Combination Car Seats — April 17, 2016 at 2:05 am

Britax Frontier G1.1 vs 90 vs 85

by

Britax is one of the top names in car seats and strollers for kids. This is because not only is the company known for making safe products; they also are high-quality. There are many Britax products for children, no matter what their developmental stage is. The Britax Frontier is a Combination Seat that was first introduced many years ago by Britax and has seen several updates since then. The latest model is the Britax Frontier Clicktight and prior to that there was the Britax Frontier 90 and 85, which you can still purchase but are now retired on the Britax website. These models have proved very popular and a common question is: what are the differences between the Britax Frontier 85 vs 90 vs G1.1 Clicktight?

This article compares the Frontier 85 vs 90 vs G1.1 Clicktight models so you can see the differences and features for yourself. These Britax Frontiers are all combination seats so can adapt and change as your child grows, so they’re good investments.

Britax Frontier G1.1 ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat

The latest G1.1 Clicktight version of the Britax Frontier is very highly rated in user reviews (83% 5 Stars on Amazon from 552 reviews at the time of writing). As the name suggests this model provides an update to a “Clicktight” installation feature not seen on the earlier model Frontier 85. The Frontier 85 is secured by threading a seat belt through but with the Frontier 90 and G1.1 Clicktight now there is a compartment you can open and it snaps closed over the seat belt and makes it tight. This together with another change to the adjustment mechanism for the straps in the back of the seats make installation a lot easier compared to the 85. They have also added memory foam for more comfort.

The only functional difference between the Frontier G1.1 and the Frontier 90 is that the red seatbelt guide is shaped a little differently and that the lever is a different color. The install is the same.

Features

  • It includes a tether and harness as well as steady steel frame with full side impact protection.
  • It comes with SafeCell technology. The SafeCell technology is a combination of safety components that provides your child with maximum safety and security.
  • Weight limit – 25-90 pounds in harness mode, 40-120 pounds in high back booster mode
  • Height limit – 30-58 inches in harness mode, 45-62 inches in high back booster mode
  • Harness/ High Back Booster Heights – The top harness height is 20.5 inches, the top high back booster belt guide is 23 inches.
  • Clicktight installation system makes installation with a seat belt easy
  • Optional LATCH System connectors
  • Cup holders
  • 9 year expiration
  • NHTSA 5-Star Rated – Ease of Use
  • IIHS Best Bet Booster Seat
  • Car Seat Blog 2016 Editors Pick

Pros

  • Incredibly easy to install
  • High height and weight limits
  • Very comfortable padding
  • Provides maximum security for your child

Cons

  • The seat is quite heavy which can make it difficult to move between cars.
  • It can be difficult to adjust the harness, however this has the advantage that it is also difficult for kids to do this. Compared to the 85 model kids could easily loosen the harness themselves which was a safety concern.
  • Some users have reported that the overall build quality and comfort of the seat is inferior in comparison to the Frontier 85 (narrower seat base and flimsy headrest)
  • The seat is one of the more expensive seats on the market – a good alternative would be the Graco Nautilus 3 in 1, which is much cheaper but does not compromise on quality.

Verdict

The Britax Frontier G1.1 Clicktight is our recommended choice compared to the previous 85 and 90 models. The difference in features of the G1.1 vs the 90 are minimal but there is little difference in price between these seats and we would therefore go with the later manufacturer date. The safety enhancements compared to the 85 are a good improvement from this previous extremely popular version.

Britax Frontier 90 Clicktight Combination Harness-2-Booster Car Seat

The Frontier 90 Clicktight has a metal skeletal structure that means it provides even more protection for your child while you are in the car. The safety features of the seat were updated from the previous Frontier 85 model, incorporating Clicktight installation, SafeCell technology to the base and integrated steel bars to strengthen the connection to the vehicle and reduce forward flexing of the child seat during a crash.

Features

  • Height & weight limits are the same as the Frontier G1.1.
  • Steel reinforced interior structure
  • Clicktight installation system
  • Easy remove covers – new feature not in the Frontier 85 model
  • True Side Impact Protection
  • Cup holders
  • Harness with easy to use buckles
  • Grows with child

Pros

  • Harness clicks into place
  • Headrest is easier to adjust on the Frontier 90 vs 85
  • Removable cover
  • Can hold up to 120 pounds
  • Buckles are easy to use

Cons

  • Won’t fit in all cars
  • Lap belt may not fit correctly
  • Not FAA Approved for airplane travel unlike the Frontier 85

Verdict

This model allows you to install it in your car easily and efficiently. The problem is that it doesn’t fit in all cars. However, if you have an SUV or larger automobile, you should have no problem installing it. Once it is in place in the back seat, there shouldn’t be any problems.

Britax Frontier 85

Britax Frontier 85 vs 90

This popular seat is designed to keep children safe if there’s a collision of any sort. Besides that, it can sit your child comfortably and change as your child gets bigger. This means once your child needs a front facing car seat, you can purchase this seat and use it for the long run.

Features

  • Can change into multiple seats
  • 5 Point harness
  • Head support
  • Protects from all sides
  • Constructed of high quality materials

Pros

  • The headrest on the Frontier 85 vs 90 & Clicktight is reported to be a lot more solid and sturdy and users have reported their kids found it more comfortable too. However it is not as easy to adjust.
  • Protects from side damage
  • 2 cup holders
  • Grows with child
  • Easy to install in any size car
  • Can use on a plane – an FAA Approved Car Seat is the only seat you can use on an airplane

Cons

  • Harness may be hard to get just right
  • Seat is heavy

Verdict

Besides the seat being heavy, there are few complaints about this one. It has multiple safety features and can accommodate a child until they can use a regular seat belt. It’s also easy to install in a car and is padded enough to be a good fit for even larger kids.

Conclusion

All of the Britax Frontier models have been highly rated by their users and are the top of the range combination seats in the market. There are a few differences however, which make these seats a little bit different from each other.

The Frontier 85 is unique in the fact that it is designed to be able to be used on airplanes. The seat itself is constructed to keep kids safe while they are growing and getting bigger. It has special padding in the head and on the sides. You can use this seat for babies and toddlers, and the seat actually converts so it can be used as a booster seat for grade school children. This item is a great deal since it does so many tasks. It actually does the work of at least 2-3 car seats, which you would have to replace as your child got bigger and heavier. However due to the age of this seat (it was released in 2010) it is no longer available in many places and your only choice may be to purchase the latest Clicktight version.

The Frontier G1.1 Clicktight and 90 are a little bit different than their predecessor. They are basically the same chair, but with a few upgrades. For one, these seats have a steel frame, which makes them stronger and more durable. This is definitely a good addition because it can keep a child safe if there is any sort of a problem. It also does more to keep a child sitting in the proper position in the car, which is supposed to be a natural position, like how adults sit. They also come with a cover than can be taken off and cleaned. This process comes in handy when you have a spill or accident, so you don’t have to take the whole seat in the house to clean it. Simply take the cover off and give it a quick wash. It also has an upgraded easy buckling system, so you don’t have to worry about if it is secured correctly. There is a noise and an indicator that will tell you that a child is in the seat properly. This is an upgrade from the 85 because there is no indicator or system to make it easier, which is something that customers really wanted. The downside is that the lap belt in the 90 can sit on children’s legs in the wrong place, causing them to get hurt or not be able to sit properly. This has been improved in the G1.1 Clicktight.

The bottom line is if you had to choose between the Britax Frontier G1.1 vs 90 vs 85 models they are all great seats to keep your kids safe. If you are looking for the best out of the three, it would probably be the G1.1 because of the upgraded safety features and the fact that it is easier to put a child into. It’s also still as comfortable and luxurious as the previous models, with the cup holders and wide sides, so you aren’t missing out on anything. Besides that, this is a purchase you can use for many years, so it needs to be something that’s nice and won’t wear out easily.

You can find all the information you need on Britax car seats, as well as other brands and models at Kid Sitting Safe. The site is designed to help all parents stay well informed on issues regarding car seats and travelling with kids.

2 Comments

  1. Elise Barbeau

    Hi, which one of the version previsously had a Check Fit rating from the IIHS?
    Also, do you know which version was used in the Consumer report crash tests?

    • Robert

      Hi Elise
      It looks as though this was the Britax Frontier 90 in both cases.
      The highback Frontier 85 was an IIHS Best Bet in the 2012 ratings and when the Frontier 90 was released in 2013 it initially had a Check Fit rating in the IIHS 2013 ratings. In IIHS evaluations, the seat correctly positioned the lap belt across the dummy’s thighs in all test conditions. The geometry of the highback booster’s armrest didn’t consistently provide the same lap belt fit as the earlier model. In 2 of 4 test conditions the lap belt was too high on the dummy’s abdomen, although the shoulder belt fit was good.
      However Britax resolved the IIHS concerns and discontinued the 2013 model of the Frontier 90 (along with the Pinnacle 90 and Pioneer 70 in the same year). The new model has an improved armrest design that puts the lap belt in the correct position for proper fit. The Frontier 90 were moved to a “Best Bet” in the IIHS 2014 ratings. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/safe-seats-25-new-boosters-earn-highest-iihs-rating
      The G1.1 is also an IIHS Best Bet rating.
      The Frontier 90 model was the one used in Consumer Reports Crash Testing: http://www.consumerreports.org/products/toddler-booster-seat/britax-frontier-90-227991/overview/

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *