I did a lot of research before I got this car seat and this is our first Britax/convertible car seat. When we received it, it was in a box with holes in it for easy carrying. We did open everything and left it "air out" for about a week in our breezeway. It did not have a strong smell, even though it was manufactured only the month before (July), but we did it to try and "burn off" some of the toxins. The Opus Gray is scaled at "Medium" for toxins, which there aren't many of Britax car seats that are lower unless you get an infant car seat.
I was happy to see how easy it was to make it "fit" your child. We have a 8 month old (about 20lbs and 29in long), and he fits in it just fine. Now we did have to remove the padding on the straps because they don't bend well and made it impossible to strap him in correctly. I agree with another reviewer, when they said that they would not recommend a child smaller than this. I really don't see how any child smaller than 20lbs would fit in this car seat properly with the HUGS and padding. Britax recommends having the HUGS left on unless 12lbs or under. Again I don't see how that would be possible since they are pretty big. Other than that, the straps are nice and my husband LOVES the Click & Safe feature! He now feels confident that our son is in correctly. It does take him a bit longer to put him in this car seat vs the infant but with the infant, you had the straps set at a length and kept it there until you couldn't squeeze your child in it any longer.
I did read on other reviews about their child chewing on the HUGS. Ours hasn't done that. YET. But I think that I will call Britax and ask them about the HUGS that are with harder plastic and see if I can get a pair (since apparently they know it's an issue), so that when he does start to chew on them, I can switch them out.
My son does not seem to mind the "wings" (as I would call them) beside his head at all. He has quite a bit of room as of right now on both sides, so that could change later on. They are nice when he falls asleep though because it gives him a place for his head to go and not end up in an awkward position. The outer side impact are, basically, big soft plastic "bubbles" (can't think of any other word right now) that are filled with air and you can make "breath" just by pushing on them.
The Britax has 3 positions. The lowest you use for rear facing, which isn't as low as the infant car seat, so my son is happy with that. Once you place it forward facing you have 2 other positions to choose from. I'm sure we will stick with the middle position, as long as our car corporates, until he is bigger and want to sit fully up and down.
The seat is quite heavy and would not want to have to move it
from one car to the next. But I guess that is to be expected with how solid it is. I definitely feel better with our son in this car seat vs the infant. We used the LATCH system and it does not move an INCH! (unlike our infant car seat) Britax does recommend, for rear facing, to use the 2nd tether up at the top, but we did not see how we would be able to get our son in and out without undoing it EVERY time. Now, we did have to roll up a small towel to put under the car seat where the crack of the seat is to make the car seat level (Britax does recommend using either a rolled up towel or a pool noodle) since our car seats slope a little towards the back of the car. We were able to install the car seat in the middle rear facing with it reclined all the way down, as recommended by Britax for rear facing, even with my husband's seat where it needs to be (he is 6'1"). When we tested it out at Baby R Us, it will fit perfectly when it is forward facing in the middle also. We tested a Graco My Ride 65 along with the Britax models and the My Ride did not fit at all in out '08 Civic (Sedan) rear facing or forward facing unless you want your seat ALL the way up.
The ONLY problem that I have found with installing the car seat in the middle is that, you really don't have room to fit in the back on either side. Now, I did for a ride or 2 to make sure that he was ok in his new seat (and I'm short BUT lets just say I'm not quite that skinny anymore). It was a tight squeeze and was uncomfortable for me to sit back there. I'm sure a skinny person would be ok, but if you wanted to put another child in that likes to move or that needed a car seat also, you would have to remove it from the middle so that they could fit. But I'm sure if you had a bigger car (not a compact car like us) you would have more room. Once we decide to have #2 and all, this car seat will be moved to the side, but I feel A LOT better doing it with this car seat (with 3x the side impact protection) vs any other car seat when that time comes.
The car seat does come with a little "insert" for smaller children (is shown in picture), like our son, BUT if your child is smaller than that; Britax recommends another/different insert which does NOT come with the car seat. If our son was smaller, I would definitely look into getting it when ordering the car seat itself.
I received an e-mail from Amazon stating that Britax was VOLUNTARILY recalling their HUGS pads on this model, along with others, because of children being able to chew pieces off making them a choking hazard. When we called Britax to get our harder HUGS pads FREE IF CHARGE, they said that ours were already being mailed out to us since we had registered our car seat. It is nice to know that Britax is on top of things when it comes to our child's safety.