Britax have a reputation for making some of the safest car seats in the world, so it should come as no surprise to learn that both the Marathon and the Boulevard come highly recommended.
Both seats are incredibly safe; benefiting from a deformable plastic frame, high -density foam and impact-resistant reinforcement in critical areas.
Both models are also designed to be left in the rear-facing configuration until your child weighs 40lbs, and little touches like the easy-release buttons on all the LATCH connectors make them very user-friendly options.
Whether you opt for the Boulevard or the Marathon, you’ll get a great seat with unrivaled build quality, impressive safety features and a real focus on your baby’s comfort.
There are a couple of important differences though: The Marathon offers a reduced feature set, and a more stripped-back aesthetic but benefits from a much lower price point.
Meanwhile the Boulevard is very much a ‘top-end’ option, with Britax’s unique Click and Safe harness, extra padding and a host of handy modern conveniences.
That’s not to say that the Boulevard’s the best possible choice in every scenario though; There’s a lot to love about the Marathon, and it does actually have a few, unique advantages of its own.
To help you understand the key differences between the two seats, we’ve put together this in-depth comparison – including a full rundown of each model and a handy comparison table that should make picking the right option a breeze.
Britax Marathon vs Britax Boulevard
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The Britax Boulevard
The Boulevard is a great all-rounder. It offers plenty of internal space for your little one, with lots of room at the shoulder and ample leg-room for all but the tallest infants.
As mentioned above, the seat is also designed to let your child stay in the rear facing position until they weigh 40 lbs too.
Once you do have to switch it round to the forward facing mode, you can keep using the Boulevard until your child weighs 65lb which is good for those of us who are looking to keep our child in a proper car seat for as long as possible.
The Boulevard also boasts incredibly plush padding. Looking at the seat specs, it seems that Britax have actually layered up two sheets of high-density foam on the sides of the seat, and this results in a really thick cushion that will keep your baby comfortable on short journeys, long road trips and everything in between.Easy to Install
When it comes to fit, we were really pleased with the way that the Boulevard’s been set up; the infant cushion makes it a good match for smaller babies, plus the special, 14 point ‘no rethread’ harness is nice and easy to adjust, irrespective of your baby’s size.
And when it comes to actually fitting the seat in your car, we have to say that the brand new ClickTight technology really is a game changer.
Rather than forcing you to wrestle with tightening straps or complicated latches, this ingenious system allows you to attach the Boulevard by placing your belt into the labeled ‘flap’, pulling it taut, and then closing it so that the seats internal mechanism can act as a belt lock.
Of course, all of these extra features do come at the cost of a slight price increase over other, comparable models. There are also a couple of slightly frustrating features too.
Something We Didn’t Like
The first of these ‘pain points’ relates to the covers which, despite being fully removable, can’t actually be machine washed.
The manufacturer advises hand washing in cold water before being left to air dry, and while that is a workable solution, it is considerably less convenient than the machine-washable covers found on comparable car seats.
The Boulevard is also a little bulky, weighing in at around 24lbs, and measuring around 23.3 inches front-to-back. That said, you’ll still fit two in the back of a small car, and there are definitely bigger seats out there!Bottom Line
All in all, the Boulevard is a fantastically comfortable seat, with special features that you’ll actually use on a day-to-day basis. It is also one of the safest seats on today’s market, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a comfier ride for your little one.
As long as you can cope with occasionally hand-washing the covers, we think it’s a real shoe-in for most parents who aren’t shopping on a very strict budget.
The Britax Marathon
It’d be all too easy to dismiss the Marathon as a pared-down version of the Boulevard, but we found that it’s actually a great car seat in its own right.
Like the Boulevard, it can be kept in the rear-facing position until your child weighs 40lbs, and it also benefits from the same, super-dense safety padding that makes its more expensive cousin so reliable in crash tests.Breathing Cushion
It’s a comfortable seat too. It might lack the second layer of foam padding found in the Boulevard, but it still offers ample cushioning, and we’re confident that it’d keep all but the fussiest babies nice and relaxed for the duration of a long trip. The material does breathe easily as well, which is important if you’re in a hotter part of the country.
Adjustable Seating Angle
We felt that the 7 different levels of recline helped to enhance the overall comfort of the seat too. Keeping your baby at the perfect angle can make a big difference when it comes to helping them sleep in the seat, and the extra flexibility on offer here really does mean that there’s probably a position to suit every infant.
Overall, we’d probably rate the seat as a solid 8/10 in terms of comfort, and a solid 10 for general build-quality. Aesthetically, it feels like a top-end seat, and when you actually hold it in your hands, it has a nice, reassuring heft that speaks of high-quality materials.Easy to Install
Thanks to the incorporation of Britax’s patented ClickTight fitting system, newer models of the Marathon are also nice and straightforward to fit using your car’s seat belt. As with the Boulevard, this seat boasts a handy little flap that can be opened up for the few seconds that it takes to feed the belt through, and then closed to act as a near-foolproof seat belt lock.
This removes the need for aftermarket seat belt locks, and the need to sit there, manually tightening straps to make sure that everything is nice and secure.Extra Features
The Marathon incorporates some extra safety features too. We’ve mentioned the steel reinforcement , but things like the extra anchor point at the top of the seat really help to make the seat feel very stable once it’s installed correctly.
These features do also help to keep your baby safe too, which is, ultimately, the whole point of the car seat. Like the Boulevard, the Marathon outperforms the vast majority of comparable, convertible car seats in crash tests, and there aren’t many seats that offer more in the way of all-round protection.
Something We Didn’t Like
In terms of downsides, the Marathon does lack some of the extra mod-cons, like the Click and Safe harness. It is also lacks the extra layers of foam padding and the harness does only have 12 different adjustable settings which means that the seat does offer slightly less flexibility than the Boulevard.
What’s more, there’s no extra small baby cushion, so babies at or around the 5lb mark may need to grow into the seat slightly.Bottom Line
That said, The Marathon is still a brilliant carseat, with a great set of safety features and a really strong build. For the average child, it offers plenty of comfort, and plenty of protection should the worst happen.
It is a little cheaper than the Boulevard too, which can make all the difference for those of us with a smaller budget.
When it comes down to it, we’d be more than happy to recommend either seat; they’re both great convertibles, and they’re both absolutely packed with reassuring safety features.
The key difference between the two seats is probably their versatility; the Marathon is an ideal seat for the average child; offering plenty of comfort for children over 5lbs, and under 47” in height.
Meanwhile the Boulevard’s infant cushion, extra harness positions and slightly increased height limit makes it more suitable for children at the extreme ends of the spectrum it’s designed to cater for, making it a sure bet for those of us with slightly premature babies.
The Boulevard does also have a few extra conveniences, like the Click and Safe harness, and we do think that the overall look and feel of the seat is slightly superior to its cheaper cousin. As such, we’d probably, er, on the side of the Boulevard unless we were trying to stick to a tight budget ; but the important thing is, as always, to make sure that you pick the seat that’ll best suit your child, particularly if you plan to keep it for the next 6+ years!
Last update on 2020-04-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API