Our family has been through more than our share of car seats over the years. As I shop for car seats for my children, Britax’s reputation for safety and reliability always puts their car seats at the top of the list. If you want a convertible seat that will grow with your child from harness to booster, the Britax Pioneer is a safe and affordable option. However, some parents may prefer to upgrade to the Britax Frontier or Britax Pinnacle for additional ease-of-use and safety features.
The Britax Pioneer is a forward-facing car seat that grows with your child by easily converting from harness to booster mode. When your child is ready for a forward-facing seat, the Britax Pioneer offers design and safety features that will ensure both your child’s comfort and your peace of mind. The Pioneer’s price puts it in the upper middle price range of convertible booster seats but is still the lowest-priced option of Britax’s three convertible seats. If you want the brand reliability of a Britax without the premium price tag, the Britax Pioneer is a good option.
- Child Weight – Forward Facing Harness 2 years and 25, up to 70 lbs
- Child Weight – Booster 40 – 110 lbs
- Child Standing Height – Forward Facing Harness 30 – 58″
- Child Standing Height – Booster 45 – 62″
- Child Seated Shoulder Height – Forward Facing Harness 12.5 – 20.5″
- Child Seated Shoulder Height – Booster 15 – 23″
- Product Weight 21 lbs
- Product Dimensions – Harness Minimum 19″ W x 28″ H x 21″ D
- Product Dimensions – Harness Maximum 19″ W x 35″ H x 21″ D
- Product Dimensions – Booster Minimum 19″ W x 28″ H x 21″ D
- Product Dimensions – Booster Maximum 19″ W x 35″ H x 21″ D
- Seating Compartment Height 21.5″
- Seat Area Depth / Width 13.5″ / 12″
- Shoulder Width 15.5″
The Britax Pioneer comes with a one-year warranty and a nine-year expiration date.
Safety is my top priority in choosing a car seat. I’m a good driver with a clean driving record, but accidents happen. When I choose a car seat, I want to be confident that I’m investing in a product that will keep my child safe. The Britax Pioneer offers several safety features that strongly appeal to me.
Side Impact Protection
The Pioneer features an energy-absorbing shell and foam-lined headrest with two layers of side-impact protection. Side-impact protection is important to me because while most collisions are front or rear impact, side-impact collisions are often the most dangerous to children. However, a good car seat or booster seat substantially reduces the severity and rate of injuries to children.
Energy diverting features
One of the things a car seat should do is absorb impact forces and redirect them away from your child. The Britax Pioneer offers two energy-diverting features:
- Impact-absorbing base that compresses to reduce the force of a collision, diverting impact forces away from your child.
- V-shaped tether that minimizes seat rotation, reduces the force of a crash, and diverts energy away from your child
These features mean the car seat is designed so that in a collision either the seat or your vehicle will absorb the force of the impact rather than your child. This reduces the risk of injury and reduces the severity of injuries such as whiplash or head trauma that might occur. I like seeing these feature in a car seat.
I want my car seat to be strong enough that it won’t fracture under the force of a collision. The Britax Pioneer has a steel frame that reinforces the seat’s connection to the vehicle, adding extra strength where you need it most.
Britax has a great reputation for safety, and the Britax Pioneer gets a “Best Bet” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute
Ease of Use
Safety is important, but I also want a car seat that is easy to use. The car seat should not be another source of hassle in your life, and problems like difficult installation, constantly twisting harness straps, and difficulty in cleaning have made me dump more than one hard-t0-use car seat for a better model. The Britax Pioneer avoids many of these common issues and offers several features parents will love.
Ease of installation is a top priority for me in choosing a car seat. I want something that’s secure, but I’ve had to do battle with more than one car seat when it came time to unhook the LATCH connection so I could move or clean the seat. The Britax Pioneer has push button LATCH connectors which click into place and are easily released with the push of a button—no wrestling required. However, the Britax Pioneer does not have the ClickTight seat belt installation system available on other Britax models.
Here are the installation videos:
Easy to Adjust
Car seats should easily grow along with your child. The Britax Pioneer has a 9-position quick adjust harness that allows you to easily adjust the seat without rethreading the harness. The nine available positions make it easy to find the best fit for your child’s safety and comfort, and not having to rethread the harness makes adjusting the seat just a matter of pushing a lever and adjusting the seat.
This video shows how to adjust the harness and seat height:
We take long car trips to visit family, so I want my children to be comfortable in their seats. I like the wide wings on the headrest that provide space for a napping child to rest his or her head, and the upholstery and padding look plush and thick. I also like that the cupholders can be stowed when needed but are still integrated into the seat—I despise the clip-on cupholders that easily get lost or broken. As another plus, the ten color options will make it easy for you to find a design that you and your child will both love.
If you’ve ever had a child get sick in the car, you know what a chore it can be to remove the seat cover and thoroughly clean the seat. The Britax Pioneer’s easy-remove cover allows you to remove the seat cover for washing without requiring you to rethread the harness. That’s a big plus in my book, but it’s tempered somewhat by the fact that the cover is not machine washable. The cover has to be hand washed and line dried, and I’m concerned how much dry time the padding will require since it can’t be machine dried.
This video shows how to remove the seat cover.
The NHTSA gives the Britax Pioneer a five-star ease-of-use rating. The only concerns they note are that sizing information is not next to a full body picture of the child in the child restraint system and that there are no pictures on the labels showing how to convert the seat to the different modes of use. These are minor concerns I don’t see adversely affecting most parents’ use of the seat.
How it Compares
Britax has a full line of high-quality car seats. I mentioned early on that the other Britax models have some additional features. See the details of how the Pioneer compares to the Frontier here. And here’s a comparison of the Britax Frontier vs the Pinnacle. The Graco Nautilus 65 is yet another very popular car seat and we compare it to the Britax Pioneer here.
While I like many features of the Britax Pioneer, I do have a few concerns.
Many parents do not know that the LATCH system comes with a weight limit. The Britax Pioneer user manual specifies not to use the lower anchors with a child weighing more than 45 pounds. Some parents report difficulty using the vehicle seatbelt to correctly install the seat in harness mode.
If you anticipate using the seat in harness mode for a child weighing more than 45 pounds, you may prefer the ClickTight Installation system available on the Britax Frontier and Pinnacle. Both these seats also offer additional features such as an energy absorbing harness and EZ-buckle system. The Pinnacle also boasts 3 layers of side-impact protection, an additional layer compared to the two layers of protection featured on the Pioneer.
The Britax Pioneer is also a large and bulky seat. The seat weighs 21 pounds, so it’s not something you’re going to want to lug through the airport. This may not be a concern if you plan to install the seat in your car and leave it there, but if you anticipate frequently moving the seat between cars, you may want to look at a lighter model.
It’s hard to know how any car seat will fit in a particular car without trying it, but the seat has a fairly large profile. If you drive a smaller car with a tight back seat, you may want to look at a slimmer model of car seat.
If you’re looking for a slim booster seat, head over to our Best Booster Seat article to find some great choices.
Consumer Rating Summary
Consumer reviews show that the Britax Pioneer is a widely-used and generally well-liked booster seat.
Babies ‘R Us–4 out of 5 stars, 97 reviews
Target–4.1 out of 5 stars, 150 reviews
Walmart–4 out of 5 stars, 100 reviews
The Britax Pioneer upholds the brand’s reputation as an industry leader in car seat safety and reliability. I like the side-impact protection and features that divert energy for a collision away from your child. The easy to remove seat cover is a plus, although I prefer a machine-washable cover. The nine harness positions and easy to adjust seat height also put points in the “easy to use” column. While some parents may prefer the safety and premium options available on Britax’s higher-priced options, the Britax Pioneer is a good option for parents who prioritize both safety and affordability.