On a rear face, you must also ensure that the seat is not able to slide from side to side more than around 1.5 inches. It should be a fairly snug fit to ensure the seat does not have the ability to roll over or from side to side but not so much that there is no give in the event of impact.
When your child is old enough to front face, you simply slide the seat back into the applicable stage. At this point, you can once again use the UATs or a belt path to secure the seat. However, you must also snugly affix the anchor tether at the top of the seat. This keeps the seat in place during impact.
I found the installation of this seat to be fairly easy with the only issue being the adjustment latch on the UAT. However, how tight and difficult they are to adjust are a problem with literally ever car seat I’ve ever installed. I get that you don’t want to have these anything but tight and hard to fiddle with but most manufacturers have gone too far the other way. If it’s a chore to get the seat as snug as it needs to be in the first place, I still feel it’s a design flaw. However, it seems to be one that’s characteristic of all seats.
Safety, innovation and comfort in one package
A major selling feature of Evenflo’s Symphony seats in past years is how comfortable the seats are. The padding on this seat is fairly generous and lets your child sit safely and comfortably for long periods of time. The headrest is large and cushy and the side impact absorbers are as well. They are also spaced away well from your child to minimize contact.
Perhaps the biggest selling feature of this seat is a feature I have never seen on any other series of seats. The Symphony’s shoulder harnesses are unique to say the least. On the majority of seats, the shoulder harnesses require you to often uninstall the seat, pull them apart and re-loop them through adjustment holes. On the Symphony, you never have to do that. The entire shoulder harness is on a sliding track that you just pull up and down on in order to adjust. This harness ensures that it always perfectly fits your child’s needs and means you don’t have to go around installing again every time your child grows a couple inches. I cannot stress how cool of a feature this is and that it was singlehandedly the reason I had my parents get the 2015 Symphony DLX model. My daughter was 3 feet tall at her 2nd birthday and it was hard for me to keep on our Clek seat so I can only imagine how difficult it would have been for my parents to not have the track system to rely on.
Since the harness is on a track, it’s fairly tangle resistant up top but not completely at the bottom where it twists and juts back to the bottom. Where the latches meet the bottom buckle, you may find a bit of tangling from time to time but far less than the other trackless harness seats. In the 12 months I’ve been using the previous seats and the 3 weeks I’ve been using this one (both similar harnesses,) I’ve had maybe 5 tangles overall.
Difference between the Symphony and Triumph models
There is an equally as good, yet different style of this carseat: The Evenflo Triumph LX. What is different you may ask? We actually have two of these seats that we purchased for both of my parents’ vehicles. After using that seat and this one one after the other for a couple of weeks, there aren’t really many major differences between the two. The seat base and fabrics feel about the same. Even the freeform shoulder adjustments are the same. The only discernable difference that really matters here is the way the harness system works. The Triumph has the same inverted button release that the standard seat does. However, to tighten the seat harness, the mechanism is different. The Triumph has a crank on either side to synch the harness tight. This isn’t a bad system but since it cranks a pre-determined amount of belt each time, you often run into a bit of awkwardness when you get to the last crank. You often leave the seat too loose or too tight. It’s never quite perfect.
The simpler synch-up belt has always been the way to go and with the innovative shoulder harness, this seat is a winner. It’s a bit more expensive than other 3-in-1 seats but it’s worth every penny.
There is no perfect car seat, however. This seat is definitely not without its faults. While I don’t recommend letting your child eat in a moving car, I’ve definitely let mine eat after a swimming lesson or play session before we’ve driven off and I find that because of the deep folds and grooves of these seat,s it’s really easy for crumbs to fall into the crevices and that this seat is harder to clean than many others because of it. The other fairly annoying thing about this seat is the harness system and how it works. Do you remember that track system I spoke so highly of? Since you’re not feeding a belt into it, the latch release comes from the bottom because it has to be. It’s basically the reverse of every other car seat where you’re unlatching from the bottom. It’s a bit awkward to say the least. You’ll get used to it eventually but also means that your child’s legs are likelier to get a bit tangled in them when you pull them out of the seat.
Please remember that if you don’t feel comfortable installing your own car seats or need a second set of eyes, many local fire departments or police stations have registered child passenger safety specialists. You can also check with your province’s branch of the CAA to see if they have a program or can provide some guidance. Here in British Columbia, BCAA has installation clinics at many of their service locations (mainly in the Fraser Valley but growing) and their own certification program.
The Evenflo Symphony LX Carseat is now available online at BestBuy.ca