Chicco KeyFit 30 Best Infant Car Seat

Better Infant Car Seat

Last updated: May 5, 2016

Better Infant Car Seat: Chicco KeyFit 30 Review

Better Infant Car Seat: The Chicco KeyFit 30 is our pick for Better infant car seat. Crash protection is excellent, with added side impact protection making a difference. The KeyFit gets high scores from our readers on ease of use (somewhat higher than the Graco SnugRide, which came in third in our rankings)—installation is a snap and adjusting the harness is easy. The seat also features EPS foam and a newborn insert. The downsides? The seat lacks a no-rethread harness and the canopy coverage is somewhat skimpy.

Car Seats 101

If you are a first-timer parent who’s never purchased a car seat before or a veteran parent who needs a quick refresher on what to look for in an infant car seat, click here for our Car Seat 101.

How we picked a winner

We evaluate car seats with hands on inspections, checking seats for ease of use (installation and adjusting the seat). We also gather significant reader feedback, tracking seats on ease of use, quality and durability. Besides interviewing parents, we also talk with car seat “techs,” certified child passenger safety technicians who install hundreds if not thousands of seats at safety check points.

We’ve been rating and reviewing car seats since 1994. During that time, we have also visited manufacturer facilities and watched car seat crash tests. While we don’t personally crash test car seats, we compare our reader feedback with crash tests done by organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Consumer Reports. We also look at evaluations of seats by groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS, they focus mainly on booster car seats).

What does Good, Better and Best Mean?

We divide our infant car seat picks into good, better and best bets. What’s the difference? First, realize that ALL our picks offer excellent crash protection—they all scored “Better” or “Best” on Consumer Reports’ independent car seat crash tests.

“Good” seats offer basic features and protection. Our “better” pick adds side-impact protection, upgraded LATCH connectors, built-in lock-offs (for belt installation) and other upgrades. “Better” is the top of the line pick, with additional safety and convenience features.

The Winner for Better infant car seat: Chicco KeyFit 30

Chicco KeyFit 30 Best Infant Car Seat

Our Pick

Chicco KeyFit 30

The Chicco KeyFit 30 is one of our top infant car seat picks. Crash protection is excellent, with added side impact protection making a difference. The KeyFit gets high scores from our readers on ease of use (somewhat higher than the Graco or Britax seats)—installation is a snap and adjusting the harness is easy. The seat also features EPS foam and a newborn insert

$189.99* at Amazon

* Prices change daily. Shop carefully.

The Chicco KeyFit 30 is both easy to install and use. The seat wins top marks for safety, installation and fit to vehicle.

FYI: Chicco makes three versions of the KeyFit—one that works to 22 lbs. (called the KeyFit,) one to 30 lbs. (the KeyFit 30) and the KeyFit 30 Magic with upgraded fabrics and cold weather boot. Between them, we’d suggest the plain KeyFit 30 version. And also note: the same base works with either the 22 lb. or the 30 lb. carriers.

The Chicco KeyFit boasts a nice list of features: a seat lined with EPS foam for improved side impact protection, thick seat padding, multi-position canopy and comfort grip handle.

Chicco hired a former Graco engineer (who worked on the SnugRide) to design the KeyFit and it shows in the details . . .  the base has a “single-pull” LATCH adjustment, a spring-loaded, leveling foot (pictured below) to account for uneven back seats and even a smooth underside to keep from damaging your back seat upholstery.

ALL-ASINS.1.Reclinesure

As you’d expect from Chicco, the fashion of this seat has a hint of Italian flair and there is even a newborn insert to better fit smaller newborns and preemies.

Our readers have been very positive about the KeyFit’s ease of use, lauding the no-twist, easy-to-adjust straps, the ability to leave the handle in the up position when driving (most seats require it to be lowered), and overall ease of installation.

Flaws but not deal breakers

Well, no seat is perfect. Here are our quibbles with the KeyFit 30:

The KeyFit carrier weighs 9.4 lbs., a tad heavier than other similar seats. It takes two hands to release/rotate the handle on the seat.

The sunshade has its share of critics. Some readers tell us they think it is too small and doesn’t offer enough coverage (even with the extended visor that tucks away when not in use). When you fold the canopy back, it sometimes is hard to reach the handle to release the car seat from the base—especially if you drive a smaller vehicle when the front seats are close.

A few readers also report the fabric doesn’t breathe, so the seat can get hot.

The Chicco’s stroller compatibility used to be an issue, but given the soaring sales of the KeyFit, more brands now offer adapters that fit the seat. Still, it might be wise to check to see if the stroller brand you want has a specific adapter for the KeyFit . . . a few smaller stroller brands still don’t.

What makes this seat “Better” versus similarly priced seats

The Chicco KeyFit 30 has several features that make it easier to use and install compared other seats in the $100 to $200 range. Take the unique center-pull LATCH connector. This makes LATCH installs a breeze. By contrast, other infant seats have two LATCH connectors which must be individually tightened. Here’s what the SuperCinch One-Pull latch looks like:

ALL-ASINS.3.Supercinch

 

Who else likes it

Amazon customers give the KeyFit 30 a 87% positive rating (four or five star ratings) and Consumer Reports ranked the KeyFit 30 at the top of their car seat rankings. The NHTSA gives the seat four out of five stars for ease of use.

Consumer Reports ranked the KeyFit 30 as their number one seat in a recent survey, saying it was “excellent” for ease of use and fit to vehicle LATCH (very good for belt installations). Our feedback from parents echoes these results as well—readers say the KeyFit 30 is tops when it comes to ease of use.

Also Great

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite

$199.00* at Amazon

* Prices change daily. Shop carefully.

The B-Safe 35 Elite is a new, improved version of the already excellent B-Safe, which gets very good marks from readers for usability and fit. The 35 Elite adds a no-rethread harness, additional side impact protection and an improved base that makes installation even easier with LATCH. Stroller compatibility is good but not as extensive as the Graco SnugRide—besides Britax strollers, the B-Safe now works with Britax’s BOB brand.

Britax B-Safe 35 Elite

Also recommended

The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 is our “good” pick in this category and runs about $20 less than the KeyFit 30—it is a perfectly acceptable step-down if your budget is tight.

The competition

The $150-$200 price range for car seats includes the upper-end car seats for mass market brands like Evenflo and Baby Trend. Here’s a quick look:

Evenflo’s Secure Ride 35 features Evenflo’s E3 side impact protection and premium LATCH connectors, but only has a 71% approval rating on Amazon. Several reviews complained about rashes their babies developed after being in contact with the seat’s fabric. Overall, we are not impressed with Evenflo’s track record in this category, given parent feedback.

Baby Trend’s Inertia infant car seat features rigid LATCH connectors and a deep recline. The seat rotates upright in a crash. There’s been little feedback on this seat; it is still rather new as of this writing. However, as a brand, we’ve been less than impressed with Baby Trend’s quality and durability. Consumer Reports gave this seat a “poor” mark for fit to vehicle with a safety belt and, overall, ranks Baby Trend seats lower than most competitors.

To Sum it Up

The Chicco KeyFit 30 is our pick for Better infant car seat, combining excellent crash protection and ease of use. Installation is easy, thanks to a unique, center-pull LATCH adjustment. While the price is on the top end ($190), we think it is worth the extra investment for its convenience features.

Chicco KeyFit 30 Best Infant Car Seat

Chicco KeyFit 30

The Chicco KeyFit 30 is one of our top infant car seat picks. Crash protection is excellent, with added side impact protection making a difference. The KeyFit gets high scores from our readers on ease of use (somewhat higher than the Graco or Britax seats)—installation is a snap and adjusting the harness is easy. The seat also features EPS foam and a newborn insert

$189.99* at Amazon

* Prices change daily. Shop carefully.