Guest review from April Ische, a fellow CPST, and mom to four. Huge thanks to April for putting together such a comprehensive and useful review. We’re pleased to add the Goodbaby Abri 35 car seat to our favourites list based on her thumbs up.
When I was contacted in early December and asked if I wanted to do a guest review of the Goodbaby Evoq Travel System I jumped at the chance! I had been eyeing up the system in the flyers and online and was actually planning on making the trip to my closest Babies R Us to check it out and satisfy my curiosity. I was intrigued to see what Goodbaby was about, and it has been a bit since a snazzy new travel system hit the Canadian market. The Evoq arrived at my door just a few days before Christmas and it quickly became my favourite new Christmas toy – Merry Christmas to me indeed! Let me tell you, this system does not disappoint!
The Evoq travel system retails for $599.99 exclusively at Babies R Us. The system includes a matching rear-facing only car seat, the gb Abri 35, and both are in a fashionable silver and black design called Sterling. The Abri 35 is also available as a standalone seat, retailing for $249.99.
EVOQ & Abri Features:
- Abri 35 rear-facing only (infant) seat for babies 4lbs-35lbs (1.8kg-16kg) and 17in.-32in. (43cm – 81.3cm)
- Fit-Loc seat belt lock-off system
- Evoq stroller to accommodate infants who can sit unassisted, up to 50lbs
- Adjustable canopy with expandable air-flow option
- Height adjustable handle for parent comfort
- Reversible tilt stroller seat with full recline for older baby and toddler; option to face the parent, or face out, with either the stroller seat OR the car seat
- Glide-on board for older children to stand and catch a ride, can be used with either stroller seat OR car seat in use
- Stroller seat and car seat made from premium materials
- Ability to fold the stroller base with the tilt seat still attached
- Large cargo area for extras
- Scroll on down for more specifics related to the car seat and the stroller separately
I was impressed as soon as I opened the box. The system came in a large (34 x 20 x 22) box which was packed well! I was pleased (and relieved!) at how few separate parts there were. I am not handy at all and this didn’t look too daunting even for me!
Like most CPSTs I’m sure, I set the stroller aside and went right for the Abri 35 Infant Car Seat. This is a rear-facing only seat with a stay in car base and removable carrier. The car seat connects directly to the wheel frame of the Evoq stroller for a quick and easy way to transport baby.
Abri 35 First Impressions:
Firstly, this was a sleek seat. The materials used in the cover, canopy and infant inserts seemed well made and of high quality, and the seat seemed soft and comfortable. All of the infant inserts, manual, and the registration card in clear view and easily accessible. It was very well padded and the material seemed breathable – nice for those hot days! The harness adjustment was smooth.
It is always recommended that you read and understand the manual for your car seat before using it. As a CPST it’s particularly important to carefully read manuals cover to cover, and not assume anything about a new product on the market.The manual for the Abri 35 is very impressive. It was thorough, well laid out and easy to read and understand. Especially impressive is the level of detail with the warnings, including general vehicle safety that new (and experienced!) parents may not have thought of in the haze of fatigue that comes with a new little person. The manual was also full of helpful tips and tricks which make using the car seat easier, and explains things well. I recommend settling in with a beverage of choice and reading it cover to cover. First step: register your seat with Goodbaby, online right here.
Abri Specs and Photo Gallery:
- Width of carrier at widest point: 17.5in.
- Width of base at widest point: 15″
- Weight of carrier: 8.2lbs, but feels lighter than most, with other carriers weighing in at up to 2lbs heavier.
- Weight of base: 5.4lbs
- Length of carrier/base together: 29″
- Length of base only: 23″
- 4 sets of harness slots, 3 sets of waist slots, and 3 crotch buckle strap positions:
- Crotch buckle slots: 3″, 4.5″, 6″
- Crotch buckle length: Preemie = 2.5″ (only buckle, no strap length), or 4″
- Width of seating areas at waist: 3″, 6″, 9″
- Harness height: 4.5″, 7″, 9″, 11″
The Abri 35 is fairly unique in that it can be adjusted to fit such a range of kids. The manual provides preferred harness positions, but any position can be used as long as the fit is correct for the child: waist straps closest to (but not underneath child), crotch buckle strap position closest to (but not under child), and harness straps at or just below child’s shoulders.
The three sets of waist strap positions are something not seen on many seats and they may seem daunting at first, but are actually an amazing option for fitting various children! Adjustment is clearly laid out in the manual, although should be done with the manual in hand as doing so is not intuitive and should not be guessed at. Luckily the middle width setting will fit most infants at birth and through to the upper limits of the seat, so this adjustment won’t be needed except for very tiny newborns, or larger, older babies. Take care to route the harness properly, being careful not to damage the energy absorbing foam while doing so.
The seat shipped with the harness on the 3rd highest strap position, middle waist position, and largest crotch buckle position. This setup will be too large for a newborn, and so take care to adjust properly. I found it easy to mismatch the slots in the fabric cover with the slots in the shell, and it’s important that everything lines up.
- Front adjust harness that was easy to both loosen and tighten.
- Infant head and body support (optional for comfort and fit).
- Harness strap covers (optional for comfort and fit). The straps covers, while being nice and soft, are quite large and bulky and had the potential to interfere with tightening the straps on the child’s shoulders. On the preemie doll, newborn doll and a 3 month old tester, there wasn’t enough room for the harness covers as the babies were just too small. On the older children the harness pads fit, , but they still made making sure the straps were placed properly on the child’s shoulders a bit tricky. Thankfully they are optional, and can be removed as desired.
- Clearly labelled stickers and warnings.
- Canopy that reaches to handle and allows comfortable carrying room. While the canopy extends right to the handle to provide great sun and wind coverage, moving it back and forth takes two hands, and must be carefully snapped into place to stay fully extended.
- Energy absorbing foam that completely surrounds child’s head, neck and torso
- Fit-Loc seat belt lock-off on the base. Achieving a secure installation with this technology was extremely easy and it is one of the best features of this seat! Simply lift the lock-off, choose your method of installation (seat belt or UAS, not both), remove slack, then simply close the lock-off for a quick, easy and solid installation. Before releasing the lock-off unbuckle the seat belt or release the UAS, and then push firmly down on the lock-off and press back on the release tab. Be careful not to catch your fingernails on the lock-off as it releases as it pops up quickly once released!
- Premium lower anchor connectors with release button for simple and straight forward connecting and releasing on the vehicle anchor bars
- Recline adjustment foot with four recline positions. The Abri 35 has two weight-based
recline requirements. One for 4-20lbs (blue) and one for 20-35lbs (green). This foot allows for a full range of reclines and it was not necessary to use a rolled towel under the base in any of the vehicles tested. With the great design of the recline foot both weight-based reclines were able to be easily achieved with either method of installation. Vehicles with very flat vehicle seats may not allow for installation at the more upright recline required for older, heavier babies.
- Colour coded recline indicator: while the indicator is simple, straightforward and clearly labelled, the blue and green on the indicator can be a bit difficult to tell apart in low light and shadows. The flashlight on your cell phone will come in handy in the dark
- Expires six years from date of manufacture
- Retails for $599.99 as a travel system, or coming spring 2017 will be a standalone seat for $249.99, exclusively at Babies R Us
Abri 35 Fit to Child:
A wide range of sized and shaped infants and even a few toddlers were tested in the Abri 35 for this review and with the exception of the child who was right at the standing height limit, all fit well and seemed happy and comfortable. Most kids will reach the standing height limit of 32″, or their heads will be to within 1″ of the top of the shell, well before they hit the weight limit. This is common across most seats.
Preemie Doll: 17″ long, preemie clothing size. Abri 35 fits incredibly small babies beautifully, with room to spare!
It is incredible how small this seat adjusts down to, while providing a snug and cozy fit with the optional infant insert.
Our preemie doll measured just 17″, the height minimum for the Abri 35, and fit amazingly well, a real strength for this seat! Straps were on the lowest setting, waist straps in the inner positions and the crotch buckle in the preemie setting. The straps were well below the doll’s shoulders.
When routing the crotch buckle strap on the preemie setting be aware of the seam on the harness, ensuring it is pulled back through to the inside of the plastic shell to remove slack that can be hidden on the outside of the shell. This can make taking the seat out of preemie setting a bit difficult as there is very little slack left in the strap to turn and push the retainer clip back through again. Parents will need to push the seam back through the shell slot in order to release the retainer clip from the preemie setting. This seat can absolutely be recommended for very small babies with confidence that they will fit appropriately.
Newborn Doll: 19.5″ long, newborn clothing size.
Representing an average-sized newborn, this doll also fit well in the seat and needed the harness height adjusted to the second-lowest setting, and the middle settings for crotch buckle and waist straps, a good bet for those expecting average-sized babies. The manual recommends the rear buckle position for a newborn, however with this position, the buckle was coming from underneath the doll, thus it was moved into the middle position. Cloth vs disposable diapers could very well affect this fit too, so read up on how to adjust and what to look for on your own little person.
Eilee: 3 months old, 10lbs, 4oz, 22″ long, 0-3m clothing size
At this size Eilee was still on the same setting as a newborn (middle buckle, middle waist and 2nd harness slot). Eilee was our main tester and used this seat for about a month in various vehicles. She always seemed comfortable and never fussed in the seat. She never became sweaty in the seat which is a testament to the breathability of the materials used. Both infant inserts were still used for Eilee and she fit well with them. The head support pad fit well, giving comfortable side support without pushing her head forward into a dangerous position.
The straps were fairly easy to adjust on a baby of this size with the exception of the chest clip being a bit tough to slide along the straps. We found the harness covers to be a bit bulky on her at her size, and removed them. We will likely put them back on once it is summertime and her neck is more exposed. We plan to use this seat until she outgrows it as we have found it very user friendly!
Sophia: 5 months old, 16.5lbs, 27.5″ long, 12m clothing size
Sophia was just at the 3rd harness slot, middle buckle slot and middle waist straps. The fact that Sophia is much larger than Eilee, yet still on the middle waist and buckle straps, shows the range of kids the seat can fit properly without too many adjustments needed. This is good because, as mentioned earlier, the waist straps can be tricky to change so it is nice that parents shouldn’t have to do it often. Sophia still had room width wise in the seat and didn’t seem confined at all. We did, however, remove the infant insert cushions at this point as they made her a little squished. Her mom commented how she liked that the seat cradled Sophia better than some others they had used.
Adelyn: 8 months old, 18lbs, 26″ long, 6-9m clothing size
Addy was at the 3rd harness slot, middle waist setting and front buckle setting. It is interesting to see how she and Sophia are very close in size but fit into the seat differently, and still the Abri 35 still fit both girls wonderfully. Thumbs up for versatility for fitting children of different shapes and proportions. Addy’s feet hung well over the foot end of the seat (which is not a safety or fit concern), but she still had lots of shell above her head and didn’t seem uncomfortable or squished at all. We also removed the infant inserts for her.
Alice: 20 months old, 19lbs, 29″ tall, 18-24m shirts, 12-18m pants
While Alice still has a ways to go until the weight limit of 35lbs on the Abri 35, she will likely reach the 1″ of head space fit rule fairly soon and didn’t have a lot of harness length left on the seat. Alice was on the 4th harness slot, middle waist setting, and front crotch buckle. The buckle was against her and appeared to almost be under her while she was wearing a cloth diaper. Limited use for a child of this size could be something to consider for parents who use cloth diapers. The manual states that the buckle slot cannot be under the child, and at 19lbs and in a cloth diaper, Alice is nearing several of the limits of this seat.
Colton: 2 years old, 25lbs, 32″ tall, 2T clothing
While most parents have moved onto a convertible style seat by this point — and if we were consulting with Colton’s parents we’d be encouraging them to shop for a new seat immediately — we decided to see if the Abri 35 would fit as long as stated. At the 32″ standing height limit Colton still had just an inch of shell above his head, which was pretty impressive, as it means the seat’s shell is decently long/deep for long term use. He was on the 4th harness slot, outer waist setting and front buckle. With a disposable diaper on, Colton still fit relative to the buckle slot. The issue here was that the Abri 35 ran out of harness length for a child of this size. We managed to secure him in the seat in just a thin shirt, but there was no room left at all. Even a fleece sweater would not have fit under the harness anymore. The seat was no longer user friendly at this point, nor comfortable for him. Like most seats, the 35lb weight limit is overstated, but the height limits (both standing height and fit requirement of 1″ of shell above the head) seem very reliable.
Fit to Vehicle
A few general comments about installing the Abri 35:
Overall the Abri 35 base and carrier install was simple and straightforward in most of the vehicles tested. It is always recommended to try a seat in your vehicle before purchasing if possible. The Abri 35 was put to the test in a variety of types and ages of vehicles. It was installed in the vehicles in as many different ways and positions as possible, and overall performed really well!
While already praised in this review, the Fit-Loc seat belt lock-off tightening system on the Abri 35 really does make getting a secure install with this seat very easy! Why would you install with the seat belt instead of UAS, you might ask Many parents prefer to install a seat in the middle of the vehicle, and in the vast majority of vehicles, you can not use UAS there. There was absolutely no issue getting the base to less than one inch of movement in any of the vehicles or positions tested and no issues at all with tilting. In some vehicles it took a bit of force to close the lock-off, but never beyond what would be considered reasonable. At times the convenience seam/fold found on some seat belts fells inside the Fit-Loc lock-off on the base, but did not prevent the lock-off from closing properly.
The range of the recline foot was invaluable and made it possible to easily achieve the proper recline in most of the test vehicles. The more upright recline required for 20-35lbs children could not be achieved in two vehicles with flat seats however, which is unfortunate as not much can be done to remedy this problem. Abri 35 is not alone with this issue, and vehicles with very flat seats tend to be difficult to work in as a general rule.
Baseless installation was straightforward in many vehicles, but was prone to tipping or other challenges on firm, non-compressible leather upholstery, as is common with many other car seats.
Front-to-back space allowed for a 5’6″ passenger to sit in front of the installed Abri 35 in all of the vehicles tested, but a very tall person sitting in the front seat may experience leg room issues.
The base did tend to overhang the vehicle seat in many vehicles, but by an allowable amount (up to 20% is permitted). Vehicles with very short back seat depth may prove incompatible.
Vehicle Test Gallery:
2016 Honda Civic, 4 Door, Cloth Interior
Abri 35 installed well in the middle and outboard. The centre hump in this car made a baseless install tricky there. UAS install and seat belt install at a variety of reclines was straightforward.
2005 Mazda 6 GT Fastback, 4 door, Leather Interior
Abri 35 installed well in all positions in this car. The slippery leather and firm upholstery made a baseless installation tricky. Front-to-back the seat fit nicely in this car.
2009 Jeep Patriot, 4 Door, Leather Interior
The Jeep Patriot didn’t get along as well with the Abri 35 as the other vehicles, and illustrates vehicle features that are challenging for many car seat installations. While the more reclined 4-20lbs recline was achieved with both the seat belt install and UAS install, the more upright 20-35lbs range was not possible as the flat vehicle seat meant that the Abri 35 could not be made upright enough. The seats in this vehicle were fairly slippery leather and very firm and unforgiving so even using pressure upon tightening the belts to attempt the higher weight recline was unsuccessful.
2014 Dodge Durango, 4 door, Leather Interior
This was the main vehicle the Abri 35 was tested in and it installed well in all positions and install methods tried. The Durango was a really excellent test vehicle due to its variation in seat belt features seen in many vehicles. The Abri 35 installed perfectly at both weight reclines with seat belt installs, UAS installs, and baseless in outboard positions. Like many SUVs, it could not accommodate this seat in the 3rd row as there wasn’t enough front-to-back space.
The Abri 35 was installed in the centre beside a rear-facing Clek Foonf on the 60 portion of the second row in the Durango and still allowed for the 40 portion of the seat to tumble forward beside it for third row access WITH the carrier on the base. Abri 35 is the only rear-facing only carrier/base type seat that has allowed this (others tried include the original Britax B-Safe 22, Britax B-Safe 35, Chicco KeyFit 30, Graco Click Connect 35, and Peg Perego 4-35). All other seats have required the carrier portion to be removed before tumbling the outer portion of the seat. This is excellent news for parents with tight three-across needs, or those with 3-row SUVs requiring a seat to tumble to gain access to the 3rd row. Rejoice!
If you are considering the Abri 35 as part of a travel system it is the Evoq stroller that forms the other half, and here’s the lowdown on it! The Evoq stroller is a wheel frame that can accommodate either the Abri 35 car seat, or the reversible tilt stroller seat with a toddler up to 50lbs and 45in. The Evoq is a single stroller with the additional glide-on (standing) board for older kids.
The reversible tilt seat is meant for children who can sit unassisted, and is not meant for newborns or younger babies as the stroller’s harness system does not safely adjust to their smaller size.
- Cup holder
- Lightweight at 35lbs
- Cargo basket with 10lb weight capacity: the Evoq features a large cargo basket. As with many strollers, there is a frame bar through the basket which does limit fitting something like a large diaper bag in it, but it is more than sufficient for a smaller bag, toys, snacks, etc.
- Adjustable handle for comfortable pushing. Both my 6’1″ husband and myself at 5’6″ could comfortably push the stroller as the handle adjusted to our different heights
- Adjustable canopy which features an additional zip out to further extend
- Reversible Tilt Toddler Seat. The seat on the Evoq is a sharp looking seat, made of premium materials. The seat features an adjustable foot rest and fully reclines for sleeping. As mentioned earlier, but worth repeating, the stroller is only for children who are sitting unassisted, and not for newborns or younger, smaller babies. The harness system does not adjust small enough for newborns or small babies, or maintain a safe and comfortable position.
- Foot brake that was easy to engage and disengage and held firm
- Glide-on board for older kids. This is a great feature! Sabelle (size of an average 3 year old) was able to comfortably use the board and see over the seat of the stroller. The older kids tested loved the option and had fun getting to ride too. There was plenty of space and it was easy for them to hold onto the sides of the stroller frame. The stroller was still easily pushed with a child on the board. This is a wonderful feature for use in busy parking lots or crowded spaces because it kept my older kids in one place while still allowing me to easily push the stroller.
Evoq is ideal for walking, travel, shopping, or city. At 35lbs this is a fairly light weight stroller, and while very well built, is not one that is meant for off-roading or rough terrain. The solid rubber tires did perform well on the hard packed snowy sidewalks, but wasn’t tested in deep snow. It was fantastic in stores, including those with tight aisles as the wheel base isn’t too wide. The Evoq turns on a dime and pushes easily with one hand, even with a child on the glide-on board. Once you have weight in the stroller (i.e. a 30lb two year old, vs a 10lb 3 month old), there is a noticeable difference, but it is still very doable. The stroller was easy to pop up onto sidewalks and over curbs if needed (Note: this is not safe with a child standing on the glide-on board).
The Evoq stroller seems to worked best for older babies, toddlers and young preschoolers which is exactly who it is geared towards.
Out of the box the stroller only took about five minutes to fully set up. It was so easy and the directions were straightforward and easy to follow. The stroller can be folded with the seat still attached, although it makes for a long fold with the seat on which didn’t allow for it to fit nicely in tight trunks/cargo areas. It isn’t hard or time consuming at all to simply take the seat off and fit it in differently though, so the large fold does not need to be a deterrent. The frame alone is very lightweight, easy to fold and unfold and fit well into the vehicle trunks/cargo areas we tested.
The stroller fit in the trunk of the 2016 Civic, the smallest vehicle tested with the seat attached. It was a bit tricky to get in and out and took up the entire trunk, but it was doable. Without the seat attached, the Evoq frame took up only half the trunk.
Another test was the 2014 Durango cargo area with the third row up. The Evoq did not fit with the seat attached to the folded frame, but it did fit easily with the seat taken off and placed beside the frame. The system is so easy to fold and remove the seat that this wasn’t an issue at all.
Kid Fit in EVOQ:
6 Month Doll: Our 6 month tester doll fit the Evoq well. She was on the lowest strap setting, but the straps tightened down to secure her no problem. Important to note again that smaller babies should not be buckled into the stroller seat because they can’t be properly positioned if they are too small to properly adjust the harness.
Sabelle: 2.5 years old, 38″ tall, 30lbs, size 2/3 clothing.
Sabelle still fits in the stroller comfortably and she was happy to ride along each time we used it. The stroller was usable for a child of this size in both the parent-facing and outward-facing orientations, although Sabelle greatly preferred the outward option. She was able to climb in and out on her own and the stroller was still easily pushed. Sabelle was also large enough to use the glide-on board and hold onto the sides of the stroller frame.
Harper: almost 6, 43″, 40″, size 4/5 clothing
We pushed the Evoq near its limits with Harper. He feels much too big for this stroller even though he is still 10lbs from the weight limit and 2in under the height limit. His head was above the back of the stroller seat and his legs were either very bent up on the foot rest or dangling uncomfortably. He said he wasn’t comfortable in it and the harness system was difficult to close around him. While most parents would not be using a stroller anymore for a 6 year old, Harper is about the size of an average 4 year old, an age in which many parents are still using a stroller periodically.
The Evoq Travel System as a whole is a wonderful new addition to the Canadian market! The system is great quality and stylish while still hitting an affordable mid-range price.
The Abri 35 rear-facing only car seat in the system should accommodate most babies until parents are ready to switch to a convertible car seat for continued rear facing, with very realistic height and fit limits. It is lightweight, and features technology that is sure to aid parents when using it, most notably the recline foot and the amazing lock-off. Caution when choosing this car seat only if you have very flat or very shallow vehicle seats, otherwise consider it an excellent narrow, lightweight, and long-lasting option, and the newest addition to our favourite rear-facing only car seat list! We look forward to it being available as a standalone seat as well.
The Evoq stroller is easily transported, versatile and comfortable for older babies and toddlers to use for many years.
Overall, I would highly recommend this travel system to parents looking for something quick, light and easy to use within a city setting.
Thank you to all of the moms and babies who helped with this review! Beth and Sophia, Lindsay and Adelyn, Brandi and Alice, Carly and Colton and my own little kiddies Eilee, Sabelle and Harper. Also, thanks to my fellow CPSTs Brandi, Carly and Regan who helped test this system, and offered up some great viewpoints!
We would like to thank Goodbaby for supplying the travel system used and tested in this review, and also for the one they are providing to one lucky winner – see below to enter! All opinions are our own.
April Ische is the frazzled mother of four. She has been a CPSAC technician since spring 2015 and works part time at a local baby store (usually with kiddos in tow). With kids at every stage of car seats, there is plenty of opportunity to play! When not working or car seating, she can be found with her kids at the step dance studio or the hockey rink.
This contest is closed – thanks to everyone who entered and congrats to the winner!
To be eligible to win first post a comment on this blog that answers this question: What’s your favourite feature of the car seat, and your favourite feature of the stroller Then tell the Rafflecopter “I commented!” and trust us to add your comment as soon as we can.