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Chicco KeyFit 30 Review

Chicco KeyFit 30
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $200.00 List | $179.99 at Amazon - 10% off
Pros:  Easy LATCH installation, better crash test results, price
Cons:  Coarse fabric, heavier, hard to install with a belt
Bottom line:  Crash test results and ease of install with a nice price make it a good choice for most families
Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 
Manufacturer:   Chicco

The Skinny

The Chicco KeyFit 30 is a popular car seat for infants that has received accolades from parents and institutions alike. After extensive testing and side-by-side comparisons with the other products in this review, we think it is worthy and gave it one of our Editors' Choice awards for offering an impressive option for parents that comes in with a lower price than the 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.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Infant Car Seats of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD
Mom-in-Chief
BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Tuesday
April 11, 2017

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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.

Editor's Update:
The Chicco Keyfit 30 has undergone no changes since our original review and remains the same in 2016 as it was in 2015. New colors and patterns are available, but nothing in the design, features or functionality of the seat has changed. The current Keyfit 30 remains the same as the infant seat we purchased and tested for this review.

Performance Comparison


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 calculate the overall score for each seat.

This chart shows the crash test data for the head sensor on the test dummy. The Chicco had the best crash test results with regard to Head Injury Criteria in this review.
This chart shows the crash test data for the head sensor on the test dummy. The Chicco had the best crash test results with regard to Head Injury Criteria in this review.

Crash Test


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.
This chart shows the comparison of the crash test data for the chest sensors for the Chicco Keyfit 30 and the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40  which had the best chest score in the group
This chart shows the comparison of the crash test data for the chest sensors for the Chicco Keyfit 30 and the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40, which had the best chest score in the group

The Chicco had relatively thick dense foam compared to the competition  but boasted no additional side impact protection features
The Chicco had relatively thick dense foam compared to the competition, but boasted no additional side impact protection features
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 this component was tested 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. 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 scored well for ease of install using the LATCH method
The Chicco scored well for ease of install using the LATCH method

The Chicco has one of the more unique LATCH system installs 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.

The LATCH pull strap near the foot of the base has a storage compartment for the strap so it doesn't interfere with attaching the carrier to the base
The LATCH pull strap near the foot of the base has a storage compartment for the strap so it doesn't interfere with attaching the carrier to the base
Adjusting the Chicco base until the bubble is between the lines on the level indicator helps ensure a properly installed car seat
Adjusting the Chicco base until the bubble is between the lines on the level indicator helps ensure a properly installed car seat
The bubble level indicator 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 had no need for rolled towels or pool noodles to level the seat when we tested this seat in different vehicles.

Installation of the Chicco using the vehicle belt is easier with the lap only belt as opposed to the lap/shoulder belt common in newer passenger vehicles
Installation of the Chicco using the vehicle belt is easier with the lap only belt as opposed to the lap/shoulder belt common in newer passenger vehicles

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. The high score is a 9 shared by Phil and Teds Alpha and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35, and the **Chicco Fit2 earned a 7.

The Chicco does offer a shoulder belt lock off threading point that helps make installation using a shoulder belt a little more secure
The Chicco does offer a shoulder belt lock off threading point that helps make installation using a shoulder belt a little more secure
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 it is more stable installed with the LATCH system.

We had to use multiple towels to achieve the best possible installation without a base for the Chicco Keyfit
We had to use multiple towels to achieve the best possible installation without a base for the Chicco Keyfit

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.


The Chicco uses the American belt path which threads the vehicle belt across the lower portion of the seat only
The Chicco uses the American belt path which threads the vehicle belt across the lower portion of the seat only
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, Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 and the UPPAbaby Mesa.


The Evenflo Embrace LX and the Recaro Performance Coupe both earned the high score for the metric of 8.

The Chicco buckle is easier to use than the Britax and Graco  but we found the chest clip to be more difficult than much of the competition
The Chicco buckle is easier to use than the Britax and Graco, but we found the chest clip to be more difficult than much of the competition

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.

The Chicco release button is easy to use situated on top of the padding. Most of the seats in this review have the button hidden under the padding to avoid accidental button pushing
The Chicco release button is easy to use situated on top of the padding. Most of the seats in this review have the button hidden under the padding to avoid accidental button pushing

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, Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 and the UPPAbaby Mesa. 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 release handle on the Chicco is large  brightly colored  and easy to use
The release handle on the Chicco is large, brightly colored, and easy to use
Attaching the seat onto the base is simple with the Keyfit 30, and the carrier seems to just 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, instead of relying on the click connection sound. Squeezing the release handle on the back of the carrier will release the carrier connection from the base. Parents can use the release handle to on the back of the seat to help them lift the carrier up and out of the car.

The buttons to activate the handle on the Chicco are easy to press
The buttons to activate the handle on the Chicco are easy to press


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 infant insert on the Chicco is covered in really soft fabric. Unfortunately  the main seat fabric is coarse and not as nice to the touch
The infant insert on the Chicco is covered in really soft fabric. Unfortunately, the main seat fabric is coarse and not as nice to the touch

Comfort/Quality


The Chicco earned a 5 of 10 for comfort and quality, coming in just below average for the products in this review. The Chicco Fit2, and the Peg Perego both earned 8.


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 canopy on the Keyfit 30 is rather small and unimpressive. The heavy fabric prevents it from fully opening
The canopy on the Keyfit 30 is rather small and unimpressive. The heavy fabric prevents it from fully opening
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 the most of the cheaper options we tested.

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 Chicco weighs over 10 pounds  which is heavier than average for the group
The Chicco weighs over 10 pounds, which is heavier than average for the group

Weight


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.

Stroller Compatibility


This Chicco seat is compatible with Chicco brand strollers. The Chicco Keyfit Caddy earned a high rank and award for best frames troller in our Best acr 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 compatiblity 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 Best Value winners, Britax B-Agile 3 and the Baby Jogger City Mini.

Best Applications


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.

Value


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 cheapest "good" seat in our review. 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.

Overall  the Chicco Keyfit 30 impressed us compared to the competition in our tests. Here with car seat base (left)  infant insert (center)  and infant car seat (right).
Overall, the Chicco Keyfit 30 impressed us compared to the competition in our tests. Here with car seat base (left), infant insert (center), and infant car seat (right).

Conclusion


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 awrard-winning options.

Other Versions and Accessories


KeyFit 30 Zip
KeyFit 30 Zip
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 foot muff that folds open for easy access and a zippered mesh panel extension in the canopy.

The Cozy Greens back seat mirror
The Cozy Greens back seat mirror
This Back Seat Mirror from Cozy Greens is an accessory that we recommend while your child is rear facing. The mirror attaches to the backseat 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.

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Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz

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Most recent review: April 11, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

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