Britax Boulevard ClickTight Chicco Nextfit Zip
This is my in-depth comparison review of the Britax Boulevard ClickTight and Chicco Nextfit Zip convertible car seats.
The normal retail price of both seats is between about $350 and $380, but you can usually find them online at significantly discounted prices.
The Britax and Chicco companies have been manufacturing high quality premium convertible car seats for a very long time and they continue to be extremely popular amongst parents and child safety technicians. T
he Britax Boulevard ClickTight and Chicco Nextfit Zip convertible seats are their mid-range offerings that seek to provide lots of safety and convenience features without pushing the price over $400.
The only Britax ClickTight seat that has more features than the Boulevard is the Advocate seat, which has an extra layer of side impact protection in the head wings. This is a nice extra feature, but makes the seat significantly wider than the Boulevard and will prevent you from fitting 3 seats in a row.
When you are shopping at this premium end of the market, you can be pretty confident that whichever seat that you choose it will have high-end safety features. There are not really any truly bad seats at this price point, but it is only natural that you want to try to find the absolute best option for your child rather than just choosing a seat because it has a reassuringly large price tag!
The Boulevard vs Nextfit Zip at a Glance
|Feature||Boulevard ClickTight||Nextfit Zip|
|Rear-Facing Weight||5 - 40 lbs||5 - 40 lbs|
|Rear-Facing Height||49"||None specified|
|Forwards-Facing Weight||20 - 65 lbs||22 - 65 lbs|
|Forwards-Facing Height||up to 49"||up to 49" (see below)|
|Belt Installation System||ClickTight||Standard|
|Harness Height Range||8.35 - 19.4" - 14 positions||5 - 17.5" - 9 positions|
|Recline Positions||7 (with auto indicator)||9 (with auto indicator)|
|Side Impact Protection||Britax SIP Plus||Chicco SIP|
|Seat Expiration||10 years||8 years|
|FAA Approved for Flights||Yes||Yes|
Boulevard vs Nextfit Zip – Features Compared
1. Child Weight & Height Limits
The Nextfit Zip seat can accommodate a child weighing between 5 and 40 lbs. There is also an infant insert that should be used when your baby weighs between 5 and 11 lbs. This is designed to provide an extra snug and cushioned fit for small babies.
The Boulevard ClickTight also has a rear-facing weight range of 5 lbs to 40 lbs, but it does not need an infant insert.
Neither seat is considered to be an extended rear-facing convertible car seat in terms of weight limits, but 40 lbs is pretty standard for a high-end convertible seat. In fact, it probably would have been considered a very generous maximum rear-facing limit a few years ago.
Although both seats say that you can switch your child around to forwards-facing at 20 lbs (Boulevard) and 22 lbs (Nextfit Zip) respectively, this is not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. You should keep your child rear-facing for at least 2 years and the longer the better. By weight, both seats will allow your child to rear-face for longer than 2 years.
In rear-facing mode, it is very difficult to compare these seats but there is probably not much in it.
The Boulevard ClickTight has a maximum height limit of 49 inches, but the Nextfit Zip’s User Manual just says that it can be used so long as the harness straps can still be positioned at or below your child’s shoulders.
The overall maximum height and weight limits on both seats are exactly the same – 49 inches and 65 lbs.
2. Installing the Seats
The Boulevard ClickTight seat no longer comes with Britax’s previous push button LATCH connectors. The reason for this change is that these simplified LATCH connectors are no longer necessary since the invention of the “ClickTight” installation system (see below).
The Nextfit Zip seat comes with Chicco’s SuperCinch LATCH system, which uses some kind of “force-multiplying” technology to help parents to achieve a safe and secure installation with very little physical effort.
Please remember that all convertible car seats come with LATCH weight limits and, once those limits have been reached, you must re-install the seats using the vehicle’s seatbelt instead.
The LATCH weight limits for both seats are 35 lbs (rear-facing) and 40 lbs (forwards-facing).
Please don’t forget to check the User Manual to ensure that this information remains correct at the time of puchase.
Seatbelt Installation & ClickTight
The seatbelt installation methods for these seats are very different from each other.
The Nextfit ZIP uses a pretty standard belt-installation method, and some parents and caregivers can struggle with and stress about this issue. There is a belt lock off mechanism to make the process a little easier but, if you buy any convertible car seat and are not confident in fitting it correctly, please try to find a local Fire Station or NHTSA centre to advise you.
The Britax Boulevard seat comes with Britax’s much heralded ClickTight installation system, which is designed to remove all of the stress and complications from the process of installing convertible car seats using the vehicle seatbelt (see video below).
Due to this ClickTight installation system, the Boulevard ClickTight will be easier for most people to install using the seatbelt than the Nextfit Zip.
Research suggests that as many as 75% of seats are incorrectly installed and this creates an increased risk of injury to your child in a collision situation. So, anything that makes it easier to install a seat safely is a big safety bonus.
This ClickTight installation system is the the main reason that the NHTSA gives the Britax Boulevard ClickTight seat the maximum 5-star “Ease of Use” rating when used in the forwards-facing position.
Here are some videos to demonstrate the ClickTight system …
3. Side Impact Protection & Other Things
Sadly, it is just not possible to scientifically compare the side impact protection systems on different convertible car seats in any meaningful way.
This is because there is no formal side impact crash testing included as part of the Federal Safety Tests that all convertible car seats must pass before being sold in the US. Yes, there are rigorous safety tests that address other situations, but there are no specific side impact tests.
The NHTSA has tried to get the Government to introduce specific rigorous side impact testing as part of the process so that a benchmark could be set but, as of yet, nothing has happened. Even if the NHTSA gets its way eventually, you still won’t be able to rank the side impact protection features of seats in order. They will probably be “pass or fail” tests.
So, all that you can do is simply look at what each manufacturer says about their side impact protection systems and make your own mind up. Generally, the more layers of side impact protection the better, but it is hard to draw concrete conclusions because of the lack of accurate crash testing data.
The seat manufacturers all make various claims about their protection systems, and they will have carried out their own side impact tests, but there is no way to verify their claims.
Nextfit Zip Side Impact Protection & Steel Frame
The Nextfit Zip seat comes with energy-absorbing EPS foam around the side of the seat and within the head wings.
It also has a steel reinforced frame to add greater stability and help manage crash forces.
The Chicco Nextfit Zip is subjected to Chicco’s own side impact testing regime, but we simply don’t know exactly what that consists of.
There is the usual top tether straps to be used whilst forwards-facing so as to prevent excessive movement of the top part of the seat in a collision.
Boulevard – Side Impact Protection Plus & Other Things
The Boulevard ClickTight comes with the Britax Plus Side Impact Protection system, which consists of 2 layers of protection:
- Protective EPS Foam around the shell; and
- Extra Foam padding in the headrest.
It does not come with the Side Impact Cushion Technology (SICT), which is only found on the Advocate version of this seat. It has one more layer of side impact protection than the Marathon seat, which only has the EPS foam around the seat shell but not in the headrest.
The Boulevard seat also comes with a number of other impact protection systems.
The Britax SafeCell Base comes with a honeycomb structure that is designed to compress in a crash. It is also supposed to lower your child’s center of gravity and prevent twisting of the seat.
The Britax Boulevard ClickTight seat also comes with the SafeCell Impact Stabilising Steel frame, which provides added strength to the seat’s structure and acts to reduce its forwards flexion in the event of a collision.
The Impact Absorbing Tether is a strap that is used to secure the top part of the seat to to the lower anchors in your vehicle. This helps to prevent the seat from being thrown forwards in the event of a collision.
4. Seat Recline Positions
Nextfit ZIP – 9 positions & RightRide Indicators
The Nextfit Zip has industry leading recline options and Chicco boasts that their convertible seats recline 30% more than any of their competitors.
As a result, the Nextfit Zip is widely regarded as an excellent seat to buy if you need to install it in a small vehicle at a safe angle.
Just like the Boulevard, the Nextfit Zip seat also comes with dual level indicators(RightRide), which let you know when you have the seat reclined at a safe angle.
There are different indicators for rear-facing and forwards-facing because these modes of travel have different safe recline rules, so just make sure that you look at the correct one.
The dual indicator label as a warning to ensure that your child’s shoulder strap position is suitable for the particular mode of travel too. When rear-facing, the straps must be at or below shoulder height. When forwards-facing, the straps must be at of above shoulder height.
Boulevard – 7 positions with Automatic Indicator
The Boulavard ClickTight seat has 7 different recline positions and these are selected by using the red handle that is found under the front of the seat. It also has an automatic level indicator to help you achieve a safe angle of recline.
Just like the Nexfit Zip’s bubble indicator, the Britax automatic level indicator also means that you can feel confident that the recline position is safe rather than simply having to guess or carry some sort of measuring device around in your pocket!
The ability to choose from a variety of recline positions also makes it easier to install the seat into smaller vehicles.
So, the recline systems on these 2 seats are both excellent but the Nextfit Zip does have some extra angles to choose from and this might be important if you need to fit the seat in a tight space because you have a small vehicle or due to the fact that one of the front seat occupants has long legs and needs the seat pushed back further.
5. Harnesses, Headrests & Chest Clips
The Nextfit Zip has 6 adjustable shoulder harness positions to choose from, but the Boulevard ClickTight has a massive 14 positions to choose from.
You will obviously need to increase the height of the headrest and shoulder straps as your child grows. With many cheaper convertible car seats, this involves having to remove, adjust and then re-thread the harness straps. This can be quite tricky on some seats and you will probably have to remove the entire seat from the vehicle to so it.
Happily, both the Nextfit Zip and Boulevard ClickTight seats come with easy to use no re-thread harnesses and headrest adjustment mechanisms.
This means that instead of having to remove the car seat from your vehicle and then wrestle with harness straps as you try to remove them and then re-thread them, you simply have to squeeze the handles at the top of the seat’s headrest and pull it upwards until you reach the correct height setting.
By adjusting the headrest, you are automatically adjusting the height of the shoulder straps at the same time.
The Nextfit Zip comes with a unique double-position chest clip, which has different settings for forwards-facing and rear-facing.
This means that the chest clip adapts to the changing size of your child’s body. Obviously, a 6-month old baby’s chest size is very different from the chest size of a 3-year old child and this mechanism recognises that fact.
6. Some Other Features to Consider
Boulevard’s Click & Safe Indicator
The Boulevard ClickTight seat comes with a Click & Safe Harness Indicator that lets out a “clicking” sound to tell you that the harness is within the correct range of “snugness”. You still need to use your own judgment rather than just relying entirely upon the clicking sound, but it is a nice extra level of security.
Boulevard – ARB Version
The Britax Boulevard also has an “ARB” version. The ARB stands for anti-rebound bar.
The ARB is a padded steel bar that is attached to the foot-end of the seat. The purpose of the ARB is to manage the rebound of the seat during a collision by pressing itself into the back of the vehicle’s seat front.
In testing for the US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, Britax found that the ARB minimizes the risk of injury to rear-facing children by reducing rebound rotation by 40% and stabilizes the car seat during frontal, rear-end, and side-impact crashes.
There appears to be reliable evidence that the ARB enhances the safety of the seat.
Nextfit Zip’s Easy to Remove Seat Pad
The Chicco Nextfit Zip gets its name (Zip) from the fact that its seat pad is removed by simply unzipping it from the rest of the seat. The seat pad is also machine-washable.
Being able to remove the seat pad like this also helps when you are trying to install it using the vehicle seatbelt.
Other seats require some time and effort to remove the seat, but you can see in this video just how easy the Nextfit Zip method is when you need to remove the seat pad to clean it.
Nextfit Zip’s Comfort & Flex Harness
The Nextfit Zip seat has an improved harness strap that has more padding that the old original Nextfit 65 version and which can be held out of the way when you are trying to load your child into the seat.
This means that you won’t have to reach underneath your child for the harness straps and buckle.
Boulevard ClickTight vs Chicco Nextfit Zip – Videos
Boulevard ClickTight vs Nextfit Zip – My Verdict
As I said at the start, these are both great top-end convertible car seats that comes with reassuring safety features as well as lots of nice added convenience touches. In terms of height and weight limits there is nothing really to choose between them.
The Chicco Nextfit Zip wins out in a contest for best reclining seat and I recommend it to those who have small vehicles or long legs. The easy to remove seat pad is also a nice feature.
The Boulevard has better harness and headrest options and the ClickTight installation system is a game changer for anyone who is nervous about getting a safe belt installation.
Personally, I would choose the Boulevard ClickTight ARB seat, but then again I don’t have a small vehicle and am not particularly bothered about the Zip feature. But, you need to do what it right for your circumstances.
If you love the look of the Boulevard ClickTight, but just want to compare it to the 2 other ClickTight seats that are available, you can read my comparison reviews here:
If you are interested in the Nextfit seat but want to save a little cash by doing without the zip seat pad and the comfort & flex harness feature, I have also compared the Chicco Nextfit 65 with the Chicco Nextfit Zip here.
Canadian ClickTight Seats
After purchasing any child car seat, you should always read the User Manual thoroughly before using it. It is also advisable to visit your local Fire Department or NHTSA Child Car Seat Inspection Centre to ensure that the seat is definitely suitable for your child’s specific requirements and that you have installed it correctly. These services are usually provided free of charge.
You can find your nearest NHTSA Centre here.
Get in Touch
If you have any comments or questions in relation to my Britax Boulevard ClickTight vs Chicco Nextfit Zip Comparison Review, please leave a comment in the box below or send me an email.