Chicco NextFit Zip Review
Pros: Zip-off cover, easy LATCH installation
Cons: Below-average crash test analysis results, heavy/wide
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Chicco NextFit Zip
$299.99 at Amazon
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|Pros||Zip-off cover, easy LATCH installation||Best crash test results, rear-facing till 50 lbs, price||Great crash test results, easy to use, attractive price, lighter||Price, easy to use, best head sensor crash test||Budget-friendly, better crash test results, narrow|
|Cons||Below-average crash test analysis results, heavy/wide||Not the best quality, harder belt installation||Harder to install using the vehicle belt||Less padding, somewhat harder to install using vehicle belt||Thin padding, harder to install, lower quality|
|Bottom Line||A generally average seat with few stand-out features or functionality beyond the easy to remove cover||Best crash test results on a budget-friendly seat that lets little ones sit rear-facing for longer||A lightweight, easy to use seat with excellent crash test result and price||Better crash test results make this easy to use, inexpensive seat a winner||Inexpensive choice with impressive crash test results|
|Rating Categories||Chicco NextFit Zip||Graco Extend2Fit||Britax Emblem||Britax Allegiance||Evenflo Tribute LX|
|Crash Test (35%)|
|Ease Of Install LATCH (20%)|
|Ease Of Install Belt (15%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Comfort Quality (10%)|
|Weight Size (5%)|
|Specs||Chicco NextFit Zip||Graco Extend2Fit||Britax Emblem||Britax Allegiance||Evenflo Tribute LX|
|Min/Max Rear Facing Passenger Weight||5 - 40 lbs||4 - 50 lbs||5 - 40 lbs||5 - 40 lbs||5 - 40 lbs|
|Min/Max Forward Facing Passenger Weight||22 - 65 lbs||22 - 64 lbs||20 - 65 lbs||20 - 65 lbs||22 - 40 lbs|
|Max Rear Facing Passenger Height||43"||Child's head must be at least 1 in. below the top of the head restraint||Child's head must be at least 1 in. below the top of the head restraint||Child's head must be at least 1 in. below the top of the head restraint||37"|
|Max Forward Facing Passenger Height||49"||49" and the child's ears must be below the top of the seat shell.||49" and the child's ears must be below the top of the head restraint.||49" and the child's ears must be below the top of the head restraint.||40"|
|Measured Rear Facing Seat Weight||25.6 lbs||18.7 lbs||18.8 lbs||18.5 lbs||9.3 lbs|
|Measured Forward Facing Seat Weight||25.6 lbs||18.7 lbs||18.8 lbs||18.5 lbs||9.1 lbs|
|Recline Positions||9||4 Rear Facing
3 Forward Facing
|1 Rear Facing
2 Forward Facing
|1 Rear Facing
2 Forward Facing
|1 Rear Facing
1 Forward Facing
|Max Recline Angle||54°||51°||42°||42°||45°|
|Shoulder Harness Positions||9||10||10||10||4|
|Crotch Strap Positions||2||2||2||2||2|
|Built in Lock Off||No||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|No Rethread Harness||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Onboard Manual Storage||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Level Indicator On Seat||Bubble Vial||Ball in Tube.||Line on Decal||Line on Decal||Line Molded onto Shell|
|Seat Lifespan||8 yrs||7 yrs||7||7||6 yrs|
|Warranty||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year||90 Days|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Italian brand Chicco has more than 30 years in the baby gear business. In the US, they are well-known for their Keyfit car seats and strollers. Launching in 1958, Pietro Catelli committed to developing better products for parents and their little ones by creating baby gear for babyhood.
The NextFit Zip did not perform as well in the crash test as the non-Zip version. The Zip exceeds the federal minimum safety restrictions described in the FMVSS 213. Which means it provides the basic level of protection as required by law. Therefore, it can be considered safe compared to the guidelines. However, some seats offer better results than others with significantly lower sensor results than competitors. These results indicate that some seats offer an additional margin of safety. The Chicco Zip is not one of these products, in our opinion, based on the data when compared side-by-side.
The charts below show the crash test results from sensors in the head and chest of the test dummies for the Zip and the seats with the best (lowest) results. The HIC sensor in the Zip testing has a result of 369, where the maximum allowed is 1000. Our tests' lowest and best result is 186, earned by the Britax Allegiance.
The Zip results for the chest sensor is 46, with a maximum allowable result of 60. The Clek Foonf earned the lowest result for the chest sensor recording with a 33. While neither result is exceptionally high, together they are only average compared to some of the competition.
Ease of Install - LATCH
Ease of installation using the LATCH method for the Zip is easy. It earns one of the highest scores for this metric, thanks mainly to the SuperCinch on the Chicco car seats.
The Supercinch is a one-side pull-strap that is unbelievably easy to tighten compared to the competition that often requires body weight and significant tugging to gain adequate tightness. Our testers felt the LATCH connectors were far more straightforward to use than installation with the vehicle belt. We like that the LATCH design is such that you do not need to move the LATCH from the back to the front. There is a slot that it slides through.
The level on the Zip is a liquid/bubble style that works well (above left). The recline adjustment works from a handle near the base (above right); it isn't ideally located and is easier to adjust before you finish the installation. We couldn't adjust it at all once the rear-facing installation configuration was complete.
Ease of Install - Belt
The Zip earned a significantly lower result for installation with the vehicle belt than the LATCH method.
The Chicco Zip belt threading operation is not fun. You need to remove a significant amount of padding to reach the pathway, and even the tiny female hands of one tester couldn't get through the opening, making it significantly harder to thread than if the holes were marginally bigger. It isn't so much that this seat is hard to install using the vehicle belt, but that it is more challenging than some of the competition where the design is more thoughtful.
It does have a built-in belt lock to help keep the seat tight on the strap without allowing it to travel along the vehicle belt. The lock-off seems to work well in our tests, but it isn't the most accessible design to use, and the threading of the belt was disliked by all testers.
Ease of Use
For ease of use, the Zip is once again average. While it has some better features like the SuperCinch strap, it also has some that are harder to use, like stiff buckles and buttons.
The Zip buckle is stiffer than much of the competition, and the chest clip is harder to use. While the button on the clip is easy enough, it doesn't spring apart like some of the competition and requires both hands to remove.
The height adjustment of the harness is a non-rethread design that moves with the headrest up or down. It is an easy feature to use and can be completed with a baby in the seat. This design means you can make adjustments when you need to instead of waiting for a more convenient time, allowing you to potentially forget or result in the baby riding around in an improperly fitted harness. The Zip harness has nine shoulder strap positions and two crotch strap positions.
The harness tightening strap and release button are on the end of the seat bottom. The strap is more difficult to pull than other tightening straps, but we like that it is shorter than most, so there is less to get in the way, become trapped under the seat, or be played with. The release button is bright yellow and easy to access, but it is tough to push, perhaps because the passenger has easy access to it instead of it being hidden like other seats.
The Chicco has good LATCH storage with anchors and straps that stow away in plastic bins on the shell. The design keeps the components out of the way, but they take some finagling as they are almost too big for the space and only fit one way. The user manual tucks into a pocket on the back of the seat near the bottom. The location is safe from curious little hands and potential accident liquids from damaging it.
The best part about the Zip is that the cover quickly and easily zips off and back on again for cleaning. Given a baby's penchant for making messes, this is a big deal and makes this a bonus over the non-zip version. It is machine washable on cold and gentle but needs to be towel and air-dried.
The Chicco earned a lower score for comfort and quality than the non-zip Chicco. We found some minor flaws and issues compared to the competition, but it still scored above average for this metric, and the quality is on par with the price.
The fabric on this Chicco zips on and off and looks pretty nice compared to the less expensive competition. It is softer than the previous Chicco seats we've tested but still feels easy to wipe clean. The zipper connecting the cover moved smoothly, and we had no trouble during testing. The padding is thicker than some seats but not as thick as others. We could feel the plastic shell through the cushion; however, it is still adequately padded for comfort.
The shell is self-contained with a smooth look on all sides. It is easy to clean, but the bright warning labels are a distraction and the cup holder is likely to get in the way or become filled with gunk. The dense impact foam is Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), which is pretty standard, but we prefer Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) because it doesn't off-gas and is more eco-friendly.
The fit and finish of the Zip are better than most, and we like the sleek look of the shell and fabric cover. However, it isn't as polished-looking as the non-zip brother we tested. Our seat had some wrinkles in the fabric and several loose threads we didn't see on higher-scoring competitors. SO, while most components are tucked neatly away, and the bottom is smooth, it just didn't match up when compared side-by-side.
The NextFit Zip is 25.56 lbs, making it heavier than the average seat and impacting its score in this metric. It measures 19 inches at its widest point across, affecting its ability to work with more than one other seat or passenger in a car, depending on the vehicle. Some of the competition is a small as 17 inches, so if you have two or even three seats to fit in your backseat, you'll want to take some measurements. Also, while you might only move your seat occasionally, making the heft less of a concern, this could be a deal-breaker if you plan to move your seat frequently or need to carry it.
— Wendy Schmitz and the BabyGearLab Review Team
Honest, objective reviews. Led by a Pediatrician.
BabyGearLab was founded by a Pediatrician Mom with a mission to provide a reliable, independent, source of information to new parents. Our experts have tested thousands of baby and kids products to share key performance, health, and safety findings. We spend tens of thousands of dollars crash testing car seats to inform our ratings. And, we combine our review work with gobs of expert parenting advice. To assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing by people who care.Learn More