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The Tres is a universal all-stage car seat – meaning it can be used in almost any car with a suitable 3-point retractable seat belt for children aged 0 to 12. It’s the only model designed to fit a child from birth to pre-teen from global brand Nuna. It is also ‘semi-universal’ in Group 2/3, meaning it can be fixed into the car with Isofix anchor points.
Mum-of-3 Gabrielle lives in London with her husband, 8-year-old son Tyler, 5year-old son Rocco and 21-month-old daughter Amaya. She tested the car seat in their Mitsubishi Delica van and Mitsubishi L200 truck.
What were your first impressions?
This is one classy bit of kit! It arrives in simple and stylish packaging. We have the Caviar colour – a black seat with a removable grey infant insert and cushion – that looks very different to our Cosatto Hug (£179 on Amazon) car seat with its bold star print and a bright insert.
It’s even slicker and luxe looking than our Joie Bold Group 1/2/3 car seat which is also monochromatic but doesn’t have the merino wool infant insert or the quilted fabric of the Tres. The car seat is reassuringly heavy (9.51kg) but I can still pick it up and carry it out to our car.
What age is the car seat suitable for? And how long can you use it-rear facing?
The Nuna Tres is suitable for babies and children from birth to 36kg, which is approximately 12 years old. It can be used rear-facing up to 18kg/approx 4 years and forward facing from 15kg/approx 3 years.
This is great in theory as multiple studies have shown that it’s far safer for babies to rear face in their car seats well into childhood. However I found that the seat is fitted right up to the vehicle seat so doesn’t offer much legroom. Even though Amaya is very small for her age (nearly 2), I can tell that she’ll need to take her shoes off and cross her legs in order to continue to sitting rear-facing before her third birthday.
My younger son Rocco, who is nearly 5, is only just over 18kg but there’s no way he would have been comfortable in the seat even 6 months ago, when he was approaching the weight limit. This is partly because he’s used to riding forward-facing but mostly because he simply wouldn’t have enough legroom. Having said that, many parents report that their older kids don’t mind crossing their legs and that lack of legroom doesn’t have to be a problem.
Cleverly, the seat can be used forward-facing as a booster seat for children who weigh between 15kg and 36kg, which roughly equates to 3 to 12 years old.
How does it compare to similar car seats?
There are a few 0+/1/2/3 car seats on the market, which span an age range from birth right up to approximately age 12.
Another popular multi-stage seat is the Joie Every Stage, which can be installed rear and forward facing using the 3-point seatbelt like the Tres. A more affordable alternative is the Graco Slimfit (£160.83 on Amazon) which like the Tres has 10 headrest positions and extended rear-facing capabilities.
How clear are the installation instructions?
They’re quite intimidating. I was panicked to see 43 separate diagrams depicting the installation (yikes!). However, as I read on it became apparent that the pictures represent step-by-step instructions for all three possible configurations, plus some obvious ones such as how to release a seat belt. Panic over.
How do you install the car seat?
There are 3 ways to install this car seat: rear-facing (0 to approx 4 years) and forward-facing with and without ISO Connector (approx 3 to 12 years).
In group 0+/1 mode, the car seat needs to be installed using your car’s seatbelt (as long as it’s a 3-point retractable seatbelt, not a 2-point or lap belt) and doesn’t require ISO Connector attachments. You just feed the seatbelt around the seat, ensuring it hooks into certain points.
As a group 2/3 model, the seat can be used forward facing for older children by installing it either using just your car’s 3-point retractable seatbelt or an ISO Connector and your car’s seatbelt. Notably, Nuna strongly recommends that if your vehicle has Isofix anchor points, you connect the ISO Connector attachments to them in forward-facing mode.
How easy is it to install the Nuna Tres?
As a Group 0+ car seat in rear-facing mode, it is very easy to install the Nuna Tres. It took under 5 minutes as clear instructions are printed on a sticker on the back of the seat. Because our vehicle is not compatible with Isofix (it’s too old), we couldn’t test out the forward-facing position using the ISO Connectors provided (which meant we got to skip a few pages of diagrams!) but we did place the Tres in forward-facing mode using only the vehicle’s seatbelt.
In theory, this isn’t too difficult – it’s easy to pull the car seatbelt across the seat, through the red shoulder belt guide and vehicle waist belt slots, before clicking into the regular buckle. But before you get to this point, you need to remove the infant insert then unfasten the seat padding and pull it away from the back and bottom of the seat in order to tuck the straps, buckles, crotch strap and buckle tongues in their respective storage compartments.
A word of warning, do not try doing this in your car when you’re in a hurry to go somewhere, at least not the first time you try it. I did and after much sweating, fumbling and shouting, I gave up and brought the car seat back indoors. After further scrutiny of the inscrutable part of the instruction manual, I finally sussed it out and was overjoyed when the shoulder straps fitted into their compartment.
Tip: once you’ve pulled the padding in front of the straps, extend the headrest to give yourself more room to fiddle and see what you’re doing. Although I’m still not convinced I stowed the crotch strap and buckle correctly, as the lid of the compartment didn’t fully close but that hasn’t affected the seat’s comfort.
What makes the Nuna Tres a ‘Universal’ car seat?
The Nuna Tres is classified as ‘universal’ because it can fit in any car when secured by only the car’s 3-point seatbelt. It’s also ‘semi-universal’ in group 2/3 booster-seat mode as it can be used in conjunction with Isofix anchor points or connectors as well as the car’s seatbelt.
However, it cannot be used by securing it with a car seatbelt or the ISO Connector and the seat’s own 5-point harness.
What are the key safety features of the car seat?
The main safety feature is that the car seat can be used in the rear-facing position from birth to 18kg, which is approximately 4-years old.
The seat also features R44 side impact shields to protect head, body and hips by distributing the force of any impact around the car seat and away from the child inside it. These plastic fins seem sturdy and can be pulled out easily when the seat is in use but also can be folded into the seat during storage.
Having them operate independently of one another means that the shield on the opposite side of the vehicle door can be folded to allow more space next to the Tres for a middle seat passenger.
How comfortable did your baby find the car seat?
My daughter found it very comfortable, largely thanks to the sumptuously padded infant insert, that comes in 3 parts, including a head support, thick cushion and body padding.
Amaya had previously been in a Venicci car seat which was part of the Venicci Carbo Lux travel system. While it was fine for the first few months after she was born, it became less so once she was mobile as she soon worked out how to wriggle out of the straps and then use her legs to push herself out of the seat, which was absolutely terrifying and obviously totally unsafe.
But the merino wool infant insert of the Nuna Tres keeps my daughter firmly in her place and also offers extra padding around her tiny frame. Once she’d outgrown the head support, we removed it but kept the other 2 parts, later removing the cushion, leaving the body portion.
How useful did you find the merino wool insert?
The Tres has a removable merino wool infant insert. Merino wool is renowned for its ability to help maintain a stable body temperature – keeping your tiny passenger warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It certainly kept Amaya cosy and – importantly – snug in the car seat.
It’s is designed to be used for babies from newborn to 9 months or when they outgrow the insert. Nuna say that the insert increases side impact protection and as it’s so thick, I can imagine it would provide extra cushioning in the awful event of a side-on collision. However, it’s not close fitting enough to prevent Amaya’s head from tipping forward when she falls asleep.
The insert can also be removed in 2 stages – the head insert first once the baby’s head no longer fit comfortably and then the body portion when the baby’s shoulders no longer fit.
Does the merino wool of the infant insert and cushion make the seat too warm?
Having worn merino wool in summer myself (in a running top), I wasn’t worried about the insert being too hot for my daughter and she certainly didn’t get any warmer than she would have been in an infant insert made from another fabric.
Once Amaya had outgrown the insert, she appeared to find the seat’s regular, generous padding just as comfortable. The fabric is likely manmade, but feels very high quality, soft and smooth and superior to the fabric used on both my Cosatto Hug and the Joie Bold seats, though the Nuna Tres costs at least 1.5 times those car seats so I’m not surprised.
Meanwhile the boys also found the Tres comfortable but they weren’t eager to give up their existing seats and were happy to sit back in them after a few trial drives.
How adjustable is the headrest?
The headrest can be adjusted to 10 different height positions using just one hand, and the side wings of the seat automatically widen when the headrest height is adjusted from the sixth to the tenth position.
It is easy to adjust the headrest – there is a lever at the top of the seat that you squeeze then pull up or push down the head support until you hear it click into one of the 10 positions.
How well does the Nuna Tres work with different age children?
The Nuna Tres works brilliantly from 1 to 8 years with my children. Although the car seat’s infant insert would make the seat super-snug and comfortable for all but the tiniest newborn, the lack of near-flat recline means the seat has limited suitability for very young babies compared to other lie-flat car seats on the market.
At the other end of the scale, the car seat performs really well and could easily accommodate older, taller children aged around 12. Fully extended, the seat is more like Darth Vader’s throne than a child’s car seat as it looks striking and imposing – my Star Wars-obsessed sons take turns sitting in it while summoning ‘the force’ to get their dad to change the music.
The biggest drawback for me was that the Tres cannot be used forward-facing with the 5-point harness, even with the Isofix Connector in place. Nuna point out that the Tres is approved as universal child restraint that can be fitted with just a 3-point belt, but I would prefer the security of a 5-point harness.
Our younger boy, Rocco, who is 5, is still comfortably using the Joie Bold with its 5-point harness. Whereas our older boy, Tyler, who is 8, has only recently outgrown the 5-point harness and started riding in his Cosatto Hug seat using just our vehicle’s 3-point seatbelt to restrain him in the car seat. However, he doesn’t find this comfortable as the seatbelt lacks padding.
Since a 3-year-old could feasibly outgrow the rear-facing mode of the Tres either by becoming too tall to fit the seat comfortably or by reaching the 18kg upper weight limit, he or she would have to sit forward-facing using only the vehicle’s 3-point harness, which might be uncomfortable.
How do you rate the straps?
These were one of my favourite features of the Nuna Tres and I was very impressed (and relieved) with how well they restrained Amaya, who is known affectionately as Baby Houdini in our family due to her ability to wriggle out of virtually any harness thanks to her narrow shoulders.
The shoulder harness covers are very padded, which makes them narrower and prevents Amaya squeezing her shoulders together and then slipping out from between the straps. “Baby Houdini cannot escape”, her brothers note with glee as they watch Amaya try and fail to manoeuvre her arms under the straps.
The shoulder harness covers are held in place by an extra tab of Velcro at the top of the strap, preventing them from being pulled down by the passenger. However, it does make them impossible to adjust, which means they will not sit on your baby’s chest if the straps are not correctly positioned.
It’s also really easy to strap Amaya into the seat thanks to the magnetic buckle holders which hold the shoulder straps well out of our way. The crotch strap is also positioned just right so Amaya sits clear of it and I don’t have to root around or raise her up slightly to find it, unlike on the Joie Bold seat. Finally, the straps pull smoothly through the mechanism, making tightening and loosening the straps a doddle.
How easy is the Nuna Tres to recline?
The Nuna Tres has 6 recline positions: 2 in rear-facing mode and 4 in forward-facing mode. It’s easy to recline the seat using just one hand by pulling the handle under the seat.
The position is clearly indicated by the colour-coded indicator at the base of the seat: the rearward positions are in blue and the forward positions in red.
While the number and degree of recline positions in forward-facing mode (suitable for children who weigh over 18kg and are 3-4 years old) is good, the limited number and degree of recline positions in rear-facing mode might be off-putting for parents who prefer their babies to travel in a flat or near-flat position in the car. I noticed that when Amaya fell asleep her head sometimes tipped forward, even with the infant insert in place, which didn’t look very comfortable.
How adjustable is the headrest?
Like the other parts of this car seat, the headrest seems durable, easy to use and covered in soft fabric which also makes it comfortable. It’s easy to extend with one hand (just squeeze a lever) and has a total of 10 height positions.
And when you move the headrest into any position from 6 to 10, the side wings of the seat automatically widen, taking the top seat width to 59cm and offering more shoulder room to your growing child.
How robust does the car seat feel?
The Nuna Tres feels very robust! Though I’d expect as much from a car seat at this price point. The materials are top quality and the whole seat feels very durable. The lever under the seat that allows you to tilt the car seat feels robust and like it will stand up to years of use, as does the handle that enables you to adjust the head rest up and down.
How do you find the car seat to carry around?
The Nuna Tres weighs 9.51kg, which is fairly average for a multi-stage car seat. While the Nuna Tres isn’t designed to be part of a travel system and won’t fit atop a pram frame so doesn’t have a handle, I found it easy to pick up and carry to our vehicle though I wouldn’t want to be moving it on a regular basis, especially if it involved pulling it out of a car and installing it into another vehicle.
Does the Nuna Tres rotate?
No, the Nuna Tres car seat does not rotate. If this a feature you’re after, Nuna also has the 360° rotating Nuna Prym.
Is the car seat big enough for a growing child?
Yes, my older children (aged 5 and 8) fitted comfortably into the seat, but I think a tall or heavy 11- or 12-year-old wouldn’t fit into the seat, which has an upper weight limit of 36kg and an extendable headrest that goes up to 82cm.
How easy is it to clean?
The infant insert and cushion can be machine washed at 30° but the rest of the car seat cover needs to be washed below this.
I must say that the black ‘Caviar’ colourway we have shows up every mark and breadstick crumb. Fortunately, the quality fabric comes up a treat with just a spot clean.
For a more thorough wash, you can unclip the whole cover from the seat fairly easily and machine wash it in cold water and then air dry them. This is fairly standard for car seat covers though still a faff if your washing machine doesn’t have a cold cycle and you need the seat covers dried quickly.
What’s in the box?
- Merino wool infant insert
- ISO Connector connectors
- Instruction manual
- Child restraint-to-vehicle fit guide
What would you have wanted to know before purchasing the car seat?
In rear-facing mode, I would have liked to have known that there are only 2 recline positions and neither position is close to lie-flat mode. This wasn’t a problem for us as we only used the product from when our youngest child was one (although the size of a much smaller baby) but I can imagine some parents would be put off by having their newborn riding in a more upright position.
Also, the 5-point harness cannot be used at all in forward-facing mode, even with the ISO Connector connectors in place. There’s a possibility that a child who has outgrown the rear-facing mode before they are 4 years old mightn’t feel secure or comfortable enough with only a vehicle seatbelt to restrain them in the seat. In which case, the seat might end up not being used for a few years. However, other testers have reported using it with their 3 and 4-year-old children in forward-facing mode with no issues.
Does the Nuna Tres offer good value for money?
Absolutely, as it can feasibly go from cradling your napping newborn to supporting your independent tween in virtually any car with a regular seatbelt.
However, because it spans such a vast age range, it does have limitations, notably that it doesn’t recline as far as other Group 0+ car seats, it cannot be used with Isofix anchor points in rear-facing mode and it cannot be used with a 5-point harness in forward-facing mode.
Where can I buy the Nuna Tres?
A great all-rounder of superior quality and comfort. This luxe-looking seat is pricey but might be the only one you need to buy for your baby as it could keep your growing child safe and comfortable from first car journey until their twelfth birthday. It can fit in almost any car and can stay rear-facing for longer (until your child weighs 18kg), making it a Jack-of-all-trades.
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Dimensions & Weight
|Child age (approx)||Birth to 12 years – Up to 12 when forward facing|
|Child weight||Up to 36kg – Up to 18kg when rear facing|
|Car seat installation||Array|
|Travel system compatible||No|
|Removeable cover for washing||Yes|
|Side crash protection||Yes|
|Height adjustible headrest||Yes|