Diono Rainier Diono Pacifica
The New Series of Diono Convertible-Booster Car Seats
The Diono company has been manufacturing high quality child car seats for many years and these seats have justifiably been very popular amongst parents.
This popularity is almost certainly due to the fact that these seats have managed to combine great premium safety features with some all important convenience factors. One of the most valuable practical benefits of the previous range of convertible-booster seats has been that they are very narrow (just 17 inches wide).
This narrow profile means that seats like the Radian RXT, R120 and R100 are able to fit “3 in a row” in most standard sized family vehicles. This ability to fit them side by side is a great feature for anyone than plans to have at least 3 children.
However, although this previous range of seats is still on the market, Diono has recently released 3 new seats that will probably eventually replace the previous range altogether.
The new Diono seats are called the Rainier, the Pacifica and the Olympia and they all rated as suitable for use from 5 lbs upwards.
I have already compared the top-of-the-range Diono Rainier with the older Diono Radian RXT and you can read that post here.
The purpose of this post is simply to compare the top-of-the-range Rainier with the mid-range Pacifica so that you can make a more informed decision when you come to decide whether or not to buy one of these seats for your child.
The Rainier and the Pacifica are almost identical seats, but there is one very important difference that explains why the Rainier is $20-25 more expensive than the Pacifica.
So, what are the similarities and differences between the Diono Rainier and the Diono Pacifica?
Rainier vs Pacifica– Common Features
Before discussing the single difference between these 2 seats, let’s just take a look at the impressive list of common features that are found on both seats.
Both seats come 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 below)
- 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 rear-facing limit of 50 lbs is higher than any other seat on the market and for some children this will enable them to remain in this safer seating position for longer. You can read more about the extra benefits of the Rainier over the older Radian RXT here.
One thing to bear in mind about the Rainier and Pacifica seats is that they are wider than the previous models at the top, due to the new reinforced side wings. The seats are still 17 inches wide at the base, but they are now wider at the top (6 inches more) and this “might” affect whether or not you can fit 3 in a row across the back seat of your vehicle.
On the Diono website, they claim that the “space saving design allows extra room for passengers while providing spacious interior for the child”.
I would suggest that if you need to fit 3 across the rear seat of your vehicle, you should ensure that you buy the seat from somewhere that has a Free Returns policy (like Amazon), so that you can confirm that it will fit correctly prior to committing fully to the purchase.
You can read more about the differences between the Rainier and the older Radian RXT here.
Rainier vs Pacifica – The Single Difference
The single difference between the Rainier and the Pacifica is the fact that the Rainier comes fitted with extra wide head wings and the Pacifica does not.
You can see this difference quite clearly on the images at the top of this page and below.
These head wings are designed to provide added protection to the head area in the event of a side impact collision. These head wings certainly look impressive and reassuring, but whether or not they actually make much of a difference is another matter. Diono claim that they do and I certainly have no evidence to suggest that they do not.
Although you will have to pay an extra $20-25 to get this feature, I would certainly choose the Rainier over the Pacifica. These seats are designed to last for the entire “car seat life” of your child and paying an extra few dollars for an additional safety feature that might help to protect them in a side impact collision is a small price to pay in my opinion. Although side impact collisions are less common than frontal and rear collisions, they are often more serious and cause more significant injuries.
In addition to the safety issue, these head wings also make the seat look more comfortable and provide your child with a place to rest their head that is much closer to the central position. When your child graduates to the belt-positioning booster mode, this ought to help to prevent them from slumping their heads too much to the side when they fall asleep on longer journeys.
The Car Seat Lady Demonstrates How to Install RF with LATCH
Different Fabric Colors
Although there is only 1 safety feature difference between these 2 seats, they also come in different fabric colours.
Diono Rainier Fabric Options
Diono Pacifica Fabric Options
Where to Buy the Diono Rainier and Diono Pacifica
If you are still undecided, you can:
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.
Do You Need More Help?
If you need any further advice or assistance whatsoever, please feel free to contact me and I will do my very best to help.
If you have any other questions or feedback about my Diono Rainier vs Diono Pacifica post, please just leave a comment in the box below or send an email to email@example.com