Infant Car Seat Review: Cybex Aton 1 / 2 / Q / Cloud Q
Type: Infant seat, five-point
Limits: 4 to 32 lbs., 30″ (Specs are for the Aton 2).
NHTSA Ease of Use Rating: Four out of five stars for Aton 2 and Aton Cloud Q. Five out of five stars for the Aton Q.
Pros: Light carrier weight, very easy to install. Short shell might fit compact cars better than others.
Cons: Pricey. Funky canopy has skimpy coverage. Steep price tag. Hard to get the cover back on if you wash it.
Comments: Part of the baby gear empire known as GoodBaby, Cybex’s infant car seat entry (the Aton) is worthy of a look if you are looking at premium infant car seats.
Before we launch into our review, let’s note that there are actually several versions of the Aton on the market. Here’s a quick overview:
• The Aton (also referred to as the Aton 1) debuted in 2011 and showed promise. It featured steel base-to-car seat connectors provide a rock solid installation and a lightweight carrier (8.8 lbs.!) with a hide-away canopy. The Aton 1 scored well on crash test reports and was a modest success for Cybex, despite its nearly $300 price tag. Detractors didn’t like the skimpy canopy coverage and too-large chest clip, which fitting smaller newborns difficult. The Aton 1 should classic symptoms of being a 1.0 version seat (the ones we warn you not to buy)—when the canopy is hidden away, it interferes with the carry handle. The Aton 1 was originally $250, but we’ve recently seen it for $190 online.
• The Aton 2 ($300) was released in 2013 and featured virtually the same seat as the Aton 1. What’s new: an anti-rebound load leg that reduces forward motion in a crash. The Aton 2 also has added side impact protection—a small bar that flips up from the handle that helps cushion side impacts. That’s different from most other infant seats that have side impact protection built into the carrier or headrest. The Aton 2 was/is a much bigger hit than the Aton 1 and is now the flagship seat you’re most likely to see in stores and online. The Aton 2 scored 4th overall (among 30 seats) in Consumer Reports latest infant car seat tests.
• The Aton Q (also referred to as the Platinum Aton Q) debuted in 2014.. The Q includes a new, bigger canopy and top-of-the-line fabrics and padding. The Q works from 4 to 35 pounds and is carried at Buy Buy Baby . Price: $350.
Differences between the Aton 2 and Aton Q: The Q features an enhancement to the Linear Side Impact Protection first introduced on the Aton 2. The Q now has a telescoping side impact bar for additional crash protection—yes, that is a Cybex first. The bar telescopes off the top of the carrier in whichever direction you need protection. The Aton Q also has a no rethread harness (not available on the Aton 1 or 2) and will fit any Aton base. Price: $350-$400. The weight of Aton Q is 10.8 lbs., unfortunately 20% more than the Aton 1 or 2.
• The Aton Cloud Q (sometimes just called the Cloud Q) was the 2016 addition to the Aton line. The big headline here: a seat which fully reclines (see graphic at right)—this is for use in a stroller, not while in a vehicle. While this is a nifty trick, we’re not quite sure we see the point. This feels more like a gimmick than an innovation. In just about any infant seat, baby rides in a reclined position. The difference between this and completely flat isn’t significant, in our opinion. Besides the recline feature, the Cloud Q also has the same improved version of the “telescopic linear side impact protection” as the plain Aton Q. Price: $400 at BuyBuyBaby.com.
• The Aton M is Cybex’s most recent seat, based off the Aton 2. It comes with a larger canopy, linear side impact protection (see photo below right), 11 position height adjustment, and one pound lighter than the 2. Priced at $345, it should be in stores by June.
Whew! That’s a confusing model line-up there. To add even more confusion, Cybex’s web site also categorizes its infant seats into three general categories by price: Silver (Aton 1), Gold (Aton 2) and Platinum (Aton Q and Cloud Q). Why? We’re not sure exactly.
So should you shell out the big bucks here? Well, on the plus side,you can use Maxi Cosi adapters made for other strollers with the Aton. Hence the Aton’s stroller compatibility is wider than it look at first blush. All the Aton’s are easy to install and the models with the additional side-impact protection and load leg (Aton 2, Aton Q and Cloud Q) are safety stand-outs. The Aton’s especially are good fits for smaller or compact cars (thanks to a short seat shell), where back seat space is tight.
In fact, Consumer Reports gave the Aton 2 and Aton Q top “best” marks in their crash tests, which landed those seats near the top of their latest infant car seat survey. (The Aton 1 scored somewhat lower).
However, the price remains a sticking point here—at $300 to $400 (for the 2, Q and Cloud Q), these seats are over-priced in our opinion. Our top pick (the Chicco KeyFit 30 and Britax B-SAFE 35 Elite) offer excellent crash protection for $200. The distribution on the Aton is still rather limited—yes, BuyBuyBaby and smaller independent boutiques carry various models of the Atons, but these seats are still not widely available online (Amazon has the Aton 2, but other models are sold by third parties at high prices).
Bottom line: the Aton is a great seat if you have a compact car and think the additional safety features (anti-rebound load leg, linear side impact protectoin) are worth the extra $100 to $200 We would recommend the 2 or the Q. We’d pass on the Aton 1 and Aton Cloud Q. Rating: A-