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Hands-on Gear Review

Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30 Review


Infant Car Seat

Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30
Price:   $110 List
Pros:  Lightweight, inexpensive
Cons:  Hard to install using LATCH, difficult to use
Bottom line:  An uncomfortable option that is hard to install and use
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Graco

The Skinny

All of the Graco seats in this review failed to impress us and the SnugRide Classic Connect 30 is no exception. This seat is difficult to install using the LATCH system, earned a lower score for comfort and quality, and has a below average score for ease of use. It is basically a disappointing seat from our perspective no matter what metric you are interested in. While is it inexpensive, we do not consider it a good value. With so many other seats earning higher scores overall, and in almost every metric, we would not recommend this seat to a friend.

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 Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30 protects rear facing infants from 4-30 pounds and up to 30 inches. Gracos' marketing touts that it is engineered to meet or exceed the US safety standards and has been side impact tested for occupant retention by the harness system (more on this below). It also sports a 5 point harness with front adjustment that helps get baby in and out quickly. It comes with a removable newborn body support cushion, 3 panel rotating canopy, and LATCH equipped stay-in-car base with on base level indicator. This seat is compatible with the Graco Classic Connect strollers.

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


The crash test data we use are sled crash tests designed to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards to determine if a seat meets the Federal safety guidelines outlined in FMVSS 213. The Graco 30 exceeds the Federal safety requirements for crash tests by a significant margin, and thus can be considered safe, but its crash test scores indicate that most competing seats we reviewed offer an additional margin of protection when compared to the Graco 30.

The charts included here show the test data for the head and chest sensors of the test dummy for the Graco SnugRide 30 (shown in black). We have included the test results from the best scoring products in each test as well for comparison purposes.
This chart is a comparison between the Graco 30 and the seat with the lowest recorded G forces for the chest region  the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40. The fewer the Gs  the better the test results
This chart is a comparison between the Graco 30 and the seat with the lowest recorded G forces for the chest region, the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40. The fewer the Gs, the better the test results
This chart is a comparison between the Graco 30 and the seat with the lowest recorded G forces for the head sensor  the Chicco Keyfit 30. The fewer the Gs  the better the test results
This chart is a comparison between the Graco 30 and the seat with the lowest recorded G forces for the head sensor, the Chicco Keyfit 30. The fewer the Gs, the better the test results
The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 had the best test results for the head region out of all 15 seats, while the Chicco Keyfit 30 data indicated the best results for the chest. These test results are shown in green.

The dense foam padding on the Graco 30 is not as thick as other seats
The dense foam padding on the Graco 30 is not as thick as other seats

Ease of Install - LATCH


LATCH install on the Graco 30 should have been easier
LATCH install on the Graco 30 should have been easier
The Graco 30 earned its lowest installation score for the LATCH attachment. With a score of 4 of 10, it comes in 1 point higher than the lowest score for the metric, the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect with a 3. The high score is 9, earned by both the Chicco Keyfit 30 and the UPPAbaby Mesa.

The clip style on anchor found on the Graco 30 is harder to use
The clip style on anchor found on the Graco 30 is harder to use
This seat has the effective but more difficult to use clip style of LATCH anchors. The clip style can be harder to attach and release from the U anchors on the vehicle; it can be even more difficult if you have LATCH points that are hard to see or can only be felt during installation. The clips are hard to tighten and loosen, and we had to really put our weight behind pulling the strap with our knee or foot in the base to get it snug against the vehicle seat; even then we feel like the seat was not in tight enough. Loosening the straps is almost as difficult, but at least once it is loosened a bit, it's good to go.

The recline foot on the Graco Classic Connect 30 is a simple design that works relatively well
The recline foot on the Graco Classic Connect 30 is a simple design that works relatively well
The Graco 30 has an easy to read recline indicator
The Graco 30 has an easy to read recline indicator
The base of the seat has an adjustable foot for recline adjustment. The foot is relatively easy to adjust compared to their other models and there is an indicator on the base that tells you the base is installed at the correct level. Using the recline foot can help you get the base into the proper position.

Ease of Install - Belt


The Graco 30 doesn't have a belt lock off
The Graco 30 doesn't have a belt lock off
This seat is marginally easier to install using the belt on the the vehicle. It earned a score of 5 of 10 in this metric, 1 point higher than LATCH attachment. The Evenflo Embrace LX scored the lowest in this metric with a 4. The high score is a 9 shared by Phil and Teds Alpha and Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35.

The Graco 30 doesn't have a belt lock off built into the base  which makes it less secure when installed with the vehicle belt
The Graco 30 doesn't have a belt lock off built into the base, which makes it less secure when installed with the vehicle belt
This Graco does not have a belt lock off or a color coded belt path. Because it lacks a lock off, the belt can be harder to tighten than those designed with a lock off. The belt itself is not the easiest to thread through the base, and we don't feel like it is a very stable install when complete. It is easier with a lap only vehicle belt, because when it is installed with a shoulder/lap belt the base tends to work up the seat belt and the car seat tips sideways. Overall, the seat is below average for the seats we looked at when installed with a belt, and we think the shoulder belt install is potentially dangerous due to the base inching up the belt and tipping on its side.

Ease of Install - Without the Base


Installing the Graco 30 without the belt uses the American belt path method of the lap belt only
Installing the Graco 30 without the belt uses the American belt path method of the lap belt only
The Graco 30 has its best install score when we didn't use the base. It earned a score of 7 of 10 for ease of install with no base. The lowest score is a 4 and is shared by the Orbit Baby G3 and the Chicco Keyfit 30. The high score is a 10 for this metric earned by the Peg Perego.

The side belt thread pathway is easy to use on the Graco 30 compared to some seats that had padding in the way
The side belt thread pathway is easy to use on the Graco 30 compared to some seats that had padding in the way
This seat uses the American belt path and it is not color coded. The belt threads easier than it does through the base and is better than average for the group. It is easy to attach and tighten and we didn't have any trouble achieving a secure feeling installation. We did not need to utilize any towels for this install in any of the 4 vehicles we used for testing, which is a perk because it isn't the easiest thing to lug a car seat, baby, diaper bag, and a towel when traveling about town.

'Ease-of-Use'>

Ease of Use


All the Graco buckles are stiff and difficult to operate
All the Graco buckles are stiff and difficult to operate
The Graco SnugRide 30 earned a 5 for ease of use, a score that is slightly below average. The low score is a 3 and is shared by the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect, Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40, and the Orbit Baby G3. The high score is an 8 earned by Recaro Performance Coupe and the Evenflo Embrace LX.

All of the Graco buckles are the same and they are not easy to use. They are all incredibly stiff and the buttons are hard to press. Once you do get it depressed (and it might take 2 thumbs), you will need to take each individual side out because they do not disengage on their own.

The chest or restraint clip on the Graco is not too hard to use, but not as nice as the Britax B-Safe or the Cybex Aton 2. It has smaller parts that are harder to squeeze and started to hurt the tips of our fingers in testing. If you squeeze one side harder that the other it will stop the latch from disengaging and you won't be able to get it apart. The button is stiff and sliding it apart is equally stiff. Putting it together is slightly better, with two sides that are easy to mate up, but buckling it is stiffer than much of the competition.

The harness release button is easy to access on the Graco 30
The harness release button is easy to access on the Graco 30
The 30 harness is easy to tighten with a pull strap at the foot of the seat. Pulling the strap is easier than some of the rest and releasing the harness is also easy. There is no padding to get in the way and the button is easy to push. The button is about 2 inches under the seat which we think is easier to use than those with the button closer to 3 inches.

The harness on this seat is a rethread harness that requires you to remove the straps from the T style splitter, pull the straps through slot holes in the back of the carrier, and insert in different slots. The straps are hard to get back through the padding and into the slots to reattach to the splitter. We think the non-rethread style is easier for adjustment because it doesn't require removing straps and can be done with baby in the seat. This seat has 4 harness shoulder height positions and 2 crotch positions.

The release handle on the Graco 30 is larger than most of the competition
The release handle on the Graco 30 is larger than most of the competition
The carrier portion of the seat is relatively easy to attach to the base. It is not one we think you can accidentally do wrong, but we still think parents should give the seat a good tug after attaching to the base to ensure the seat is properly attached. There are no visual indicators that the seat is on correctly. To remove the carrier from the base you squeeze a handle on the back of the seat and lift. The squeeze detaches the connection points so you can remove it easily.

While the handle is easy to operate on the Graco 30  it rubs on the canopy and it is a pain to use both at the same time
While the handle is easy to operate on the Graco 30, it rubs on the canopy and it is a pain to use both at the same time
The handle on this seat has 5 positions and can be adjusted by squeezing both levers on the sides of handle near the pivot joint and rotating to desired position. The handle can be left in any position when driving, which is different than most seats in the past that required the handle to be in the down position.

The handle catches on the canopy when the canopy is down, which is annoying but not as much as it would be if it caught when up. The handle does sit close to the open canopy, which makes fitting your hand between the handle and the canopy difficult. It isn't as bad as some other products we looked at that were near impossible, but we still think it is a design flaw Graco should address sooner rather than later.

The Graco 30 has built in LACTH storage with small plastic bars located near the head of the base. They do keep the straps out of the way so there is no difficulty in properly seating the carrier onto the base.

Comfort/Quality


The fit and finish of the Graco 30 is not on par with several of the higher scoring seats
The fit and finish of the Graco 30 is not on par with several of the higher scoring seats
This Graco earned a 4 for comfort and quality; it is a below average score but is still higher than 2 other Graco products in this review. The lowest score in this metric is a 2, earned by the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect. The high score is an 8 earned by the Peg Perego and Phil and Teds Alpha.

The padding and fabric on this seat are about average. The padding isn't very thick and the fabric, while somewhat skin friendly, doesn't feel like it will be durable over time. The shell quality and durability is also not the best when compared to the other products in this review. It scored just 1 point higher in our comparisons than the lowest score for shell quality.

The overall fit and finish of this seat is below average compared to the competition. The fabric doesn't seem to fit the shell well and the padding is not as nice as other products we looked at. It isn't so much that it is bad, just that it really can't compete with the nicer seats like Phil and Teds or the Peg Perego.

The canopies on all the Gracos are disappointing
The canopies on all the Gracos are disappointing
The canopy on all the Gracos is just so so. They are average in size and too tall for the height of the carry handle. The fabric sits loosely on the canopy frame and feels like an afterthought as opposed to a thoughtfully designed feature. It has no peek-a-boo window, but that isn't really a big deal because the canopy itself is too small to really necessitate one.

Weight


Being one of the lighter seats in the review wasn't enough to help the seat in its overall score
Being one of the lighter seats in the review wasn't enough to help the seat in its overall score
This seat is a reasonable size and shouldn't give most parents a problem. It weighs in at just over 8 pounds, which makes it the second lightest Graco product in this review. The lightest seat is the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect coming at 7.06 pounds. The heaviest seat in this review is the Orbit Baby G3 at 12.5 pounds.

While overall carrier weight is an important aspect to consider when making a purchase, we don't think it should be the first thing you consider. Given that most of the seats only vary by a few pounds, and you don't know how heavy baby will be or will get over time, it seems silly to quibble over a pound or two. However, given that there is a significant difference between 7 and 12 pounds, it isn't something to ignore either. We think parents should narrow their choice using the other metrics first, and then use weight as a potential tie breaker in their buying decision.

Best Applications


Some parents might consider this seat because they like the Graco name or have other Graco product they enjoy. Unfortunately, none of the Graco seats did well in this review and we think most parents will be disappointed in the performance and functionality of this seat. While it might be budget friendly, the lower scores overall make it one that has no real best application from our perspective. However, for parents who must have a Graco product, we'd recommend the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 which scored highest out of the Graco seats we looked at, and also offered the best overall crash test results of any seat in this review.

Value


With a list price of $110 this car seat might feel like a good value. However, much like the other cheaper seats in this review, it really didn't score well in most metrics or offer nice useable features that work well. While we understand that budget can be a significant restraint for many families, we still think parents should find a way to purchase a better car seat that likely costs a bit more. Our Best Value pick is the Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air that costs about $60 more, but scored significantly higher overall.

Conclusion


The Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30 has a small removable head insert for added comfort
The Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30 has a small removable head insert for added comfort
The Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30 came in with a below average score. It is lightweight, but it is difficult to install, and it earned low comfort and quality scores along with ease of use. In short there is not much to love about this seat. While it might not be a bad seat, and it exceeds the Federal minimum safety requirements, it doesn't stack up well against the competition in this review. Even for a friend on a tight budget, we would not recommend this seat. Other competing seats don't cost much more, such as the Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air, but deliver a lot more bang for the buck.

Other Versions and Accessories


Graco offers several different infant style car seats and we tested 3 others in this review. Overall however, we were not impressed with any of them and feel there are better products available at most price points. The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 earned the highest score out of all the Graco options, and is the seat we'd recommend for those who want to stay with the Graco brand.

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

User Reviews


Most recent user review: October 26, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 4
  • 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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Helpful Buying Tips
An infant car seat is one of the few pieces of baby gear that is an absolute must-have purchase. Since it is a life-safety device  it is an important decision for you and your baby.
 How to Choose the Best Infant Car Seat

by Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz

Unbiased.