Key features of the Joie Every Stage FX ISOFIX car seat:
Age suitability: Birth until 12 years
Rear-facing until: Approx 4 (18kg)
Additional cost of ISOFIX base: Included in price
Total cost from birth to 12 years: £250
Travel system compatible: No
Choosing a car seat is one of the most intimidating processes for a parent. Safety is an issue with anything you buy but unlike other baby equipment this seat could one day be a lifesaver, so it’s so important to make the right choice.
Of course all car seats are tested to safety standards but then there’s the added problem of human error – the car seat has to be easy to use and come with clear instructions otherwise you could end up fitting it incorrectly or fumbling with the straps.
So I was very excited to get the opportunity to try the Joie Every Stage FX ISOFIX car seat. It’s designed for use from birth to 36kg (approximately 12 years old) which means, in theory, that this is the only car seat you’ll ever need – a very exciting prospect and one which justifies the £250 price tag.
I have two children, Rufus and Elena. At eleven months, Elena has recently outgrown her rear-facing infant seat, which came with the Mee-Go Milano travel system and at nearly four years old Rufus was ready to move on from his Group 1 seat (a Britax) so I was curious to see how the Joie Every Stage FX ISOFIX car seat worked for both of them.
Watch 5 things to know about the Joie Every Stage FX car seat
Unlike many other 1/2/3 seats this one can be used from birth and has a rear-facing option up to four years old as well as multiple recline settings which help set it apart from the crowd.
Right from when I unboxed it, the Everystage felt trustworthy. It has a sturdy outer shell, the seat seemed very comfortable and the fabric hard-wearing. The Ember colour (a kind of mottled brown) looked stylish and dirt resistant. I also likes the optional side-impact protectors which you can pull out.
I have one criticism, which could be said for any age-adjustable car seat. The more different variations there are for one seat, the easier it is to get something wrong.
I would recommend downloading the manual from the Joie website as it’s more easily searchable in pdf form.
What is the difference between the Joie Every Stage and the Every Stage FX?
Joie (pronounced “joy”) is one of the pioneers of the multi-stage car seat – we reviewed the previous model, the Every Stage and the Every Stage FX has the same features with a few very welcome tweaks and improvements including:
Installation with ISOFIX and a top tether to provide further anchorage – my favourite addition as this makes things much more versatile.
Reinforced steel inner seat.
Softer five-point harness for a more comfortable ride
Three piece flexible insert system for infants with bits you can remove and adjust to keep your baby comfy.
What age is it best for?
The Joie Every Stage FX ISOFIX multistage car seat is suitable from birth to 12 years but I would say it really comes into its own in the toddler setting (9-18kg).
The multi-recline functions and fact that you can switch between front and rear facing make it the most versatile for this age group. However it is also much more sturdy and protective than many of the seats I’ve seen for older children.
Would you use it for a newborn?
Newborn is the only stage I was unable to test as my baby was too old. However the newborn insert pad looked and felt like good quality and it comes with removable padding to cradle and support your baby as he or she grows which is a very welcome addition.
Of course many parents prefer to use a portable newborn seat which locks into a travel system, and that’s definitely not a possibility with this one.
The first position I tested was the rear-facing infant setting without the insert. This setting doesn’t come with ISOFIX so I installed it with the seatbelt, following the instructions provided.
The seatbelt is held in place by two really firm clips which is a great idea as it gives you an extra level of security. However it does make it harder to give the seatbelt one last tighten once it’s installed.
The other disadvantage I found with the rear facing setting was that it was hard to pull the straps tight. As with most car seats the straps are tightened by pulling on a tab at the bottom of the seat but when the seat is fitted rear-facing the tab is tucked away against the seat. I ended up repeatedly undoing the seatbelt which held the car seat in place to adjust the straps. So this wasn’t my favourite setting and I was glad my baby was ready to move onto the forward facing position.
The ISOFIX hooks are easy to operate – they go in with a reassuring click and the fitting changes from red to green to show you they’ve latched on. A quick press of the buttons and the seat pops out again.
The 5-point harness is recommended to last until your child is around 18kg and it still fits my almost four-year-old son well.
One very cool thing about the design: when the time comes to remove the straps and use the car’s three-point seatbelt you don’t have to unthread the straps and store them away – they tuck away behind the upholstery out of sight. This means there’s no chance of losing them and if you suddenly have to use it for a younger child you can whip them out again at a moment’s notice.
At 13.9kg this is considerably heavier than the original Every Stage, which is 8.2kg, and it feels incredibly sturdy thanks to that steel inner core. The fabric covers feel hard wearing and stain-resistant – little wonder as it has been built to withstand eight years of use and abuse from lively children! Call me in eight years and I’ll let you know how well it lasted – but for now it looks terrific.
How is strapping your children in?
The buckle is easy to fasten and feels very strong and secure. Personally, I always have trouble adjusting car seat straps while my child wriggles and fidgets and this one is no exception.
The mechanism for adjustment is pretty much the same as with any car seat but I found it a little stiff to tighten – you have to get it at exactly the right angle. Both children seemed to appreciate the soft padding of the harness especially the comfy padding between the legs.
One stress with our old car seat was having to re-thread the straps as our baby grew – which seemed to involve dismantling the whole thing and worrying about whether we’d put it back together right. But with this seat the height of the straps adjusts as you move the head rest up and down – much less faff. However this does mean that if you adjust the headrest with the child in situ you need to check that the straps fit right.
What’s the headrest like?
When my son fell asleep the headrest supported his head very nicely. It fit quite close to his head but as you raise the headrest it automatically widens which means it won’t be too snug as he grows.
The headrest has 10 different positions so it can be adjusted to exactly the right height for your child and the side wings of the head rest widen automatically as it is raised, so it can fit growing children. The instructions tell you how to adjust the headrest to the right height for your child – keep referring to them as they grow.
How easy is it to recline the seat?
The recline feature is fantastic and very easy to use. There are six settings – two for rear-facing and four for forward facing, which is handy if you have older children who still like to snooze in the back.
What other safety features are there?
The inner seat shell is reinforced steel giving greater structural integrity than the previous Every Stage model. The side wings also look incredibly strong and feel supportive to the touch.
What do you think of the size of the car seat?
This is a big 13.9kg beast which takes up a lot of space and this presents a problem for us. My husband is very tall we have a relatively small car which means that my son has to sit frogs-leg style whenever my husband is driving – cue lots of complaints and chair-kicking. We can’t use the recline feature at all if he’s at the wheel and rear-facing is not an option either.
The size and bulk makes it super safe but also difficult to switch the seat from one side of the car to the other which is, for us, a disadvantage. This is obviously a very specific problem to our family and if I ever find a car seat which solves it I’ll let you know!
Can it be used rear-facing until a child is four/18kg?
If your child is used to a rear-facing seat and sitting in the ‘frogs leg’ position then this shouldn’t be a problem – mine is used to forward facing and was less happy about it. The only other issue I have, as mentioned above, is the difficulty tightening the five-point harness when installed in the rear-facing position.
Incredibly easy – a quick wipe down with a cloth or wet wipe got rid of most of my son’s messes – unlike his previous car seat which is still covered in grubby smudges. Thank goodness for patterned, hard wearing fabric!
It looks as though the padding on the lower part of the seat can be removed for cleaning although I haven’t had to do so yet.
I would thoroughly recommend it but be prepared to spend time getting the fit just right and practising with the straps and head rest height – just for your own sense of reassurance.
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