Key features of the Joie i-Level car seat:
Age suitability: Birth to 15 months
Installation: ISOFIX only
Features: Near lie-flat seat; side impact protection; large sun canopy
Travel system compatible with: Joie Mytrax, Chrome and Litetrax, and with other pushchairs using Maxi-Cosi car seat adapters
Baby products manufacturer Joie are quickly becoming synonymous with child car seats in the UK. Joining the already vast collection, the i-level was created to conform to the latest i-size car seat laws.
The idea is to keep children rear facing until 15 months old at a minimum, as well as improving safety features such as introducing side-impact testing standards. It also requires that the car seat must use ISOFIX, so your vehicle will need ISOFIX in order to meet i-size regulations.
The i-level not only meets i-size standards, but is also the first Joie i-size car seat to have a near lie-flat feature. This feature led to the i-Level scooping the gold medal in the 2018 MadeForMums Awards for best Infant/Group 0+ car seat.
Retailing at £225, this seat is comparable in price to other lie-flat seats like the Cybex Cloud Q (£220) is cheaper than the Britax Baby SAFE i-Size (£190 plus £175 base) and the Kiddy Evo-Luna i-Size Car Seat.
How does it install in the car?
The seat installs via ISOFIX connectors only, so no using the car seat belt. With ISOFIX it is a quick and simple process.
The base remains in place in the back of the car making it quick and easy to put the seat into the car with your napping child already in place.
Despite the obvious benefits offered by the included ISOFIX base, this was also where I discovered one of my few gripes with the seat. I simply didn’t feel confident that I had clipped the seat into the base properly.
Tilly is our third child and my eldest two used a Maxi-Cosi Pebble with the optional Maxi-Cosi ISOFIX base. The Maxi-Cosi base felt far more substantial and offered very clear visual and audible feedback that the seat was securely installed.
The joie i-Level does have two small window indicators at the side of each seat that goes green when installed correctly.
But they are small and not as obvious as the ones on the Maxi-Cosi.
I really missed this feedback with the Joie base and found myself rattling the seat with (generally misplaced) paranoia much to Tilly’s amusement or annoyance (depending on her mood).
This paranoia did reduce with time and experience but I never felt as confident as I did with the other bases I have experienced.
Whist the ISOFIX is certainly an easy and safe mounting system it is unfortunately the only option available for this seat meaning you need to move the ISOFIX isofix base if you need to use it briefly in another car such as a taxi, adding to the weight and slightly reducing the flexibility and convenience of the seat.
This is a great feature! The seat has 3 different reclining positions, and diverts from the norm, in which, babies sit in a fairly upright position while in the seat. The deepest recline position is a 157 degree angle, which is the flattest position.
It’s worth nothing that is not fully flat, and not as flat as car seats like the Jane Matrix. so while it’s a great option, your baby will still be in a seated position.
Saying that, Tilly certainly looked comfy and managed to have a short nap quite happily in the seat while we were out in the car.
It was easy to move between the different reclining positions with the lever and the transitions were smooth.
The near lie flat position can be used in the car, on a travel system. This is definitely a plus point to me!
How comfy is it?
The seat looks very comfortable and well padded. Tilly always seemed very comfy and cosy nestled in ample padding with good head support.
How is strapping your children in?
It was super easy to strap the baby in with a three point harness, and it was also really easy to adjust the straps to the correct length. There was a button to press to lengthen and then a strap to pull to tighten. Pretty standard!
I really liked the overall design. It looked comfortable and modern. It comes in range of different colours so you can choose what suits you best.
The carry handle has a quality leatherette finish giving it a touch of class and expensive feel.
It has a great sun canopy which was quick and easy to put up and really helpful for those rare sunny days to keep the sun out of little eyes.
Does it feel sturdy?
The build quality of the seat felt excellent. Everything felt well-made and robust and the fabric was high quality. I feel like this seat would survive anything my little girl could throw at it (praise indeed).
How was the headrest?
The ‘Grow together’ 7 position headrest and harness system simultaneously adjust so you don’t have to re-thread the harness.
I love the idea of this having spent many an hour over the years twisting my fingers into uncomfortable positions to adjust other car seats.
The harness seems quick and simple to adjust but given Tilly size and age I didn’t really try this very much during my tests.
The Tri-Protect headrest with its intelli-fit foam apparently provides certified side impact protection for added safety and parental peace of mind.
As well as these claims the headrest seemed super comfortable and offered great support for Tilly’s head and prevented any head lolling during naps on long journeys.
What do you think of the size of it?
It is a substantial seat. The size felt reassuring and Tilly looked cocooned and protected within it. At 78.1cm long it looked massive in the back of our small car. I had to move the passenger seat forward to accommodate it.
This is in part due to the fact the seat can accommodate children up to 84 cm and 13 kg which is a real benefit. However owners of small cars or long legged passengers may need to beware.
How heavy is the Joie i-Level?
This was one of the few really negative aspects of this seat for me. At 9.95kg it is heavier than many of the other car seats in its category and pretty much twice the weight of the infant seat I was used to.
This matters less with a newborn but becomes an increasing issue as your bundle of joy grows, especially if you are using it as part of a travel system.
This weight would make me more inclined to reach for our old seat if I knew I would be doing multiple transfers in and out of the car once Tilly had gained a few pounds.
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Is the Joie i-Level car seat travel system compatible?
Yes, very much so. It is compatible with the Joie Mytrax, Chrome, Chrome DLX, Litetrax 4, Pact and Crosster pushchairs as well as being compatible with any pushchair that uses the maxicosi adapters.
This is fantastic as these are widely available and makes the seat compatible with most brands of pushchair. It was quick and simple to install in the travel system on our pushchair.
Again it is worth noting that the reclining options are available when it is being used in a travel system.
Is it easy to clean?
The fabric is durable and easy to wipe clean. Although we didn’t need to as everything wiped off, the instructions state that both the canopy and the seat pad can be removed in-order to be washed at 30 degrees.
Is it value for money?
At an RRP of £250 which includes both the seat and isofix base this does seem good value compared to its direct competitors. The inclusion of the isofix base is a real bonus at this price point as this often needs to be purchased separately at additional cost.
In general I would recommend the Joie I-Size. This is a quality feeling seat which offers good value for money and feels safe and comfortable for your baby.
It should be suitable for rear facing for all but the largest of children up to the lawfully required 15 months of age which is a real added value.
The only real negative for me is the weight of the seat which can be an issue if you are small like me, and especially if you are planning on using it extensively as part of a travel system.
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