Type: Convertible seat.
Limits: 4 to 40 lbs. rear facing (with TinyFit insert; 9 to 40 lbs. without), 22 to 70 lbs. forward facing (up to 85 lbs. forward facing for Pria 85.).
NHTSA ease of use rating:
Rear-facing: two out of five stars.
Forward facing: four out of five stars.
Rear-facing: three out of five stars.
Forward-facing: three out of five stars.
Pros: TinyFit infant insert good for preemies (starting at 4 lbs.). Side impact protection. Small footprint means seat will fit into smaller vehicles. Removable washable/dryable seat pad. Pria 85 one of the few (if only) seats with 85 lb. harness limit.
Cons: Can only use tether in forward-facing position. TinyFit insert can make install rear-facing somewhat challenging. Must rethread harness when changing height (on Pria 70).
Comments: Maxi-Cosi is Dorel’s European subsidiary that has been imported to the U.S. to help shore up Dorel’s car seat offerings on the high end.
The Pria 70 aims to solve two problems: car seats that don’t fit small infants well—and seats that don’t fit small cars.
On the first score, the Pria 70 features a version with “TinyFit”—basically an infant insert for newborns as small as four pounds. It even has a smaller chest clip for newborns. (FYI: There are two Pria 70 models: a basic model without the Tiny Fit insert for $225 and one with the TinyFit for $244-$261.)
Unlike other competing seats that stop at 65 lbs., the Pria 70 has a higher rear-facing limit (40 lbs.) and a 70 lbs. forward facing limit. And the Pria 70 has the Air Protect feature for side impact protection (seen on Safety 1st seats). The seat also has three recline positions.
The Pria 85 is a $300 seat that starts at 14 lbs. rear-facing (unfortunately, no infant insert for this seat) and goes up to a maximum of 85 lbs. with harness. The Pria 85 is the only seat on the market (as of this writing) with an 85 lb. harness limit. FYI: Maxi Cosi also sells an upgraded version of this seat in Buy Buy Baby dubbed the Pria 85 Max ($350): it features a special infant insert, harness buckle that can be opened with one hand and closed with magnets (ClipQuik) plus machine washable fabric that is easy to remove.
The seat also includes a removable machine washable and dryable seat pad. In fact, all three cloth versions of the Pria now have washable/dryable seat pads. The 70 comes with a bamboo and charcoal seat pad with anti-bacterial and wicking properties. (There is a leather version of the 70 which, as you might guess, isn’t washable or affordable). The 85 includes harness holders you can use when your child is not in the seat.
So is the Pria worth it? At these prices, Dorel/Maxi-Cosi is competing against Britax and Diono . . . and as such, our expectations are high. On some scores (padding, crash protection) the Pria 70 is equal to Britax. And the TinyFit seat does Britax one better (the Pria 70 starts at four pounds; Britax at five) . . . so if you know you’re going to have a small newborn (parents of twins, take note), then the Pria is an excellent choice.
More than one parent we spoke with said they preferred the fabric on the Pria over Britax—the Pria’s smooth fabric might be a better choice in hot/humid climates than the current crop of Britax seats, which features fabric that can get hot. Another plus for the Pria 70: its relatively small footprint means it will fit nicely in a compact vehicle.
For the Pria 85 the ability to keep your baby in the same seat until they reach 85 lbs. is a huge advantage.
Most parent feedback on the Pria is quite positive although a few complain installation can be tricky. Other downsides? The Pria can be tethered only in a forward-facing position (Britax can be tether either in forward or rear facing, which gives an extra measure of protection). And the cover for the headrest isn’t removable.
For the Pria 70, an early version of this seat had different side impact cushions than Air Protect. Folks didn’t like those early cushions, which were too confining. Maxi Cosi addressed this in 2015 with a revised Pria 70 that comes with the same Air Protect cushions seen on the Pria 85. So if you like the Pria 70 make sure you are getting the revised model with Air Protect.
Both the 70 and 85 versions of the Pria scored a “better” rating by Consumer Reports for crash protection.
And while the TinyFit seat is innovative, it makes the installation of this seat more complex than others (especially rear-facing). That probably explains the low (two star) rating the Pria earned in rear-facing mode on the NHTSA’s ease of use ranking. Finally, the Pria 70 lacks the no rethread harness feature you get on a Britax Marathon or Boulevard, which are similar in price to the Pria.
As for the Pria 85, most reader feedback is also positive. A few dissenters note the harness buckle is hard to release and the harness can be difficult to tighten. While the seat is designed to better fit small cars, subcompacts may be too small to work with the Pria rear-facing.
Overall, we’ll give this seat a B+. While not perfect, the Pria 70 and 85 are a good option, especially if you know you will be having a newborn on the small side.