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Hands-on Gear Review
Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 Review
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
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
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
Ease of Install - Belt
Evenflo Embrace LX, and the highest a 9 shared by the Phil and Teds Alpha and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35.
Ease of Install - Without the Base
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Most recent user review: November 1, 2015
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