In this Cybex Sirona S Rotating Car Seat review, I set down the pros and cons of this swivel convertible car seat to help you decide if it’s a workhorse you can splurge on.
Rotating car seats have become quite a thing in the parenting world, and you’ll soon learn why. Putting little wiggly guys into car seats and getting them out can be pretty challenging for caregivers and parents with weak backs.
It can also be quite the hassle for exhausted parents who have to hunch over yet again to lift off baby or buckle them in. For many moms, dads, grandparents, and other caregivers today, rotating car seats are a lifesaver.
Related: Evenflo 360 Revolve Gold Review
But the question remains, is the Cybex Sirona S Swivel Car Seat worth the money? It’s not cheap, unless you earn like a million bucks a month. And in this comprehensive analysis of the pros and cons of this newish piece of baby gear, I hope to make your decision-making easier.
Want a quick summary of the pros and cons? Scan the little snippet in the box below.
It spins great, looks nice, offers a cupholder, and features thick, washable padding. It offers side-impact protection, features a movement-reducing load leg (works rear-facing and forward-facing), alerts caregivers to 4 potentially dangerous safety-related events, and the base doubles up as an anti-rebound panel rear-facing.
Most importantly, the Cybex Sirona S revolves 360˚, making strapping in baby and removing them extremely easy, which encourages extended rear-facing (up to 50lbs). Lifespan is 10 years! and a 3-year warranty.
Seatbelt installs are really one-time installs rear-facing or forward-facing, and it reclines both ways. Well, installing it with the seatbelt isn’t exactly a breeze, but it’s relatively easy with LATCH.
HOWEVER, it’s pricey, but a lifesaver. And there’s no booster mode. Plus, the top tether renders the swivel feature useless in the forward-facing mode.
Overall, a worthy buy that transforms your parenting.
What’s a Rotating Car Seat and Do I Need One?
A rotating car seat is a convertible or all-in-one car seat that actually swivels. Some options rotate 180 but most rotate a whole 360. All you have to do is touch some button, and the seat turns for forward-facing use or rear-facing use.
Like any convertible car seat, a swivel car seat comes with the usual 5-point harness, forward-facing and rear-facing weight and height limits. They’re usually secured via either LATCH or seatbelt though LATCH is often recommended.
Why You Need a Swivel Car Seat
If buckling a squirmy child into a rear-facing convertible car seat isn’t a fun idea for you, you definitely need a rotating car seat. This seat type makes loading and unloading kids a breeze no matter whether they’re facing to the front or rearward. It rotates to the side of the car, to the door, so that you can buckle baby in or get them out effortlessly.
The most important reason to choose the best rotating car seat is that it makes transporting children rear-facing way easier than it is with a standard car seat.
A growing heap of research has led to the conclusion that carrying children rear-facing for as long as possible is the safest way to travel with them. And a rotating car seat makes it easier to strap in babies rear-facing. In a way, this seat type encourages and promotes safety during rides with your little ones.
And if you’re not blessed with the strongest back, you’ll appreciate the spin-y convenience this car seat offers. But there’s more. These kinds of car seats tend to be an easier clean compared to their non-swivel counterparts. You get to swivel the top shell so you can easily reach hard-to-reach areas and clean them.
And in some cases, you can actually detach the top shell from the base for an even easier clean. The Evenflo 360 Gold, which I believe is the best turning car seat ever, allows users to detach the shell for easier cleaning. Here’s a comparison of the Evenflo 360 vs Cybex Sirona S in cases you’re interested.
Finally, most rotating car seats are a one-and-done install. With a standard convertible car seat, you have to do at least 2 installs. The first install is for rear-facing seating, and when the kid maxes out the seat’s weight and height limits rear-facing, you must uninstall it and reinstall it forward-facing.
But if you install most swivel car seats with a seatbelt rather than the LATCH system, you only need to install it once (rear-facing) and that’s it. When the child finally hits the limits, simply rotate the seat from rear-facing to forward-facing and lock it into place. It’s that simple, which makes this product a super smart piece of tech.
What’s Not So Great About Rotatable Car Seats
These car seats do way more than standard options, which is why they tend to be significantly pricier. Also, they’re big and bulky, and this makes multi-car use a real change.
Also, the base isn’t detachable (except for the Evenflo 360 Gold), meaning you can’t use the top part of the seat as a portable carrier for baby. It also means convertible car seats that swivels (and car seats in general) aren’t stroller-friendly.
Finally, these car seats rotate, which means they need tons of space all around for proper functioning. This means you can’t install more than one car seat in the backseat in some cases, and fitting 3 across could remain a dream for you.
Below is a summarized form of why car seats that rotate are great as well as why you might want to rethink the purchase decision.
Pros of Swivel Car Seats
- Easier to use versus standard car seats
- Make putting in baby rear-facing super easy, encouraging extended rear-facing
- Work great for parents with weak backs
- May be easier to clean versus others
- One-time install if you use the seatbelt
- The best ones have high rear-facing weight and height limits (Cybex Sirona S: up to 50 pounds rear-facing)
Cons of Swivel Car Seats
- Generally pricier than standard options
- Big and bulky
- May make it impossible to install a second car seat in the backseat, and fitting 3 across isn’t possible in many situations
- Can’t be used with strollers or as a portable car seat
Before we dive in and see what the Cybex Sirona S promises parents, take a look at the list of features and specs below.
Cybex Sirona S Features and Specs
- Rotation: 360˚
- Lifespan of the car seat: 10 years from date of manufacture
- Maximum weight limit (rear-facing): 4lbs-50lbs
- Maximum height limit (rear-facing):17″-49″
- Lower anchor weight limit (rear-facing): 30lbs
- (Forward-facing) weight limits:22lbs-65lbs
- (Forward-facing height) limits: 28″-49″
- Lower anchor weight limit (forward-facing): 35lbs
- FAA-approved? Aircraft-approved in Canada but NOT in the United States
Car Seat Measurements
- Cybex Sirona S 360 dimensions: 25.3″ L X 20″ W X 25.5″H
- Car seat weight:31lbs
- Width: 21″ at the widest point
- Highest harness height: 16.5″
- Lowest harness height: 7″ with the insert & 8″ without insert
- Seat depth: 13″
- Crotch buckle positions: 3 positions at 5″, 6″ and 7″
- Optional infant insert, removable but not foldable as is the case with the Evenflo 360 Revolve Gold)
- LSP (Linear Side Impact Protection: Padding extends from the sides, offering protection from side impacts
- SensorSafe system integrated into the chestclip for timely safety alerts. Alerts sent to both smartphone and vehicle’s receiver
- Load Leg (adjustable) for reducing rotation to increase safety (works for both rear-facing and forward-facing)
- Base of car seat acts an anti-rebound panel in rear-facing mode
- Headrest adjustable without re-threading the harness
- Car seat rotates on a base that stays installed in the car
- Seat lock feature: Lets you know when the seat locks into place for safe use while vehicle is in motion
- Colors available: Manhattan Gray, indigo Blue, and Premium Black (prices may differ depending on color chosen)
- Reclines forward-facing and rear-facing
Summary of the Cybex Sirona S Review
The Cybex Sirona S is one of the best convertible car seats that swivel on the market today. It swivels 360 degrees, is a one-time install either forward-facing or rear-facing, reclines forward-facing and rear-facing, isn’t too hard to install with the seatbelt and relatively easy to set up with the lower anchors.
It has that distinctive look of a modern car seat, and it completely eliminates back strain when it comes to getting tots in and out of the rear-facing mode. Speaking of rear-facing seating, very few rotating car seats offer anywhere above 40 pounds in terms weight limit, BUT you know what? The Cybex Sirona S has an incredible max weight limit of 50 pounds. Yes, 50 pounds!
As for the forward-facing weight limit, it’s 22-65 pounds, which is pretty standard. As for height limits, it’s 17″-49″rear-facing and 28″-49″ forward-facing. This car allows for extremely long rear-facing use, which is great since experts everywhere encourage it.
The headrest adjusts with ease when you pull a handle, and there’s no need to re-thread the 5-point harness, which is amazing. The padding is great and the fabric is high quality and easy to clean (machine washable), and the crotch buckle is adjustable.
A seat lock indicator prevents using the seat before you lock it into position, and a lever at the front makes rotating and reclining the seat easy. Then there’s the adjustable load leg that lengthens out to the floor of the vehicle, reducing rotation and movement during a collision.
This load leg works rear-facing and forward-facing, and the base of the car seat (in the rear-facing mode) serves as a kind of anti-rebound system, which adds safety. Finally, there’s the Sensor Safe technology/feature that integrates into the chest clip and sends out safety alerts to your smartphone and the car’s receiver.
Let’s now consider each of the specs and features of the Cybex Sirona 360˚Convertible Swivel Car Seat so you can see if this product is worth the money. And its lifespan is a 10 long years!
Seat Lock and Swivel Features
I’ll kick off the review of the Cybex Sirona S 360 Covertible Car Seat with the very reason anyone would want to buy it: the rotational feature. This seat rotates 360 degrees, which could make your life a whole lot easier if it works flawlessly, which it doesn’t.
To be clear, the swivel works great rear-facing. Getting baby in and out won’t kill your back. But trouble begins when it comes to using the car seat in the forward-facing mode. In this mode, you have to use the top tether, which is a requirement for all forward-facing use of car seats in the US.
The top tether is supposed to restrain the seat so it doesn’t shoot forward in a crash, causing whiplash to your child. But when you attach the tether forward-facing, you have to give up the rotational feature, which is why everyone buys this pricey car seat.
I read somewhere that Cybex says it’s safe to use this car seat forward-facing without the tether. However, I have also come across many car seat experts who believe it’s unsafe to use the Sirona S that way regardless of the assurances from the manufacturer. So, let’s just say this seat’s swivel feature works excellent rear-facing and not forward-facing, which could be a bummer for some.
But there’s good news, too. There’s a seat lock indicator to help you know if and when the seat is locked into place before firing up that engine.
Weight and Dimensions
The Cybex Sirona S is heavy and bulky, which didn’t surprise me since it’s a convertible car seat. It weights in at 30.4 pounds, and believe me, you don’t want to lug a seat that heavy from car to car all the time. You want to install the restraint in one vehicle and only transfer it to another vehicle when you really have to…because it’s heavy and bulky, plus it can be a tad hard to install.
As for its dimensions, they’re are 25.3″ L X 20″ W X 25.5″H. Now, a width of 20″ isn’t like too wide, and since the seat doesn’t occupy too much room front-to-back, you should be able to fit in most vehicles.
But can you fit another car seat beside it or fit 3 across? That depends on how much room you have in the car seat. If you have a full-sized SUV or other vehicle with a spacious backseat, it might be possible to fit 2 across, but 3? Not gonna happen.
Why? Because it’s a rotating car seat, after all. I mean, it needs ample room all around if you intend to rotate it from time, which is the point of buying it in the first place.
Weight and Height Limits Rear-facing and Forward-facing
The most beautiful thing about the Cybex Sirona S is its incredibly generous weight limits rear-facing. The limits start at 4lbs and end at 50lbs. Now, very few rotating car seats or any other kind of car seats allow rear-facing rides up to 50lbs, which makes this seat exceptional in that regard.
If you’ve been reading around you might have learned that scores of child-in-car safety experts recommend extended rear-facing as the safest option. Which makes the Sirona S a highly attractive choice for pretty much everyone.
As for height limits, they’re 17″-49″ rear-facing versus 30″-32” for most rear-facing-only car seats. But I don’t like that the highest harness shoulder height is 16.5″ compared to 19″ for the Evenflo 360 Gold.
Even though the height limits rear-facing and forward-facing (28″-49″) are pretty high, the somewhat limited harness height can leave you needing to buy a high-capacity forward-facing seat before booster seating time arrives.
Which begs the question: why invest in an expensive infant car seat only to use it for a few months before getting a convertible car seat when you could buy a rotating convertible car seat that allows for newborn-through-preschool use?
Cybex Sirona S allows extended rear-facing up to 50 pounds rear-facing, which is exceptional as far as car seats go. However, it doesn’t offer a very high harness height limit (it’s 16.5″ vs 19″ for the Evenflo 360 Gold), which is why taller kids are likely to outgrow it down the road.
It may be easier to install the car seat with the lower anchors, but it makes more sense to install via the seatbelt if you want a one-time install. LATCH has limits, and the rear-facing figure is 30lbs and 35lbs.
If you use the lower anchors, you’ll have to uninstall the car seat and re-install it rear-facing to max out the weight and height limits in this seating mode.
And that’s more work in the future that you could take care of now with a seatbelt install from the get-go. Read the section that follows to learn how to install the Cybex Sirona S.
How to Install the Cybex Sirona S
It’s not a hard install, but it may not be as easy as installing this seat’s closest competitor, the Evenflo 360 Gold. Why? Because the belt path on the Cybex Sirona S is a tad narrower/smaller than that on the Evenflo.
To install this car seat, do the following (source of information: Cybex Sirona S installation videos. This video for rear-facing installation using seatbelt, this video for rear-facing installation via LATCH, and this video for forward-facing installation with seatbelt and top tether). Finally, there’s this video on how to install the Cybex Sirona S forward-facing using the lower anchors and top tether.
It’s almost always best to install via the seatbelt since that’s the only way to do a one-time install.
*Be sure to refer to the car seat manual and follow the specific steps described there. That’s standard advice, except the installation instructions for the Sirona S may not be very helpful. You may want to watch installation videos done by CPSTs and other parents to learn how to install and use this car seat properly.
Issues When Installing the Cybex Sirona S 360 Car Seat
If you install this car seat in a backseat that’s not held another heavy car seat prior, chances are that you’ll have a tight install, one that doesn’t move too much.
Some reviewers have faced challenges installing the Sirona S in a backseat where a heavy infant car seat had been installed before. It’s like installing an infant car seat in the backseat created permanent a kind of damage that manifested as “loose spaces” around the back, and this situation prevented having a wiggle-free install.
In some cases, the car seat wiggled quite a bit no matter whether the user did it via seatbelt or lower anchors. Others even used both seatbelt and LATCH (not recommended) and still had the car seat wobble to some uncomfortable extent. But in my experience, a car seat wiggles because you installed it incorrectly, usually leaving too much slack in a portion of the seatbelt.
Also, some parents have noticed wobbling even where the base installed firmly. I reached out to the manufacturer about this issue, and Cybex said that a certain amount of movement was normal. It’s hard to feel comfortable if there’s too much movement though, and if that happens after you’ve tried everything, I suggest that you return the car seat.
Helpful Tip: I found that the YT videos Cybex created around the installation of this car seat aren’t as helpful as those from parents and CPSTs. Good thing is that there’s a bunch of useful videos to help with any issues you might encounter during the install, including when putting a towel or small blanket (the company says to stick to these items only) under the seat to get it to recline comfortably and safely.
Load Leg, Anti-rebound Panel, and SIP, and SensorSafe Tech
The car seat comes with an adjustable load leg, an extra feature designed to boost overall safety by limiting movement during a crash. Also, the base of the seat functions as an anti-rebound safety mechanism when the seat is in the rear-facing mode.
In the not-so-distant, these additional safety features weren’t seen on car seats outside of rear-facing-only infant car seats. It’s nice to see them on a forward-facing/rear-facing option.
Then there’s side-impact protection (SIP). Side impacts happen, and when they do, the SIP feature jumps to action to minimize potential injuries.
SensorSafe: Why It Matters and Potential Problems
Finally, there’s SensorSafe, a feature found in ALL Cybex car seats and a few other models. A worthy competitor of the Cybex Sirona S, the Evenflo 360 Gold, also offers this feature.
But how well does the SensorSafe feature on the Cybex Sirona S? This extra safety feature is great for sleep-deprived parents, or for those with memory issues. When the chest clip-integrated piece of tech works, which isn’t all of the time for everyone, it triggers alerts that go to the vehicle’s receiver and to the smartphone.
- If you forget baby in the car,
- If the backseat gets too hot,
- If the kid manages to unbuckle the chestclip,
- If the child has been in the car seat for too long…
This tech lets you know when any of these scenarios plays out so you can take corrective action. But that’s when it’s functioning as it should.
Hubby recently helped his sister install this car seat, and the SensorSafe failed to work. He suggested that they get a replacement battery for the device, and it worked fine afterward. SensorSafe failing seems to be a pretty common issue, but putting in a brand new battery often solves the problem.
Load Leg Important and Potential Issues
I appreciate that there’s a load leg on the Cybex Sirona S 360 car seat. Load legs are typically a rear-facing-only car seat feature, but the Sirona S has it, and that’s great. They perform the same function as rebound bars, that is, reducing movement as the car seat goes back (rebounds) into the backseat during a frontal crash.
But there’s a slight difference between a rebound bar and a load leg according to the car seat safety experts at Car Seats for the Littles. While a rebound bar focuses on reducing movement during a crash, a load leg reduces movement forward as the crash starts rather than as the crash continues as is the case with rebound bars. Since there’s less movement forward initially, there’s less movement as the car seat rebounds.
Load legs aren’t a requirement for car seats in the US, but why not choose an option that has them whenever you can?
The load leg on the Sirona S is pulls out and extends to reach the floor of the car seat. It’d work excellently if all backseats were level rather than slightly slanting rearward, which is the reality with most backseats. Due to the backseat angling towards the back, getting the load leg to point straight to the floor can be quite challenging.
In most cases, the load leg bends out at an angle greater than 90 degrees, and it’s not like this feature is designed to work for off-axis loads. Not sure it’d provide as much safety in this position, plus it tends to shift around a bit, which again doesn’t seem very safe.
You have 2 options:
- Leave the leg hanging and not touching the floor of the car, completely useless.
- Pull it out all the way to the floor and end up with a car seat that’s lifted off the backseat, which you don’t want.
None of these options make this added safety feature useful at all. Cybex definitely needs to improve the overall design of this car seat if the load leg is to improve safety in the backseat at all.
The load leg wouldn’t be difficult to use if Cybex would let users lock the hinge on the leg at an angle different than 90 degrees. But that’s not for me to decide.
5-Point Harness (no-rethread), Adjustable Crotch Buckle, Adjustable Headrest, and Recline
You can recline this car seat in either seating mode, which is nice. I also like that there’s a removable infant insert for carrying newborns. And that the minimum weight limit rear-facing is 4 pounds.
However, the insert isn’t foldable as it is with the Evenflo 360, which makes the competitor the better bet as far as strapping in tiny newborns and preemies. If shopping for a very small baby, you may get a better fit with the Evenflo 360 or even better, a real infant car seat.
Also read: Infant car seat vs convertible car seat
The headrest adjusts through multiple positions when you pull a handle on the top. I like that you don’t need to re-thread the harness when you pull the headrest up to seat a bigger, growing baby.
The crotch buckle sure adjusts, which is great. But it’d be nice if the manufacturer could add magnetic spots around it so it can stop flopping back into the seat.
Instead, this brand chose to place magnetic spots to make hanging the side strap buckles easier. But I don’t feel they’re a great help when draping these straps over the seat’s edge isn’t easy and effective. Also, the two magnetic spots’ placement could be lower; it’s too high to be of any use.
Pros of Cybex Sirona S 360
- Installation not too hard via seatbelt
- Swivels nicely for rear-facing use
- Seat lock feature included
- Seat reclines forward-facing & rear-facing
- Allows for extended rear-facing use (up to 50 pounds)
- No rethread 5-point harness
- Usable from birth through preschool
- Load leg + anti-rebound feature for additional safety
- SensorSafe feature for really helpful alerts
Cons of Cybex Sirona S 360
- Swivel feature doesn’t work forward-facing
- Definitely not cheap
- Load leg has trouble installing straight down
- No magnetic spots for crotch buckle
Cupholder: 1 Detachable Cupholder Provided
How could I forget the cupholder on the Cybex Sirona S! There’s a deep cupholders for nice little things like snacks or a drink. But IMHO, this cupholder could be better quality.
I found that it’s easy to knock off, plus it’s located on the side, which makes the seat wider. This isn’t a problem since in many cases, you won’t be able to install a second car seat in the backseat. Also, the cupholder is removable and dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.
Cybex Sirona S Review: Final Thoughts
It’s a decent convertible car seat that swivels, and its weight and height limits rear-facing rear-facing are hard to beat. The swivel works, but not flawlessly forward-facing.
Even though it’s not FAA-approved for US air travel, it is for Canadian planes. What’s more, it lasts until year 10 for DOM.
It provides adequate side-impact protection, and there’s a load leg designed to reduce impacts, except it could use some work. The SensorSafe feature is a great addition, but you may get a friend battery.
The headrest adjusts multiple positions, the seat reclines and rotates both rear-facing and forward-facing, and the 5-point harness is no-rethread, which is great. Finally, the crotch buckle is adjustable, but Cybex should consider placing a magnetic spot or 2 to keep the buckle from sliding into sloping backseats.
If you’re willing to look beyond the little annoyances mentioned in this review, you’ll LOVE it!
As a medical professional practicing in the United States, Joe Waweru medically reviews every piece of relevant content at kiddofreddom.com, but nothing he says here should be construed as medical advice of any kind.