I want my children to be safe, but I also have to contend with the reality of my budget. As I research car seats, safety and ease-of-use are top priorities but I also have to consider value. How long will my child use this seat? Is it something we’ll use daily, or just for occasional use in a secondary vehicle? Can I transfer it easily from car to car, or will I need a second seat that is more portable?
That’s where the Essentials by Britax line comes in. Essentials by Britax is a new value line from Britax, a manufacturer of some of the highest rated car seats on the market. The Essentials brand promises Britax levels of protection to families who consider safety their top priority, but Essentials offers their products at a lower price point than the regular Britax line. Essentials by Britax offers two convertible car seats, the Allegiance Convertible and the Emblem Convertible. This review will examine the Allegiance Convertible and see how its features stack up compared to the Britax brand. The Allegiance is a good option who want the security of the Britax name without the sticker shock of a Britax price tag, but the lack of a machine-washable cover is a negative factor parents should consider.
The Essentials by Britax Allegiance Convertible car seat is a convertible car seat, meaning it can be used as a rear-facing seat for infants and then turned around to use as a forward-facing seat for toddlers and young children. The seat is designed for children weighing between 5 and 65 pounds and can accommodate your child from birth until he or she is ready for a booster seat.
See our best toddler car seat roundup for more choices.
The Allegiance is similar to higher priced Britax models in its safety and ease-of-use features. The Allegiance features the same Safe Cell impact protection system as Britax brand seats. The two main differences appear to be the quality of the seat fabric and the amount of side impact protection on the seat. While many Britax models offer two or three layers of side impact protection, the Allegiance only has one. The other Essentials Model, the Emblem, does offer two layers of side impact protection.
Item Weight: 19.5 pounds
Product Dimensions: 21 x 18.5 x 26 inches
Item model number: E1A898P
Minimum weight recommendation: 5 Pounds
Maximum weight recommendation: 65 Pounds
As you’d expect from a Britax brand, safety is where the Essentials by Britax Allegiance really shines. The main safety feature of the Allegiance is the SafeCell Impact Protection system, a set of safety features designed to divert force away from your child in a collision.
Elements of the SafeCell Impact Protection system include:
- A stabilizing steel frame that absorbs crash impact and provides seat stability.
- An impact absorbing base that compresses to absorb the impact of a crash and direct impact forces away from your child.
- A V-shaped tether that reduces seat rotation and slows forward movement.
The seat also offers side-impact safety protection—an essential feature because side-impact crashes are often the most dangerous for young children. However, as noted above, the Allegiance only offers one layer of side-impact protection. I think this is enough to keep your child safe, but there are additional layers of side-impact protection available on the Essentials Emblem and on other Britax models. Parents will have to decide if the additional layers of protection are worth the additional price.
Safety features are top priority in choosing a car seat, but what I call ease-of-use or parent-focused features are also important. That lower priced seat may seem like a bargain, but if you wind up replacing it three months in because it’s too hard to install or because of the constantly twisted straps, it costs you more in the long run. It’s often worth it to do your research and spend a little more to get a car seat you and your child will both love.
The Essentials by Britax Allegiance offers several features that should appeal to parents:
10-Position Harness Adjuster with Headrest
One of the most challenging things about car seats is having to unthread and rethread the seat every time you need to adjust the seat for you growing child. You have to take the whole seat apart to do it, and what happens if you put it back together wrong or lose a piece? That won’t be a problem with the Allegiance. This seat features a 10-position harness adjuster headrest that allows you to adjust the harness without rethreading. That’s a huge plus factor—I’ve taken apart and reassembled car seats way too many times.
Easy-on/Easy-off LATCH Connectors
I know LATCH is supposed to be easy to use, but I’ve often struggled with connecting and then releasing the connectors. When properly connected and tightened, sometimes I don’t have enough hand strength to release the tether. Thankfully, the Allegiance features Britax’s easy on and off LATCH connectors. Simply click the lower anchors into place, then release them with a push of a button.
Built-in Lock-Off’s for seat belt installation
One of the challenges of installing your car seat with the vehicle seat belt is getting the belt tight enough to hold the seat securely. The Lock-Off system available on the Allegiance should make this task much easier. You can see how the Lock-off system works in the video below:
Easy-to-Remove Seat Cover
Car seats get dirty. Older children have snacks, younger children have accidents, and let’s just face it—stomach viruses happen. When the inevitable happens, it’s important to be able to easily remove the seat cover for cleaning without taking the whole seat apart. The Allegiance has an easy-to-remove seat cover that allows parents to remove the cover without rethreading the harness. However, the seat cover is not machine washable. I consider that a negative, but some parents may not mind that the upholstery is spot clean only. You can read more about how to clean the seat cover at this link.
Style, Appearance, and Comfort
I like the shape and design of the Allegiance. It looks plush and comfortable, and I like the wide wings around the headrest. The Allegiance also comes in six color options. I like the Confetti, but parents should be able to find a color and design that fits their taste. The Allegiance offers three recline options—sufficient, but a much more limited range of motion than the seven available on the Britax Marathon. The Allegiance also doesn’t appear to come with cupholders, so you may want to look at different seat if having an in-seat cupholder is an important feature for you.
Overall, I like the Allegiance. Still, there are a couple concerns that parents may want to keep in mind.
I know I keep coming back to this, but the machine washable cover is a big issue for me. That said, if you want a Britax brand car seat, all their seat covers are spot clean only. So if you’re a Britax fan, this may not be a make or break issue for you.
The Allegiance is also a large and bulky seat. At 19.5 pounds, you’re not going to want to move it around much once you have it in your car. It also takes up a good chunk of room in the back seat, particularly in rear-facing mode. If your car has a tight backseat, you may want to find the product in a store and see if you can place the store model in your car to check the fit.
I like this car seat. The Essentials by Britax Allegiance Convertible car seat has many of Britax’s top safety and ease-of-use features, managing to deliver an excellent quality seat for a value price. However, some parents may want to choose another model because of the size and bulk of the seat or the spot-clean only cover. Parents concerned about side impact protection may also want to upgrade to the two layers of protection available on the Essentials Emblem, or even the higher end Britax models with three levels of side impact protection. However, overall I think the Allegiance does a good job of finding a balance between features and value. Parents who want the security and features of the Britax brand at an affordable price should strongly consider the Allegiance.