Baby Trend EZ Flex-Loc Review
Pros: Inexpensive, good HIC score, easy to install with 2 methods
Cons: Less padding, lower quality, harder to install with belt
Manufacturer: Baby Trend
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Baby Trend company has been in juvenile products business for over 26 years. They design a multitude of baby-centric gear from diaper pails to car seats. The company offers affordable baby products with a lineup that includes innovative products like the first sit and stand stroller.
The EZ scores about average for crash test analysis. This seat complies with federal guidelines outlined in FMVSS 213, and is, therefore, considered safe with results below the maximum allowed benchmarks for the head and chest sensors.
The charts below show comparisons between the Baby Trend seat and the best scores in this review. The head sensor (HIC) best result goes to the Chicco Keyfit 30, with a result of 330. The Baby Trend result is 617, which is the highest result for the group (lower is better here and the maximum allowed is 1000).
The Cybex Aton 2 has the lowest force exerted on the chest (in black) with a score of 44 where the maximum allowed is 60. The EZ has a score of 51, which is almost average in the review. The chart below shows a comparison of the two results.
The combination of the two results hurt the Baby Trend's overall score as neither result were standouts.
Ease of Install - LATCH
The EZ earned a higher than average result for installation using LATCH compared to the rest of the competition.
The EZ has a useful level on the side of the carrier (above left) and the recline can be adjusted using the button on the bottom of the base (above right) which is nicely placed and easy to use.
This seat has truly unique LATCH connectors that are easier to get on and off of the anchors. We really liked the different design that is very user friendly for those with weak fingers or smaller hands requiring less pressure than other styles of LATCH.
Ease of Install - Belt
Installing the EZ with a vehicle belt isn't the best and is harder than much of the competition.
While it can be done and wasn't the worst of the group, it wouldn't be our top choice of installation method for this seat.
This seat has a belt lock-off built into the base and it isn't hard to use but it doesn't seem to lock the seat to the belt and we experienced some shifting along the belt which made it feel less stable. It also felt more stable when using the lap-only belt as you might find in a center seat location, as opposed to the lap/shoulder combo commonly found on the side positions.
Ease of Install - Without the Base
INstalling the EX without the base is fairly straightforward and an installation method it performed well in during testing.
While it didn't earn top marks it is better than average, and not challenging and uses the more straightforward American path with the seatbelt across the foot of the carrier. The process is quick and user-friendly. It feels relatively stable once installed. All of this makes the EZ a potential contender for a travel car seat or for use on public transportation by urbanites.
Ease of Use
The EZ is only average for ease of use with fewer features and less fancy additions than the more expensive competition.
The buckle is somewhat stiff but its the chest clip that is the real problem. The design isn't hand-friendly and wasn't as simple as much of the competition. The buckle is the nesting style that can take more effort to assemble.
Tightening the harness isn't as smooth as it could be but the release button is large and easy to push.
Adjusting the harness shoulder height is a rethread operation where you pull the straps of a back splitter and rethread them through different slots o the seatback before putting them back on the splitter. This process isn't hard but it is more time consuming than the non-rethread style and it typically requires removing the baby from the carrier.
The EZ has a uniquely shaped handle with a tringle shaped padded grip in the middle. We appreciate the effort to increase the hold possibilities for comfort. The handle moves smoothly in three positions and doesn't rub the canopy in the upright position.
Carrier and Base Connection
Connecting the carrier to the base isn't hard but it doesn't just fall into place like some of the competition. You have to use some force and apply pressure down to get the audible click.
LATCH Anchor and Manual Storage
The EZ has user manual storage on the bottom of the carrier. It's nice to have the manual on the carrier if you are using it sans base, but it isn't really secure in its design and we worry it will fall out or get damaged thanks to lack of protection.
The Baby Trend isn't the best for comfort or quality with less padding and rougher fabric than most of the competition. However, given the lower price, the materials are better than you might accept.
The canopy on the EZ is somewhat frumpy looking, which would be okay if it stayed open when you moved it but it doesn't. While minor, this is an attention to detail example that is true of most things on this seat. In general, this seat has some nice features like the padded triangle grip on the handle, but it may not be one you can pass down to multiple children.
The EZ is one of the lighter carriers in the group with a weight of 8.63 lbs. This weight makes it a potential candidate for travel or using without a base in an urban environment where carrying a base would be inconvenient.
While not the number one factor when choosing a seat, it can be useful to consider if you travel frequently or what a travel seat.
The EZ is not compatible with many strollers outside of the Baby Trend world. It will work with the Baby Trend Sit N' Stand Double, Baby Trend Navigator, and the Baby Trend Snap-N-Go EX Universal a frame stroller. None of these strollers performed well in our tests and we are not big fans of the net and strap-in configuration of the Universal frame stroller.
— Wendy Schmitz, and BabyGearLab Review Team