Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX Review
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|Bottom Line||Low weight can't make up for disappointing crash test results||An excellent quality seat with impressive crash tests, but poor stroller compatibility||A reasonably priced seat with better crash-test analysis results that is super easy to install but on the heavy side for regular carrying||Good crash test results and a lower price make it a nice option for most families||Wallet-friendly car seat that is easy to install that would make a good second seat|
|Rating Categories||Graco SnugRide 35 L...||Peg Perego Primo Vi...||Chicco KeyFit 35||Chicco KeyFit 30||Baby Trend EZ Flex-Loc|
|Crash Test (20%)|
|Ease of Install - LATCH (20%)|
|Ease of Install - Belt (10%)|
|Ease of Install -w/o Base (5%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Graco SnugRide 35 L...||Peg Perego Primo Vi...||Chicco KeyFit 35||Chicco KeyFit 30||Baby Trend EZ Flex-Loc|
|Crash Test HIC Score||693||491||342||330||617|
|Crash Test Chest G Clip||53||46||51||50.5||51|
|Minimum Passenger Weight||4 lbs||4 lbs||4 lbs||4 lbs||4 lbs|
|Max Passenger Weight||35 lbs||35 lbs||35 lbs||30 lbs||30 lbs|
|Max Passenger Height||32"||32"||32"||30"||30"|
|Belt Routing Style||American||European||European||American||European|
|Seat Weight||7.4 lbs||9.6 lbs||10.9 lbs||10.1 lbs||8.6 lbs|
|Shoulder Harness Positions||4||6||5||3||3|
|Crotch Strap Positions||2||1||1||1||1|
|Built in Lock Off||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Anti-rebound Device||High Back Base||Yes||Yes Built in||High Back Base||No|
|Locking Handle Positions||4||5||4||3||3|
|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)
|No Rethread Harness||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Onboard Manual Storage||Clips under the base.||Stores in a hard flip down pocket on the back of the seat.||Storage Compartment on front of the base.||Storage Compartment on the front of the base.||On the back of the seat towards the bottom.|
|Level Indicator On Base||Weighted Wheel/Dial||Bubble Vial||Bubble Indicator||Bubble Vial||None|
|Level Indicator On Seat||Line On Decal||Line On Decal||Line on Decal||Line On Decal||Hanging Indicator|
Our Analysis and Test Results
In 1942, Russell Gray and Robert Cone launched the Graco metal fabrication company. Gray decided to leave the company after 11 years of service, prompting Robert to hire engineer David Saint to help create new products. Taking inspiration from a fellow worker, Saint created a swing for soothing babies from the idea of an outdoor glider swing. The baby swing was an immediate success, and Graco sold millions and became one of the world's most successful baby product producers. They make everything from car seats and strollers to top-ranked travel cribs and favorite high chairs.
Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX earned an overall below-average result for crash test analysis with one of the group's lowest results. Its HIC score is 693, where the maximum allowed is 1000, and a lower score is better.
The best in the bunch is the Chicco Keyfit 30 with 330, more than half the amount of forces seen in the SnugRide. The chart above compares the two seats' HIC results from their actual test data.
For the chest sensor (g score) (above chart), the SnugRide result is 53, where the maximum allowed is 60, and once again, a lower number is ideal. While it is better than the maximum allowed, the best in the group had a sensor reading of only 44 for the Cybex Aton 2 when using the load leg.
The combination of the HIC and chest sensor result were used to compare the SnugRide to the competition. Even when the results are combined, it fails to meet the average for the group. While it passes the federal guidelines for safety, in our opinion, it doesn't seem to offer an additional margin of safety when compared to the higher scoring options.
Ease of Install - LATCH
The Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX earns an average score for installation using the LATCH method. It isn't difficult, but it lacks features that could make it easier or more straightforward, such as self-ratcheting straps.
The LATCH anchors are the less expensive clip kind that is easy to connect but more challenging to take off. The straps are harder to tighten, and you'll need some bodyweight or a knee in the seat to get them tight enough. Once the straps are tight, it is a beast to get them loose again for base removal. If you don't need to move the base very often, this might be less of a concern for you, but if you plan to move it from car to car regularly, take heed. In our tests, the base had some shifting and travel in the Ford truck, but it felt more stable in our sedan vehicles.
There is a handle under the carrier on the base (above left) to adjust the angle of the seat for installation. The Graco has a level indicator on the side of the base (above right) for proper installation. None of the vehicles required a pool noodle or towel for proper installation.
Ease of Install - Belt
The Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX can be installed using the vehicle belt and the base. However, it didn't score well using this method compared to the other seats in our tests. Threading the belt isn't difficult, but the seat didn't feel as stable as it did without the base, depending on the test car. The Ford truck's flat seats created a more solid combination than the Audi or Nissan Altima installation. This hurt its overall score for installation using the vehicle belt as the base's foot seemed to have more movement than the competition. There is no belt lock-off on this model, which allows the base to travel along the vehicle belt, which is why we are big fans of the belt lock-off in general.
Ease of Install - Without the Base
Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX can be installed without the base, and this is its easiest installation configuration. The carrier uses the American belt path across the carrier's foot, and the belt pathway is obvious. It felt very stable and solid with no movement in our three test vehicles.
Ease of Use
Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX is harder to use than most of the competition, with a lower result in this metric than the average seat. While no infant car seat is truly frustrating, this option's daily use features might cause some parents' problems.
This Graco has a better buckle than those we've seen on previous Graco options. It is easier to press and doesn't require two fingers or any cursing. The chest clip is also somewhat better with an easier to slide design.
Tightening and loosening the harness is straightforward with no problems during testing. This Lite LX has shoulder straps that use the rethread adjustment method with a T splitter in the back. The padding is minimal, so there isn't much in the way, and the holes are an adequate size to get the job done quickly. The shoulder straps have 4 available positions, while the crotch buckle has two.
The handle on this Graco rotates smoothly on a pivot, and we are glad to see it no longer has the canopy handle collision problem we've seen on almost every other Graco seat. It has four possible positions, and you can choose any of them while driving.
Carrier and Base Connection
Installing the carrier on the base is a simple process, didn't require any extra force during testing, and there was nothing in the way to cause problems. The handle on the back of the seat is easy to squeeze when ready to release the carrier.
LATCH Anchors and Manual Storage
The LATCH anchors clip onto small plastic slots towards the front of the base. The location keeps the straps out of the way when connecting the carrier to the base and out of passengers' reach. It is simple and uninspired, but it does the job. The manual stows on the bottom of the base, which is a bummer if you use it sans base and forget how to install it, the manual will be nowhere around.
The price of this Graco should give you some indication of the level of comfort and quality you can expect. While it will get you through the months of infanthood suitable for a car seat of this type, it isn't going to impress you with soft fabrics and plush padding. This Graco has material that feels like a cheap kid's coat, and while it wipes clean easily, it doesn't feel breathable or skin-friendly to us. The padding is minimal, and the overall look and feel are of a bargain seat, which it is.
The Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX is one of the group's lightest options, with a carrier weight of only 7.44 lbs. For anyone who knows they will be carrying their little one for extended periods in the car seat carrier, this lower weight can seem ideal. We caution against making a buying decision based on this factor alone. The crash test analysis for this seat was sub-par, and there are lightweight options (though perhaps heavier than the SnugRide) with better crash results in the group.
Should You Buy the SnugRide 35 Lite LX ?
Sadly, no. This seat scored lower overall and in most metrics than the majority of the competition. Even if you are married to the Graco brand, we think this seat is not the one for you. Despite sporting a lower price tag we assume parents will love, we don't think the savings is worth the poor performance and sub-par crash test results.
What Other Infant Car Seat Should You Consider?
We prefer the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 over the Lite LX. This option earned higher scores in most metrics. It is easier to install in both methods and has a significantly higher crash test score. While it is more expensive, you do get more bang for your buck no matter what your car seat goals. If your budget can stretch a bit, we love the Chicco Keyfit 30. This seat has the best HIC result in the group, is compatible with most strollers, and is easy to install with LATCH.