Key features of the Joie Bold Group 1/2/3 car seat:
Age suitability: 9 months to 12 years (9-36kg)
Installation: ISOFIX, seat belt and top tether
Features: Multi-stage car seat; side impact protection; harness to 25kg
Joie is a British brand that was started by a group of friends and parents with a simple mission: to share the joy with new parents worldwide. Hence the company name, which is pronounced ‘joy’, in case you were wondering.
Retailing at £175, the Bold comes in at considerably less than some of the other branded models and boasts just as many if not more safety features, including five-point harness protection for up to 25kg, which is usually around the age of a six year old, making it exceptionally good value, especially when you consider that it’s designed to fit a child from the age of 9 months until 12 years.
My son Rocco is now nearly two and has been very comfortable in his Group 0+/1 Britax car seat but he’s swiftly running out of leg room behind my husband so we were very keen to try a seat that would both allow Rocco to sit more upright and save us some precious room. The Bold, which projects out from the backrest about 52cm in the most reclined position, is still a good 7cm shallower than our current seat when in its most upright position.
Watch 5 things you need to know about the Joie Bold car seat
The Joie Bold is sold on the fact it has a long-lasting 5-point harness, but how long does it last?
The 5-point harness on the Bold is designed to fit a child weighing up to 25kg, which roughly equates to a six-year-old. Of course, there are plenty of younger children who weigh 25kg and many older children who don’t quite tip the scales at 25kg so how long the harness will fit your child will vary.
That said, the longer a child is strapped in a 5-point harness, the better as it tends to be far safer and more comfortable than using an adult belt as the sole means of restraint.
It’s great and seems very comfortable thanks to extra chest and crotch padding which is a cinch to slide off and remove. The buckle is easy to do up and undo (perhaps a little too easy – I can imagine my four-year-old son easily being able to undo it himself) and the harness can be tightened by gently pulling the length of belt in the middle of the seat, between baby’s legs, downwards.
The only thing I found tricky was pulling out the webbing to allow Rocco to put his arms in more comfortably. There must be a knack to it but I couldn’t master it.
A Group /1/2/3 chair, what’s the best age child for this car seat and why?
Although car seats such as the Bold, which span a huge range of ages, are perfectly safe to carry children from the tender age of about 9 months (i.e. once the child weighs 9kg), I personally think high-back booster seats are best used from the age of about three or four years, when a child is less likely to fall asleep during car journeys and therefore more likely to control his or her head.
Although the Bold has three recline positions, none of them allow the seat to tilt back far enough to properly support Rocco’s head and neck when he is asleep, causing his poor head to slump forwards, which must be uncomfortable and is possibly dangerous. This criticism is aimed at all high-back booster seats and not just the Bold; my older son’s Cosatto presented the exact same issue.
It’s forward-facing only, what do you think of that?
With all the recent research pointing to increased safety when children are secured in rear-facing seats for as long as possible and ideally up to the age of four years, plus the new i-Size standard that requires children to be in a rear-facing seat until they’re at least 15 months old, forward-facing car seats such as the Bold are not necessarily the first choice for babies and smaller children.
But even if you bought this seat for a four-year-old child, you’d potentially still get eight years of use from it, which is impressive.
In up to three ways at once. It has 9 position ISOSAFE connectors that attach to ISOFIX anchors in the car; it has a top tether, which is effectively a hook attached to a length of seatbelt webbing that attaches from the back of the seat to a corresponding anchorage point on your car; and it also requires a vehicle safety belt that you either feed in the gaps behind the seat in conjunction with the 5-point harness (when used as a Group 1 seat) or in front of your child (when used as a Group 2/3 seat).
What do you think of the design?
It’s very smart and streamlined so any part that isn’t in use (for example, the 5-point harness when the seat is being used for an older child) fits neatly into a compartment or tucks into the seat.
Even the excess webbing on the bottom of the harness (that usually hangs down between baby’s legs) attaches under the seat with a piece of Velcro so there are no loose ends anywhere.
Plus its grey and black colour scheme look elegant and stylish, although it’s not massively practical. I found it showed up every crumb that Rocco dropped and was stained within a few days. But the cup holder, which can be positioned on either side, is a nice touch.
Does it feel sturdy?
Yes, very. Group 1/2/3 car seats tend to be heavy but one of the advantages is that they feel robust. The only part that I suspect may not be as durable as the rest of the seat is the extendable headrest portion, which extends with a lever.
This is the only part of the seat that seems like it may be prone to damage if it wasn’t treated with care over time, probably because it extends such a long way from the rock-solid chair.
Really easy. Once I’d managed to loosen the harness, I placed Rocco into the seat and he obligingly put his arms through the harness straps. He found the seat really comfortable and happily settled back against the backrest, allowing me click the buckle into place easily.
What’s the headrest like? How many positions does the headrest have?
It’s one of my favourite features as the headrest can be adjusted with one hand by simply pulling a lever in the handle above the seat back and sliding the headrest up or down.
It has an impressive ten different positions and, best of all, the harness adjusts simultaneously so when you move the headrest up or down, the harness moves in sync so you don’t need to spend time faffing about rethreading straps.
How many seat positions are there and how easy is it to recline the seat?
This seat is only forward-facing and it has three positions, allowing your child to go from completely upright to slightly reclining.
It is very simple to recline your child by pulling the recline adjustment button under the seat towards you and pushing or pulling the seat into your chosen position.
You can do this with one hand from the front seat, which is handy if you need to reposition your child while you’re on the move (but obviously not while driving!)
Do you think the side wings provide good protection?
The Bold features side impact protection for added security for the head, body and hips. It certainly seems solid and has obviously met the UK’s stringent safety guidelines.
The Bold has also been fitted with what Joie describe as Guard Surround Safety panels that provide extra side impact protection.
These are essentially small plastic panels that pop out of the top of the seat sides. The idea is that they fold back into the seat when not in use to save space but as they don’t project out that far, we leave them open.
I can imagine that, if we closed them every time we got Rocco out of his seat, we’d forget to open them when we put him back in and a safety feature is no use to anyone if it’s not engaged.
What do you think of the size of the car seat?
In terms of its dimensions, apart from the depth of the seat, the Bold is larger than the Britax Group 0+/1 that Rocco has been travelling in. But it still fits comfortably on the seat. With the body support cushion for younger children removed, it’s easily roomy enough to accommodate my older child and will likely fit both boys until they are almost 12 years old, particularly as the headrest extends by nearly 20cm.
Is it easy to clean?
Yes, thankfully as the drawback to the super-stylish and sumptuously soft cushion and fabric is that the grey and black material seem to show up every mark. Luckily, all the padding and soft parts can be machine washed up to 30 degrees.
This smart-looking car seat is slickly designed to grow with your child from 9kg to 36kg but as it’s only forward facing, I’d recommend it for children who no longer require rear-facing seats with a greater recline. Standout features include ISOFIX connectors and a top tether for easy and secure installation and a clever headrest and harness system that allows you to adjust both simultaneously using just one hand. For added safety, the 5-point harness can be used on children weighing up to 25kg.
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