The Britax Pinnacle G1.1 is everything a booster car seat should be: a seat that keeps your children safe until they don’t need a booster seat anymore. It does this by offering the highest weight and height limits available for any booster seat on the market besides its cheaper sibling, the Frontier, and it does it while offering an extensive amount of side impact protection on top of an excellent and easy to use installation system. This is a review on the Pinnacle and why it should be the only booster seat you ever buy.
2017 update: Britax updated the Pinnacle 90 and renamed it the Pinnacle G.1.1. The height and weight limits (as well as the dimensions and weight) of the seat remain the same. It’s still one of the two best combination seats on the market, as well as one of the best booster seats on the market.
The Britax Pinnacle G1.1 continues a tradition of versatile, high weight and height car seats that makes this one of the most impressive combination seats on the market. It’s a combination car seat, which means it can be used in two configurations: as a forward-facing seat and as a booster. Released by Britax alongside its high weight sibling the Frontier, the Pinnacle is a combination car seat that should be on every parent’s shopping list.
Britax Pinnacle G1.1 Limits for Weight and Height
Forward-facing: 25-90 pounds, and between 30 and 58″ in height. The seated shoulder height of the child can range between 12.5 and 20.5.” The top harness straps need to either be at or above your child’s shoulders, and the ears of the child must not extend above the headrest. Your child should be at least 2-years-old. Of course, research into car safety indicates children should remain rear-facing for as long as possible (the average is 4 years in Sweden, which posts the lowest child fatality rate on Earth), and after rear-facing, the child should remain forward-facing as long as possible. Also note that using a harness is required when using the seat in harnessed mode if the child weighs more than 65 pounds, although Britax recommends it in every installation.
Booster mode: 40-120 pounds, and between 45 and 62″ in height. The seated shoulder height of the child can range between 15 and 23.” The shoulders of the child need to be at or below the shoulder belt positioner. Remember that children should remain in booster seats until their seat belts fit them over the shoulder, across the chest, and flat on the upper thighs, which is also known as the 5-step rule.
Dimensions of the Britax Pinnacle G1.1
The seat is 22.5″ wide at its widest point, which is at the shoulders. The seat weighs 26.5 pounds. Inside, it is around 15.5″ wide at the widest upper portion at the shoulders and 12″ wide in the seat area.
Using the Britax Pinnacle G1.1
The seat arrives in a box that’s designed very well; you don’t have to struggle to get the seat out of the box, which is nice when you consider that it has a decent amount of weight behind it. The seat essentially just slides out, which is where the fun begins.
The installation of the seat is a dream. In fact, it’s my second favorite thing about the Pinnacle after its harness height range. What I’m talking about is the ClickTight seat belt installation system. It’s designed to allow you to make a safe installation through what is essentially an automatic belt tensioner. I love this! All you need to do is lift the cover so you see the ClickTight panel, route the belt through the green path as needed, and then close the cover. It only takes a few minutes in most vehicles, and from then on, all you need to do is attach your top tether strap to the appropriate tether anchor.
Don’t worry about LATCH weight limits! Don’t worry about complex paths for routing the belt! Don’t worry about locking clips! It’s that easy in the majority of vehicles. This is a reason that, by itself, would make the Pinnacle worth considering.
Besides this, the instructions are quite clear, the 5-point harness is designed to be very difficult to tangle, and the covers are easy to take off, which makes things easier for washing, since booster-aged children inevitably have spills and messes at one point or another.
Why Buy the Britax Pinnacle G1.1?
This is the meat and potatoes of this car seat. Along with the Frontier, the Pinnacle leads the car seat industry in the United States with its high top harness height setting of 20.5.” Most children outgrow their combination seats by height long before they do by weight simply because most combination seats only offer top harness heights, or upper shoulder heights for children, of 18″ or 19.” Remember that when forward-facing, with very few exceptions, a child can no longer use a seat once his or her shoulders are level with the top harness. Because of the mega-height of the Pinnacle, outgrowing it by height is a lot harder. Of course children who are in the tallest percentiles by height will still likely outgrow it by height before doing so by weight, but right now, this is as good as it gets. This alone is reason enough to buy the Pinnacle. The fact that it comes after the easy installation is just icing on the cake.
Besides that fact, the Pinnacle includes a feature that the Frontier does not: Side Impact Cushion Technology. What’s Side Impact Cushion Technology? It’s Britax’s code name for cushions designed to absorb energy that are situated on either side of the car seat. They reduce the energy of side impacts, per Britax, by funneling the forces around the child via the car seat, reducing the child’s exposure to the potentially life-threatening forces I discuss on a daily basis on this blog in side impact collisions. An added bonus is that the cushions are also designed to give a bit of extra protection to any passengers next to the Pinnacle. To me, that’s pretty amazing.
In addition to these features, the Pinnacle also includes a steel frame to keep the seat from flexing forward as much in the event of a crash. It also features EPP foam around the child’s head and body to increase levels of side impact protection and reduce stress and strain on the body during collisions. All of these are good things.
As noted above, you are likely to be able to keep children safely harnessed while forward facing in the Pinnacle longer than in any other car seat, which is a good thing once you’re done rear-facing. Each transition in child seats signifies a decrease in safety (e.g., rear-facing is safer than forward-facing, which is safer than a booster position, which is safer than simply using a seat belt); the longer you can keep a child forward-facing in a harness, the better. Along with the Frontier, the Pinnacle now leads the field here.
Finally, the Pinnacle is wider than the Frontier by about 3 inches, which means it’s not going to be as easy to install in a 3 across position in a number of midsized vehicles. However, I like the fact that it has a 9-year usable life (remember, car seats do expire eventually), which is great, although there are seats with longer lifespans (e.g., the newest Dionos).
The Pinnacle G1.1 is an excellent car seat and, in my opinion, one of the two best combination car seats currently available in the United States for children above the age of 4. It’s likely to be the last seat your child needs before s/he is ready for a regular adult seat belt. You can buy the Britax Pinnacle G1.1 in a range of colors here. Canadians can buy the Pinnacle 90 here.
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