We’ve been a “Britax family” since 2005, when we bought a Marathon for our daughter (now 8.) She rear faced until nearly 4 (our original seat RF to 33 lb), and was FF until she was almost 7 (the benefits of having tiny children!) I got really lucky and snagged a great deal on another Marathon when I was expecting my son in 2008, and he is still rear-facing (he will be 4 in May.)
The thing about having children so far apart in age in how much things change; I’ve been researching car seats pretty much constantly since we were expecting our third child (born December 2011.) I was driving a used/130k+ mi/11 year old car that I was perfectly happy with, so we bought another brand seat known for its narrow footprint & ability to “puzzle” in 3-in-a-row sedan setups, and moved our daughter to a Britax Parkway booster just before her 7th birthday. Unfortunately, I thought my kids would murder each other being on top of each other (even when we tried putting the baby in the middle) and I was scalping my hand trying to cram my hand down to buckle the booster. Not only that, but our son was flipping out that he wanted his “cow seat” back. We ended up buying a new-to-us/used vehicle with a 3rd row, and put our son back in the Marathon. I continued to search for a seat for our little guy for once he outgrew the infant seat.
I searched and researched for more than a year before I settled on the Britax Pavilion. I was always a “car seat nut” but I was jumped on by a bunch of moms for asking about the “safest” (meaning, easy to use, high RF/harness limits) seat because “the safest seat is the one that will be use properly every time.” While I don’t entirely disagree, my kids are worth more than government mandated minimums, and I think the easier a car seat is to install/use, the more likely it will be to be used properly every time. Two big reasons I chose the pavilion were the click-safe, and no-re-thread harness (as well as the side-impact protection.)
I’m going to tell a quick story about my stupidity, and keep in mind that I was very educated on car-seat safety. One morning, I was buckling all my kids up to take my daughter to school. I called Britax in a panic because one of my son’s straps was loose no matter what I did. The customer service rep was patient, kind, and helped me figure out that I had threaded the straps through different slots in the shell, but the same slots in the cover. I felt like a complete moron, but the rep was so patient, kind and helpful. It solidified my loyalty to Britax!
I had never seen a Pavilion in person before ordering it, so I was thrilled at extras like having two buckle settings (carefully follow mfr instructions) as well as having the buckle guard connected (my kids constantly pulled it off in the Marathons!)
The seat also has the velcro hold-backs to keep the straps out of the way as your kiddo is getting into the seat.
The Pavilion wowed me. I didn’t think I could love a seat more than the Marathon, but I do!
The seat is nicely padded, with or without the removable infant pillow.
The cover is easily removable for cleaning:
The click-safe feature gives you an audible reminder that the harness is safely snug. The click-safe and versa tether also has threads that will tear in the event of a moderate to severe crash (if you are in a moderate-to severe crash, you need to replace your seat, but this serves as an additional indicator.)
I was so psyched to see that the shoulder/neck pads velcro off as well. I thought it was a huge pain to thread them on, with the Marathon. I would (more often than I’d like to admit) forget to thread them back on when replacing the cover, and I would silently scream when I realized I had to start all over again!
The Pavilion also has HUGS Chest Pads with SafeCell Technology which compress to manage energy and provide resistance to the forward movement of your child in a crash, reducing the risk of head injury.
My favorite feature of the Pavilion is the no-rethread harness.
Honestly, re-threading the harness to change the height was a huge pain in the… (you know what!) and I was always afraid I’d screw it up (like the time I had to call for help!)
The Pavilion has true side impact protection, and also comfy head rests!
There are 3 recline settings (make sure to read the manual) and they are very easy to adjust.
A 6-year expiration means this is likely the only seat you’ll ever need.
The instructions on the seat make it easy to install, and I appreciate the extra indicators about proper fit (knowing that not everyone scours the manual like I do!)
My husband is super excited that our vehicles have latch (finally!) and the Pavilion has easy storage for when you’re not using the connectors.
The seat has a versa-tether to anchor the seat, as well as a pocket to store the tether when you’re not using it. I’m super happy to report that my car has anchor points for both rear and forward facing tethers!!
I purchased this seat myself at normal prices. I was not asked to write, nor was I compensated for this post, and all opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links.