It seems that “birth to booster” car seats are all the rage right now!
I get it: consumers love the idea of buying one car seat that will take their child from the hospital through primary school.
The new Baby Jogger City View can theoretically do that, but I think it shines as a rear-facing seat for children ready to move out of their infant seat into a long-lasting rear-facing seat and then as a forward-facing seat for children (even tall ones) who have outgrown rear-facing mode. It is a fairly compact option both in terms of width and rear-facing front-to-back footprint, it boasts a nice range of reclines and is a straightforward install thanks to many convenience features and a user-friendly manual. (If you’ve learned anything from me, folks, I hope it is “READ YOUR MANUAL!”)
The Canadian retail price of the City View is $499. This makes it more expensive than the Graco 4Ever ($399) and the Diono Radian 2 AXT and Britax Marathon Clicktight (both $449), but less expensive than the Clek Foonf and Nuna Rava (both $599). Note that the 4Ever transforms into a usable high and low-back booster, but the Diono does not tend to work well in booster mode for most children, and the Clek and Nuna do not have a booster mode.
Any Child Passenger Safety Tech (CPST) worth their salt will tell you that the right car seat fits your child, your vehicle and your budget, so I’m here to help you decide if the City View meets those three criteria for your family; remember that there is no single car seat that will work for everyone, regardless of how much your neighbour, the lady in your mommy & me class, the salesperson at the baby store or your favourite Mommy Blogger-turned-CPST loves it.
Spoiler alert—yes, I definitely do love it! But let’s start with the key specs for the seat before I tell you all the reasons why it works well for us.
Baby Jogger City View Specs
- 19.75″ (50.2 cm) at widest point
- note: marketing materials state “17.4″ wide,” but this is not the measurement of its widest point
- Child weight of 45 lb
- 5–40 lb (2.3–18 kg)
- 18–43″ (46–109.2 cm)
- top of head must be at least 1″ (2.5 cm) below the harness adjustment lever
- lowest harness height is approximately 8″ (20.3 cm) with the infant cushion
- 22–65 lb (10–29.5 kg)
- 27-49″ (68.6–124.5 cm)
- tops of child’s ears must be below the top of the headrest
- highest harness height is approximately 17.5″ (44.5 cm)
- 40–100 lb (18–45 kg)
- 43–57″ (109.2–119.3 cm)
- child must be at least 4 years old (CPSTs recommend a minimum of 5 years old to start using a booster)
- highest shoulder belt guide height is 19″ (48.3 cm)
If you’re wondering why I specify lowest and highest harness heights and shoulder belt guide height, check out my post about how to choose the right seat for your child. Although not listed on the box or in the manual, a seat’s lowest and highest harness height—and if applicable, shoulder belt guide height—are all key pieces of information when determining if a seat meets your child’s needs.
Baby Jogger City View features
- Anti-rebound bar for rear-facing mode to reduce upward rotation of the seat in a collision (The anti-rebound bar on the City View must be used in rear-facing mode in Canada but is optional in the USA.)
- Steel reinforced frame
- No-rethread harness that glides smoothly up and down with the headrest
- Included harness pads (optional in both rear- and forward-facing modes )
- Infant support cushion and head cushion (optional and only for rear-facing)
- 4 recline options (two for rear-facing, one for forward-facing and one for forward-facing or booster mode)
- Bubble indicator to ensure the correct rear-facing angle
- Easy to remove, easy to open, machine washable cover
- Premium, push-on UAS connectors that are easy to click on and also easy to remove
- Large head wings to support sleepy heads
- Optional cup holder can be installed on either side of the seat
Whenever I help a parent troubleshoot their rear-facing car seat installation, I blow their minds by showing them how easy it is to get a secure install if you pull the UAS tail from the inside of the seat. (This applies to forward-facing installs too!)
To do this, you typically need to lift the seat cover to expose the belt path and pull the tail through. Often this is annoying because the seat cover is awkward to remove and even more awkward to put back in place once the seat is installed. The City View’s cover secures to the car seat with sturdy, easy to find metal snaps and lifts up easily to expose the wide belt path, so that you can easily tighten the UAS strap OR seat belt depending on your installation method.
The two recline angles for rear-facing allow parents to install the seat at the desired recline depending on their child’s needs and the slope of their vehicle’s seats. The bubble along the blue indicator line will be closer to the front of the vehicle when the seat is at its most compact and closer to the back of the vehicle when the seat is at its most reclined. To have the seat as reclined as possible (preferred for a newborn) a rolled towel or pool noodle can be put under the base. The slope of your vehicle’s seats will dictate whether this is necessary. Any spot along that blue line is an acceptable recline when the vehicle is parked on level ground.
In the captain’s chairs in the second row of my 2014 Odyssey, the City View fits great. The photo on the left shows it installed on the first (more reclined) rear-facing angle, the second on its more compact angle.
It is an easy install using either the UAS or the vehicle belt. Even at its most reclined, there’s plenty of room for a tall front passenger or driver.
I also installed the City View in the centre seat of the middle row, often referred to as the “8th seat.” My generation of Odyssey has a “wide mode,” which means you can slide the captain’s chairs towards the doors to create more room for three car seats. That centre, 8th seat is narrow, but engineers at Baby Jogger confirmed for me that the seat can be installed in that position even though the anti-rebound bar overhangs the sides of the seat back. With the City View installed in this position and the seats on “wide mode,” you can still fold and slide the adjacent captain’s chair to access the back row.
The centre row of the Odyssey is well known for being mighty roomy, so the other spot I installed the City View was in our back row. Installed at its most upright, it’s no problem to fit the City View in the back row without it bracing on the captain’s chair in front of it. To get an acceptable recline, I actually use the first recline angle in this seating position. (If I use the second recline, the bubble is not on the blue line and the seat is too upright.) This is the “permanent” position for our City View at this point; it’s where my almost-4-year-old rides rear-facing.
The City View is a great choice for three across in the Odyssey centre row, whether it’s three City Views (#tripletshappen) or a combination of seats. As for the third row, if my son is riding in a compact, backless booster (we use the Bily Booster when we need to squeeze me back there), I’m able to sit between him and the City View in the back row of our Odyssey.
I also tested the City View rear-facing in a 2009 Ford Escape and 2012 Mazda 3.
In the Mazda 3, which is well known for its minuscule back seat, there’s not much room for a tall front passenger (or driver) even with the seat at its most compact. I am 5’8″ (172.7 cm) and anyone taller than me would definitely not be comfortable. In the Escape there were no issues for a tall driver with the seat at its most upright.
In my aunt’s 2019 Subaru Ascent in the centre row, the seat installed well with UAS in both outboard positions. (Lots of room left for a front passenger.) With the City View on one side and another narrow convertible on the other side, we could also seat my 12-year-old cousin in the centre position in the Bily Booster.
In my parents’ 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander (with its surprisingly tiny back seat), when installed at its most upright there was enough room for me in the front passenger seat, even with the second all the way forward. With the row pushed all the way back, there would be enough room for a tall front passenger or driver.
Rear-facing fit to child
I tested the City View on four rear-facing riders.
The smallest test subject was my cousin’s daughter who is a very petite 8-month-old. According to my research, she’s about the size of a 50th percentile 4- to 5-month-old, so that gives us a nice point of comparison of how the City View fits a young baby.
With the bum cushion in and the harness at its lowest height of 8″ (20.3 cm), the harness was just slightly below her shoulders. What this tells me is that the City View is not going to be a good fit for some newborns. It’s really hard to predict the torso height of a newborn, but if you are likely to have a preemie, it’s definitely wise to consider using an infant seat (with a suitably low harness height) for the first few months.
Our little Cousin Cub fits very comfortably in the City View, and as you’ll see with the next three models, she has lots of room to grow.
The next City View test subjects were my 16-month-old twins. Although Cub Twin B is slightly taller and heavier, I’m going to consider them as a unit since they fit the seat in the same way. They weigh 21 lb and 23 lb respectively (9.5 kg and 10.4 kg).
For the twins, the bum and head cushions aren’t necessary, and we still have the crotch buckle on the first position. I really love how they fit in the seat. The headrest sits more or less flush with the back of the car seat, so it doesn’t push their heads forward and cause them to slump excessively.
Because we like to see children ride rear-facing as long as possible, the most important test subject for the City View is my 4-year-old daughter. The City View is her seat now because of all of our rear-facing seats, this is the one that fits my biggest rear-facer best.
Miss Cub is 38.5″ (97.8 cm) tall and weighs 33 lb (15 kg). The City View fits her perfectly. In terms of comfort, she was happy as a clam for our 13-hour drive from Calgary to Vancouver. She’s got the crotch buckle on the second setting, and overall I find she’s not at all cramped in this seat and could easily fit rear-facing past age 5. Some children her age will weigh more than 40 lb and be taller than 43″, so it is important to keep in mind that if your child is on the higher end of the growth curve for height, weight, or both, you may need to consider another seat for rear-facing into preschool.
I do not currently have any forward-facing, harnessed kiddos, but for science, I naturally had to test the installation of the City View in this mode.
As with rear-facing, thanks to the large, accessible belt path and easy-to-open cover, installation is straightforward and user-friendly. Depending on the slope of your vehicle seats and your child’s comfort, you have two forward-facing recline options. On the captain’s seat of our Odyssey, I got the best install with the seat in its most upright position.
Forward-facing fit to child
Although my daughter typically still rides rear-facing, we tested her forward-facing fit in the City View. It’s equally great!
Of greatest interest is how well a much taller child fits the harness. My son is 49.5″ (125.7 cm) tall, so he’s half an inch too tall for the City View’s harness mode; however, the harness itself still sits above his shoulders. He’s almost 7 years old and about 75th percentile for height, so I would expect the harness height to keep the majority of children harnessed until booster readiness. (A child who is very tall and carries a lot of height in their torso may not make it to booster readiness in this seat.)
To set the City View up for booster mode, you do not have to remove the harness. In fact, you just stow it neatly in the compartment designed for this purpose, behind the seat cover. You do need to remove the crotch buckle, but that’s easy.
There is only one recline for booster mode, and if desired you can secure the City View to the vehicle using the UAS. Remember that using the UAS in booster mode is only to prevent the seat from becoming a projectile in a collision and to hold the seat in place when the child is embarking and disembarking. It does not restrain the child in any way. You can absolutely install the City View in booster mode in a position without lower anchors—just remember to always buckle the seat in when it is unoccupied so that it doesn’t become a projectile. Remember that you cannot use any booster seat in a position that has only a lap belt.
According to the City View manual, the vehicle headrest must not create a gap between the back of the booster seat and the vehicle seatback. You may need to remove your vehicle’s headrest if possible and if permitted by the vehicle manufacturer. The base of seat must not overhang the vehicle seat in booster mode. If your vehicle has forward-leaning headrests that cannot be removed, or a very short seat pan, this seat may not work for you in booster mode.
The City View sits correctly in booster mode on our Odyssey captain’s chair with the headrest removed (permitted by Honda).
Booster mode fit to child
The City View’s booster mode is where the seat shines the least.
While having booster functionality is a nice selling feature, most parents wind up buying a separate, lighter weight, easier-to-use dedicated booster by the time their child is ready to use the booster mode of their seat. Why? In many cases it just makes sense to buy the older child a dedicated booster so that the harnessed seat can be passed down to a younger sibling. With a 10-year expiry, the City View is perfect for that.
Seats that convert into boosters are, first and foremost, designed as harnessed seats. They are typically built taller, making them harder for boostered kids to climb into and to buckle themselves in. The City View is no exception. In this seat, my son definitely can’t fasten his seat belt without my help whereas in his dedicated booster, which sits much lower and has an easily accessible guide for the lap belt, he absolutely can.
Some seats that convert into boosters are virtually unusable in this mode because the seat belt rarely fits the child adequately. Remember that we want to see the shoulder belt centred on the collarbone (not across the neck and not towards the edge of the shoulder) and the lap belt sitting low and flat across the hips (not on the tummy or on the thighs). The City View provides a correct belt fit for my son who is 49.5″ (127.5 cm) and tends to wear size 6 clothes.
However, my son has long legs (like his mama), so I noticed that the seat pan of the City View is a bit short for him. His knees actually extend out a bit past the edge of the seat, and of course the seat is raised quite a bit above the vehicle seat. Even with his bum at the back of the seat, he looks like he’s slouching a bit. It would really depend on how long the child’s legs are in terms of whether or not this seat would be a good fit for them in booster mode, and that’s no different than any other booster seat. There’s no one seat that fits every kiddo.
In terms of the shoulder belt guide, my son has at least a good inch of height to grow before outgrowing the guide. That said, I wouldn’t choose this seat for him as a booster because of his long legs. In our family, the most likely sequence will be my daughter maxing the seat out for its harness before passing it down to one of the twins and going into her older brother’s dedicated high-back booster as he “graduates” to a simple backless booster.
- Spectacularly thorough, well organized and unambiguous user manual (THANK YOU BABY JOGGER!)
- Easy to remove, easy to open, machine-washable cover
- Bubble-style recline indicator keeps the guesswork out of rear-facing angles
- Large, easily accessible and clearly labelled belt paths (No knuckle-scraping required to thread that seat belt!)
- Premium push-on UAS connectors
- Large head wings provide nice support for nappers
- Included harness pads for added comfort
- No-rethread harness makes adjusting the seat for multiple riders easy
- Crotch buckle position can be changed without needing to uninstall the seat
- Harness adjustment is smooth like butter, no uneven or twisted straps to fiddle with (Of all the seats we use, I’d say it’s the best harness!)
- Decently high top harness slot to keep kids harnessed until booster-ready
- Roomy design in a compact frame keeps older kids comfortably rear-facing
- Easy to convert to booster mode
Room for improvement
- Lowest harness setting – I would love to see a slightly lower one on this seat to truly be able to fit the majority of kids right from birth.
- Top harness height – I would also like to see a higher setting for those children with long torsos.
- Seat pan – The slope at the front makes it a bit short for my son in booster mode, so it’s not ideal for a kiddy-long-legs like mine.
- Rear-facing footprint – While definitely not huge, the City View is less compact than some competitors, so it’s not ideal for super compact cars with tall front occupants.
- Price point – While by no means accessible for all families, I do think it has the right features and the right child limits to make it a worthwhile investment, especially if a sibling is likely to come along to maximize the 10-year lifespan of the seat.
The Baby Jogger City View is one of my top recommendations for a post-bucket-seat rear-facing seat, which may also be suitable from birth for many babies (but be mindful of the 8″ lowest harness height).
The City View is my favourite of the seats we’ve tried for my rear-facing 4-year-old, and she has many years of use ahead of her as she moves to forward-facing and even booster mode.