You won't be disappointed with the Chicco KeyFit 30, which earned our Best Value award due to above average performance combined with an affordable price. The KeyFit 30 delivered one of the top performances in crash testing, and is also one of the easiest to install using the LATCH system. It is an attractive seat, and while not the least expensive, it is quite affordable and offers strong value for the cost. It is a little bit heavier than some competitors, but not excessively so, and the fabric, while durable, is a bit less soft that some options. That said, this is a seat we regularly recommend to friends without hesitation.
Chicco KeyFit 30 Review
Pros: Easy LATCH installation, better crash test results, price
Cons: Coarse fabric, heavier, hard to install without the base
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|Pros||Easy LATCH installation, better crash test results, price||Better crash test results, anti-rebound bar, easy install||Best crash results, easy LATCH, additional safety features, comfy||Load leg, easy belt install with and without base||Super easy LATCH install, easy to use, nice comfort and quality|
|Cons||Coarse fabric, heavier, hard to install without the base||Heavier, harder to install LATCH system, few strollers are compatible||Higher price, hard to use||Price, heavy carrier||Heavy, only compatible with Chicco strollers so far|
|Bottom Line||Crash test results and ease of install with a nice price make it a good choice for most families||A great all-around seat with good crash test results, but limited stroller options||Compelling, quality seat with additional safety features and the best crash test score||Impressive performance but somewhat heavy and more money than most||Easy to install and use seat made with quality materials, but has limited stroller options|
|Rating Categories||Chicco KeyFit 30||Peg Perego Primo...||Cybex Aton 2||Peg Perego Nido||Chicco Fit2|
|Crash Test (20%)|
|Ease Of Install LATCH (20%)|
|Ease Of Install Belt (10%)|
|Ease Of Install W O Base (5%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Comfort Quality (15%)|
|Weight Size (15%)|
|Specs||Chicco KeyFit 30||Peg Perego Primo...||Cybex Aton 2||Peg Perego Nido||Chicco Fit2|
|Minimum Passenger Weight||4 lbs||4 lbs||4 lbs||4 lbs||4 lbs|
|Max Passenger Weight||30 lbs||35 lbs||35 lbs||35 lbs||35 lbs|
|Max Passenger Height||30"||32"||30"||32"||35"|
|Belt Routing Style||American||European||European||European||American|
|Seat Weight||10.1 lbs||9.6 lbs||9.3 lbs||10.2 lbs||12.1 lbs|
|Shoulder Harness Positions||3||6||3||6||7|
|Crotch Strap Positions||1||1||1||2||2|
|Built in Lock Off||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Anti-rebound Device||High Base Back||Yes||High Base Back||Yes||Yes|
|Locking Handle Positions||3||5||3||5||4|
|Allowed Handle Positions For Auto Travel||Any||1 for Base Install (even with the top of the seat),
1 for Seat Only Install (all the way forward)
|Carry Position||1 for Base Install (even with the top of the seat),
1 for Seat Only Install (all the way forward)
|Stage 1: Any
Stage 2: Base Storage Position (behind the seat)
|No Rethread Harness||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Onboard Manual Storage||Storage Compartment on the front of the base.||Stores in a hard flip down pocket on the back of the seat.||Stashes in a pocket under the bottom of the seat.||Stores in a hard flip down pocket on the back of the seat.||Slot in head of base|
|Level Indicator On Base||Bubble Vial||Bubble Vial||Ball In Tube||Bubble Vial||Bubble Indicator|
|Level Indicator On Seat||Line On Decal||Line On Decal||Line On Decal||Line On Decal||Level Line On Seat Label|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Chicco (kee-ko) is the largest baby-centric brand in Europe and is part of the Artsana Group. The Artsana Group is a lifestyle company that offers a variety of products that include baby feeding, gear, and medical supplies. Chicco was founded by Enrico Catelli and offers baby-related gear for children from before birth to preschool age, and their products can currently be found in more than 120 countries.
We evaluated the Chicco's (in blue) performance in detail on seven key rating metrics, scoring it side-by-side against the top competing seats.
Information on how the Chicco performed during testing is provided below. Individual metric scores were used to compute the total score for each car seat.
In our evaluation of the crash test results, the Chicco showed an additional margin of protection over much of the competition with results for G forces that were lower than most.
For the head sensor on the crash test dummy, the Chicco had the best crash test results in the group and can be considered to provide significantly better protection than required by the Federal safety standards. The following charts show the Chicco test results (in black) compared to the seat with the best crash test scores for both head and chest (in green). The Cybex Aton 2 has the best crash test results for the chest sensor with a 44, while the Chicco earned a 51 where 60 is the maximum allowed and a lower result is better.
The Chicco Keyfit has energy-absorbing foam for side impact protection (SIP) as its one marketing claim for an additional safety feature. SIP is not a defined industry term and therefore can mean different things to different manufacturers, and it is hard to tell if they tested this component or what the company feels it contributes to the seats overall performance.
Ease of Install - LATCH
The Chicco earned a 9 of 10 for ease of installation using the LATCH system.
All high ranking products in this metric offer something unique when it came to LATCH design and their ease of install reflects this attempt to make installation easier.
This Chicco also has a unique LATCH system. The connection anchors are the easy to use push style with a hard plastic shell and red button release. After you attach the LATCH anchors on the vehicle, a single middle strap is used to tighten them. The strap is comfortable to pull and installing the seat is simple using the pull strap (below left).
The bubble level indicator (above right) on the base helps parents find the proper installation angle. This base has a level on both sides so parents can easily see if the angle is correct. To help achieve the right angle the base also comes with an adjustable foot. We did not need rolled towels or pool noodles to level the seat.
Ease of Install - Belt
It is a good thing the Chicco is so easy to install using the LATCH method because it isn't that easy to install using a vehicle seat belt.
The Chicco earned a 6 of 10 in this test, which is just below average for the group.
This seat has a belt lock-off, but unlike some of the competition, the belt path is not color-coded. Threading the belt is more complicated than it needs to be and the belt lock-off is harder to use. We had trouble getting the strap under the lock-off without it getting wrinkled or folded over. Even when in the lock-off correctly, the base can still work its way up the side of the shoulder belt and tip slightly to the side. It is better with a lap belt, but those are becoming more uncommon in newer passenger vehicles. We feel the most stable installation is the LATCH system.
Ease of Install - Without the Base
The Chicco earned a 4 of 10 for ease of install without the base, this is its lowest installation score. This means the Keyfit 30 a poor choice for parents that may frequent public transportation and may need to install their seat without the base.
This seat uses the American belt path, and it does not have a color-coded belt path. Even though the belt is relatively easy to thread, we still had significant difficulties getting this seat installed and secured without the base.
We had to use two towels to get the right angle and secure it tight enough. Even then, the seat felt very unstable and not like one we'd want to use with our baby. Given that the European method feels more stable to us, we think this seat would benefit from this path that utilizes the shoulder strap around the back of the seat.
Ease of Use
The Chicco earned a 7 of 10 for ease of use.
This score is a tie with Chicco's higher-end model, the Chicco Fit2.
This buckle feels less stiff than the Britax B-Safe 35 and is easier to manage without the additional padding surrounding the buckle. The chest clip isn't the most rigid but is not as easy to depress and slide apart as some of the others. Some testers had difficulty getting thumbs caught in the ring that surrounds the button, but overall it is easy to connect and mate-up the two sides.
Tightening the harness on this car seat is relatively easy and tightens via a strap near the foot of the carrier that is pulled to tighten the harness. The release button is also located near the foot of the carrier above the strap and is depressed while you pull the harness to loosen. The button is above the padding, which makes it easy to access.
Adjusting the shoulder strap height on the Chicco is challenging. The seat has three height options and one buckle strap location, and we found the process of getting the straps rethreaded to be annoying. The shoulder straps meet at a T style splitter plate, and the small loops on the straps make it easier to get them through the slots than some of the competition, but harder to reattach to the splitter.
We prefer competing seats with a non-rethread style height adjustment, like those found on the Chicco Fit2. These height adjustments work without moving straps, and with the baby in the seat. We also prefer the car seats with more height variations for the shoulder straps, to increase the chances of getting the best fit.
The handle on this seat operates by squeezing the levers on both sides of the seat near the pivot point and rotating the handle to the desired position. It has three possible positions, and any of them are allowed when driving. We had difficulty with the handle and canopy rubbing in some positions.
Carrier and Base Connection
Attaching the seat onto the base is simple, and the carrier seems to fall into place. It has no visual indicator for attachment, but we didn't have any problems during our tests. Giving the carrier a good tug can help parents ensure it is truly connected properly. Squeezing the release handle on the back of the carrier will release the carrier connection from the base. Parents can use the release handle on the back of the seat to help them lift the carrier out of the car.
LATCH Anchor and Manual Storage
The Chicco LATCH anchors tuck into pockets in the back of the base. While this gets them out of the way and prevents interference with connecting the carrier to the base, the tightening strap for the LATCH anchors needs to be rolled up and stowed to avoid interference with the carrier attaching to the base. To prevent a potential connection problem, we suggest parents take the extra time during installation to tuck the anchor straps out of the way.
The Chicco earned a 5 of 10 for comfort and quality, coming in just below average for the products in this review.
While the Chicco padding is thick all the way around, the fabric covering it is coarse and unfriendly compared to much of the competition. The head and body cushion is softer and nicer, but it is still stiffer than we would like for something that is rubbing on baby's sensitive skin. Plus, your baby will outgrow the insert at some point and then will be stuck with the coarser fabric underneath. The shell underneath the padding and fabric is above average and feels like it will hold up over time.
The fit and finish of this product are below average. It doesn't look as sleek as much of the competition, and it suffers by comparison. There is something sort of undone feeling as if the fabric is intended for a larger seat, making it frumpy and heavy. However, we still prefer it over most of the cheaper options we tested and it suits the price point.
The handle moves smoothly and works well. It does not have any rough edges or a strange design that prevents it from being used or held comfortably. It works well in conjunction with the canopy when both are upright, the position that causes the most complication for other models. The canopy itself is on the small side compared to the competition.
The Keyfit weighs in at 10.6 lbs, making it on the heavier side for the group. It is lighter than the heaviest products including the Chicco Fit2 which weighs 12.07 lbs.
Choosing a seat based on carrier weight is not the best idea. While weight might be important, there are other aspects of car seats that should rank higher like the ease of installation and crash test scores. Pairing your seat with a frame stroller or full-size stroller means you won't be carrying the seat very often or very far. If a stroller isn't your bag, you can up your baby bonding time by wearing baby in a front carrier. This method of baby transport is soothing for baby, keeps your hands virtually free to use, and saves money over the cost of a stroller.
This Chicco seat is compatible with Chicco brand strollers. The Chicco Shuttle earned a high rank and award for best frame stroller in our Best car seat and stroller combo review. However, if you are looking for a full-size stroller to combine with your car seat, the Keyfit has one of the largest compatibility with brands outside of its own. The Keyfit 30 also works with the UPPAbaby Cruz, BOB Revolution Flex, and the UPPAbaby Vista and many others.
Cozy Greens Back Seat Mirror from Cozy Greens is a great choice rear-facing car seats. The mirror attaches to the back seat headrest with two adjustable straps. The mirror has a convex shatterproof surface and pivots a few inches out from the base for the perfect angle.
Chicco offers a variety of infant seats. We tested the Chicco Fit2 and it performed well earning an Editors' Choice award.Some of the other options in the Chicco lineup include variation in the fabric covering the seat:
- The Chicco KeyFit 30 Magic comes with a footmuff that folds open for easy access and a zippered mesh panel extension in the canopy.
- The Chicco KeyFit 30 Zip has a zipper removable foot muff, canopy, and seat cover for easy washing.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz