User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
-LATCH system and base are very convenient
Cons:-Heavy and Bulky
-Handle needs a zig!
The Bottom Line: All told, it's a very good carseat. If you can find the same thing with a better handle, get that. Otherwise, the Graco Snugride 35 is a good bet.
My wife and I bought this carseat when our first son was on the way. Now our second son has almost grown out of it! In this time we've grown familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the Snugride 35. And now you, friendly reader, may make use of our experience.
Recommend this product?
The Graco Snugride 35 is sturdy but heavy, comfortable but bulky. The LATCH system base could not be simpler to install and use. It's nice-looking and is by all accounts safe, but a few design changes would really help it shine.
First and foremost in importance for an infant carseat is, of course, safety. There is no shortage of reputable safety rankings online, and numerous top ranks assured Mrs. Review Pro and I that the Graco would deliver on that front. It sits securely in the back seat and feels solid. A handy leveling indicator ensures installation at the proper angle. The straps and buckle tighten snugly.
In our pre-parent naivety we hadn't quite realized the extent to which convience features would become important as well. After all, it's just a car seat! Set it and forget it, right? Haha, wrong. For us, as for many, the infant car seat is also a baby carrier, a napping spot, a rocker, a portable seat for baby--the list goes on. Truly the swiss army knife of baby stuff! In this aspect, the Graco gets mixed reviews.
Using the LATCH system to install the base is simplicity itself--assuming your car is equipped with it. Nearly all consumer vehicles since 2002 have it--before that can be hit or miss. The system is basically a series of anchor points built into the car onto which you simply *latch* (get it?) a set of straps built into the carseat. It provides a strong, simple to install setup without having to mess with the seatbelts. Once the base of the Graco is installed you just pop the seat in and out--it anchors itself. Easy peasy. High convenience marks here.
Extra bases are available for purchase and are inexpensive enough to be able to have one in each car, plus one for Grandma and Grandpa. This is really a nice feature because as easy as installation is, swapping the base back and forth all the time would get old after a while.
Once the seat is removed, though, the convenience factor drops off. This car seat is heavy even before you get the baby in! For short bursts this isn't a big deal, but carrying it for any distance gets tiring quickly and the handle design does nothing to help this. Many infant seats have a sort of 'zig' in the handle that allows your hand to be in it's natural position (palm facing the body) while carrying it. Alas, the Snugride 35 does not. This forces your hand 90 degrees with the palm facing front or back which contributes greatly to fatigue. It's such a simple and well established design point that I really can't imagine why Graco didn't include it.
The overall bulkiness of the seat also comes into play more often than one would like. When eating out, just about every waiter we've met suggests turning a standard restaraunt high-chair upside down and putting the car seat on top. Apparently, this works with most of them. The Graco is just too big--we've yet to find a high-chair that will accomodate it. Not the biggest deal, but it would be nice if it fit like others do.
The detachable canopy is also sort of a mixed bag. It's big enough to provide plenty of shade, and that's nice. But it's also big enough to constantly get in the way of the handle, and that's less nice. It does stay where you put it and is much more adjustable than most others, which is very handy. The fact that it's detatchable helps a lot--we leave it off most of the time, but when you need it it's good to have.
The straps and buckles are easy to fasten, adjust, and release. No complaints there.
I've never sat in the thing, so I can't say for sure, but it certainly seems comfortable. The cover is soft with plenty of padding. It seems roomy enough for a normal sized baby up to a year or maybe a bit longer. Our second son just turned a year old and is a little tall for his age. He is pretty close to outgrowing it but will still be fine for a bit. One thing to note is that strap pads are not included. Carseat and seatbelt webbing is abrasive stuff to baby skin, so make sure to pick up a set!
I'm certainly not any sort of a style maven, but Mrs. Review Pro tells me that this carseat is cute. A few other people have commented positively too, so I'm inclined to give it high marks there. It has held up remarkably well to the rigors of two small boys and shows minimal wear and tear. The seatcover must be stain-resistant, because we washed it after a recent two-week road trip and it pretty much looks brand new.
I really debated with myself on whether to give this seat three or four stars. My only serious complaint is what a pain it is to carry, but we do carry it often and it would be so simple to make it a lot easier. Ultimately, though, I went with four stars. The really important stuff is solid and it's stood up to two kids like a champ. For the price, it's tough to ask for a lot more than that.
Thanks for reading this review! I hope it has been helpful and informative. If you'd like to contact me please visit facebook.com/theproreview or email the address in my profile.
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Amount Paid (US$): 160
Age Range of Child: 0 to 12 Months