The Chicco KeyFit 30 is a popular car seat for infants that receives accolades from parents and institutions alike. After extensive testing and side-by-side comparisons with the other products in this review, we think the hype is well-earned worthy offering an impressive option for parents that comes in with a lower price than other high-ranking choices. This seat has an easy to use LATCH system and earned better crash test results than much of the competition. While it isn't the best option for every family and is on the heavy side for city goers, it is the best thing going for the price and a seat we regularly recommend to friends.
Chicco KeyFit 30 Review
Pros: Easy LATCH installation, better crash test results, price
Cons: Coarse fabric, heavier, hard to install with a belt
Compare to Similar Products
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.
The Chicco Keyfit 30 has not changed since our original review and remains the same in 2018 as it was in 2015. New colors and patterns are available, but nothing in the design, features, or functionality has changed.
We evaluated the Chicco's performance in detail on seven key rating metrics, scoring it side-by-side against the top competing seats. A comparison of overall scores is shown in the chart below (the Chicco in blue).
Information on how the Chicco Keyfit 30 performed during testing for each metric 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 Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 has the best crash test results for the chest sensor, and the Chicco placed 10th of 15 in chest forces, but still well under the Federal safety standard.
Ease of Install - LATCH
The Chicco earned a 9 of 10 for ease of installation using the LATCH system. This score is a tie with the Cybex Aton 2 and the UPPAbaby Mesa, but one point lower than the Chicco Fit2 that earned a perfect 10.
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.
The Chicco has one of the most unique LATCH systems in the group. The connection anchors are the easier to use push button style with a hard plastic shell and red button release. When ready to use, you push the connectors on the U anchors on the vehicle and a single middle strap is used to tighten them (as opposed to a belt style strap on the side). The strap is easy to pull and getting the seat properly installed is simple using the pull strap.
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 difficult than it needs to be and the belt lock-off is harder to use. We had trouble getting the belt 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 option is installing it with the LATCH system.
Ease of Install - Without the Base
The Chicco earned a 4 of 10 for ease of install without the base, its lowest installation score. This makes the Keyfit 30 a poor option 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 properly 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, tying with the Chicco Fit2.
The Recaro Performance Coupe earned the high score of 8.
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 in the group 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 when putting the clip together.
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 shorten the harness for a secure fit. 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 harder than we would like it to be. The seat has three height options and one buckle strap location, and we found the process of getting the straps rethreaded to get the best fit 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 preferred competing seats with a non-rethread style height adjustment, like those found on the Chicco Fit2. These competing seat harness height adjustments work without moving straps, and with the baby in the seat. We also prefer the seats with more height variations for the shoulder straps, to increase the chances of getting the best fit for baby; the Keyfit 30 might be somewhat limiting and potentially prevent parents from getting the best fit for children of certain sizes.
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, and while it isn't as bad as the Graco options, it is annoying.
The Chicco base offers LATCH storage where the anchors tuck into pockets in the back of the base. While this does get them out of the way and prevent interference with connecting the carrier to the base, the tightening strap for the LATCH anchors does need to be rolled up and stowed to prevent 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 properly 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, and 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, the 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 to the abuse of typical babyhood.
The Chicco did score well for the quality of the handle. 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 we looked at including its bigger brother the Chicco Fit2 which weighs 12.07 lbs. However, it isn't as lightweight as the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio with a weight of 9.6 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 nice 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 works with Editors' Choice winners UPPAbaby Cruz, and BOB Revolution Flex, and the Top Pick for Versatility winner, UPPAbaby Vista. It also works with the Britax B-Agile 3 and the Baby Jogger City Mini.
This product came in third place overall with good scores in almost every metric. We think parents used to the Chicco level of quality will be happy with the purchase, and those looking for an easy to install LATCH option will also like the unique LATCH tightening strap. The best application for this seat is for parents looking for a top-notch seat without the high-end price tag of the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 or UPPAbaby Mesa. While it didn't win a Best Value award like the Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air, it is still $100 cheaper than the two choices that scored higher. We think most parents will appreciate what it has to offer, as well as the smaller price tag.
With a list price of $200 the Keyfit 30 is cheaper than about half the completion. It rides the line of affordable rather well by providing parents with a good seat that scored well. With an overall performance during testing closer to products considerably more expensive, it manages to hold its own in side-by-side comparisons and continues to impress. We think this indicates that it is a good value for what you get. However, it is not the least expensive "good" seat we tested. For about $40 less on average, parents can purchase the Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air which only scored 3 points lower than the Keyfit 30, and has a similar crash test score.
In side-by-side comparisons with the other products in this review, the Keyfit 30 impresses by being easy to use and easy to install using LATCH We like that this ranked third in the competition with a lower price than similarly performing products. We gave this option an Editors' Choice award for offering parents a better than average seat for a reasonable price that is compatible with most strollers including most award-winning options.
Other Versions and Accessories
Chicco offers a few infant seats to choose from. We also reviewed the Chicco Fit2 and it came in second place in this review.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.
Cozy Greens Back Seat Mirror from Cozy Greens is a great choice for while your child is rear facing. The mirror attaches to the back seat headrest with two adjustable straps that wrap both horizontally and vertically. The mirror has a convex shatterproof surface and pivots a few inches out from the base for the perfect angle. Once in the right spot, a device tightens the pivot point so the mirror can't be accidentally knocked out of position. One of the few downfalls of this mirror is you must have an adjustable headrest for attachment.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz