When we found out my wife was pregnant in February 2016, we started baby planning. The first big ticket baby item we purchased was our RECARO Performance Denali Performance Coupe Travel System. As a matter of fact, we ordered the set exactly one week after we learned about the pregnancy. A major driving force was the value, the brand reputation of RECARO and that it was also on sale for 25% off. So for approximately $375 and free shipping and 3 days later, we got ourselves a RECARO Denali stroller and RECARO Performance Coupe infant seat, both in scarlet. The two can be combined to form an infant stroller, and of course, can also be used individually.
After approximately 9 months since acquisition, we finally installed the infant seat in both our cars.
A Little Bit About the Infant Seat
The RECARO Performance Coupe infant seat is essentially a two piece product consisting of the infant seat and a detachable base (included). The base secures onto the rear seat by using the Prius' rear passenger seat belt, or the included LATCH belt secured to the Prius' LATCH anchors. Since we have two cars, we purchased an additional base and installed it onto the second car. The base allows us to attach and remove the infant car seat with absolute ease.
The base has a level indicator:
For a proper installation, the bubble in the level indicator needs to be in between the two black vertical lines. To achieve this, the base has a flip foot recliner that can lift the base and level it, particularly helpful in certain rear car seats, the Prius included. In addition to the flip foot recliner, the RECARO base also has a micro adjust knob that can be turned to fine tune the level.
As an added protection to our rear seats, we installed Brica Seat Guardian Car Seat Protector on the rear seat of both our cars before attaching the RECARO base. The car seat protector will protect the rear seat from creases and potential damages caused by the infant car seat as well as collect any crumbs and mess from baby. A minor drawback with adding the seat protector is the flip foot recliner on the RECARO base does not stay put and folds back no matter what was done. A solution RECARO should explore for subsequent refresh of the base would be to add a locking mechanism to the flip foot recliner to prevent it from self-folding. We permanently solved the folding flip foot recliner problem by cutting a piece of EPE (Expanded Polyethylene) foam block measuring 2" thick by 12" long, by 4" tall and shoving it in the space where the flip foot folds into. The foam block prevents the flip foot from folding back.
In a 2012 Prius Four lift back
When installed onto the passenger side rear seat, the base has an approximate overhang of about 3" and the RECARO Performance Coupe infant seat juts forward, pushing the front passenger seat forward. Installation is only possible if the front passenger seat is minimally reclined. A good and rather close comparison as to how this will affect the comfort of the passenger and sitting posture is to imagine that you are sitting in a coach class seat of an airplane. I am 5'7" and my knees were about 1"-3" from touching the glove box as pictured, depending on how far I push back the seat.
I would imagine that for taller folks, this is no doubt a problem. The solution? Sit on the back seat. I had no idea how comfortable the back seat is until I sat on it for this test. For short rides, any destination that is 20 miles or less, sitting on the front passenger seat is okay. But for longer road trips, the passenger should sit on the back seat. Not only for the comfort element, but to also tend to the infant.
Here is how the RECARO Performance Coupe infant seat looks like when installed in a 3rd gen 2012 Toyota Prius Four lift back:
In a 2012 Prius c Four
With the Prius c, we are already working with a much smaller car so you can imagine where the result is headed.
Let's start with the front passenger seat. With the RECARO Performance Coupe infant seat and base installed, there is no leg room for the front passenger. As I've mentioned earlier, I am 5'7" and I had no leg room. My knees were touching the glove compartment:
The seat posture is also equally uncomfortable. Even for a short 20 miles or shorter ride, I do not recommend sitting in the front passenger seat when the RECARO is installed. The back seat however, is surprisingly comfortable, even for the smaller Prius c.
One thing to note is that the overall cargo space of the Prius c will be further diminished with the car seat installed. For safety reason, the driver side half of the rear seat should never be folded to accommodate extra cargo when baby is in the back. Which means you only have the cargo space in the hatch area to transport cargo. Not a problem if you are only hauling small ticket items, such as groceries. But for larger items, like golf clubs or luggage, you will not have room. The only option is to add a roof rack with a skybox (more on this in a subsequent posting).
Overall, the car RECARO Performance Coupe infant car seat is great. It is light weight, installs and removes easily, versatile configurations and well designed.