Joie are pioneers of multi-stage car seats and a leader in the market, with the popular Joie Stages and Joie Every Stage seats being the most similar to the Stages FX. With an RRP of £190 and suitable up to age 7, it sits in between these two models in terms of how long it can be used for and its cost – the Joie Stages has an RRP of £150 and is suitable up to age 4, and the Every Stage costs £250 and can be used up to age 12.
Rachael Sharpe tested the Joie Stages FX car seat with her 2-year-old son, Dylan, in her VW Polo.
First impressions of the Joie Stages FX car seat?
Unboxing the Joie Stages FX, I’m struck by how big and heavy it is, but also by how well made and comfy it appears. Once I remind myself that this is a seat that will last the first 7 years of a child’s life – and look at how big my 2-year-old is already, I actually find myself admiring its proportions.
How does the Joie Stages FX compare to other seats in this category?
It places well within the multi-stage car seat category – I can see the Stages FX being a popular choice over both the Joie Stages and Joie Every Stage as it seems to hit a sweet spot in terms of price point and longevity. However, those with a bigger budget may well still go for the Silver Cross Motion (RRP £350, up to age 4), which I feel has the edge – if the extra £170 is no barrier – thanks to its 360-degree swivel.
What age is this car seat suitable for?
The Joie Stages FX can be used from birth up until age 7. I tested it with my 2-year-old, who is big for his age and already in size 3-4 clothes. He was super comfy in the seat and I’m confident, due to its generous proportions and clever design, an average-sized 7-year-old could use it comfortably as a booster seat.
How does the Joie Stages FX install in the car, and how easy is it?
I fitted the car seat with the integrated Isofix, which was easy. However, it’s not yet the law that you must use Isofix (which reduces the risk of human fitting error) so you can fit the Stages FX with a seatbelt instead – instructions for this are included in the manual.
The Joie Stages FX was the first seat I’ve fitted myself but with the included Isofix base and clear, colour-coded installation paths it was very straightforward. When using the Isofix points, it goes green to tell you you’ve done it correctly, which I found reassuring. I fitted my seat forward-facing for my toddler, as this is what he is used to. Using the top tether made it feel even more secure. It took me around five minutes and I felt completely confident I had fitted it correctly.
Does it feel securely installed, once in place?
Yes, the Stages FX feels very secure indeed. I also really like (maybe as I’m a tiny bit lazy/pushed for time) that once you’ve fitted the seat forward-facing there’s no need to refit or even rethread the harness, even when it becomes a booster seat. Once it’s fitted, it’s fitted.
How easy is it to strap your child into the Joie Stages FX car seat?
It’s fairly easy. I lift my toddler into the seat and let him get comfy before putting the straps on – fastening and tightening using the standard pull cord with a single tug. However, I do prefer the actual belt clip on my Joie Stages seat, as I find that sometimes I have to align the two clips on the Stages FX more than once to get it right.
What do you think of the design?
I am a really big fan of the design of the Joie Stages FX. My son was a big baby (10lb 12oz when he was born) and he has been a good grower since. This has meant that he’s flown through equipment and clothes and was quickly too heavy for his baby car seat. If I have any subsequent children, I would definitely go for a seat such as the Joie Stages FX, where they can stay rear facing up to 18kg but then use the seat forward-facing right up until 25kg. As well as the extensive padding for a comfy ride, the fabric has a nice quality feel to it and features side shell ventilation. The fabric on the headrest is breathable to allow airflow, which is definitely a good thing if you do a lot of driving or your child is a serial car napper, like mine.
Does the Joie Stages FX feel sturdy and safe?
At 13.92kg, the Joie Stages FX is a very heavy seat – and it certainly feels sturdy. Its weight is due to the Baby Armour steel frame, which has been designed to keep the car seat strong during impact and extends the life of the materials of the seat to 10 years. Joie have designed this seat with added weight to keep it tight and low to the vehicle seat for better stability and protection. I have had no qualms whatsoever about it being absolutely safe for my son.
If you can, how do you adjust the size of the Joie Stages FX as your child grows?
The seat is cleverly designed so that you go between the three stages using its flexible insert system – a simple idea that works really well and makes it easy to customise for your child. The Joie Stages FX also features a multi-height headrest and harness system which adjust simultaneously – Joie call this ‘Grow Together’. To adjust the height of the seat you just squeeze the head support adjustment lever, while pulling or pushing the head support into one of the five positions. There’s a little snap, so you know it’s in.
How comfortable is the Joie Stages FX for your child?
Very. I think he appreciates all the padding on the straps and between the legs, as he’s consistently been happy to get in and always looks happy in it. He’s fallen asleep in it every day we’ve used it and when he sleeps he looks comfortable, too.
Tell us about its main safety features. Does the Joie Stages FX comply with new i-Size regulations?
For anyone not yet in the know, i-Size is a new European-wide car seat regulation (the first phase of a safety standard called R129), which aims to make car seats safer. It’s been designed to keep kids rear-facing for longer and provide better side impact protection, as well as making car seats easier to fit properly. For more info, there’s a guide here. The Joie Stages FX certainly complies, and even goes above and beyond.
The Joie Stages FX has a host of safety features including allowing your child to be kept rear-facing to 18kg, Isofix plus top tether in group one forward-facing and Isosafe connection in group two booster mode, a reinforced steel frame and side impact protection for added head, body and hip protection.
What do you think of the size and weight of the Joie Stages FX car seat?
The Joie Stages FX is a big, heavy seat, but its weight is one of its safety features (it helps anchor it down). At 13.92kg it is heavy to carry around but not unmanageable – I lifted it using both arms, like a giant toddler who doesn’t want to leave a playgroup! Despite its size it was easy to get into my modestly-sized VW Polo and it was easy to fit. If I needed to swap it between two cars, its bulk wouldn’t actually put me off.
Is it easy to clean?
Yes. The fabric on the Joie Stages FX seems very durable. To date, I’ve just been cleaning up any snack mishaps with a wet wipe and it still looks new.
Which feature do you like most in the Joie Stages FX car seat?
The three features I like best in the Joie Stages FX are its longevity (I really hate it when I buy something for my toddler and he immediately outgrows it), the fact it’s super safe – thanks to the combination of the Isofix, top tether and steel frame – and, lastly, that Dylan finds it really comfy.
Is it a stylish product?
Yes, it is. The Joie Stages FX car seat looks comfortable and is easy on the eye. It comes in three colours – Ember, Slate and Lychee. I liked the brightness of the Lychee and that it’s a bit different, but if I were to choose, I would pick the Ember as I feel that over the course of several years the Lychee will probably look grubbier as it’s lighter.
Is the Joie Stages FX good value?
Absolutely. This seat has the same safety features you would expect in a more expensive seat – namely Isofix installation, top tether when used in forward-facing group one mode and the added recline positions. In my opinion, it’s worth every penny of the £190 RRP.
What’s in the box?
- Joie Stages FX car seat with integrated Isofix base
- Comprehensive instruction book
How easy was the Joie Stages FX car seat to assemble?
There was no assembling at all – it comes ready to fit. I simply removed the first insert and carried it out to my car.
Are there any accessories needed or available?
No, everything you need for the Joie Stages FX is in the box.
Which type of family is the Joie Stages FX car seat best for?
This is a great choice for anyone who wishes to simply purchase one seat to see them through seven years. I would say it’s particularly good for anyone who has a big baby as it allows rear-facing for so long and your child won’t grow out of it in a blink of the eye. However, as it’s a big seat and isn’t travel system-compatible, it’s not a good choice for anyone wanting to use their car seat with a pushchair chassis.
Would you recommend this car seat?
Having used the Joie Stages FX extensively, I would definitely recommend this car seat. If I were to have another child, I wouldn’t hesitate to fit the newborn insert and put them in it too – I used a sling rather than pushchair almost exclusively at first so it not being travel system-compatible wouldn’t be an issue for me. I would however be torn between this and the Joie Every Stage FX car seat, which also uses Isofix and a top tether but lasts up until age 12. The Every Stage FX is £60 more, which I feel makes them pretty much equal in terms of value. Personally, I would opt for this one and then change booster around age 7 because I feel the seat will probably need refreshing in terms of cleanliness by then.
Where can I buy the Joie Stages FX car seat?
I was really impressed with the Joie Stages FX and would recommend it to a friend without hesitation. I loved its safety features and comfort, and was surprised by the ease of fitting it and changing through the stages. Plus, a car seat that lasts seven years? Yes, please!
Dimensions & Weight
|Child age (approx)||Birth to 7 years – Age to 4 years rearward facing|
|Car seat installation||Isofix connectors|
|Removeable cover for washing||Yes|
|Side crash protection||Yes|
|Height adjustible headrest||Yes|