Britax Marathon ClickTightBig news this week in car seats—both Britax and Graco are releasing new seats shortly. Here’s an overview:

Britax debuting 3 new convertibles with ClickTight

Britax is taking the ClickTight system first introduced on the Frontier harnessed booster and rolling out to the Marathon, Boulevard and Advocate seats. So there will now be TWO versions of those seats: Marathon G4 and Marathon ClickTight. Some quick notes on what’s new and what’s changing:

• The new seats will be released in September, both online and in stores. The prices are: Marathon ClickTight $329.99, Boulevard ClickTight $369.99, Advocate ClickTight $419.99.

• The ClickTight system allows for a quicker and tight install—you pop up the seat, thread the belt through, snap it back down and you’re done.

• For a period of time, Britax will be selling both G4 and ClickTight of these seats; the ClickTight ones are more expensive.

• The new seats are similar in size to the G4 seats, only slightly larger. The major difference is a large increase in the top harness slot for the Boulevard and Advocate—they will now be about 19.5″ (up from 17.4″ before). The standing height limit for these seats will increase from 48″ to 54″ tall, which is a major difference.

• Also new: all the new ClickTight seats will have new harness height adjustments: 12 positions for the Marathon, 14 for the Advocate. Also new: a seven position recline system for all the seats.

• The Britax Pavillion seat is being phased out and will not have a ClickTight version.

Our take: The new ClickTight Marathon, Advocate and Boulevard look like worthy upgrades—we like the higher harness heights and ClickTight system, which based on reader feedback on the Frontier, works well. But the price premium gives us pause—the Britax Marathon G4 is now about $230 on Amazon. Hence the new ClickTight will officially sell for $100 more (or 45% more), although the actual street price is not clear yet. The Marathon G4 is an excellent seat, so whether it is worth the extra $100 for the upgrade is an open question.

The higher harness heights on the Advocate and Boulevard, however, mark a true innovation that will enable kids to stay in a harnessed seat longer.

It also appears Britax is beefing up the side impact protection for these new seats: the Marathon ClickTight will have SafeCell technology, which was previously just in the base of the G4. Also the Advocate and Boulevard will have “Complete Side Impact Protection MAX” which we take is also an upgrade. Like any new seat, we wait until they are out in the wild and gather parent feedback before we will give these versions the thumbs up.

Graco unveils new all-in-one car seat, plus 2 more models

Graco 4Ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat - KylieGraco will take another stab at the all-in-one car seat market with the Graco 4Ever 4-in-One Convertible, which just now debuts as a Babies R Us exclusive at $300. As you might guess form the name, this seat can be used from birth (4 pounds) to 120 pounds, which we assume is college. The 4Ever has four modes: rear-facing, forward-facing with harness, high back booster and then backless.

Highlights of this new seat include side-impact protection and a “Simple Safe Adjust Harness” system which doesn’t need to be rethreaded to change the harness height. Graco clearly has thrown everything they can think of into this seat, which includes a six-position recline, two cup holders, adjustable headrest, washable seat cover (without removing the harness) and more. Impressive.

Graco also is debuting another all-in-one model (albeit one scaled down a bit) at two other chains: the Graco Milestone is $230 at Target and Walmart. It is similar to the 4ever described above, but only works in three modes (omitting the backless booster feature). It features a rear-facing mode (5-40 lbs), front-facing (20-65 lbs) and then high back belt-positioning booster to 100 lbs.

Finally, Graco is rolling out the Argos 80 Elite, a harnessed seat that works to 80 lbs. The Argos Elite then converts to a booster for kids up to 120 lbs. You do get the “Simply Safe” harness adjustment system here, so no need to rethread the harness. Price: $220, exclusive to Buy Buy Baby and BabiesR Us. (We actually wrote about the Argos Elite in our book and web site earlier when it was projected to be released in the second quarter of 2014 . . . so the seat is now debuting a bit late).