Expert Review: Britax Emblem 3-Stage Convertible Car SeatPublished on 04/04/2023 · 7 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the car seat, which I purchased with my own money in May of 2020 and have used for three years.
All photos courtesy of Wendy Murillo
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the car seat, which I purchased with my own money in May of 2020 and have used for three years.
The Britax Emblem 3-Stage Convertible Car Seat is a quality car seat that can fit in a variety of vehicles ranging from full-size SUVs to sedans with bucket seats in the back. In my opinion, the Britax name offers quality products at a value.
About the car seat I own
- Model: 2020 Britax Emblem
- Configuration: Convertible car seat (rear-facing, forward-facing, 5-point harness)
- Intended age group: Infants starting at 5lbs through children up to 65lbs
- When I tested this product: May 2020–April 2023
- Child’s age range: 1–4 years
- Lifestyle: Suburban and rural
- Frequency of Use: Multiple times per day
- Vehicle: 2013 BMW 535i M Sport, 2007 GMC Yukon, 2013 Dodge Charger
- Compatible products: Not Applicable
How it performs
What I was looking for
My child had grown out of his luxury infant seat, so I had planned on using a Graco Contender 65 that I had from one of my other children. However, after using the seat for a couple weeks and commuting approximately 1.5 hours daily, it was very apparent to me that my son was not comfortable; I was frustrated, and so was my baby.
We were soon going on a vacation in which we were going to be in the car for 12 hours. I knew I needed to change my car seat setup immediately. I was strapped for time and the car seat I wanted (Diono Radian 3RXT) wouldn’t have arrived before we left. I needed something I could buy locally, had a steel frame, was not tacky, had an element of comfort, and did not break the bank. Finally, my budget was $300. Afterall, I intended to use this seat for our trip and only for a little while after until my little guy grew into a couple of Recaro ProRides I already had.
Why I chose this car seat
Ultimately, I chose this car seat because I was able to buy it locally. Plus, Britax was well known for its safety, this specific seat had a steel frame, and it was within my budget. It was also nice that this seat didn't have any odd patterns on it and was pretty much all black. Though, had time been on my side, I was sold on purchasing a Diono Radian 3RXT. But the real seat I wanted, a Recaro, was no longer sold in the United States—only in Europe.
What I love about it
- Installation: Installation with the Britax is as I had expected. The seat is super easy to use. In the two years I have had this seat, the straps have not gotten stuck in the belt mechanisms within the latch function—as I have experienced with other brands over the years. Using the latch is two clicks and done while rear-facing; if forward-facing, one more clip for the top tether.
- Ease of Use: I am able to adjust every aspect of the seat when it is installed in the car. Kiddo get taller? Not a problem: squeeze the red button at the top of the headrest and pull. Straps too short? Easy peasy: push the button below the crotch buckle and loosen the straps. Straps too loose? No big deal: pull the strap below the crotch buckle, and the straps tighten.
- Weight: When purchasing a convertible car seat, I anticipate the seat to weigh around 25lbs. I expect a quality seat with features such as a steel-reinforced frame, so I understand it should weigh more. The Britax Emblem is so great because I got everything I expected from a car seat, and it only weighs 19.5lbs.
- Design: I can use this forward and rear-facing seat in various vehicles. It's important to note that this seat is somewhat tall, so when I used it rear-facing, I placed it behind my passenger seat so that it did not impact my ability to drive in a comfortable location. Though I did the same when using an infant seat, this may not apply to everyone.
- Vehicle Fit: I have personally tested the Britax Emblem rear and forward facing in a Dodge Charger, BMW 535i, GMC Yukon, and Ford F-150. The seat can fit forward facing on either side of these vehicles and rear-facing behind the driver's seat without affecting the driver’s seat position, except for the BMW 535i. For reference, this was tested by 5’4” and 5’11” drivers.
- Aesthetics: In my opinion, the seat is stylish and does not have weird patterns. The one thing I don't necessarily like about the seat is that the “base” portion on mine is gray plastic, while the rest is black.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Quality & Durability: My car seat has gotten so nasty. Remember that road trip we took? Just imagine all of the snacks eaten on the way. I have machine-washed the seat (did not wash the straps) multiple times and spot-cleaned it, and it turned out perfect. One thing that I have noticed, though, is the black color is not as dark as it used to be. So, I think the sun has already faded in only two years. This concerns me because the vehicles this seat is primarily used in have tinted windows.
- Versatility: This product is not super versatile. While it can hold children starting at 5lbs, it is only able to offer two functions; rear facing and forward facing. This seat does not have the ability to further convert into a booster or high-back booster—resulting in having to purchase an additional seat when at that phase within the car-seat journey.
- Ease of Cleaning: Everything except the straps are machine washable. I gave this section three stars because it is kind of a pain to have to uninstall the car seat, take everything off, rethread the harness straps when clean, and put them back together. I don't think it is fair to say that this is a failure of the car seat itself, but rather it's just a hassle with needing to wash car-seat fabric in general. If I don't want to machine wash, this seat does a really great job of being wiped down for quick cleanup.
Value for the money vs. other options
This seat is a great value for the money. It is difficult to find a car seat under $300 dollars, and the fact that Britax was able to keep the integrity in features such as steel reinforcements and no-thread harness adjustments is great. Comparatively speaking, there are similar features offered in the Diono Radian 3RXT for a higher cost. Plus, the Diono does have additional features, such as an anti-rebound bar, and it is able to convert into a highback booster (unlike the Britax Emblem). However, the Diono is much heavier than the Britax Emblem, which is important to keep in mind if one will be moving it between multiple vehicles. Another key call out is the size of the child and the vehicle one will be placing the car seat inside of. For smaller babies, the Diono does fit but may be less ‘snug’ than that traditional baby seat feel that many parents are used to. The Britax retails for less but is comparable to seats at a much higher price. So, disappointment is not something one will find when purchasing the Emblem.
At the end of the day, I bought this seat and thought it was okay, but was ultimately disappointed that I did not get my Diono. I figured the Britax was a good value for the money, so if it could work to stop my baby crying on drives because the seat I was using hurt, then this car seat was worth every penny. Fast forward two years, and I am using this car seat every day in my vehicle. The ease of use and looks of this seat, while keeping safety as a top concern, are fantastic. The Britax Emblem is one of my favorite car seat purchases over the course of 12 years.