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Hands-on Gear Review

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 Review


Infant Car Seat

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40
Price:   $220 List | $136.79 from Amazon - 38% Off
Pros:  Easy harness height adjustment, better crash test results
Cons:  Canopy and handle clash together, heavier, stiff buckle
Bottom line:  Nicer than the other Gracos, but not nice enough for the price
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Graco

The Skinny

The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 is the highest ranking Graco product in this review, but finished only about middle-of-the-pack of 15 seats we reviewed in terms of overall score. It uses Graco's newer "Click Connect" technology to connect the seat to the base, which works with Click Connect compatible strollers. Even though Click Connect is a newer standard, it now enjoys broad support from stroller car-seat adapters, and we feel it is a better technology than the "Classic Connect" style it replaces. Graco has indicated they will stop supporting Classic Connect in the future, but today continues to sell products that work with both the older and newer technologies. The 40 not only works for heavier children than the other Graco seats, but it seat seems to be an upgrade in all ways from padding to features. It had the best overall score in our crash test result analysis, delivering a significantly higher margin of protection and exceeding Federal safety standards by a wide margin. Unfortunately, the upgrades and improved design, including a nice non-rethread height adjustment, isn't enough to give this seat the points it needs to break into the top half of products. If you simply must have a Graco seat, then this is your best bet, but we think there are better options available from other manufacturers that have similar price points.

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 Click Connect 40 Infant Car Seat claims to be the only car seat you can use with newborns to two-year old. It works for babies from 4-40 pounds and 35 inches tall. It keeps baby rear facing up to two years old, the current recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). It has an 8-position adjustable base that provides legroom for longer babies, and is has the InRight LATCH system for easy installation. The 5 point harness is a "Simply Safe Adjust Harness System" that can be operated with 1 hand, plus it sports an adjustable headrest and a harness with no rethreads.
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

Performance Comparison


This chart shows a comparison of the overall scores for all the infant car seats we tested in this review. The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 is shown in blue.


The following sections provide details on how this Graco seat performed during testing.

Crash Test


All the seats for sale in the US have met the Federal guidelines for safety outlined in FMVSS 213, so they all provide the basic minimum level of safety as required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The seats in this review all underwent a sled crash test designed to NHTSA standards so we could compare their scores apples to apples. The test used a 12 month old CRABI test dummy with sensors in the chest and head to determine the amount of G forces exerted on the body in a head on collision.

This Graco seat has the best crash test results in this review for the chest sensor data
This Graco seat has the best crash test results in this review for the chest sensor data
The crash test data shown here compares the Graco 40 to the Chicco Keyfit 30 (the seat with the best crash test results for the head sensor)
The crash test data shown here compares the Graco 40 to the Chicco Keyfit 30 (the seat with the best crash test results for the head sensor)

The Graco 40 had exceptional results from crash testing, far exceeding Federal safety requirements, and the best overall results of any of the 15 seats in this review. The charts shown here include the test results for head and chest. The Graco 40 had the very best test results for the chest region of the 15 seats in the group. It also had the second best results for the head region.

The dense foam and the seat cushion padding on the Graco 40 are not as nice as some of the competition
The dense foam and the seat cushion padding on the Graco 40 are not as nice as some of the competition
Based on the crash test results, it is reasonable to assume that this seat offers a higher margin of protection than nearly all the other seats we looked at and exceeded the Federal minimum guidelines by a substantial margin. Only the Chicco Keyfit 30 had better numbers in the head force sensor results, and even in that case, the Graco 40 nearly tied with a Head Injury Criteria (HIC) score of 334 to the Chicco's 330 (the Federal safety guideline requires an HIC below 1000, so these scores are impressively below that requirement).

The Graco 40 has a footrest for baby 's feet. This is not a structural element and does not serve as a anti-rebound bar like some competing seats such as the Peg Perego offer. However  the Graco does offer a high-back base which may offer some anti-rebound protection.
The Graco 40 has a footrest for baby 's feet. This is not a structural element and does not serve as a anti-rebound bar like some competing seats such as the Peg Perego offer. However, the Graco does offer a high-back base which may offer some anti-rebound protection.
The foot pad on the Graco 40 is not an anti-rebound bar, and parents should not assume that it will work in any way like the anti-rebound bars found on some of the competition. Only a few of the seats in the review included this type of feature, and it is certainly an interesting addition we hope to see more of in the future.

Ease of Install - LATCH




This Graco earned a 6 of 10 for ease of install using the LATCH system. The high in this metric is a 9 shared by UPPAbaby Mesa, Cybex Aton 2, and Chicco Keyfit 30. The low is a 3 earned by the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect.

The Graco Click 40 earned a 7 out of 10 for ease of installation using the LATCH system
The Graco Click 40 earned a 7 out of 10 for ease of installation using the LATCH system

The Graco 40 has the easier to use anchor connections that resemble thin seat belts
The Graco 40 has the easier to use anchor connections that resemble thin seat belts
This seat has the plastic covered anchors that click-in to the LATCH anchors similar to how a slim seat belt would operate. In our opinion, this type of connector is easier to use than the simpler clip type connectors. These connectors are just pushed onto the U shaped LATCH attachment point on the vehicle until there is an audible click. Pulling back on the latch will ensure it is secured properly. To release you just push the red button on the end of the connector.

The connectors are easier to tighten than about half of the competition, but you might still need to put a knee into the base to get it snug. They are harder to loosen than we'd like and more difficult than most of the competition because it is difficult to get your hand in the right spot. In general the seat is relatively easy to connect and secure, plus it feels super stable when properly tightened.

The Graco 40 offers an easy to use recline angle adjustment feature
The Graco 40 offers an easy to use recline angle adjustment feature
The recline feature on the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 slides the carrier back and forth and can be easily adjusted with baby in the seat
The recline feature on the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 slides the carrier back and forth and can be easily adjusted with baby in the seat
The Graco 40 has an adjustable recline feature that helps with finding the right angle for proper installation. It has a relatively unique operation where it slides up and down to change the recline, and has an indicator that tells parents when they get it in the right position. We preferred seats that offered some kind of recline adjustment that could potentially result in parents not needing to resort to a rolled towel to find the right installation angle.

Ease of Install - Belt


The Graco 40 earned another 7 out of 10 for installation using the seat belt on the base
The Graco 40 earned another 7 out of 10 for installation using the seat belt on the base
The Graco Click 40 earned its highest installation score for ease of installation using the vehicle belt. This seat earned a 7 of 10 for this metric which is an above average score, and one shared by 2 other seats in the group. The lowest score is a 4 earned by the Evenflo Embrace LX, and the highest a 9 shared by the Phil and Teds Alpha and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35.

The easy to use belt lock off on the Graco 40 makes installation much easier and more stable
The easy to use belt lock off on the Graco 40 makes installation much easier and more stable
The Click 40 has a nice belt lock of located in the middle of the foot portion of the base. This lock off is easy to open and close, and is easier to operate and avoid folding the belt when threading it than some of the locks in the competition. It does not offer a color coded belt path, but it is easy to thread the belt and utilize the lock off, which helps get the seat tighter and makes it feel more secure than seats without the lock off. We really liked this lock and thought it was one of the better options in the group.

Many of the seats we reviewed offered a belt lock off to help secure the base of the seat to the vehicle seat belt. This is the option on the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40
Many of the seats we reviewed offered a belt lock off to help secure the base of the seat to the vehicle seat belt. This is the option on the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40
This seat feels a bit more secure when installed with a lap only belt, however the disparity of the security between the lap style and the shoulder/lap combo isn't as great as some of the competition. While most of the seats feel secure using the lap only belt in a middle seat in our test truck, this one still feels secure in a seat using a shoulder belt. Some of the competition, primarily those without lock offs, have the tendency to creep up the shoulder portion of the belt until the seat is somewhat tilted.

Ease of Install - Without the Base


The Graco 40 uses the American belt path method for installation without the base
The Graco 40 uses the American belt path method for installation without the base
Installing the Click 40 without the base isn't terrible either. It earned a 6 of 10 in this metric, about average, with the Britax B-Safe tying this score. The low score for the metric is 4 shared by the Chicco Keyfit 30, and Orbit Baby G3. The high score is a 10 earned by the Peg Perego, which did well in most categories, and the UPPAbaby Mesa that won a Top Pick for anyone using public transport.

Threading the seat belt onto the Graco 40 carrier is relatively easy  but you might have to push some padding aside to ensure proper threading
Threading the seat belt onto the Graco 40 carrier is relatively easy, but you might have to push some padding aside to ensure proper threading
You might go a lifetime and never install a car seat without the base, but if you frequent taxis or travel a lot this might be a make or break metric for you. This seat has the American belt path system which we don't like as much as the European version that utilizes the shoulder belt around the back of the seat and feels more secure. It also lacks a color coded belt path, but given the simplicity of the American belt path it isn't as big of a deal. We found threading the belt to be a somewhat annoying process for this seat and it scored poorly for ease of threading. It is a little bit harder to get the belt truly tight compared to some of the competition, but it didn't require the use of a towel so we think that is a bonus. If you don't want to carry the base around, you probably don't want to carry a towel either.

Ease of Use




The Graco 40 failed to bring home the bacon or anything else good when it comes to ease of use earning a low score of 3 for this metric. In out tests, ease-of-use was where this otherwise compelling seat fell well short of our expectations. While it shared this score with 2 other seats, no seat scored lower in our tests so it is still a disappointment. The high score for this metric is an 8 earned by the Recaro Performance Coupe and the Evenflo Embrace.

We had difficulty using the buckle  chest clip and shoulder pads on the Graco 40
We had difficulty using the buckle, chest clip and shoulder pads on the Graco 40

The buckle on the Graco 40 is the same as all the other Graco seats we tested, and we considered it difficult to use. Using the buckle can potentially require two hands because the release button is so stiff; if you have any kind of trouble using your thumbs it might be a non-starter for you. The buckle may get stiffer over time as baby spit up and grime accumulate along the edges. The up side is you can insert the straps one at a time so you don't have to marry the two side to use the buckle like some of the other seat buckles in the group, which can be be a nice feature when you have a wiggly baby.

The chest or restraint clip is also not very user friendly compared to competing approaches and the smaller parts you have to squeeze to get the clip to release can hurt your fingers and be difficult to operate. The two sides are also relatively stiff and take a little more cajoling to open than they should. The Britax B-Safe and the Cybex both have nice clips in comparison. On the seat we purchased we noticed that if you are squeezing the right side of the clip too hard it can stop the latch from disengaging and you can't get it apart. We don't know if this is a problem with all the seats, but it definitely is with ours. However, the two sides are relatively easy to mate up, but are a little stiff to slide together.

The release button on the Graco 40 is on top of the padding making it easier for parents and baby to access
The release button on the Graco 40 is on top of the padding making it easier for parents and baby to access
This Graco seat harness is much harder to tighten than the other Graco seats we reviewed, which is disappointing on this more premium priced model. The strap to tighten is located at the foot of the carrier portion of the seat and it is difficult to pull. It can require what we feel is an excessive amount of strength to get it moving. We also feel that it is most difficult to use when the harness is in the lowest height position, which means you will be struggling with it the most when your baby in tiny. We fear that being unable to tighten the seat could lead to an improperly fitted harness which is a hazard for baby and could lead to potential injury. When properly fitted you should not be able to pinch any strap between your thumb and first finger. We had trouble achieving that with this harness on smaller babies.

Releasing the harness isn't as bad as tightening and utilizes a button on the foot of the seat that when pressed allows for the harness to be pulled away from baby. The button for this seat is on top of the padding and easy to push which makes it one of the easiest we reviewed to operate. We do wonder if the exposed button might be too interesting for baby or if an older baby might be able to operate the button accidentally with their foot.

The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 has a non-rethread height adjustment you adjust from the back by squeezing the red side buttons and sliding the assembly
The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 has a non-rethread height adjustment you adjust from the back by squeezing the red side buttons and sliding the assembly
The shoulder height adjustment on this seat is a non-rethread design that is operated from the back by squeezing the two sides of the slider and moving it up and down. The upside is you can do this with baby in the seat and you do not have to mess with a splitter plate or rethreading straps through small slots. The down side is squeezing the small buttons at the same time to move the entire thing up and down is harder than you think it will be and harder than the non-threading seats that operate from the front like the UPPAbaby. It has 5 shoulder strap heights (more than any other Graco we reviewed) and 2 crotch strap positions. This means you are more likely to get a proper fit on the harness than those seats with 3 or fewer positions, assuming you can get the harness tight enough that is.

Installing the carrier onto the base gave us some trouble in our tests. We really had to give the carrier a significant push down to ensure it was seated on the base properly. We were able to repeatedly install the seat, think it was on all the way, only to find out with a good tug that it wasn't fully attached. We imagine that some parents in a rush, or overly tired, might accidentally forget to double check the seat or could easily think it was connected when it really wasn't. It is hard for us to say exactly what the problem is with the connection, but more than one tester had difficulty getting the carrier to connect to the base completely which indicates a problem in our book.

The handle on the Graco 40 is easy to operate  but does conflict with the canopy in almost every position
The handle on the Graco 40 is easy to operate, but does conflict with the canopy in almost every position
Releasing the carrier is similar to many of the other seats and requires parents to pull up/squeeze the handle on the back of the carrier and then lift the carrier off of the base. We didn't have trouble with this method or this seat in particular. It can be difficult after baby gets larger, but this is true of any carrier style seat, and most parents get stronger as baby gets bigger.

The release handle on the Graco 40 is the standard design and worked about average compared to the competition
The release handle on the Graco 40 is the standard design and worked about average compared to the competition
To operate the carry handle on this seat you press in the buttons on each side near the pivot joint simultaneously to activate. The handle has 4 position options and can be left in any position for travel inside a moving vehicle. The handle itself is easy to operate, but the handle and the canopy together are kind of a mess and definitely a design mistake in our opinion. When the canopy is fully open we had difficulty getting our hand around the handle without needing to push the canopy aside. Occasionally, the canopy would fall partially closed or we had to force it under the handle if the handle is already up. There is a similar problem if the handle is down over the head of the carrier, as the canopy will get stuck under it making it hard to open. In short, it seems like Graco could really help parents out by making the handle a little taller or the canopy a little shorter. However, in the mean time, get ready to be annoyed. We found this same problem held true for all the Graco seats in this review.

This seat does offer LATCH anchor storage on the base by way of a small compartment near the foot of the base. This compartment works well and will keep the straps out of the way when connecting the carrier portion of the seat to the base. Given the already mentioned difficulties we had with thinking the seat is connected only to find out it isn't, we are grateful that the LATCH anchors are not a problem as well.

Comfort/Quality


The canopy on the graco 40 isn't very big and while it has a peek-a-boo window we weren't impressed by its closure design that allows the sun to peek in as well
The canopy on the graco 40 isn't very big and while it has a peek-a-boo window we weren't impressed by its closure design that allows the sun to peek in as well
The Graco Click 40 has more going for it than any other Graco seat in the way of comfort and quality. This isn't really saying much given that it only earned a score of 5 of 10, but that is still 1-3 point higher than its Graco brothers. We found most competing seats to offer better performance in terms of comfort and quality. The lowest score for this metric is a 2 earned by the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect. The highest score is an 8, earned by Phil and Teds Alpha and the Peg Perego.

This seat has a fairly soft head and body cushion that is superior to the other Graco products. It also has a padded insert to help position smaller babies and keep them cozy. It isn't the best padding when compared to the competition, but it is above average and better than the other Graco seats. The fabric on the seat itself is a little stiff, but not as bad as some of the other seats that actually feel somewhat abrasive, like the bottom portion of the UPPAbaby Mesa or the entire Chicco Keyfit 30. The seat cushion fabric is softer and removable for washing. Both fabrics are better fitted to the seat and look nicer than those found on the other Graco products we reviewed.

Notice that with the handle and canopy in the upright position on the Graco Click Connect 40 that it is impossible to grip the handle without the canopy getting in the way. All the Graco handles rubbed on the canopies and made it difficult to use both at the same time.
Notice that with the handle and canopy in the upright position on the Graco Click Connect 40 that it is impossible to grip the handle without the canopy getting in the way. All the Graco handles rubbed on the canopies and made it difficult to use both at the same time.
The shell quality and durability faired about average compared to the competition and neither impressed or truly disappointed us. It is made of a relatively hard plastic that has smooth edges and didn't flex under pressure. The fabric and padding fit nicely to the shell. The handle on this seat also scored about average for its comfort in holding and what we think its durability over time will be.

The small connection point at the top of the window on the Graco 40 allows the sides to gap and sun to peek in.
The small connection point at the top of the window on the Graco 40 allows the sides to gap and sun to peek in.
The Graco canopies are all very similar. This particular one is slightly larger and sports a peek-a-boo window, but it is still sort of frumpy looking on the frame, and it has difficulty staying up when the handle is in use. This seat earned one of the lowest scores for the canopy and when you get to view it side-by-side with competition it isn't hard to see why. The canopy options on the other products are designed better and use nicer materials. The window here is made of mesh and has a hook and loop closure at the top. When the cover is closed the sides sort of hang down and allow sun to creep in, a magnetic closure that ran the entire length of the cover would have been nicer, quieter, and more effective.

Weight


At 10.25 pounds the Graco 40 is heavier than the average seat we reviewed and heavier than many seats that scored higher overall
At 10.25 pounds the Graco 40 is heavier than the average seat we reviewed and heavier than many seats that scored higher overall
The Graco Click 40 weighs in at 10.25 pounds, which it bit heavier than average compared to the other seat we reviewed. The average seat weighs 9.4 pounds. The lightest seat in this review is the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect at 7.06 pounds, and the heaviest is the Orbit Baby G3 that weighs 12.5 pounds. While weight probably shouldn't be your primary metric for decision making when it comes to which seat to buy, it certainly can help you decide between 2 or 3 finalists. This seat isn't the best weight wise and given that it is heavier than the average seat, weight could be a reason not to buy this car seat for some.

Best Applications


This is the best Graco car seat we tested, and we included four Graco seats in this review, but it is not the best car seat overall by a wide margin, ranked 9th out of 15 seats. It works for children up to 40 pounds, has the best overall crash test results of any seat we compared, and more features than any other Graco seat we reviewed. However, it also costs over twice as much as the other Graco products without really offering twice the quality or features. Therefore, we suggest that parents expand their brand knowledge by purchasing a seat with better scores and improved features. However, if you already own a Graco compatible stroller and need a seat that will work with your stroller to avoid buying a second one, then we feel this is the best Graco in the review. Just ensure that your stroller is compatible with the newer "Click" connect as opposed to the "Classic" connect.

Value


There are several competing products in this review that earned higher overall scores than the Graco Click 40 and also had lower list prices. This makes the Click 40 not a great value in our minds. While it arguably has some of the best results for crash tests, earning it an impressive 9 of 10 score on this metric, we don't think this makes it a better buy than the seats that score slightly lower for crash test but significantly higher overall.

Conclusion


The additional cushion inserts on the Graco 40 are nicer than the main fabric on the majority of the seat
The additional cushion inserts on the Graco 40 are nicer than the main fabric on the majority of the seat
While we did prefer the Graco Click Connect 40 over the other Graco seats we looked at, we also feel they aren't doing much in the way of design or functional features and quality that impressed us relative to competing seats. This seat is a middle of the road seat with a slightly higher than average list price. For a cheaper price parents can enjoy a much nicer seat with better overall scores and improved functionality such as the Chicco Keyfit 30. We feel this Graco model has checked off more feature boxes than the other Graco seats, but failed to really provide a truly nicer car seat that can compete strongly with most other products we reviewed. The canopy alone shows lack of thoughtful design in our opinion and given that it has been a problem for years we can't help but wonder when it will be fixed. Despite its nice crash test results, it feels like Graco may be sitting on its laurels and getting by on its name here. We'd love to see Graco redesign this seat, retaining the excellent crash test results, but improving the many other details we found to fall short of the competition. Graco is an outstanding company, with many great products, and we think consumers deserve to see a top scoring seat from Graco. We see this product as having huge potential to be a future award winner if it underwent a quality-focused redesign. As is, we feel you'd be better off looking elsewhere unless you are locked into using a Graco brand seat for some reason.

Other Versions and Accessories


Graco offers several other car seats for infants. We tested 3 other Graco seats in this review; including the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect, Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30, and the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35. The Click 40 earned the highest score in our review of the Graco car seats we tested and sports features that are both functional and useful like the non-rethread height adjustment and the sliding recline.

The Cozy Greens back seat mirror
The Cozy Greens back seat mirror
An additional product that we think is very useful is the Back Seat Mirror from Cozy Greens. This is a great accessory for any parent wanting to keep an eye on baby from the front seat. This particular mirror is attached to a flat base that fits against the front of the headrest. Two adjustable straps that tighten around the headrest horizontally and vertically to keep the mirror secure. The convex shatter proof surface is able to pivot and adjust to provide a wider field of view. Once adjusted correctly, there is a tightening device on the pivot point so that the mirror won't be accidentally bumped out of place. One downfall of this mirror is that it requires an adjustable headrest in order to attach properly, and so may not be compatible with all cars. 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: November 1, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 100%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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 How to Choose the Best Infant Car Seat

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Unbiased.