I’ve had the pleasure of using the Maxi Cosi Pria 3-in-1 Car Seat for both my newborn and my 2 year old over the last couple of months.
This car seat has everything you could want in a car seat: crazy comfort, superb safety, and many modes. But it does have one thing you might not want: a bigger price tag. This costs considerably more than the car seat that we currently use for our toddler, but the features are very similar.
So, let’s find out if the bigger price tag is justified.
Note: Maxi Cosi provided the Pria 3-in-1 Car Seat in exchange for this honest review.
Ways to Use the Seat
This seat, like all other best convertible car seat choices, has 3 different modes: a rear facing car seat, a forward facing car seat, and a belt positioning booster.
For the rear facing car seat, it works for babies from 4 to 40 pounds. There are 3 levels of recline on the seat to get it at a safe level for any size of baby.
While this is a wonderful seat for an infant, I did find that it took up a lot of space rear facing. Not only is the seat wide, but when reclined to the 3rd and farthest level, it requires a lot of space. In our crew cab truck, it was just fine. But in our Honda CR-V, we had to scoot the passenger seat all the way forward to get it to fit.
If you have a small or compact car, this seat is probably a no-go.
The forward facing car seat is safe for children up to 65 pounds (at a minimum of 22 pounds). Because this seat is so big and spacious, you should definitely wait until after the 2nd birthday to turn the seat forward facing, per the current car seat safety expert recommendations.
Once facing forward, your child will have a 5 point safety harness with shoulder pads and a bottom buckle cover.
And since toddlers and preschoolers grow like weeds, you have to be able to customize their fit on a daily basis.
The Pria 3-in-1 has 3 bottom buckle spots for the best bottom fit. The headrest and harness system move together as part of the QuickFit shoulder harness system. Just grab the lever on top of the headrest and move it to one of 5 positions to get the right fit.
High Back Booster
Once your child is ready, at about 40 pounds and 43 inches, it’s time for booster mode. This belt-positioning booster is good to go until 100 pounds, which is like a 5th grader!
Since you should use only the vehicle’s safety belt in booster mode, you can remove and store the 5 point safety harness behind the seat pad so that it won’t get in the way. There’s a bright red In and Out Harness Holder to help keep the shoulder portion of the seat belt in the correct spot for your big kid.
Small Car Friendly? Nope!
For all 3 positions, I want to reiterate how large this car seat really is. It needs about 32 inches of depth when fully reclined, and about 24 inches of depth when sat upright. Not to mention that it’s about 19 inches wide from drink holder to drink holder. The Pria is a back seat hog.
Maxi Cosi = Maximum Coziness
The padding on this European brand car seat is ridiculous. A good ridiculous. It’s not just a softer fabric with some fluff underneath, it has actual density to the padding. It seems like the type of padding that would hold up to a beating and keep it’s comfort over the years.
Another feature that this newborn mamma loves is the infant padding. The Pria has an infant insert that includes a wedge seat for under the bum, side wings on said wedge to keep the hips and bum in place, plus body wings for supporting the abdomen and a head pillow with thick sides. Not to mention the harness pads (which were too big and irritating for my newborn, actually) and buckle pads.
As you can see from the pictures, my 10 pound cutie was totally supported and comfy. A great perk of these pillows is that you can remove all or one of them, depending on your baby’s shape and size. At this time, we removed the wedge pillow because our son is on the tall side. But the body and head pillows, which should always be used together, help keep him secure and snug.
These pillows are the main reason why the seat can be used starting at just 4 tiny pounds. This is listed in our best car seat for preemie babies article because it has legitimate infant padding and is rated safe for use by itty bitty babies.
Cup holders are not to be taken for granted. Just because you don’t use them in the infant stage doesn’t mean you won’t need them later! I love these cup holders for 2 reasons: they’re dishwasher safe, and they have little arrows in the bottom that tell you which way to twist and remove them. That’s music to a frazzled mom’s ears.
Another cool feature is the harness holders on the side of the seat. These are genius! I first used these in our Safety 1st car seat, and they’re the feature I never knew I needed. They eliminate all the shimmying and moving that your toddler has to do once they plop their little selves down in the seat.
Once you get in the habit of putting the side straps in the holders when you unbuckle them, you know that they’ll be ready to go when it’s time to buckle up.
The style itself is another luxe feature. I’ve already talked about the comfort. But the Pria car seat looks nice too! It’s a bit on the bulky side, but the color choices are gorgeous and will fit any style or any car interior if you like to match.
And as if all that weren’t enough, you can remove and wash the seat cover. I didn’t actually wash it, but I did attempt to take it off and it was not too difficult. It is a detailed process, though, so just keep looking at the manual as you go. As long as you follow the washing instructions in the manual, it should hold up just fine and not shrink or warp. Bonus: you can actually dry it!
Last, but certainly not least, is the safety.
The Pria 3-in-1 Car Seat meets or exceeds all federal safety standards. It’s also FAA approved for aircraft use. But you may not want to lug this through the airport because it is large and it is heavy. As one reviewer very aptly put it: “this car seat is a TANK.” It’s made of thick plastic, so it weighs about 17 pounds.
The GCell foam that they use adds the comfort that I told you about, but it does add a trifle more heft, too. That goes along with the wraparound headrest with the same cell protection. As Maxi Cosi puts it, the headrest will: “cushion the impact, and protect your child around the head where it’s needed most.”
And the final safety feature that I absolutely must mention is the latch installation. It’s not hard to do at all, thanks to the beautiful easy latch system. All you need to do is push the release button to get the latch straps in and out of the anchors. It really does help you do the connecting easily.
However, because of the weight and size of this seat, you will need to put your muscles into getting it anchored tightly. I wasn’t able to do it myself, I needed my husband’s weight and muscle to get it anchored without rocking.
- 3 modes work for 4 to 100 pounds
- Headrest and harness adjust together
- Plush, comfortable, and safe
- Infant inserts work for even preemies
- Extras like cup holders and harness holder
- Very large
- A bit on the heavy side
- Requires a bit of muscle to install
My Honest Opinion
I really, really like this car seat. The best way I know how to grade it is to compare it to the Safety 1st Grow and Go that we have now.
This car seat has way nicer fabric and A LOT more padding. It’s certainly better looking and more comfortable. It also has the latch hooks with the button, which are a lifesaver when you need them. This also works for a 4 pound baby, whereas the Grow and Go only works for a 5 pounder.
But this car seat is quite a bit larger than the Grow and Go. And it costs, at the time of this publishing, $100 more from one of the leading online retailers.
I honestly don’t think I’d pay $100 more for this car seat, unless I had a preemie baby and needed an option for them, or I used the car seat daily, and for extended periods. In that case, this car seat would be worth it because of the comfort and protection.
Here’s my bottom line: I do love the Maxi Cosi Pria 3-in-1 Car Seat. It has all the features that I’d want in a car seat. However, I think that the comparable and more affordable options out there have enough of the same features to make me happy.