Phil & Teds Evolution Review

3.5 / 5
Suitable for use through three car seat groups, we're testing out the phil&teds evolution.

Quick Summary: The phil&teds evolution is a convertible, multi-stage car seat that will last you from birth up until around six years old. Though it's not the simplest to fit, it is secure in the car and designed to keep children completely comfortable and safe.

Whats good?

  • Five recline positions
  • Lots of cushioning for the child

Whats not so good?

  • Headrest isn't adjustable
  • Needs a long vehicle seat belt to fit
  • Seat belt is in way when evolution is rear facing
  • Fiddly harness height adjustment

Table of contents

The phil&teds evolution is a convertible car seat that covers from birth to six years old. As it is a universal fit, it is installed into the vehicle with the car's own seat belt and can be rear or forward facing. Rear facing, it goes from birth to 13kg and forward facing 9-18kg. Though a child can forward face from 9kg, it is recommended to keep your child rear facing for the maximum period.

Before fitting the evolution into your vehicle, you will need to adjust to suit your child. The harness adjustment has four height positions and has to be done manually. To access the back of the seat, there are two metal pins to remove which enables you to push the seat part of the car seat forward out of the way from the base. It doesn't stay open though, so you'll need to hold it with one hand while adjusting. As well as rethreading the harness, the additional head pillow needs moving up or down too. This is just tied into position with a ribbon, so it would be nice if this was a little more secure. The actual headrest of the seat cannot be adjusted for children of different heights.

For small babies up to 9kg, there is an insert to use which offers better support and cushioning. To give better positioning, there is also a removable foam cushion poppered under the insert, to use up to 5.5kg. Removing the three part insert does require you to remove the buckle of the car seat first, which is done by taking out the metal plate from under the fabric.

For rear facing fitting, the car seat can be used with a child upto 13kg. To start the installation, the leg support needs to be pulled out away from the base of the evolution, with the seat in its most reclined position. As the evolution requires maximum use of the vehicle seat belt, we would recommend using the red belt clip to hold the slack at the top of the belt to prevent it retracting again. Next buckle the seat belt up and slide the lap part of the belt underneath the seat, sliding it into the two belt guides on the underside, which are marked with blue arrows. The shoulder part of the belt then needs to be passed around the back of the seat and fitted through the two blue guides. Finally, fully tighten the slack from the seat belt and attach the red belt clip near the buckle of the seat belt to keep the two parts together. We did struggle to get the shoulder and lap parts of the belt close enough together to fasten the belt clip over.

We would definitely recommend that you test the evolution out in your car before purchase, as it requires a long length of seat belt to fit rear facing. We tested this out in a Honda FRV, which is a large family car. The seat belt length in different makes and models will vary. The evolution gives a good position for children rear facing, but the seat belt on the door side partially blocks access to place your child. You will need to either lift them over or under the belt to get them in the seat. Unfortunately, this is an issue that you will have with the majority of belted, rear facing car seats.

Fitting the car seat forward facing will be better suited for more cars as it doesn't require as much seat belt length. First put the seat in the most reclined position and undo both sets of pins to give you access to the inside of the car seat. Pass the vehicle's seat belt through and buckle, and then pass the lap part of the belt under the two lower red guides. Next, pass the shoulder part of the belt under the lock off guide closest to the buckle. Make sure everything is tightened as much as possible before you lock this section off. You can then push the seat body back down into place and replace the pins, with the seat belt passing under the upper pin.

Once your child is seated, there are five different recline positions. This is great for nap times in the car or if you are transporting a newborn. The lever at the front underside of the seat allows you move it to the required angle.

The evolution can also be used as a high-backed booster from around 18-25kg, or four to six years old, without the harness. It is a fiddly procedure to remove the harness, but only needs to be done the once. Once the harness is fully removed from the car seat, you can secure a child with the car's own seat belt. Simply place the evolution on the vehicle seat and place your child. Then pass the shoulder part of the belt through the hook at the top corner of the car seat and pass over the child. Before you can click into the buckle, you'll need to pass the belt through a small hole in the side of the seat. This can be tricky when trying to fasten the seat belt round a wriggly child when you need to get on your way. As the headrest of the evolution isn't adjustable, the hook to keep the seat belt in place is held in one place, so could potentially be too high for some children, or too low for others.

As the material of the evolution is made from a durable PU leather, it will be really easy to wipe clean. It should also keep your child cool as it's a breathable fabric. For bigger clean ups, the cover can be fully removed and machine washed for convenience. The five point harness has matching shoulder and crotch pads to keep any hard parts away from your little ones skin. To adjust the length of the harness, there is a small metal button at the front of the seat to press. This releases the harness for you to tighten with the black strap, or loosen by pulling the harness at the same time.

The sides of the evolution are designed with a full layer of EPS shock reducing foam for side impact protection. phil&teds refer to this as ‘CuddleMe Technology'. The side impact protection is further enhanced with the visible SideArmor wings on each outer side.

Our verdict...

The phil&teds evolution is a convertible, multi-stage car seat that will last you from birth up until around six years old. Though it's not the simplest to fit, it is secure in the car and designed to keep children completely comfortable and safe.

Forward facing will likely fit most cars, but with the length of seat belt required for rear facing, it may eliminate some models. We like that you are able to recline the seat with one hand into one of five positions while on the go, putting a napping child into the optimal position.

The Group 0+,1,2 car seat looks great, and the leather material makes it easy to clean. Our biggest bug bear is that it could do with better adjustment methods and installation in the car.

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