Pros: Unique handle with unique grip, excellent base, rated for 75mph crashes, COST COST COST.
Cons: Stroller wheel locks are hard to use, stroller release button takes a little practice.
Well we were at 32 weeks into our 3rd pregnancy and as a police officer, I know that car seats have a finite shelf life, which has everything to do with the materials used in their construction. The problem is that the latch that connects the baby seat to the base is made of plastic. The plastic is strong, don't misunderstand me, but after many months/years of use, the plastic WILL wear down and leave the possibility of detaching itself due to worn down ridges in a high impact crash.
After doing a lot of research, I decided upon the Baby Trent infant car seat travel system. This includes the car seat, the base and the stroller. There are various colour schemes available and there are no differences from one colour scheme to the next other than your personal choice.
The Baby trend car seat is 3rd rated among the consumer reports car seats. It is the top rated for value for the money. It has one many editor recommendations from various magazines and has passed all DOT safety crash tests.
The handle of the car seat locks in various positions and unlocks using two buttons near the connection from the handle to the actual carseat. You must push both buttons at the same time in order to unlock the handle to move it. Other carseats use a pressure release lock, i.e. you push down on the handle itself to release the handle. Although this system limits the handle movement to two hands only, it does prevent accidental operation of the handle. I can't tell you how many times I picked up my kids with my Evenflo just to realize I accidently moved the handle down.
The actual grip on the handle is a rubber coated triangle. This grip lets you pick up the car seat using a variety of angle grips and helps with hand fatigue. The triangle also spreads the weight of the carseat out if you carry the carseat like a purse, i.e. putting your arm under the handle and having it rest at your elbow area.
Other than not being able to use it one handed, there are no cons to the handle.
The actual carset uses injected foam mold, which is much like styrofoam as the impact padding in the car seat with a stitched pad ontop. This is pretty much the same kind of setup with any relatively safe carseat.
The pad is removeable and washable if you go that route but I've found that most anything can just be wiped off. I haven't had the diaper blow out yet in this carseat but if I do then I'll wash it.
Unlike evenflo, the straps tighten from the shoulder area first using a tightening strap that comes out of the seat about 6 inches below the crotch area. You push a button located next to the tightening strap then simply pull the strap which pulls the shoulder straps tighter.
Now personally I prefer evenflo's tightening knob but this isn't hard to do and effective.
The seat comes with a canopy shade that stays on very well. Other carseats' canopies have the irritating habit of coming off at times, it seams baby trend designed theirs pretty solidly.
The only thing the carseat is lacking is a head positioning pad. This is that U shapped pad that surrounds the head of newborns so that it doens't flop about. Of course you can buy one for like 6 bucks at any store and the benefit is these aren't attached to the car seat so they are more easily washed, but that is still a wierd thing for baby trend to leave out.
The handle and seat are nice, but the base is where the seat shines.
This carseat is rated for crashes up to 75mph. This is very...very important because most carseats are only rated for crashes up to 55 mph as is required by law. Can the other carseats withstand higher velocity crashes, sure but this one states it.
The connection hooks on the base for the latch system are the easiest I've ever seen, bar none. They hook on automatically and release with the release button located about 5 inches up from the hook, much like a car seatbelt. They also tighten easier than any other system I've ever seen. you push a release tension button on the side you want to tighten and simply pull the strap, when you have that side as tight as you want, release the tension button and it keeps it that tight. REALLY EASY.
I'm gonna put this next topic with the base. Then the carseat is latched on the base, to release it, the release lever is in the front of the carseat, where your childs feet are. This is different from any other carseat made and I actually find easier to use as well. You may wonder if you can release it with the seat up against the end but Baby Trend designed this carseat so there is a few inches gap between the end and the seat.
The stroller is designed well with a cup holder for you and the baby when they are older, and with adequete buckles and whatnot. The buckles for the baby release uniquely, using a two fingered release that is kind of hard to describe but is very easy for an adult to use but kind of hard for a child to use, which is it's purpose.
The wheel locks are one of the poor parts of this stroller, they work well but are hard to lock down and hard to release. It's not like the evenflo where there is a lock bar that you step on to lock and is relatively easy to release. You'll find you may not like using the locks on the wheels with an open toed sandal or shoe. It's not that they don't work, they just are a little stiff.
The stroller closes up (compacts) using a release on the push handle. You will find you must practice with the relase button to easily do it one handed. First you must hold a relase button with your left thumb, then using your right hand you push in the unlock button. Then the stroller flips open or you can push it closed. There's a trick to it though.
With any stroller, in the locked shut mode there is a little give, the baby trend will not open easily if there is tension on the stroller while opening it, meaning you can be pulling the stroller open while pushing the button. There must be lax tension on it. This is hard to explain but bottom line is it's a good system but you must practice with it but use it one handed.
As I said before, this carseat got the best value for the money from consumer reports. I believe I paid $160 or so using a 10% off coupon from babies r us. For what you get, it rivals much much more expensive brands. I paid twice this for my evenflo and except for a few points, I think this carseat beats my evenflo.
The seat is good, the handle is unique and easy to use while being safer in operation than other carseats.
The carseat is more simple than some other carseats but easy to use and safe, which is the most important factor.
THe base is probably the best made for the carseat industry, and I install a lot of carseats for safety checks.
The cost beats any other system out there. Period.
Unless you have 600-900$ to spend on a car seat system, this system should be on your must look at list if you are in the market for a baby carseat.