I hate car seats. They are big and bulky and probably one of the hardest things to install in a car when you become a parent. I’ve gone through three car seats now… and getting ready to add in our fourth with the birth of our son almost any day now.
When our first was going from an infant car seat to a regular car seat, it wasn’t so bad… until we realized a year later that he was already too big for it and we needed to buy a new convertible car seat. It is probably one of the biggest and costliest mistakes that new parents can make. When you think about it a car seat depending on what kind you get can run you 80 bucks and if you are going through 3 of them because you don’t buy the right one in the first place, the cost keeps adding up.
Enter the Diono Radian RXT.
This thing is one of the best car seats that I have seen. It does come with a few caveats though.
Having gone through 3 car seats as it is, I though I would be able to pull it out the box and with a few clicks have it ready to go in the car. That wasn’t the case here.
When I pulled the seat out, it came with all of the infant pads in the seat. Which we didn’t plan to use since we were going to be using an infant carrier for our newborn. Which meant that I was going to have to adjust it for our 45 pound (near) six year old.
I will compare it to our current car seat the Graco Nautilus 65. For the sake of the review, I tested adjusting the 5 point harness even though our son doesn’t use it any more and uses the lap belt. This is where things for the Diono Radian RXT didn’t start off too well. Adjusting the harness isn’t the easiest of jobs. It took me quite a bit to figure how to finagle the harness to a higher setting. To guide the belts to a higher setting you had to basically make sure you knew the path through the padding and then through the plastic in the back… which didn’t always line up causing some issues of getting it to the right setting. Luckily, that isn’t something that you would have to do all of the time.
Once you adjust the 5 point harness it is time to adjust the harness buckle. This was the hardest part of the entire installation. The space that they have to adjust the buckle is not made for hands like mine. I wouldn’t say that my hands are big but the space was small enough that it made things difficult. Again, luckily you don’t have to do this everyday and once your child is in a lap belt you won’t have to worry about it. Now, let me admit here that I was a man and did not read the instructions. There is a section labeled IMPORTANT which I should have read and didn’t that said “for larger hands you can fold the restraint to access the it through the bottom.” I didn’t try this because by the time I put it in the car, I wasn’t going to take the car seat out.
When it comes to installing it in the car, it is much like the rest of the car seats you install. I attached mine via the SUPERlatch and found it quite easy… with the exception that the latches aren’t the easiest to find in my Honda Civic which has nothing to do with the Diono aRXT itself.
One of the biggest advantages to this car seat, that I’m sure not many people would think about is that it sits lower to the actual seat of the car than most car seats. For me that is a HUGE plus because our son uses a lap belt and with the Graco Nautilus he would have a hard time reaching down and buckling the seat belt. With the Diono Radian RXT it is a breeze for him. Not to mention the sides of the car seat are adjustable if you have a wider hipped child.
If you are traveling mostly by air, this car seat is one for you. For one it is FAA certified… but also if you are looking for an easy way to carry your car seat through the airport you can get a carry bag that fits the car seat when it’s folded up that make it super convenient to run from gate to gate.
Now, I do want to point out a super negative to the Diono Radian RXT… actually it isn’t just for this but meant to go towards all all-in-one car seats that go from infants to kids. When your child is an infant and they are sleeping, you will more than likely wake them up as you take them out of the rear facing seat. There is just no way around it. That is why I still recommend an infant carrier until your child is a toddler.
Overall, the Diono Radian RXT is a great car seat for your toddler. I would highly recommend it when your child reaches the toddler stage because you won’t want to be putting your infant in and out of a car seat as you are running errands. If you need that one car seat to that will be able to do it all from toddler to full-grown instead of buying 3 car seats like we have, the Diono Radian RXT is for you.
You can buy the Diono Radian RXT at select retailers for around $350.
Full Disclosure: Diono provided me the Radian RXT in exchange for this review, however the thoughts and opinions are my own.