Chicco NextFit Review
Pros: Very easy to install, non-rethread harness, comfortable, nice quality
Cons: Hard to remove fabric, difficult belt lock-off
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
Chicco is an Italian brand with over 30 years of experience. They are popular in the US for their Keyfit line of car seats and compatible strollers. Chicco was started in 1958 by an inventor of pharmaceutical devices, Pietro Catelli. After the birth of his first child, he dedicated himself to the creation of better solutions for parents and babies by creating baby care products for every stage of babyhood.
The Chicco NextFit crash test results indicate that this seat meets and exceeds the federal minimum safety guidelines outlined in the FMVSS 213. This seat has head and chest crash test sensor data that are lower than the maximum limit in sled crash tests designed to the same specifications used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in their testing. All of the products on the market meet or exceed the guidelines and should, therefore, be considered safe. Some seats, however, show significantly lower sensor data than others, indicating that they offer an additional margin of safety than the competition. The Chicco seat is not one of these products. With several products in the review recording lower G-force results.
The graphs share crash test data from the head and chest sensors stored in the test dummy in the Chicco (shown in black). The test results for the products with the least G forces for each sensor are in green for comparison.
The sensor located in the head of the crash test dummy in testing for the Britax Allegiance had the lowest G forces results in the group and the Clek Foonf dummy's chest sensor recorded the smallest amount of G-forces.
Ease of Install - LATCH
The Chicco is one of the easiest options to install using the LATCH system.
A huge part of what makes this seat easy to install using LATCH is the SuperCinch strap design on the LATCH anchors. This feature allows you to pull one side of the strap to tighten the anchors and then the other side with the super design that makes it very easy to tighten quickly and with little force. While we struggled with some of the competition to get them tight enough, the Chicco is by far easier to manage. On the downside, the base is broader than the LATCH connectors, which makes installing the seat more difficult because the bottom gets in the way of connections and inhibits tightening. The recline adjustment has several options and is easy to adjust even in the rear-facing position. Most testers preferred using LATCH for installation on the Chicco.
The level on the Chicco is a liquid indicator with a bubble (above left). The bubble needs to be within the range indicated on the level for proper installation. The recline adjusts with a handle on the bottom of the seat front (above right) to help achieve the correct installation angle.
Ease of Install - Belt
The Chicco earned a respectable result for installation with the vehicle belt.
These photos show the belt paths for the rear-facing configuration (above left) and the forward-facing installation (above right).
The Chicco is a little convoluted with a belt path that requires seat dismantling before you can thread the belt. The belt goes under the seat cover, but there is no way to see what you are doing, so you will be threading it by feel. The belt lock-off is much easier to use than a lot of the competition, but threading the belt was tougher. The additional problem is that once you get the vehicle belt tight enough for a stable install, the belt lock-off is harder to use as the belt wrinkles and prohibits closing the lock. Overall the seat is easy enough to install, but it doesn't have the same level of stability as some of the competition, and we didn't like the final installation as much as the Britax options that feel more secure.
Ease of Use
The ease of use race was a tight one for this group of products with only a handful scoring well. The Chicco performed better than the average but nothing to rave about.
The buckle on the Chicco is stiff and awkward to use. The chest clip has a unique feature that provides two different widths. We assume this is for child comfort if they are wider or smaller than the average child, but we aren't sure the rare payoff is worth the inconvenience of this clip's functionality. The clip adjustment means you almost have to release it twice if you want to get it off when it is in the tightest position.
The harness height adjustment is a non-rethread style operated by squeezing the handle on the top of the seat/headrest (above left) and moving the mechanism up or down to the desired position. This feature is one of the easiest in the group to use, and we like that it can be done on the fly with the baby in the seat. This way, parents can make adjustments the moment they notice a need as opposed to putting it off and forgetting. This harness has six height options and two crotch strap positions.
Both the tightening strap and loosening button for the harness are near the foot of the seat. The strap moves smoothly and doesn't require excessive strength to use. The release button is exposed on top of the fabric and padding and depresses without hesitation.
The Chicco has one of the nicest LATCH storage designs in the group. The anchors and straps store in plastic pockets on the sides of the seat (above left). The anchors and straps only fit in the pocket one way, and it can take a few tries to figure it out, but once in, they are entirely out of the way. The tether strap and hook store in a plastic pocket on the back that also has a door. This pocket is easier to use than the side LATCH anchor storage and closes without hassle. The user manual fits in a pocket on the back of the seat (above right) where damage or loss of the manual is unlikely.
Due to the design of the seat fabric tucking in around the edges of the seat, it is tough to remove the cover for cleaning. We do like the look of this design, but it makes cleaning more of a project than some parents want. The cover can be machine washed on cold in a delicate cycle. It should only be air-dried.
The Chicco shares the highest score for comfort and quality with several other options. The Chicco has a lot to offer in this metric, and it shows when the products are side-by-side.
The fabric on the Chicco tucks into the shell and creates what looks like a seamless transition with no sharp edges or exposed attachments. The material is smooth, soft nylon that should be relatively easy to wipe down, but may also be prone to absorbing liquids. It manages to be soft to the touch without looking worn or flimsy. The padding is thick all around and feels sort of like a memory foam material. You definitely can't feel the hard plastic shell underneath the cushion. We think most little ones will find this seat cozy for even the longest car rides.
The shell of the seat is self-contained and has a smooth back and sides. This design means it is easy to clean and looks well put together. There are few to no small spaces for dirt and crud to collect. The dense protective foam inside the shell is Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), which is the industry standard and adequate protection. However, we prefer the use of Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) because it is more environmentally friendly and doesn't off-gas.
The overall fit and finish of the Chicco are impressive and one of the best in the group. Everything is contained on board the seat and for the most part, hidden away, giving it a sleek look and feel. The bottom is smooth and also has no rough edges, so you don't need to worry about potential damage to the vehicle seat.
The Chicco NextFit weighs about 25 lbs more or less depending on the configuration, and it is 19 inches at its widest point. These measurements make it one of the heavier and larger seats in the review. The saving grace here is most parents will rarely be moving or transporting a seat more than a handful of times. However, if you are a city dweller or prone to taking a taxi or Uber, you may want to rethink this and consider the smaller, more lightweight options. It also isn't the best seat if you need to fit three car seats or people across your back seat.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team