The Britax Pioneer G1.1 is one of the best options for front-facing and boostering currently on the market. This was the case in 2014 when I initially reviewed this seat, and having used the latest 2017 version of the seat, I can confirm that it continues to be one of the best options for combination seats on the market today. Even though it’s not as feature-filled in terms of height limits, weight limits, or side impact protection as its siblings the Frontier and Pinnacle, the Pioneer is still well worthy of consideration for parents interested in a safe and effective front-facing and booster seat for their children. Let’s take a closer look at it together.
2017 update: Britax updated the Pioneer 70 and renamed it the Pioneer 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 better booster seats on the market.
2017 Britax Pioneer G1.1 – What’s the big deal?
The Britax Pioneer 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 as a lower-cost alternative to its high weight siblings the Frontier and Pinnacle, the Pioneer is a combination car seat that should be on every parent’s shopping list.
Britax Pioneer G1.1 Limits for Weight and Height
Forward-facing: 25-70 pounds, and between 30 and 56″ in height. The seated shoulder height of the child can range between 12.5″ and 19.5.” Your child should be at least 2-years-old and weigh at least 25 pounds.
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: 40-110 pounds, and between 45″ and 60″ in height. The seated shoulder height of the child can range between 15″ and 22″.” 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.
Dimensions of the Britax Pioneer G1.1
The seat is 19″ wide at its widest point, which is at the shoulders. The seat weighs 21 pounds. Inside, it is around 15.5″ wide at the widest upper portion at the shoulders and 12″ wide in the seat area. The harness slot heights range from 12.5″ to 19.5″ in 8 steps one inch apart.
Using the Britax Pioneer 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 Pioneer is a rather straightforward seat to install, and I do like that the seat belt path is quite open, which helps with avoiding frustration and scraped knuckles. The LATCH installation is also rather simple, and I like the way the LATCH connectors can be stored out of the way when not in use.
The seat itself shares a lot in common with other Britax seats, including in its appearance. It’s a heavy seat and looks solid. The no-rethread harnesses are easy enough to adjust, which I like, and the harness release lever is significantly easier to access on the Pioneer than it is on the Frontier 90. Unfortunately, covers between the two seats are not interchangeable, so you won’t save money buying one of each in that respect. The seat is also padded nicely and has a design that keeps kids’ heads from slumping. The covers also go on and come off easily.
Why Buy the Britax Pioneer G1.1?
This is the meat and potatoes of this car seat. The Pioneer is one of the best combination seats in the car seat industry in the United States with its high top harness height setting of 19.5.” It’s not the best, but it’s very close.
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″ to 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.
Since the Pioneer has a higher harness limit, children can stay harnessed longer, 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. This is why I’d consider the Pioneer.
Besides that fact, the Pioneer also includes a steel frame to keep the seat from flexing forward as much in the event of a crash. It also features EPS 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.
Finally, the Pioneer is also simply an easier seat to install than most, due to its narrow width of 19 inches. That means it’s actually possible to install 3 across in a number of midsized vehicles. I also 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). I also like that it’s made locally in the US.
The Pioneer is an excellent car seat and, in my opinion, one of the three best combination car seats currently available in the United States for children above the age of 4. The only combination seats I believe do a better job are the Frontier and Pinnacle. However, it’s possible that it might be the last seat your child needs before s/he is ready for a regular adult seat belt. You can buy the Britax Pioneer G1.1 in a range of colors here. Canadians can buy it here.
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