Dec 15, 2008

Sunshine Radian review: Big thumbs down

In case you haven't been following my little saga, here's the quick version: The week before Thanksgiving, we were rear-ended - thankfully, everyone was all right, but the car was pretty badly damaged. It's been in the shop for repairs, and in the meantime, I spent some time trying to decide what new car seats to get. I eventually settled on the Sunshine Radian65, a convertible seat that looks a lot like a booster (pictured).

I ordered two Radians, which arrived on Friday. I tried installing one over the weekend. Aarrrggghhh!!! I was reduced to tears after wrestling with the seat for nearly an hour, because no matter what I did, the seat would not install as securely as it should have. Of course, I knew this might happen - but I had convinced myself that it wouldn't. And what was so frustrating about it was that it was so close. The seat didn't move that much - but it was more than we were comfortable with.

I was also frustrated by the top tether. In the picture in the instruction booklet, the tether is at or above the top of the car's seat. But in our Nissan Altima, the tether was quite a few inches below the top of the car's seat and the latch for loosening the tether necessarily ended up behind the Radian itself, making it difficult to tighten the tether.

By contrast, re-installing Alex's Marathon when it was time to leave the house was a breeze. It took less than three minutes to get such a secure installation that I can't move the seat a millimeter.

I'm definitely returning the Radians. And I thought briefly about buying two more Marathons and calling it a day. But if the Britax Regent (pictured at right) installs properly, then we should be set with car seats for Alex until he doesn't need a seat or booster anymore. So, I went ahead and ordered two Regents, again with $1 Return Shipping Insurance from

However, I have read one review complaining that it was much more difficult to install than other Britaxes, and everyone agrees that the seat is a monster because it's so large. Still, I've got my fingers crossed that this is the last seat I'll need to buy for Alex for any reason.


Camille said...

Have you looked in to the Graco Nautilus? We just bought one and I love it! It does only up to 65 lbs (rather than the Regent's 80 lbs), though. Just another idea for you!

Quirky Mama said...

We also have a Nautilus and love it. As far as installation, I believe that there should be a little room for movement but not more than one inch. Of course I don't have my source at hand.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that you had so much trouble installing the Radian. Installation with the Radian is certainly not a cakewalk, but definitely doable.

Hopefully you'll have better luck with the Britax!

And you can always contact a certified child passenger safety technician for assistance!

TypeAmom said...

I agree, go to Walmart or Target and try the Nautilus. I think you will really like it, and if not, just return it.

Meredith said...

If you like your Marathon, I think you'll be pleased with the Regent. We own the Husky, which was its previous name.

(Hmmm...think that was a bad naming issue?)

We have no problems installing it, only lifting it. When we travel, we pack a backless booster in the suitcase for the rental car instead.

Chief Family Officer said...

@Camille, Quirky Mama, & easytocheck - The Nautilus wasn't even on my radar because I loathed the ComfortSport we got for traveling. But you're so enthusiastic about it that if I don't like the Regents (I ordered them last night), I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation!

@Sally - Thanks, if it was easy to get a hold of a certified technician out here, I definitely would have tried. But the ones I called are booked for a month solid!

@Meredith - Thank you for the reassurance! And for taking the time to do it, I know you're crazy busy - but I hope those Rice Krispie treats turned out :)

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