Evenflo Safemax Infant Car Seat 2019 Review – Detailed Coverage

Evenflo is a leading international baby product company and a household name for millions.

When first founded almost a century ago, the company focused on baby feeding products, including the first rubber cap-secured nipple.

The company has expanded its products over the past 15 years to include bottle and breastfeeding equipment, car seats, and strollers.

This review is going to focus on the Safemax infant car seat, built with an anti-rebound bar in the base to provide better protection against rollover accidents.

Evenflo Safemax Car Seat 2019 Review

Safety Features

The Evenflo has truly outstanding safety features. Like many other seats, it is rigorously crash tested and offers side impact protection, but it also uses energy-absorbent foam and a five-point harness for added protection. The level indicators help users fix the seat at the perfect angle. Thanks to the LATCH connectors, it is easy to install in most vehicles.

The Evenflo Safemax is equipped with installation instructions, a stay-in-car base, and an adjustable harness. The seat is approved for air travel by the FAA. The cushions are machine washable.

The Evenflo Safemax comes with a separate base and can only be used facing backwards. If you need to switch cars, you can buy extra bases to fit in other vehicles. Parents report this seat being lightweight and easy to carry, which is great for families always on the move.

Easy Fit

This relatively light, compact seat should fit in most cars easily.

It will take up a couple more inches in the back since the US requires the carrier handle be completely down during travel.

In a small car, those in the front passenger seat may lose some legroom as a result.

Key Characteristics

  • 3 crotch buckle and hip width positions
  • 4 harness height positions
  • 6 year expiration
  • Machine washable seat, buckle, and strap covers
  • Anti-rebound bar
  • SureSafe installation LATCH guides
  • Seat belt lock off
  • Rollover tested
  • Buckle pockets to protect against burns on hot days
  • Breathable fabric
  • Full canopy
  • Comes in black/grey, black/green, or black/pink

On the downside, this car seat isn’t very convenient in terms of strollers. It is sold either by itself or as a component of the Pivot Travel System. The only way to get the stroller that does fit is to purchase the whole travel system.

Generally, users are happy with the fit for small infants. The seat is snug, in stark contrast to many other seats, which are too big. It is suitable for babies in the 4 – 35 pounds weight range and 17 – 32 inches height range.

Comparable seats such as the Evenflo EmbraceLX, Safety 1st Onboard 35, and Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 have identical weight ranges. However, they do not come with an anti-rebound bar.

Pros
  • Generous shell height
  • Lowest harness setting fits small babies well
  • Plush seat cover, shoulder strap covers, buckle cover and infant insert
  • Several different settings for strap height, hip width and buckle
  • Outstanding safety features
  • Generous canopy
Cons
  • Cumbersome adjustments
  • The harness is relatively short

Dimensions

  • 4 inch lowest harness slot with infant insert
  • 5, 7, 9, and 11-inch harness slot positions (without infant insert)
  • 5 and 8-inch hip width positions
  • 4 and 5.5-inch crotch strap/buckle positions
  • 30 inches seat length with handle down
  • 19 inch shell height
  • 15 inches base width
  • 5 inches seat length with handle up
  • 7 pounds carrier weight
  • 5 inches carrier width

Please keep in mind there are 2 slots for each position in the seat cover although there are 3 crotch and hip positions.

Evenflo was the first company to perform rollover testing of their car seats in the industry. The SafeMax has passed all the rollover, side impact, and other crash tests. Each product must pass the highest standards before going to market. What is more, their crash tests are conducted at twice the federal mandates for impact force.

The vigorous testing, lack of complaints, and anti-rebound bar are proof that this seat is a safe choice.

Installation

The SafeMax uses Latch guides with a SureSafe installation system to make installation easier. The seat is easier to install also thanks to the seat belt lock off. Users who have bought other car seats agree that this one is among the easiest to install.

The only issue is that sometimes the straps don’t provide a lot of room when you’re getting your baby in and out. It can also be hard to move the handle without effort.

The manufacturer recommends taking advantage of the ParentLink live help via chat or video if you require assistance with installation.

Keep in mind it can be hard to read the recline angle indicator if you need to install the seat on the driver’s side because it is located on only one side.

Extras

Even though you don’t need much besides a diaper bag of essentials and a properly-installed, quality car seat, some optional accessories can help make longer trips a little more fun.

One such accessory is the Infantino Flip 4-in-1 convertible carrier. Carrying your baby in this is a great option when you don’t want to use a stroller or the portable carrier. It fits babies from 8 – 32 pounds and works in 4 ways to accommodate growing infants.

The seatbelt lock off in the base enables its installation with the seatbelt without locking the belt itself. You can also use the lock off to install the lower LATCH anchor, but you should never use both the latch and seatbelt at the same time.
Another great extra is the Evenflo SafeZone Base. It’s a good idea to have an extra base in case you have or need more than one vehicle. It can be a lifesaver when you’re on a busy schedule.

Perfect Fit

The fit on the lowest harness setting is perfect for infants, even small newborns.

Just remember that if you have a low-birth weight newborn or a prematurely born one, you will probably need to make a few separate adjustments (for hip straps, harness height, and buckle position) in order to achieve an ideal harness fit.

Parents of average-sized newborns will probably need to make just one adjustment before using the seat for the first time. To get the straps at or just slightly below shoulder level, most newborns will need the harness straps set in the second (from bottom) set of harness slots.

At present, the SafeMax Infant ships with the harness routed in the third set of harness slots. The manufacturer is aware of the issue and plans to make changes.

The hip and buckle positions should be all right in the middle positions for most average newborns, which is how they are set in the box.

The only downside about the fit is that there isn’t much slack in the harness. There is only about an inch of slack left in the harness when moving babies.

Weight Adjustment

The base of the seat has 2 different weight ranges for proper recline of the infant. The green area is for larger infants (20-35 pounds), while the light blue area is for smaller infants (4-20 pounds). You can roll a towel or small blanket and place it under the foot of the base to increase the angle if the deepest recline provided by the foot is inadequate for the child’s size.

The company requires that there be 1.5″ of clearance space between the driver or front passenger’s seat and any part of the infant carrier. However, this rule applies only to installations in a car’s outboard seating positions. You don’t need to have 1.5″ of clearance space if you can install the SafeMax Infant in the rear center seating position.

Detach the lower anchor connectors from the base bottom to use them and make sure the recline angle is sufficient by pressing down on the base to simulate its full tightening. To get to the right color on the recline angle indicator, adjust the recline foot by turning the knob. Push down on the lock off door to open it, pushing the button at the same time.

To close the door, attach the hooks to the lower LATCH anchor bars and make the strap as tight as possible. If it won’t close, slightly loosen the strap. You need less than an inch of movement front-to-back and side-to-side.

You can borrow the anchors from the outboard seats to install the seat in the center as long as there are 11-20 inches of space between the anchor bars and your vehicle specifically allows it.

Route the loose tail end of the vehicle belt under the lock off too if you have a lap-only seatbelt. Slide the base slightly to one side or the other to move the button out of the way if you have a seatbelt “button” that interferes with the closing of the lock off. Check at the belt path to make sure you’ve adhered to the space requirement.

If you have a Ford, Lincoln or Mercedes Benz with an inflatable seatbelts, you have to use LATCH to install the base of this seat. If you want to install the SafeMax carrier without the base, leave the shoulder portion flat against the vehicle seat back by routing the lap portion of the seatbelt through the guides on the side of the carrier. Assure yourself the seat is properly reclined according to the line on the carrier.

If you pull the belt out all the way, it will switch to locking mode because most lap and shoulder belts have a switchable locking mechanism at the retractor. After that, press down on the carrier and remove all slack from the belt. You need less than an inch of movement side-to-side and front-to-back at the belt path, like with the base.

Maintenance and Cover

As mentioned, the cover of the seat is machine-washable. On low, you can partially tumble dry it. The cover is not hard to remove, but this is done in several stages. Just follow the directions in the user manual.

When it comes to adjusting the harness, it’s a different story. As the seat isn’t shipped with the harness routed in a height setting suitable for a newborn, you’ll probably need to adjust things right off the bat. The infant insert, albeit being a major advantage, cannot be fixed without removing the harness from the splitter plate and routing it through the insert.

The crotch buckle and shoulder strap adjustments are pretty standard. For the hip width adjustment, you’ll need to route the harness through two different slots. On some models, one side can be very difficult to adjust because of the foam lining. The shell almost comes into contact with the outer harness slot.

The seat has a 6 year lifespan before expiration and has to be replaced after any crash as per FAA guidelines.

Stroller Compatibility

The Pivot stroller can be used with the SafeMax infant seat and can hold children up to 50 pounds. If you wish, you can transition the standard stroller seat to a bassinette. Both the regular stroller seat and the car seat can be used facing inward or outward.

Our Final Say

Evenflo has been a proud, honored member of the car seat community for decades and their whole SafeMax Series, not just this product, pushes standards up by offering robust crash testing, including rollover, side impact, and higher speed.

The seat features plush inserts and fabrics, an easy-to-use seatbelt lock off, and a convenient dual weight recline indicator.

The fit is fabulous for tiny infants. The wide variety of sizing on the hips, shoulders, and crotch buckle allows the seat to grow with the child and adapt to its changing size.

Taking into account the safety features, the overall quality, and the fit of the seat, we would definitely recommend the SafeMax to mothers and fathers looking to get a new infant seat. We are sure we’re going to see a lot of manufacturers following in Evenflo’s footsteps, both in terms of quality and crash testing. They’re truly a pioneer in the field.

About the Author Gail Morrison

Hey there, I'm Gail Morrison, Founder and Editor here at Best Infant Car Seats. Being a mother is hard work, but it’s also full of surprises and laughter. With every month that passes, the joy only gets bigger, watching our kids grow. The journey never ends, and that’s what I love about it the most. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and tips with you.

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