Convertible car seat review: Diono Pacifica | Pink Army

Convertible car seat review: Diono Pacifica | Pink Army
Convertible car seat review: Diono Pacifica | Pink Army

Diono Pacifica seat

2017 update: this seat has been discontinued. The similar Rainier (mentioned below) is still on the market.

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Price: $238-$270.

Type: Convertible to belt-positioning booster

Limits: 5-50 lbs. rear-facing, 20-90 lbs. front-facing, 50-120 lbs. as a booster.

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NHTSA ease of use rating: Three out of five stars in rear-facing mode. Two out of five stars (in forward-facing and booster mode).

Pros: Extended rear-facing limi to 50 lbs., narrow width means easier to load/unload toddlers. Memory foam. Mid-price.

Cons: Heavy. Using LATCH limits weight to 35 lbs. rear-facing, 40 lbs. forward facing. Must use seat belt install for higher limits. IIHS says the booster mode is “not recommended.” Difficult rear-facing install.

Comments: The Diono Pacifica is the revised version of the Radian R120, a convertible seat that converts to a belt-positioning booster. This seat is the same as the new Diono Rainier, but omits the Rainier’s headrest (side impact protection headwings). The Pacifica is about $50 less than the Rainer (at retail pricing).

Like all the revised Diono models, the Pacifica has added side impact protection (compression walls at the head area, a rigid double wall structure on the sides) and upgraded fabrics (called Silk Tech) that are wipeable and wick for comfort in hotter temperatures. The Pacifica’s added side impact protection doesn’t increase to the seat’s width, a definite plus.

The Pacifica does have the infant support cushions, same as the Rainier.

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Fans love the memory foam in the seat (great for comfort for longer trips) and the seat’s overall ease of use. The Pacifica is one of the few seats on the market that can be used rear-facing to 50 lbs., which is excellent (although we suspect few kids will make it to 50 lbs. and still be rear-facing in the seat). We also like the narrow base width—you can fit three of these across the back seat.

On the downside, the NHTSA rates for this seat are quite low—the government didn’t like the labels on this seat and that dragged down the rating to an abysmal two out of five stars for booster and forward-facing mode. Parents complain about rear-facing installation for this seat, which can be a challenge to get a tight fit. And the Pacifica’s tall backrest means it may not fit well rear-facing in smaller vehicles.

There’s also a caveat on the weight limits. The Pacifica is one of the few seats that work rear-facing to 50 lbs. . . . but if you are using LATCH, the weight limit is 35 lbs. rear-facing. Ditto for forward-facing—the stated weight limit of 90 lbs. is only for seat belt installation; with LATCH, the harness only works to 40 lbs. While Diono discloses this in seat’s instruction manual, this LATCH caveat isn’t on their own web page description for the seat or on Amazon’s. That’s sneaky . . . and bizarre, as other seats with harness rated for extended use don’t have lower LATCH weight limits (beyond that of a vehicle’s own restrictions).

The final blow is the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety flicked the Pacifica as a booster, saying it was “not recommended” based on their testing of how well/effectively the harness fits test dummies.

We originally rated this seat an A, but that was before the IIHS downgrade and increasing complaints about rear-facing installations.

Rating: B-

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