Weight Range (RF): 5 to 50 lb
Weight Range (FF Harness): 20 to 90 lb
Weight Range (FF Booster): 50 to 120 lb
Max Height: 44″ (RF) / 57″ (FF)
Average Age Range: birth to 12 years
Steel Frame: Yes
LATCH Weight Limit: 35 lbs RF / 40 lbs FF
The Good – The Diono Pacifica comes with Super LATCH connectors for secure installation; Can be fitted using the adult seat belt if your vehicle does not have LATCH anchor points; Steel alloy frame with aluminium reinforced sides designed to provide added strength and Diono boldly claims that it should last a full 12 years of normal use; Reinforced deeper sidewalls are lined with energy-absorbing foam for superior head and body protection; Deluxe Infant Body Support Cushion; Head rest adjusts to 12 different positions to ensure the best fit; NCAP crash tested; Multiple recline positions; Folds flat for easy travel; Can fit 3 in a row due to its narrow profile (same as Radian at base – 17 inches, but wider at the top – 23 inches); Safe Stop 5-point harness; Rear-facing tether connector strap; machine washable seat cover; Rear Facing up to 50lbs (5 lbs more than the Diono Radian RXT and the other older Diono models).
The Bad – Expensive (but it may be the only seat you will ever need to buy for your child); Unlike the Rainier, it does not come with the extra deep head wings.
The Bottom Line – The Pacifica is an excellent car seat that comes with an increased rear-facing weight limit (50 lbs). At 90 lbs it has the highest top weight limit for any harness to booster car seat. Whilst the Britax Pinnacle 90 and Frontier 90 seats can be used harnessed up to 90 lbs, they cannot be used from birth like the Pacifica can. The Pacifica is also one of the few car seats that can be tethered in the rear-facing position. Overall I love the improved look and safety features on this seat. The only thing that it lacks is the extra deep head wings found on the Ranier. The price difference between the Ranier and Pacific seats fluctuates, but is about $20-25 at the moment.
The Diono Pacifica’s Best Features
The Diono Pacifica’s full list of technical specifications can be found towards the bottom of this page, but I want to explain a few of its best features in more detail.
#1 Highest Rear-Facing Weight Limit
Together with the Ranier seat, the Diono Pacifica now leads the way when it comes to extended rear-facing weight limits. Most convertible car seats enable rear-facing up to about 40 lbs, but the Pacifica extends this to 50 lbs. The Radian and Peg Perego convertible car seats are impressive at 45 lbs rear-facing, but the Pacifica now offers an extra option for those parents that was to keep their child rear-facing for even longer.
There is now compelling evidence to prove that rear-facing is much safer than forwards facing for young children and any new car seat that seeks to prolong rear-facing longer than other car seats on the market is to be warmly welcomed.
However, one must bear in mind that for many children this extra 5-10 lbs rear-facing weight capacity will be unusable, since they will have exceeded the 44 inch height limit before they reach the 50 lb weight limit anyway.
CDC data shows that the the average height of a 5 year old boy is between 41.7 and 44.2 inches, but at the same time the average weight is 37.5 to 44.7 lbs.
This means that many kids will not be able to take advantage of the Pacifica’s extended rear-facing – certainly those at the upper limits of the normal height/weight ranges will not get full use.
But, there will be lots of smaller children that will be able to remain rear-facing for the full 50 lbs before exceeding the 44 inch height limit and for them this is a very nice added safety feature.
Always try to keep your child rear-facing for as long as they remain within the height / weight limits for this!
#2 New Deeper Side Wings
Diono boast that the all important head area of the seat contains a new compression wall that features a rigid double wall design. It is claimed that this provides much improved side impact protection for your child in the event of a collision, due to the fact that the outside wall compresses to absorb some of the crash energy.
Note: The Pacifica does NOT come with the extra wide head wings that can be found on the more expensive Rainier seat. These head wings look very reassuring and I would probably pay the extra $20/25 for the added peace of mind.
#3 Slim Profile Means that 3 in a Row is Possible (but not guaranteed)
Despite the added side impact protection wings, the Diono Pacifica remains a very narrow car seat and you ought to be able to fit 3 in a row in most larger sized family vehicles.
However, you should note that, although both the Radian RXT and the Pacifica measure 17 inches at the base, the Pacifica’s new deeper side wings make it wider at the top front apart of the seat (23 inches). So, if you have a smaller vehicle, it might be more sensible to stick with the Radian RXT or R100.
Having said that, provided you buy the seat from a retailer that offers Free Returns, you can always check the fit before fully committing to the purchase.
#4 Steel Alloy Frame & Reinforced Sides Designed to Last 12 Years
The 2 main benefits of this durable steel alloy frame and reinforced sides are pretty obvious. The frame provides an added degree of protection in the event of a collision and many other car seats are manufactured to “expire” within a few years of the purchase date. The fact that the Diono Pacifica is designed to last a full 12 years goes a long way to justifying what would otherwise be considered a fairly hefty price tag.
If you can get 12 years of use out of this car seat, your $319 will have been an excellent investment in my opinion. If you chose to buy separate premium infant, convertible and booster car seats instead, you could easily expect to pay $500+.
#5 Folds Flat and Comes with Backpack Straps for Easy Transportation
Unlike many convertible / harness to booster car seats, the Diono Pacifica is very easy to fold flat and transport using the carry straps or the backpack straps.
Given the danger and expense of trying to hire child car seats when you go on vacation, the usefulness of this feature should not be overlooked!
#6 Can be Installed Using Super LATCH up to 35 lbs (RF) & 40 lbs (FF)
The new LATCH laws that came into force in February 2014 mean that there is now a maximum weight limit for installing convertible car seats using LATCH connectors. The limit is generally when the combined child + seat weight exceeds 65 lbs. With the Pacifica, you have a choice of either reinstalling the seat using the seatbelt at 35 lbs if you want your child to remain rear facing, or doing it at 40 lbs if your child is forwards facing.
Full List of Specifications
The Diono Pacifica comes with:
- Full steel frame and aluminum reinforced sides
- Reinforced extra deep sidewalls with energy-absorbing foam for superior head and body protection
- Rear-facing from 5 to 50 lbs (up to 44″ in height)
- Highest forward-facing capacity of any car seat in a 5-point harness: from 20-90 lbs (up to 57″ in height)
- Booster mode for children between 50 and 120 lbs. (up to 57″ in height)
- SuperLATCH system makes installation easy (see video above)
- Space saving design allows extra room for passengers while providing spacious interior for child
- Folds flat for travel and is FAA certified
- NCAP crash tested in severe accident conditions
- Infant body support cushions and memory foam for added comfort
- Energy absorbing EPS foam and side impact protection
- Extra-long leg support for comfy road trips
- Multiple harness and buckle positions for custom fit
- Safestop® energy-absorbing harness
- Additional forward-facing recline position to accommodate different types of contoured vehicle seats, 12-position adjustable headrest, 5 shoulder and 3 buckle positions deliver a comfortable ride.
- Rear-facing tether capability
- Additional set of harness pads included to use only when the child is over 65 lbs in the 5-point harness
- Expandable sides and long seat bottom allow proper leg support
- Sits low on vehicle seat for easy child boarding and improved safety performance in a crash
- Angled cup holder keeps a variety of drinks upright and within easy reach
- Cover is machine washable and dryable
- Rubber bottom grips for no-slip installation
- Industry leading 12 year product life (from date of purchase)
The Diono Pacifica’s User Manual
If you want to read more about the Diono Pacifica’s installation and safety instructions, you can download a PDF copy of the User Manual here.
The Car Seat Lady Demonstrates How to Install RF with LATCH
Where to Buy the Diono Pacifica
Diono Car Seats in Canada
Booster Mode – IIHS “Not Recommended” Rating
Since writing this comparison review, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has published its November 2014 “Booster Seat Evaluation” results. Unfortunately, the Diono Pacifica and Olympia seats scored very badly in these evaluations and have been awarded a “Not Recommended” rating.
The problem seems to stem from the fact that the shoulder belt guides on the Pacifica and Olympia put the shoulder belt in a position that touched the child’s face in a number of safety belt configurations.
So, the bad news is that these seats cannot be regarded as safe to use in booster mode.
However, it is not all bad news:
- These seats can still be used in rear-facing and forwards-facing harness modes for longer than other convertible car seats;
- The Diono Rainier does NOT suffer from this problem and intact gets a “GOOD BET” rating from the IIHS. This difference is due to the fact that it has an adjustable head rest that means that the belt guides can be moved into an acceptable position. So, if you like these Diono seats and don’t want to have to change to another high-backed booster seat when your child exceeds the “Harness Mode” weight/height limits (see above), you should consider buying the Rainier instead. Alternatively, you can consider one of the older Diono 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.
Leave a Comment
If you have any feedback or questions about my Diono Pacifica Convertible Car Seat Review or want to share your views on extended rear facing car seats, please feel free to leave a comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org