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With its solid design and practical fabric and colours, the Phil & Teds tott xtr car seat is ideal for families who want the flexibility of being able to transport their child in a range of vehicles. If used for its whole lifespan, the £130 price tag works out at excellent value. However, there is a niggle or two.
Car seats are one of the more expensive pieces of kit parents have to buy but with children quickly outgrowing them and modern life’s need for flexibility, it can be difficult to know where to start. However, fun and funky New Zealand brand Phil & Teds reckons it has the answer with the tott xtr, one of its multi-group car seat models that are adaptable and grow with your child.
The tott xtr is billed as the “right car seat, no matter what you drive” and is fitted using a seatbelt rather than ISOFIX. As a Group 1/2/3 car seat, it is suitable for a very wide age range – from about 9 months to roughly 12 years, or more specifically, 9kg to 36kg.
The tott xtr starts in what Phil & Teds refers to as “Stage 1” – this is for children weighing 9kg to 18kg, and Phil & Teds puts the recommended age as 12 months to 4 years. This mode sees you use seat padding and a 5-point harness.
The tott xtr then converts to “Stage 2” – a high-back car seat for children aged approximately 3 year and up (specifically 15kg to 36kg). In this mode, you use the car’s seatbelt as your child’s restraint.
What we love
Phil & Teds products are easily recognisable by their bright colours and interesting design and the tott xtr car seat is no exception. With its vibrant red and grey colour scheme, it works as an exciting yet forgiving colour for toddlers, while older children will love the more grown-up racing car seat look it takes on when the padding and 5-point harness are removed.
My son Kasper, almost 2, finds the seat so comfortable he’s almost been glued to it since it came out of the box. It’s also clear there’s plenty of growing room for him as he gets older and it converts to a high-back seat.
The adaptable headrest and high winged side impact shields make me feel as though Kasper’s very well protected. The padding on the harness straps also make for a smoother ride for my son and as the seat is placed directly on to the cushion in the car itself, his legs rest easily, rather than on the plastic base that other car seat models have.
I think there are some particularly neat features, such as the cover for the release button on the harness – while easy for grown-ups to negotiate to ensure quick release it’s all the more difficult for little hands to tamper with while you concentrate on driving.
Finally, a simple idea but so handy – the instructions are supplied in a neat plastic wallet attached to the side of the chair itself. Not only does this mean it should be easier to fit the car seat correctly and safely when moving it from car to car, but also the instructions should remain at hand for the lifetime of the product (which could be more than a decade).
What to watch out for
While welcoming the idea of an instruction booklet that can be kept on the car seat itself, it does mean the instructions are rather small. Some of the diagrams are very difficult to interpret because they’re so tiny.
Threading the seatbelt into the right position when using the car seat with the 5-point harness is also quite tricky and not something you’d want to attempt on a rainy day in a busy car park. However, once in place, you should be able to simply release your child using the harness and leave the car seat where it is – as long as the seatbelt is checked for twisting or any other problems before each use. It’s also much easier to strap in your child when using the seatbelt alone, without the harness, in the older child mode.
I find it confusing that, as a Group 1/2/3 car seat, the Phil & Teds tott xtr seat is suitable from 9kg – about 9 months – yet the Phil & Teds literature recommends its use from 12 months. While I agree that a 9-month-old may well be too small to be comfortable in the seat, even if they meet the weight requirements, I think parents would prefer a clearer message on what ages and stages the car seat is best suited for.
Who is the Phil & Teds tott xtr car seat best for?
Families with more than one car after a seat with longevity.
The Phil & Teds tott xtr car seat is for those keen to buy a car seat that lasts. It’s also ideal for those who want to ease the headache of transporting little ones around in different cars. However, it would be even better if the instructions were larger and the starting age/stage made clearer.