I decided a while ago that I wanted to keep Arlo in a rear facing car seat for as long as possible.  After a van sharply rear-ended my stationary car whilst Arlo was in the back, I realised that you can be the most careful driver in the world but you can’t account for other drivers. Rear facing  is five times safer than forward facing. I wanted those statistics on my side.

Here’s a snippet from Rearfacing.co.uk

We narrowed our choice down to a few car seats, based on availability and the models that were known to fit our car (a 1999 Ford Focus). Allow me to run you through our thought process.

(Imagines Sam swiftly closing his browser in alarm).

I say ‘we’, but at this point in the proceedings, Sam was pissed off at the mere utterance of the words ‘car seat’ – poor boy feels the brunt of my indecisiveness. Fastest way to get him out of my hair is to threaten him with a pros and cons list.

Initially, I was quite set on the Besafe Izi Combi. It has won Which awards, it looks like a very robust seat with deep sides, it reclines, and it sits very high up so Arlo would have no problem looking out the window.

Yes, the weight limit is lower than the other car seats we were looking at, Arlo would be in it until around four years of age. That didn’t bother me because the likelihood is that we will have a little brother or sister for Arlo before he reaches that weight limit. So Arlo would be upgraded to a higher weight limit seat when number 2 needed to use the Besafe.

(Sam visibly quakes in his boots).

But hang on, if we are going to upgrade Arlo at age four, which seat will we be buying then? Most definitely another seat which still offers the option to rear face. So, a Britax Two Way Elite or Britax Multitech (both last up to around six or seven years rear or forward facing).

So, if we know we are going to buy one of these seats for Arlo eventually, why not just cut out the middle man/seat and buy one now?? If we like it, we can just buy another one for number 2.

(Sam cracks open the rum).

But wait, how will we fit in two rear facing seats when we probably can’t fit one behind the driver’s seat?? We’ll have to get a bigger car.

(Sam hides the credit cards).

And anyway, Sam will have to learn to drive when we have two children as I am living by the mantra of less driving more drinking when we have more than one child.

(Sam has fled the country).

However, we had reservations about the Besafe seat as we had been warned that it really is a giant seat, and as we weren’t near enough to a stockist to try it out in our car (more rear facing stockists in the UK please!), we were concerned it might be a bit too big, and leave virtually no leg room in the front. And what use is a recline feature if you don’t have the space for it in your car?

When I spoke to the really helpful guys at In Car Safety Centre (one of the few UK stockists who import their rear facing seats from Scandanavia, where rear facing is much more prevalent), they pointed out something that hadn’t even occurred to me. We had planned to put the seat behind me (driver’s seat) because I have my seat further forward that Sam does, so this would leave more room on the passenger side. But the car seat needs to rest against the back of the front seat. Installing behind the driver’s seat meant that there was a possibility I would need to move my seat further back or forward to meet the back of the car seat – no good in terms of reaching the pedals and being able to drive comfortably.

So, bearing in mind that the seat would need to go behind Sam, we decided to go for the Britax Two Way Elite, the more compact seat.

We ordered it online from In Car Safety Centre and it arrived within a few days.

Sam, being of logical mind, said it was a piece of piss to install and he reckons he would have no problem moving it from car to car in under ten minutes – useful for holidays and trips with Arlo’s grandparents (The Two Way Elite is compatible with a lot of cars, so it’s likely to fit fine in a hire car if we ever want to take our own seats on holiday – another potential bonus).

It was also the cheapest of all our options. £200 for the seat and £20 for the optional headrest we purchased.

Even though it has a small ‘footprint’ for a RF seat, we were still surprised at how little leg room it left in the front when reclined at the 45 degree angle. However, as Arlo gets bigger and we move the seat to a more upright position, leg room in the front will be increased. To be honest, we could move it more upright now, but we wanted to stop Arlo’s head lolling forward as he still does quite a bit of sleeping in the car. I am still curious to test out the Besafe in our car just to see if it does, indeed, leave less room. But I guess we will never know.

The passenger seat is about two inches further forward than the driver’s seat when the car seat is positioned at its lowest angle.

It is a bit of a squeeze for Sam. He has 16 inches of space for his feet, but only six between the seat and the dashboard at its narrowest point, so his knees are pushed up against the dash and he says it’s not the most comfortable of rides.

We haven’t yet tested out the leg room comfort levels on a long car journey, but that’s fine as I don’t think my car would come out of a long car journey alive anyway, and we have no plans to test that theory. Mostly, it’s just me and Arlo in the car, so losing that space on the passenger side was only a small sacrifice.

So far, I really like this seat. It’s simple, it’s comfortable, it’s portable if we want it to be, and it will last a bloody long time. If we do decide to turn Arlo forward at any point between now and six or seven years old, he will still be strapped in with a five point harness rather than a three point seat belt. My only negative is that the straps are a little fiddly to get in position to slot into the locking mechanism. But then I find this to be the case with most car seats.

(Special mention to Baby Nest in Croydon. This is by far my favourite baby shop (they have every single pram, buggy and double imaginable and if you go on a weekday you can try them all and it’s usually not that busy so you get tons of one on one help). They advised us in great detail on replacing Arlo’s infant car seat after my crash, and they were so helpful with my endless questions about rear facing seats over a number of months. We really wanted to buy from them, but in the end, they didn’t stock the seat we chose to go for).

Any suggestions of age appropriate car toys that can be used safely with a rear facing seat would be much appreciated! I haven’t been able to find anything yet.

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This is an old blog post. We’ve now been using the Two Way Elite for over a year and my son is two and a half. Click here to read the latest blog post on this car seat.

24 comments

  1. Came across this through a bit of googling. We have tried both the izi combi and TWE in a 57 plate focus and the izi does take more space, the passenger seat is probably 1-2 notches further forward. Having said that we managed to install the TWE so the top of the seat sits in the gap between the top of the passenger seat and the passenger seat headrest which gives you a few more inches.

    If you do take a long trip you might find that pushing the passenger seat back level with the drivers seat and installing the TWE in the middle seat gives you a bit more space without compromising the car seat.

  2. Ahh top job on these pics! We’ll be getting a 2nd seat to go in my ‘new’ Fabia and we’ve been umming and arring about the TWE. Both you and a Facebook friend have recently posted about it so I think that’s probably secured it for us. Super cool. Now just to find £200….

  3. wow..
    brilliant find..
    so much useful info..
    well done..
    …well im soon gonna need 3 of them! for my “instant family”
    3 of them in one car?
    i wonder which ones to go for?
    need ones that will keep for until all 4 years old i think

    1. Wow, that’s a lot of car seats! If you are in the UK, definitely give the In Car Saftey Centre a ring, I’m sure they could give you some good advice.

  4. Hi, hope you don’t mind me saying….I also have this car seat in a Focus. When I was originally fitting it, I was a little unsure of the correct positioning. I took a photo very similar to your pics above & e mailed it to In Car Safety Centre. They mailed back and said it was not in the correct position. The back of the seat should be resting on the top of the passenger seat, you will need to move the headrest up to accommodate this. Hope this helps.

    1. Hi, thank you for commenting – I really appreciate it! We have moved the seat since that photo (he’s now more upright), but I will get my OH to check it’s against the seat as it should be and get some correct pics up on this page.

        1. Hello, yes I have done a few updates since this post. If you look at this link, you will see how the seat is supposed to be above the back of the seat in front: https://sorry-about-the-mess.co.uk/2013/01/07/a-britax-two-way-elite-in-a-ford-focus-extended-rear-facing-one-year-on/

          Also, if in doubt you can always ask Britax customer service. I’ve asked them questions about fittings before (via their Twitter account) and found them to be very helpful.

          Hope that helps!

  5. Hello! Just been googling to find out more info on rear-facing car seats and up came your lovely blog, which I have neglectfully not visited for a while, so double bonus! Thanks for posting such a comprehensive and easy to understand review, my brain is aching from having read a whole bunch of other stuff on the subject! Not sure we will go with a rear-facing as I’m not sure I like the idea of the front passenger seat space being affected, but maybe I can get over that! I do wonder why the UK doesn’t stock rear-facing as standard, then we’d have much more choice and ultimate safety!

    1. Yes, more choice would be great. I wouyld have loved to have been able to try out some rearfacing seats in my car before we bought one. We’ve moved Arlo’s seat up since I wrote this post (need to do an update!) and Sam has regained most of the legroom in the front.

  6. It’s such a shame that when googling the two way elite your photos are top in the google images.
    Because you have installed the seat wrong it should be bracing on the top of the seat in front.
    I really feel you should remove your photos and replace them with it correctly installed

    1. Thank you. I have written in the post under the images that the seat is installed incorrectly (we didn’t realise at first), but I hadn’t thought of the impact on google image search alone – I’d been assuming people would read the full post but you are right. I will update them with the correct installation ASAP.

  7. hello, it a long time but do you remember the size and the weight of Arlo at 15 months. I would like to buy this carseat for my baby (15 months, 8,8kgs and 76cm) she’s a small baby! i’m scared that the carseat is too big but at the same time it will be used only for 30 days per year for holidays in the grand parent house. what do you think, does the 2way fit small baby? after i think also about the britax high way2 carseat . thanks

    1. Hello, sorry I have no idea what he weighed at that age but he was around average weight for his age. I’d recommend trying the seat out in real life if you can.

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