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One of its key features is that it can be used rear-facing all the way through until your child is 4, or, if you prefer, can be used forward-facing once your toddler gets older. Maxi-Cosi is also a very trusted brand when it comes to car seats. It’s one of the leading car seat manufacturers and its products sell in over 100 countries worldwide.
Journalist and mum-of-3, Helen Copson tested the Maxi-Cosi Pro with her two-year-old twins on a series of short and long car journeys.
First impressions of the Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro
When I opened the box I found a well-made, sturdy, quality bit of kit, but because it’s separate to the base it’s not so heavy that you’re going to strain your back to carry it around. I’d been using the older version Maxi-Cosi Pearl (£139 on Amazon) for one of the boys already, so I was delighted to try it out. Once I started using it with one of my twins, I realised how easy it is to use and how comfortable it is for him as it’s so well padded. It’s also stylish and attractive to look at and comes in 10 different colours, so plenty to choose from.
Can you install the Pearl Pro with a seatbelt?
No, the Pearl Pro i-Size can’t be installed with a seatbelt. It can only be used with a specific base: the Maxi-Cosi 3WayFix, which has an RRP of £199. It’s obviously a hefty additional cost, but the good thing is that the 3WayFix also works with the Pebble Pro i-Size (birth to approx 12 months) and the lie-flat Jade (birth to approx 6 months). This means you could use a single base to take you from newborn to 4 years.
How easy is it to install the Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro i-Size in your car?
In our survey*, 91% of parents who’ve used a Pearl Pro i-Size scored the seat 8/10 or more for ease of installation, and I agree – the Pearl Pro is so easy to fit. You can’t install the Pearl Pro with a seatbelt, you do need to buy the Maxi-Cosi 3WayFix i-Size base, which costs an additional £199. Being ISOFIX, it was easy to fix the base to the points in the car, and then adjust the leg to the floor. I personally prefer using ISOFIX as you know it’s not going anywhere and the seat can be easily clicked in and out of the base but you do have to have a car that has ISOFIX points and check that it’s compatible with your ISOFIX base/seat.
What gave me extra reassurance was the visual and audible confirmation when the base is correctly fitted. There are green lights that light up and a beep once you have the base connected to the Isofix points and the base’s leg pulled down into the right position on the floor. You then place the Pearl Pro on top of the base and click it into place – there’s then another beep and green signal to let you know you’ve done it properly.
If you want to switch from rear- to forward-facing, you simply press in a lever at the front of the seat, lift it out and turn it around.
Does the Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro i-Size feel secure and sturdy once in place?
Yes, this thing isn’t going anywhere once it’s in. You can tell when you’re installing it that the Pearl Pro is sturdy and well-made. Once it’s in and you’re using it, it feels really safe – which was praised by parents we surveyed as well as by John Lewis customers.
How easy is it to strap your child into the seat?
Strapping Toby into the Pearl Pro was easy – an opinion shared by 83% of parents we surveyed, who gave the seat 8/10 or more for this aspect. So long as you have the end of the strap laid flat out the front, you can pull the straps to loosen them if you need to. I usually do this just so he can get his arms in more easily, and then tighten it up once he’s in. The buckle is simple to use, unlike some fiddly ones I’ve come across before, so it’s all fairly pain-free.
How well did the Pearl Pro harness work?
I liked the 5-point harness – it’s simple to use. Although Maxi-Cosi says it has a ‘stay open’ harness, this didn’t really work for me. Perhaps that’s because I’ve had car seats before that have magnets on either side to attach the buckle, which is genius and works brilliantly.
How well did the seat recline work?
Very well. The Pearl Pro has four recline positions from sitting to sleeping and the good news is that you can recline in rear-facing and forward-facing positions. There’s a lever to pull under the front of the seat to switch between them, which is easy to use. The recline certainly worked for us – both my twins have fallen asleep in it and had a comfy nap.
How does the Pearl Pro adapt to your growing child?
The Pearl Pro’s headrest is adjustable and is really easy to move up using the lever behind it. The seat area is also deep, so that your child fits in really comfortably and securely.
How comfortable is the Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro for your child?
In common with 75% of parents we surveyed, who scored the seat 8/10 or more for comfort, I think the seat seems really comfortable. It’s well-padded, the headrest is soft and there is plenty of room in it.
How easy is it to carry the Pearl Pro?
The Pearl Pro is 7.6kg so not the lightest of things to pick up, but not as heavy as other seats we’ve used. The advantage is that it comes off the base so you can lift the seat and base separately, making it much easier to swap between cars. Our Cybex Sirona is attached to the base and I can barely lift it, which means it tends to stay put in the car once it’s in. I found the Pearl Pro simple to lift and move around, but it is still heavy and in our survey, only a third of parents gave it 8/10 for being easy to carry.
Is the Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro easy to clean?
While we haven’t had any vomit situations so far, the covers come off relatively easily and are washable. Although with all the Pearl Pro’s lovely padding, the covers take a long time to dry thoroughly if given a full wash. It’s easy to wipe the covers clean and in our survey, 58% of parents were happy with how easy the seat is to clean, scoring it 8/10 or more for this.
What feature do you like most in the Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro i-Size?
It’s great that you can use the Pearl Pro rear-facing from 6 months to 4 years – if your child will tolerate it. I also feel reassured that it meets the more stringent safety requirements of i-Size (R129), and so has added side-impact protection.
How does it compare to other car seats in this category?
I currently have a Cybex Sirona for the other twin which swivels. Or should I say it did swivel. I bought it when I only had one toddler. I then went on to have twins, meaning I had three boys under two-and-a-half and any plans for smart cars and state-of-the-art car seats went out the window. A change of car to fit all three in, and a focus on what actually works was more important.
Unfortunately, that means there is now no room for the Cybex to swivel. The Pearl Pro is in the same price bracket as the Sirona and is definitely as good quality. The model of Sirona I have has an impact shield to keep my son safe and in place, instead of a five-point harness. The impact shield is much easier to fasten than a five-point harness, but not all children like it. I have one twin that does (luckily) and one twin that doesn’t.
The Pearl Pro i-Size sits alongside similar i-Size rear-facing for longer toddler car seats, such as the Maxi-Cosi AxissFix Plus, which swivels 360° for ease of access and costs £399 with base included– but the AxissFix Plus is heavier and bulky and rear-faces to around the age of 2 rather than 4. It is also in the same class as the Britax DualFix i-Size, which at £405 includes the base offers 360° rotation and offers rear-facing until 4 years.
Is the Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro i-Size good value for money?
The total £428 RRP price tag on the Pearl Pro i-Size (£229 for the seat, plus £199 for the 3wayFix base) is pretty high in my opinion, and more expensive than other i-Size toddler car seats, such as Britax DualFix (£405), Nuna Rebl Plus i-Size (£350). Joie i-Spin 360 (£280) and Maxi-Cosi AxissFix Plus (£399) – all of which have 360° rotation and are suitable from birth to 4 years. That said, the 3WayFix base can be used with either the Pebble Pro or the Jade, so you can use it to move from one stage to the next, plus it’s a very trusted high-quality brand.
If you’re torn between this and the Maxi-Cosi AxissFix Plus, which should you choose?
If you’re set on a Maxi-Cosi, there’s a fair bit to consider. The differences include:
- Swivel – the AxissFix Plus swivels, the Pearl Pro doesn’t – but remember, if you end up needing to put another seat in the middle or want to put an adult in the middle seat, there may not be room for any swivel action
- Age range – the AxissFix Plus can be used from birth, the Pearl Pro from 6 months
- Rear-facing for longer – the AxissFix Plus can be used rear-facing until 2 years, the Pearl Pro until 4 years
- Base – part of the car seat for the AxissFix Plus, comes as separate for the Pearl Pro – which makes it easier to move around/carry
- Cost – AxissFix Plus sells for £399, the Pearl Pro i-Size plus base for £428 RRP
What’s in the box?
- Pearl Pro seat
(the base is sold separately)
How easy was the Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro i-Size to assemble?
It was so simple, we didn’t even really need the instructions – although they are straightforward. For a first-timer, this is a really easy seat to use. You don’t have to ‘assemble’ it as such. You just need to fit the ISOFIX base in, click the Pearl Pro seat on the top, check for the lights and beep, and then off you go.
Are there any accessories needed or available?
You can’t use the Pearl Pro without the 3WayFix car seat base.
Other than the 3WayFix base, you don’t need any accessories with the Pearl Pro, although there are several available to buy if you choose to:
- Back seat car mirror – to keep an eye on your child when they’re rear-facing,
- Sun canopy – for when the sun’s streaming into they face and eyes
- Cotton summer cover – to keep your child cooler in warm weather
- Cup holder/pocket – so your child can keep a drink or toys close by
- Back seat protector – to protect your car from damage or dirt from their feet
Which type of family is this car seat best for?
The Pearl Pro’s ideal for any type of family, to be honest. If you have just one child, it will easily last you until they are 4. If you have an age gap it can be handed down to be used for the next child. And if you’re like us and need to have three children across the back seat (you’ll have probably had to change your car to one of only a handful on the market), it’s good to know the Pearl Pros fit side by side. Not all seats would do this – believe me, I know!
Would you recommend the Maxi-Cosi Pearl Pro?
I would definitely recommend this car seat, and parents we surveyed were equally enthusiastic, with 75% giving it an overall score of 8/10 or more, and 83% saying they would buy it again. It’s stylish, sturdy, safe, comfortable, easy to install, not ridiculously heavy, and above all easy to use. I can even manage to catapult one twin over one Pearl into the other Pearl in the middle with not too much whining! The only thing I don’t like is that the base doesn’t come with it and is an additional cost, but the 3WayFix base can be used with some other Maxi-Cosi seats.
Where can I buy the Pearl Pro?
The Pearl Pro i-Size comes with high standards of safety, quality, comfort and ease of use, so although pricey, you get a lot of quality for your money. It’s very easy to install, simple to strap your child into, and you can keep them rear-facing for the whole time you use the seat.
Helen Copson is a journalist and blogger and has been reviewing car seats, buggies and carriers for several years for MadeForMums. She’s an active mum of three sons – two-year-old twins and a four-year-old.
*MFM survey December 2019 of 564 users
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|Model||Pearl Pro i-Size|
Dimensions & Weight
|Child age (approx)||6 months to 4 years|
|Child weight||Up to 18.5kg|
|Child Height||67cm to 105cm|
|Car seat installation||Isofix base|
|Travel system compatible||No|
|Removeable cover for washing||Yes|
|Side crash protection||Yes|