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Hands-on Gear Review

Evenflo Embrace LX Review


Infant Car Seat

Evenflo Embrace LX
Price:   $100 List | $74.88 from Amazon - 25% Off
Pros:  Inexpensive, lightweight, easy to use
Cons:  Hard to install with base, disappointing comfort and quality
Bottom line:  Difficult to install seat that is fairly poor quality
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Evenflo

The Skinny

The Evenflo Embrace LX is an attractively priced car seat, but unfortunately it did not score well in most of our tests. We had excessive difficulties installing this seat that we did not experience with competing seats, and we don't think it offers comfort or quality on par with most of the other products we looked at. Given the trouble we had installing it and feeling like it is truly secure, we aren't big fans. While offers an inexpensive list price and a brand name most parents are familiar with, it simply didn't score high enough in our tests to recommend it.

RELATED: Our complete review of infant car seats

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD
Mom-in-Chief, BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Sunday
November 1, 2015
The Evenflo Embrace LX is a rear facing car seat designed for infants from 4-30 pounds and up to 30 inches tall. It has a removable head pillow and 5 point harness with a front adjust for easy in and out maneuvering, but it can be used without the base to make traveling in a taxi cab or on a plane easier. This seat's marketing claims features such as an easy off machine washable pad, an ergonomic handle, space saving forward handle position when traveling, retractable canopy, and is lightweight for easier transport. The shoulder harness has 3 positions and the crotch buckle has 2. The seat base is LATCH equipped and includes a central pendulum level to ensure proper recline. It is made with an energy absorbing foam liner that also is claimed to increase comfort for baby.

Performance Comparison


We compared the top 15 infant style car seats side-by-side in an extensive 5 month testing process for this review
We compared the top 15 infant style car seats side-by-side in an extensive 5 month testing process for this review

Crash Test


This chart shows the comparison of crash test data for the head sensors for the Evenflo vs the Chicco Keyfit 30  the seat with the best crash test results for the head region
This chart shows the comparison of crash test data for the head sensors for the Evenflo vs the Chicco Keyfit 30, the seat with the best crash test results for the head region
The Evenflo crash test results indicate a basic level of protection compared to the competition. The Embrace LX seat exceeds the Federal safety requirements by a significant margin, but some competing seats have crash test results that are even more impressive.
This chart shows the comparison of crash test data for the chest sensors for the Evenflo vs those of the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40  which is the seat with the best crash test results for the chest sensor
This chart shows the comparison of crash test data for the chest sensors for the Evenflo vs those of the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40, which is the seat with the best crash test results for the chest sensor
The charts above show the actual Evenflo crash test results (shown in black) in comparison to the seats (shown in green) in the review that have best results relative to the Federal safety stadnards. The Chicco Keyfit 30 has the best crash test results for G forces exerted on the head sensors, while the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 has the least amount of G forces exerted on the chest sensor. The Embrace chest test results were pretty good, better than most of the 15 seats we reviewed, but the head crash test results were below average when compared side-by-side with the 15 seats we considered. In both head and chest results, the Evenflo exceeded Federal safety requirements by a significant margin.

the energy absorbing foam in the sides of the Evenflo are its only nods to crash protection
the energy absorbing foam in the sides of the Evenflo are its only nods to crash protection

Ease of Install - LATCH


The Evenflo is hard to install no matter what method of installation you try
The Evenflo is hard to install no matter what method of installation you try
The Evenflo earned a 4 for ease of install using the LATCH system. This score tied with the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30, and was 1 point higher than the lowest score of 3 earned by the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect. The highest score in this metric is a 9 of 10 shared by Chicco Keyfit 30, Cybex Aton 2, and the UPPAbaby Mesa.

The LATCH clips on the Evenflo are harder to use than the alternative style that pushes on and releases with a button push
The LATCH clips on the Evenflo are harder to use than the alternative style that pushes on and releases with a button push
This base has the clip type anchor connections that can be a bit trickier to use both for attaching and releasing. The clip is even harder to use if the LATCH points on your vehicle are hard to see or deep in the cushion. To release the clips you have to first push them forward, then twist them to the side after they are no longer attached before pulling them back to remove. If you fail to twist you will only re-attach them if you pull back too soon. It can be annoying when you can't see what you are doing.

Once you have the clips attached, tightening them is fairly easy, but loosening them to remove the base is more difficult. We had to use two hands and a knee in the base with all our weight to start the loosening of the strap. In addition, even when we did get the base as tight as it would go, it still didn't feel stable enough, and it had a tendency to shift and tilt up from the front and side to side. The base itself is sort of flexible and bends somewhat as you tighten. This extra movement seems to allow the base to shift no matter how tight we got it. We didn't feel 100% about the stability of this install, even after it was given the thumbs up from a Child Passenger Safety Technician.

The recline adjustment foot on the Evenflo is easy to operate with the large button at the bottom of the base
The recline adjustment foot on the Evenflo is easy to operate with the large button at the bottom of the base
The indicator on the Evenflo can help you find the right installation angle
The indicator on the Evenflo can help you find the right installation angle
This base also offers adjustable recline options that are operated by a foot located at the foot end of the base. To adjust the foot you press a large grey button above the recline foot and pull the foot out manually. It might "fall" down on its own, but it is easier to control if you help it along. Once you adjust the foot you can check if the recline angle is correct by using the visual indicator located on the base. It is color coded for correct recline indication.

Ease of Install - Belt


Installing the Evenflo with the belt is easier with a lap only belt as opposed to the lap/shoulder combo
Installing the Evenflo with the belt is easier with a lap only belt as opposed to the lap/shoulder combo
The Evenflo earned another 4 of 10 for this metric, which is the lowest score for installation using the belt. The average for this test is 6.5 and the high is a 9; Phil and Teds Alpha and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 both earned 9s for this metric.

Installing this seat with the belt did nothing to improve our feelings on its overall stability. If anything this arrangement feels even less stable and we couldn't get it tight enough in any vehicle to avoid it "riding up" the side of the car belt and causing the whole base to tilt strangely to the side. We worry about the base shifting under normal driving conditions and baby being somewhat suspended by the harness.

The Evenflo does not have a belt lock off and you will need to use a locking clip to avoid the base from sliding up the vehicle belt
The Evenflo does not have a belt lock off and you will need to use a locking clip to avoid the base from sliding up the vehicle belt
This seat does not have a lock off feature which makes getting the belt tight enough a bit of a chore, and nearly impossible. The belt path is not color coded, but more importantly isn't that easy to get the belt threaded through correctly either. Using a lap only style belt is definitely easier than the shoulder/lap combo seen in newer passenger vehicles. While neither seat belt option is great, we would go so far as to say we don't recommend you use this base with the shoulder belt combination at all to avoid the seat from inching up the shoulder portion of the belt and sitting at an angle. We had to use a locking clip to keep the base from lifting up on the retractor side of the vehicle belt, which severely complicates the process and opens you up for more opportunities to make mistakes. If you have to install any seat with the metal locking clip, we suggest you make getting the seat checked by a technician a priority.

Ease of Install - Without the Base


Installing the Evenflo without the base is easy and the most stable install option in the group
Installing the Evenflo without the base is easy and the most stable install option in the group
Out of all the installation options for this car seat we liked the install without the base the best. This type of installation matters mostly for urban dwellers who frequently use a taxi cab, and for air travelers who are willing to buy a separate seat for their infant and then use the car seat on the plane. One reason we liked this type of install with the Evenflo, is that the base feels so flimsy to us and is made with what seems to be a very thin plastic compared to competing seats. We do think the Evenflo feels far more secure and stable when we didn't mess with the base at all, which is a little concerning given that we believe any seat should feel secure when installed with the base as long as you follow the directions in the manual.
The pronounced side belt threading area on the Evenflo is easy to access
The pronounced side belt threading area on the Evenflo is easy to access
The Evenflo earned an 8 of 10 in this test tying with 3 other seats. The top score is a 10 earned by the Peg Perego, and the low score is a 4 shared by 2 different seats.

Threading the belt is easy on this seat and it uses the American belt path so there is no need for color coded belt path, though it would have been nice. We didn't have any problems getting it in flat and uncurled and we were able to get it tight enough to feel secure. We didn't have to use any towels to get a proper fit or the right angle.

Ease of Use


The Evenflo buckle is easier to use than some of the competition
The Evenflo buckle is easier to use than some of the competition
This seat earned an 8 of 10 for ease of use, which is the high score in this metric and is shared with the Recaro Performance Coupe. The low score in this metric is a 3 shared by 3 different seats. This is one of the only metrics that the Evenflo did well in, and to be fair, it was really quite exceptional with regard to ease-of-use.

The buckle on this seat is one of the easiest to use. It requires very little strength to press and it pops apart easily with one thumb. You can also insert the side straps with one hand, one at a time, which is nice if your hands are full or busy holding one on baby to keep him still. The chest/retainer clip isn't as easy to use. The button to release the clip and the two sides are all pretty stiff and require that they be married up exactly to connect. A bad chest clip is definitely better than a hard to use buckle, but it is still disappointing.

Given the overall lack of padding on the Evenflo  the harness release button is easy to access
Given the overall lack of padding on the Evenflo, the harness release button is easy to access
The Evenflo has an easy to tighten harness that utilizes a tightening strap located at the foot of the seat. Unlike some of the competition, this strap pulls smoothly and easily without the need for excessive force. The release button is also at the foot of the seat and is one of the easiest buttons in the group to access and use. It is close to the surface and can be operated with 1 finger.

Shoulder height adjustment on this seat is a rethread style height adjustment with 3 height slots and 3 crotch strap positions. The seat connects the two side straps through the slots in the seat back onto a T style splitter plate. The shoulder straps have large loops on the ends that makes it easier to attach to the splitter than seats with smaller loops. Adjustment is easiest with the seat empty so you have the ability to thread the strap and flip the seat without worrying about baby. While this seat is easier to manage than some of the other rethread seats, we preferred the seats that could be adjusted from the front with baby in place, and non-rethreading. It seems like this newer, easier to use technology should be an industry standard. We are not big fans of rethread height adjustment, and the 3 slots on this seat limit the ability to find a good fit.

The release handle on the Evenflo is the largest in the group
The release handle on the Evenflo is the largest in the group
The carrier portion of this seat is rather lightweight and relatively easy to attach to an installed base. It does not have a visual indicator that the carrier is properly seated on the base, so we suggest you give it a good tug to ensure it is secure. You can also listen for the click as it falls into place, but don't rely solely on the click. To release the carrier portion and remove it from the base, you will need to squeeze the handle on the back of the carrier. This is a nice design and makes it easier to lift the carrier out with one hand on the release handle and the other on the foot portion or carry handle.

The handle on the Evenflo is easy to operate  but ours had a rough edge on the underside that cut into our hands when carrying the seat
The handle on the Evenflo is easy to operate, but ours had a rough edge on the underside that cut into our hands when carrying the seat
The carry handle is easy to use and has 5 positions, with only 2 allowable in the car while driving. To operate the handle you squeeze both buttons on each side of the pivot point on the handle where it attaches to the seat and rotate it to the desired position. It moves relatively smoothly and is not hard to accomplish during normal use.

This seat does offers LATCH clip storage by way of small plastic bars located under each side of the base. This helps keep the clips and straps out of the way so the seat can be properly attached to the base without the straps preventing a good attachment. The storage on this seat does a better job at preventing strap interference than some of the competition, but it isn't completely foolproof so we recommend you take extra time to clip them in so they are for sure out of the way.

Comfort/Quality


The Evenflo is a disappointment in the comfort and quality metric
The Evenflo is a disappointment in the comfort and quality metric
The quality of this seat is not the best in our opinion and we weren't impressed in a side-by-side comparison with the other products in this review. The Evenflo earned a 4 of 10 for this metric, which is below average, but 2 points higher than the lowest score of 2 earned by the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect. The highest score is an 8 earned by Phil and Teds Alpha and the Peg Perego.

The fabric on this seat is smooth but stiff. It isn't rough like some of the other products, but it also doesn't feel like it will wear well over time. The padding on the seat is minimal and doesn't seem as cozy as some of the nicer seats in the review, almost like it is an afterthought in the design. It comes with strange head padding that looks kind of like side impact protection but isn't, and the padded sides are super floppy. We think the padding will flop against baby's face and be annoying for baby and parents alike. The seat is better without it and it seems like a cheap version of the nicer head protection padding offered in seats like the UPPAbaby Mesa and the Peg Perego, but unlike those seats it is loose padding as opposed to a structural component of the seat that offers support.

The shell of this carrier appears durable and well constructed, certainly nicer than the base material. However, the fit and finish of the shell with the padding and fabric is lacking and not the nicest in the group. Overall, when you add the base to the equation it isn't an impressive looking car seat and pales in comparison to the other seats in our tests.

The handle on this carrier is also sort of unimpressive in our opinion. While it works well, it doesn't offer any features that make it nicer to hold or more ergonomic. The seat we purchased had a rough edge under the middle of the handle that somewhat cut into our hand when we lifted the carrier. This is likely to get worse over time or be even more unfriendly as baby grows and more pressure is exerted on the handle.

The canopy on the Evenflo is small and somewhat useless
The canopy on the Evenflo is small and somewhat useless
The canopy on the Evenflo is medium in size, lacks a peek-a-boo window, and doesn't feel or look like it will wear well over time. The handle on the carrier also rubs the canopy when it is in the down position. We aren't sure why some manufacturers are having difficulty managing the canopy and handle marriage, but Evenflo is not alone in having trouble in this area; it isn't as bad as the Graco products, but it will still cause you some trouble.

Weight


Being one of the lightest seats in the group is arguably one of the best things about the Evenflo
Being one of the lightest seats in the group is arguably one of the best things about the Evenflo
The Embrace LX weighs in at about 7.5 pounds, making it one of the lightest in the group. The lightest is the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect at 7.06, the heaviest is the Orbit Baby G3 at 12.5 pounds.

While carrier weight is important, especially if you plan to lug baby around in their car seat on a regular basis, we don't think it should be the reason you pick a seat by itself. The lighter seats in this review had disappointing test results in most categories and we don't think sacrificing ease of use or a good crash test score is worth it simply to save yourself a few pounds of seat weight. That being said, we do think it is a useful tool when trying to decide between a few car seats that are otherwise similar in features and quality. If you have narrowed your options down to 2 or 3 seats, then how much each weighs might be a good way to make a final choice. If the seat you choose is heavier than you'd like you can always add a baby wearing carrier to your gear list or a frame stroller the infant seat can attach to.

Best Applications


Parents familiar with the Evenflo brand name might be drawn to this seat. In addition, the price may also be a reason why parents consider purchasing the Embrace. However, given its poor performance in our tests we would not recommend it. Given all the difficulties we had trying to install the seat, we think parents may struggle installing it in a secure manner on a regular basis.

Value


While the Evenflo Embrace has a lower list price than the majority of seats in this review, we do not think it is a particularly good value. When it comes to car seats, it appears from our testing that you sort of get what you pay for and we feel this is not the category of baby gear you want to skimp on. If the price of a better scoring seat is difficult to manage, we suggest adding a seat to your registry or saving money during pregnancy to afford some better options. We recommend our Best Value pick for parents on a budget. The Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air has a list price of about $60 more than the Evenflo, but it offers significantly better performance than the Evenflo.

Conclusion


The Evenflo infant head insert is not very useful and we think it will sit directly on baby's face
The Evenflo infant head insert is not very useful and we think it will sit directly on baby's face
The Evenflo Embrace LX did not impress us as a seat we would recommend to a friend. While it is a fairly easy to use product, we had difficulties installing it in almost every method and feel the overall stability of the installed seat is lacking. The Embrace just doesn't score as well as most of the other products we looked at. It is hard for us to really like a seat that we had so much trouble installing. In the end, we think there are much better options available and that the lower list price of this seat should not be a reason that parents purchase the Evenflo over other products.

Other Versions and Accessories


Evenflo offers 2 other infant seats that were not included in this review. The Evenflo Nurture is a cheaper seat that works for babies from 4-22 pounds and the Embrace™ Select Infant Car Seat with SureSafe looks similar to the Embrace LX but with a few additional features that claim to make it easier to install. Given that we did not review either seat it is hard to say with any certainty how well they would perform. However, due to their apparent and advertised similarities and construction, we doubt that either would fare significantly better than the seat we did review.

The Cozy Greens back seat mirror
The Cozy Greens back seat mirror
The Back Seat Mirror from Cozy Greens is a great accessory for any parent wanting to keep an eye on baby from the front seat. The mirror is attached to a flat base that fits against the front of the headrest and is kept secure by two adjustable straps that fit around the headrest horizontally and vertically. The actual mirror has a convex shatter proof surface and is able to pivot and adjust to provide a wider field of view. Once adjusted correctly, there is a device to tighten the pivot point so that the mirror won't be accidentally bumped out of position. One of the few downfalls of this mirror is that it requires an adjustable headrest in order to attach properly. Other than that, Amazon users seem to love this accessory and claim that it provides a much clearer reflection than many other back seat mirrors.
Juliet Spurrier, MD, Wendy Schmitz, and BabyGearLab Review Team

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User Reviews


Most recent user review: October 29, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 5
 (2.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 100%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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