Updated on July 10, 2017
Meet the Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car Seat
I received this item at no cost in order to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.
I’ve always a had a thing for car seats. There’s just something so satisfying about getting a solid install of a car seat and finding that perfect fit for both your child and your vehicle. I’ve always felt like there was more to learn when it came to car seat safety, so back in April of this year I became a certified child passenger safety technician (CPST). That doesn’t mean the learning ends there! Far from it! Now that I’m a CPST, I find myself endlessly curious about car seats. Thanks to Evenflo, I’ve had the opportunity to fulfill my curiosity of the new Evenflo Sonus convertible car seat. When this seat arrived in the Canadian market just a few short months ago, I really wanted to get my hands on one! I’m always on the look out for car seats that allow for extended rear facing (that is, rear facing to age two and beyond), but sometimes that extended rear facing capability can come with a hefty price tag. Enter the Evenflo Sonus! The Sonus has all the features you need to keep your little one rear facing well beyond age two, and it works great as a long lasting forward facing seat too. Want to get to know the Evenflo Sonus? Here are all the details!
The Evenflo Sonus convertible car seat is a relatively new seat in Canada. As a convertible car seat, it can be installed in the rear facing position or in the forward facing position depending on your child’s age, weight, and height. The fit requirements, and the weight and height limits are below:
- 5 – 40 lbs (2.3 – 18 kg)
- 19 – 40″ (48 – 102 cm) and the top of the child’s head is at least 1″ (2.5 cm) below the top of the child restraint seat back
- At least 2 years old
- 22 – 50 lbs (10 – 22.6 kg)
- 28 – 50″ (71 – 127cm) and the top of the child’s ears are at or below the top of the child restraint seat back
The Evenflo Sonus expires six years after the date of manufacture. The Sonus comes equipped with SecureRight Universal Anchorage System (UAS) connectors. This is a UAS strap with hook style clips that attach to the lower anchors in your vehicle. The adjuster on the SecureRight UAS connectors has a white button that is pressed down to loosen the strap to make removal easier when you need to take the Sonus out of the vehicle. The Evenflo Sonus can be installed using the vehicle seat belt OR the UAS (never both at the same time). On the bottom of the car seat, there’s a recline stand that flips out and is secured with a velcro strap when the Sonus is to be used rear facing. The velcro strap is removed and the foot is flipped back into the base of the seat when the Sonus is to be used forward facing. When forward facing, the seat must be tethered to one of the vehicle’s top tether anchor points.
Along the side of the Evenflo Sonus, the rear facing belt bath is identified in green and the forward facing belt path is identified in blue. The level indicator for rear facing is also located on the side of the seat. The level indicator on the Sonus is an arrow etched into the plastic shell. For a rear facing installation this arrow will point to the rear of the vehicle and the arrow must be level to the ground. If required, a rolled towel can be placed beneath the recline stand to maintain the correct recline for rear facing. The towel should be rolled tightly and taped so that it doesn’t unroll.
There are two available positions for the crotch buckle. The correct position of the buckle for your child is the one that is closest to and most comfortable for the child, but never under the child’s bottom. The crotch strap should be snug against the child. For newborn babies weighing under 10 lbs (4.5kg), there is a special newborn routing for the crotch strap that shortens the strap. The instructions for this newborn routing can be found in the Sonus manual.
There are 6 positions for the harness height and the harness needs to be rethreaded to change the harness height as the child grow. Always check that both sides of the harness are installed completely on the splitter plate, and that both side of the harness are routed through slots at the same level. The Sonus has a shorter infant loop for the harness straps at the splitter plate. You can move to the longer loop for the harness straps as your child grows. When adjusting the harness height for your child, the harness straps must be at or just below the child’s shoulders for rear facing and at or above the child’s shoulders for forward facing.
The bottom three harness positions are for rear facing only. The top two harness positions are for forward facing only. The fourth harness position can be used for either rear or forward facing depending on the height of the child. If this fourth harness position is to be used for rear facing, this slot must be at or below the child’s shoulders. If this fourth harness position is to be used for forward facing, this slot must be at or above the child’s shoulders.
The Evenflo Sonus includes an infant head support. The infant head support is for use when rear facing only, and must not be used when the Sonus is installed forward facing. The infant head support attaches to the Sonus with a velcro strap that is routed through the harness slots just above the harness straps. The infant head support is optional and is not required to be used at any time.
The Evenflo Sonus has two built in cup holders. These cup holders are flush with the side of the seat and do not add additional width. The elastic on the inside of each cup holder allows a variety of cup sizes to fit in the cup holder, and holds the cup in place.
The Evenflo Sonus has been side impact tested and rollover tested by Evenflo. The Sonus has a special air ventilation system built into the side wings of the seat. These additional vents allow more air flow to get through the seat to help the child feel cooler in warmer months.
The Evenflo Sonus has a continuous harness. What’s a continuous harness? That’s when the harness strap is one long strap where one end attaches to one side of the splitter plate, then the harness routes through the seat, down under the child’s bum, back up through the seat, and the other end of the strap attached to the other side of the splitter plate. Why does this matter? Sometimes with a continuous harness you might find that one side of the harness is snug over the child while the other side is loose. There’s a really simple way to fix this if it happen to you when you’re using your Sonus. If you notice that one side of the harness seems longer than the other, pull the short side of the harness up at the child’s hip right where the harness comes up out of the Sonus seat pan. If you pull both sides of the harness side to side at the hip, you’ll find that you can easily adjust the length of the harness to even it out should it become uneven. Once you know that you have a continuous harness, the way to ensure the harness is even on both sides is quite simple!
How It Works:
I used the Evenflo Sonus rear facing with Petit Prince and forward facing with The Heir. Petit Prince is 23 months old, 32-33″ tall, and approximately 24-25lbs. He does not meet the minimum age requirement to forward face in the Sonus (that would be age two), and I plan to keep him rear facing until at least four years old or until he outgrows the rear facing limits of his car seat. The Heir was turned forward facing in March of this year when he was a little over 4.5 years old. He has been riding in the Sonus forward facing. The Heir is 4 years and 10 months old, 42.5″ tall, and approximately 35 lbs. He would have outgrown the Sonus rear facing before age 4 based on his height at that time (likely around age 3 years and 9 months).
The Evenflo Sonus is a great option for extended rear facing. With the mandatory age minimum of 2 years old to forward face, and the 40 lbs and 40″ weight and height limits for rear facing, the Sonus will keep the vast majority of kids rear facing beyond age two. Petit Prince has a long way to go before he exceeds the fit requirement of the Sonus. That is, he has a few inches of torso growth to go before he has less than 1″ between the top of his head and the top of the Sonus. I tried using the infant head support with Petit Prince, but he wasn’t a big fan. With the infant head support out, his head wasn’t pushed forward, and he seemed more comfortable overall. With his cloth diapered bum, Petit Prince needs the crotch buckle to be in the outer position so he isn’t sitting on the strap. His bum sits right on top of the inner crotch buckle slot, so it’s pretty clear that it’s not the right position for him. The Sonus owner’s manual has straightforward instructions with illustrations for moving the crotch buckle position. Just keep in mind that this is something you’ll need to do before installing the seat. It’s a good idea to put your child in the seat in the house (on the floor) to see how the harness fits them before installing the Sonus in your vehicle. I have the harness routed through the third harness position (that’s the third from the bottom) for Petit Prince. This position puts the harness below his shoulders. The fourth harness position is quite a bit higher than the third, and it sits above his shoulders. He won’t be moving into that fourth harness position for rear facing for quite some time (I’d estimate at least another six months).
Overall, Petit Prince seemed quite comfortable in the Evenflo Sonus. I noticed right away that the cover and padding in the Sonus is quite soft and squishy, almost like a memory foam. Despite not having a ton of extra padding in the seat, there weren’t any areas that felt less than plush. There’s plenty of leg room for Petit Prince in the Sonus, so as he continues to grow, he’ll remain comfortable rear facing. The Sonus is a nice low profile seat, so when Petit Prince gets a little older, he’ll be able to climb up into this seat on his own without much difficulty.
In terms of adjusting the harness on Petit Prince, I found the chest clip to be quite stiff. This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, a chest clip that’s stiff on the harness webbing is almost impossible for a child to slide down and out of position. On the other hand, a chest clip that’s stiff on the harness webbing is more difficult for the parent or caregiver to slide into the correct position at armpit level. Petit Prince has yet to show any interest in trying to move the chest clip while we’re driving, so he doesn’t need a very stiff chest clip right now. I found that the chest clip was so stiff along the webbing of the harness, that I was concerned I’d accidentally punch Petit Prince in the chin if I lost my grip while trying to move the chest clip up to his armpits. To keep this from happening, I kept the chest clip undone while I tightened the harness. Once the harness passed the “pinch test”, then I would slide one side of the open chest clip at a time up to armpit level. By using two hands to slide one half of the chest clip up, I was better able to move it without my hand slipping and hitting Petit Prince. Once both sides were at armpit level, then I closed the chest clip.
Let’s talk about the rear facing installation! Before installing the Evenflo Sonus, I took the time to carefully read through the Sonus owner’s manual and the child restraint section of my vehicle manual. Even though I am a CPST, every car seat is different! It’s important to always take the time to read the car seat manual cover to cover and the pertinent sections of your vehicle manual so that you understand what you need to do to install the seat correctly in your vehicle. I did not need a rolled towel to support the recline stand and maintain the correct rear facing recline in my vehicle. Whether installing with the lower UAS or the vehicle seat belt, the easiest way to get a tight installation is to actually get into the vehicle and press straight into the car seat with your hips. When pulling the UAS strap or seat belt tight, lift the upholstery off the front of the Sonus and pull it back so you can see the inside of the rear facing belt path. The velcro openings in the upholstery at the cup holders makes this easy to do. Route the tail end of the UAS strap back into the belt path and pull the strap tight from “inside” the car seat. Pulling the upholstery back also makes it easier to tighten the vehicle seat belt when doing a seat belt installation.
I found the Sonus’ UAS strap to be quite smooth to tighten when pulling from “inside” the seat. By pushing the Sonus in towards the vehicle seat back with my hips and gently rocking side to side as I tightened the UAS strap, I was able to get a tight installation without losing the correct recline for rear facing. Because the level indicator is etched into black plastic, it can be hard to see. To make it easier, I place a piece of green painter’s tape below the level indicator arrow so that I can more easily check that the seat is properly reclined for rear facing. To check that the installation is tight, grab the Sonus at the rear facing belt path with your non dominant hand (for me that’s my left hand) and give it a firm handshake side to side (pulling it towards yourself and pushing it away). If there’s less than 1″ of movement side to side, the installation is tight enough. If there’s more than 1″ of movement side to side, you need to tighten it further. Removing the Sonus when it is installed with the lower UAS is fairly simple. Pressing on the white release button on the UAS strap adjuster with both thumbs and then pushing the adjuster down and away from the seat allowed me to loosen the UAS strap enough to easily unhook the lower UAS connectors from the vehicle’s UAS anchors.
When it came to the seat belt installation, I found that using my vehicle’s seat belt locking mechanism resulted in the Sonus tilting sideways when I went to check for movement at the belt path. This happens because the Sonus is a very lightweight seat and the shoulder belt of my vehicle seat belt puts too much upwards force on the seat as it leaves the rear facing belt path. To resolve this issue, I installed with my vehicle seat belt with a locking clip instead of using the vehicle seat belt’s own locking mechanism. Because the Sonus weighs only 11lbs, you can install using UAS for the full life of the seat (up to a 40 lb child rear facing or a 50 lb child forward facing). If there are lower UAS anchors available in your vehicle for the seating position you’re using for the Sonus, you can install with UAS!
Since the Evenflo Sonus only has one recline level for rear facing, it can take up a fair amount of front to back space in the vehicle. In some vehicles, it will conveniently fit well with the shape of the seats in front of it, but in others, it may leave the front seat so far forward that the front seat can’t be used safely. Remember that the Sonus cannot touch the vehicle seat in front of it, so you’ll have to be sure to leave enough space that the two are not touching. In my vehicle, it leaves less leg room for the front passenger than I’d like. I’m only 5’3″, but my knees end up just an inch or so away from the dash (I’m driving a 2016 Audi Q5). I can’t install the Sonus rear facing behind the driver’s seat because I would be too close to the steering wheel to drive (and my husband would have the same problem).
The bottom of the Sonus seat has some relatively sharp edges. For that reason, I placed a small thin towel on my vehicle seat before installing the Sonus. With leather seats, I don’t mind indentations, but I wouldn’t be happy if the sharp edges scratched or cut the leather. Evenflo allows the use of a single layer thin towel under the seat to protect the vehicle seat if desired. I wouldn’t feel the need to do this if my seats were fabric as it’s significantly less likely to be damaged.
As a forward facing harnessed seat, the Evenflo Sonus is a nice fit for The Heir. At 42.5″ tall and 35 lbs, he has a lot of growing room left in this seat. If The Heir was heavier, I would be more concerned about the 50 lb weight limit of the Sonus. There are other forward facing harnessed seats on the market with a 65 lb weight limit, so if The Heir was in a higher percentile for his weight, I’d consider one of those seats instead. As it stands, the Evenflo Sonus should last The Heir at least another two years at which point he should be more than ready for a high back booster seat.
When I first tried The Heir in the Sonus, I had the harness set at the second highest harness height. At this height the harness was pretty much at his shoulders. After a few drives with the harness at that level I noticed that The Heir was settling into the seat and his shoulders seemed ever so slightly above that second highest harness slot. Based on the way The Heir has been growing lately, I’m going to chalk this up to him having a growth spurt! I moved the harness to the highest position and this puts the harness clearly above his shoulders. The crotch buckle is in the outer position for The Heir.
In terms of ease of adjustment, I find the harness pretty smooth to tighten. I keep the chest clip open when tightening the harness so that it passes the pinch test at The Heir’s collar bone. Once the harness is properly tightened, I do up the chest clip. The chest clip is still stiff on the harness when The Heir is riding in the seat.
As far as comfort goes, although the seat itself is quite well cushioned, the harness is set quite close together at the three forward facing harness slots. Whereas the harness slots angle downwards for the lower three rear facing harness slots, the upper three harness slots are straight across. This leaves the harness a bit closer together at the side of the child’s neck. This was just fine for comfort for The Heir when the harness was at the second to highest harness height. He said he didn’t find it rubbed or dug into his neck and he didn’t mind it at all. However, when I had to move the harness up to the highest slot, he found that the harness dug into his neck and was uncomfortable for him. One way to resolve this is to pull the child’s shirt collar up so that it sits between the child’s neck and the harness. The other solution to this is to call Evenflo and order harness covers for the Sonus. Though there are no harness covers included with the Sonus, they are available to purchase directly through Evenflo. Remember that harness covers that are not shipped directly from Evenflo cannot be used with the Evenflo Sonus. So if your child finds the harness digs into their neck, pull their shirt collar up in between their neck and the harness until you can get harness covers directly from Evenflo. I have ordered harness covers for my Sonus directly from Evenflo, but I have not yet received them.
I installed the Evenflo Sonus forward facing first with the SecureRight UAS connectors and then with the seat belt. I didn’t have the same tilting issue with the seat belt installation when the Sonus was forward facing as I had when it was rear facing. Again, it was easiest to tighten by pulling the upholstery back at the forward facing belt path, and then pull from “inside” the seat. Once I’d pulled the UAS strap or seat belt tight, I got out of the vehicle and checked for a tight installation. To do this, grab the Sonus at the forward facing belt path with your non dominant hand and give it a firm handshake side to side (pulling it towards yourself and pushing it away). Then I hold both sides of the Sonus and pull it straight forward and back. If there’s less than 1″ of movement side to side and front to back, the installation is tight enough. Once the Sonus is tight side to side and front to back, attach the top tether to the tether anchor in your vehicle and tighten the strap just enough to remove all the slack (the exact location of the tether anchors in your vehicle can be found in your vehicle manual).
Can the Evenflo Sonus Go 3 Across?
The Evenflo Sonus is advertised as a car seat that can work 3 across. Right on the box, it shows three Sonus seats side by side and says “compact size comfortably fits 3 across in most mid-size vehicles”. Though I have never personally done a 3 across installation in any vehicle before, I do know that there’s a lot of puzzling that goes into getting three car seats to fit side by side in any vehicle. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I got together with Lindsay of Maman Loup’s Den who has also been trying out an Evenflo Sonus to see if we could at least get two Sonus seats side by side in our mid-size vehicles. Lindsay has a 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring and I have a 2016 Audi Q5. Lindsay’s vehicle is considered a mid-size car, and my vehicle is considered a mid-size crossover SUV. Did we get two Sonus seats side by side? We did! Could we have gotten three Sonus seats side by side? Not exactly.
In Lindsay’s Hyundai Elantra Touring, we installed one Sonus forward facing behind the driver using the vehicle seat belt, and one Sonus rear facing in the middle seat using the vehicle seat belt. This left very little room in the passenger side seat in the Elantra, and definitely not enough space for a third Sonus. Due to the seatbelt geometry in the Elantra, a third car seat would need to be installed using the lower UAS anchors, and that means it would need to be a very narrow car seat.
In my Audi Q5, we installed one Sonus forward facing behind the driver using the vehicle seat belt, and one Sonus rear facing in the middle seat using the vehicle seat belt. In this vehicle, there was enough room to put a third car seat in. We did not have a third Sonus to try, but we did try with another relatively narrow car seat, and it was very close to fitting. I imagine that with the right seat, it would have been possible to get three across. It helps that the seat belt geometry in my vehicle allows for a passenger side seat to be installed using the vehicle seat belt when a car seat is installed in the middle seat. Lindsay hopped into this passenger side seat and found that there was plenty of room for her to ride in that position with two Sonus seats installed side by side next to her.
With any side by side or 3 across installation of the Evenflo Sonus (or any car seat for that matter) it’s recommended that you contact the manufacturer with photos of your side by side or 3 across installation so they can confirm that the position of each seat is approved. I’d also recommend that you consult a certified CPST in your area to assist you with selecting the right seats and installing them in your vehicle for any 3 across situation.
Here’s what I love about the Evenflo Sonus:
- The Sonus has a nice amount of cushioning to make for a comfortable ride for the child both rear and forward facing.
- The owner’s manual is clearly written with excellent illustrations to make it easy to follow and understand.
- The 40 lb or 40″ rear facing limits make this a long lasting seat for extended rear facing.
- The minimum age requirement to forward face in the Evenflo Sonus is 2 years old. Yay for extended rear facing!
- Because it’s such a lightweight seat, it can be installed using the lower UAS anchors right up to the 50 lb forward facing child weight limit. (If you do not have UAS anchors in your vehicle, or the seating position you’d like does not have UAS anchors, you will need to install using the seat belt.)
- There’s a spot to store the buckle when taking a child in and out of the seat. That means the buckle is up and out of the way so you’re not digging around for it under the child’s bum.
- The harness doesn’t twist easily.
- The Sonus is ideal for use as a travel seat on the airplane or as a spare seat.
- The chest clip is fairly stiff on the harness, so it cannot be pushed down easily by a child who likes to slide their chest clip out of position.
- The Sonus has been side impact tested and rollover tested by Evenflo.
- Very affordable price point at $119.99 CAD regular prize for a seat that will last a number of years.
- The Evenflo Sonus is made in the USA.
- Evenflo Sonus seats purchase in Canada only are dual certified. That means they can legally be used in Canada and the USA.
Here’s what I like less about the Evenflo Sonus:
- 50 lb forward facing weight limit is low compared to other seats on the market. This weight limit is just fine for our family, but if your children tend to be in the higher percentiles for weight, the Sonus may not be the right seat for your child.
- Single allowable recline for rear facing means the Sonus takes up a fair amount of front to back space in the vehicle. It’s not the most compact rear facing seat. You’ll definitely want to try it in your vehicle before you buy it. Toys R Us allows customers to take the floor model out to their vehicle to see how they fit. Take advantage of this and test it out!
- The forward facing harness slots are set quite close together and may rub or dig into a child’s neck. Harness covers are available directly from Evenflo, but do not come in the box with the Sonus.
- The chest clip is fairly stiff on the harness, so it can be difficult to move it up and down as needed to get it to armpit level.
Overall, I quite like the Evenflo Sonus. I am thrilled to see Evenflo moving to a 2 year age limit for forward facing, and I really do hope to see other car seat manufacturers follow suit. Extended rear facing is something I’m passionate about, and it’s something I practice with my own children. The 40 lb or 40″ rear facing limits should get almost all children to age two rear facing at the very least, and will keep many children rear facing to age three and beyond. With a forward facing limit of 50″ or 50 lbs and a top harness slot of 18.25″, the Sonus should realistically keep most kids harnessed right to booster readiness. This happens around age 6 for most children. If your children happen to be in the higher percentiles for weight, you may find the 50 lb forward facing weight limit to be too low, but take a look at their growth pattern and their growth chart to see if it’s likely to last for your child or not. I love the price point of the Evenflo Sonus! A seat that should fit most newborns well and last a child right until they’re booster ready around age 6 for $120? Sign me up!
Though the Evenflo Sonus has not replaced our every day car seats for The Heir or Petit Prince, it is going to be a seat that gets plenty of use for our family. The Sonus is so lightweight that it’s the perfect seat to cart through an airport when our family travels by plane. Petit Prince will take his first flight in the Sonus next month, and it will make a great second seat to have available when the grandparents want to take one of the kids out for the day!
I wish that the harness was set a little wider apart for the forward facing positions, but I’m hopeful that the harness covers I’ve ordered from Evenflo will make a big difference. I’m sure The Heir will be much more comfortable in the Sonus once those harness covers arrive.
The Evenflo Sonus is available to purchase in Canada from Toys R Us. Though it normally retails for $119.99 it is currently ON SALE for just $79.97 until June 22nd ONLY! Want to take advantage of that sale? Click here to purchase your Evenflo Sonus now!
Got a question about the Evenflo Sonus or your car seat? Not sure if it’s installed correctly? If you’re in the Calgary area, you can get in touch with me for a free car seat check! Click here to contact me for a free seat check. Not in the Calgary area? There are lots of certified CPSTs in Canada. You can find one in your area by checking the CPSAC Find A Tech map.
How would you like a chance to WIN an Evenflo Sonus convertible car seat for your little one to ride in? Maman Loup’s Den and I have teamed up and are giving one lucky Canadian reader an Evenflo Sonus! This giveaway is open to Canadian residents only, 18+, and closes on July 5th, 2017. Evenflo is responsible for prize fulfillment.