In-depth reviews guided by a Pediatrician

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Review

Generally average seat, but the price is right for the budget-minded
Best Value Award
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Price:   $180 List | $170 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, better crash results, easy install with belt
Cons:  Harder to use, lower quality
Manufacturer:   Graco
By Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz  ⋅  Jun 3, 2019
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 14
  • Crash Test - 20% 7
  • Ease of Install - LATCH - 20% 7
  • Ease of Install - Belt - 10% 9
  • Ease of Install - w/o Base - 5% 7
  • Ease of Use - 15% 5
  • Comfort / Quality - 15% 5
  • Weight / Size - 15% 7

The Skinny

The Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 is a budget-friendly car seat with slightly better than average scores in several metrics, making it a contender for families with less money to spend. This Graco is nicer than previous models with soft fabric and thicker padding than many Gracos. It has a better than the average crash test score, and it is easy to install using the vehicle belt. While there are some things to like about the Graco, it isn't the best quality, and it still struggles with a canopy handle collision problem. If your wallet allows you to spend more, you should probably consider other options. Nevertheless, if your budget is limited, this seat is one to consider as it provides better than average crash results with easy installation.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Value Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  Editors' Choice Award 
Price $180.00 List
$169.99 at Amazon - 6% off
$300.00 List
$229.92 at Amazon - 23% off
$320.00 List
$209.99 at Amazon - 34% off
$350.00 List
$349.99 at Amazon
$280.00 List
$279.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Inexpensive, better crash results, easy install with beltBetter crash test results, anti-rebound bar, easy installBest crash results, easy LATCH, additional safety features, comfyLoad leg, easy belt install with and without baseSuper easy LATCH install, easy to use, nice comfort and quality
Cons Harder to use, lower qualityHeavier, harder to install LATCH system, few strollers are compatibleHigher price, hard to usePrice, heavy carrierHeavy, only compatible with limited strollers
Bottom Line Generally average seat, but the price is right for the budget-mindedA great all-around seat with good crash test results, but limited stroller optionsCompelling, quality seat with additional safety features and the best crash test scoreImpressive performance but somewhat heavy and more money than mostEasy to install and use seat made with quality materials, but has limited stroller options
Rating Categories Graco SnugRide... Peg Perego Primo... Cybex Aton 2 Peg Perego Nido Chicco Fit2
Crash Test (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
Ease Of Install LATCH (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
10
Ease Of Install Belt (10%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
Ease Of Install W O Base (5%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
5
10
0
10
10
0
8
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
7
Comfort Quality (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
Weight Size (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
5
10
0
2
Specs Graco SnugRide... 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 35 lbs 35 lbs 35 lbs 35 lbs 35 lbs
Max Passenger Height 32" 32" 30" 32" 35"
Belt Routing Style American European European European American
Seat Weight 8.5 lbs 9.6 lbs 9.3 lbs 10.2 lbs 12.1 lbs
Recline Positions 4 Infinite 4 Infinite 5
Shoulder Harness Positions 4 6 3 6 7
Crotch Strap Positions 2 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
Load Leg No No Yes Yes No
Locking Handle Positions 4 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)
Head Support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Newborn Insert Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
No Rethread Harness No Yes No Yes Yes
Onboard Manual Storage Clips under 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 Weighted Wheel/Dial 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

When Russell Gray and Robert Cone launched the Graco company in 1942, but it only fabricated car parts. After Gray left the company, the remaining partner hired an engineer to move Graco into a new kind of product, including the first baby swing. This innovative swing was trendy, making Graco a household name. Graco is currently a leader for baby products.

Performance Comparison



The SnugRide 35 has traditional foam padding to absorb the energy that can result from an impact during a crash.
The SnugRide 35 has traditional foam padding to absorb the energy that can result from an impact during a crash.

Crash Test


The SnugLock 35 crash test results are somewhat better and worse than average, with one sensor reading being close to the best result while the other sensor offering a result closer to the worst result in the review.


For the head sensor (HIC score), the Graco results are 606, where the maximum allowed is 1000, and a lower number is better. The best results in the review are those of the Chicco Keyfit 30 (see comparison below) with a 330.

The Chicco Keyfit 30 has the best HIC sensor result and this graph shows a comparison between it and the SnugLock 35.
The Chicco Keyfit 30 has the best HIC sensor result and this graph shows a comparison between it and the SnugLock 35.

The chest sensor data is better with a result of 46, where the maximum allowed is 60, and a lower number is better. The best for this sensor is 44 earned by the Cybex Aton 2, and a comparison is below.


These results mean the combined results for this Graco are better than average for the group. While we wish the HIC sensor result was better, the combined results are good considering the budget-friendly price of the seat.

LATCH installation on the Graco SnugLock is not as easy as installing the base using the vehicle belt in our tests.
LATCH installation on the Graco SnugLock is not as easy as installing the base using the vehicle belt in our tests.

Ease of Install - LATCH


The SnugLock 35 has the clip-style LATCH anchors that are often easier to put on and harder to take off. Given that this process should be easier than installation using the vehicle belt, it is a bummer that the clip style makes it more challenging.


The clip style of LATCH anchors is easy to attach but harder to remove than the push button style of anchor.
The belt lock off on the Graco helps to tighten the LATCH strap to ensure a snug fit to the vehicle.

The anchors are easy enough to attach to the vehicle (above left), and the LATCH strap tightens across the lock off (above right), which will help further tighten the strap when closed. The base feels super stable. This installation method is the second easiest method for the Graco, rivaled only by installation using the vehicle belt.

Using the lock off on the Graco is relatively simple with a center located push button.
Using the lock off on the Graco is relatively simple with a center located push button.

Ease of Install - Belt


You can install the SnugLock 35 using the vehicle belt and the base. This installation method is the easiest for this seat.


Installation is simple, and the belt lock-off on the base helps tighten the vehicle belt so you can ensure a snug fit.

The Graco has an adjustable foot on the base to help parents achieve the right angle for installation.
The level on the base of the Graco SnugLock 35 indicates when the seat is correctly positioned based on the age of your baby.

The base includes both an adjustment foot (above left) to ensure that you install the base correctly and a level (above right) with an indicator range for correct installation.

Installing the Graco without the base is straightforward with the simple American belt path that travels across the lower end of the carrier.
Installing the Graco without the base is straightforward with the simple American belt path that travels across the lower end of the carrier.

Ease of Install - Without the Base


You can install the SnugLock 35 without the base using the American belt path. It is average compared to the competition for ease of installation using this method.


Installation is straightforward and includes using the vehicle belt across the lower portion of the carrier and pulling it tight across the bottom for a snug fit. The carrier feels secure, and we didn't need to use a towel or pool noodle. The American belt path does not require the use of the vehicle shoulder strap.

Tightening the Graco's harness is straightforward with an easy to pull strap on the foot of the carrier.
Tightening the Graco's harness is straightforward with an easy to pull strap on the foot of the carrier.

Ease of Use


This Graco is more challenging to use than most of the competition in part thanks to what appears to be a design flaw of the handle and canopy.


This canopy handle problem results in rubbing and difficulty opening the canopy while using the handle.

The harness on the Graco isn't difficult to use  but the buckle button is really stiff.
The harness on the Graco isn't difficult to use, but the buckle button is really stiff.

Harness


This buckle and harness are typical Graco and on par with discontinued Graco infant car seats. The buckle is stiff and hard to push, and the chest clip doesn't slide as smooth as it could, and while neither are impossible, they aren't the easiest either. Tightening and releasing the harness is average with an accessible button and a relatively smooth sliding strap located at the foot of the carrier. This Graco has a rethread height adjustment with a T splitter. The holes are large and easy enough to use. The harness has four shoulder height positions, and the crotch strap has 2.

The handle on the Graco is easy to operate with buttons on each side  but the upright position causes collision problems with the canopy.
The handle on the Graco is easy to operate with buttons on each side, but the upright position causes collision problems with the canopy.

Handle


The handle moves on a pivot point when you press the button on each side simultaneously. It suffers the same handle canopy collision problem we've seen in past Graco seats, and, unfortunately, they didn't resolve this problem in the new lineup. This design means the handle and canopy rub against each other, and it is difficult to use both at the same time and worse if you plan to carry the carrier. The handle will not go past the canopy when the canopy is down, and you have to force the canopy under a raised handle. All four handle positions are allowed when driving.

The release handle on the back of the SnugLock 35 works well to remove the carrier from the base.
The release handle on the back of the SnugLock 35 works well to remove the carrier from the base.

Carrier and Base Connection


The carrier clicks onto the base with ease, earning a relatively high score for this test. We didn't need extra pressure to make the connection, and we didn't have any false connections. Releasing the carrier is easy with the carrier back release lever that can also be used to lift the carrier off the base.

The SnugLock 35 has a manual storage pocket on the base.
The SnugLock 35 has a manual storage pocket on the base.

LATCH Anchors and Manual Storage


The LATCH anchors stow in a compartment at the rear of the base. This location keeps the straps out of the way, and they don't cause any carrier to base installation problems. There is a manual compartment in the center of the base that pops open and somewhat protects the manual from damage.

The Graco comfort and quality is comparable to the lower price but it is nicer than older now discontinued Graco models.
The Graco comfort and quality is comparable to the lower price but it is nicer than older now discontinued Graco models.

Comfort/Quality


This Graco's comfort and quality are on par with what you'd expect for a product at this lower price point.


This seat has thinner padding all around with less supportive stiff foam throughout. The fabric is canvas and softer than the infant insert that comes with the seat.

The canopy on the Graco has trouble staying open which is probably just as well since it collides with the handle in the up position.
The Graco has a peek-a-boo window which is rare in infant car seats.

The canopy is long enough and looks okay if a bit rumpled (above left), and it has a peek-a-boo window with Velcro closure (above left). It opens fine, but it is challenging to keep it open while the handle is upright for carrying as the two are the same height. The overall fit and finish aren't terrible but do reflect the budget-friendly price and could impact its lifespan or durability.

With a weight below 9lbs  the Graco SnugLock 35 is one of the lighter options in the review  making it a possible contender for those who may need to carry their baby in a carrier for longer distances.
With a weight below 9lbs, the Graco SnugLock 35 is one of the lighter options in the review, making it a possible contender for those who may need to carry their baby in a carrier for longer distances.

Weight


The SnugLock 35 carrier weighs 8.5 lbs making it one of the lightest carriers in the group and potential consideration if you need to move or carry the carrier for longer distances regularly.


Stroller Compatiblity


Graco infant car seats are generally only compatible with Graco strollers. None of the Graco strollers we've tested have performed that well in our reviews. Because the SnugLock is relatively new, we hope adapters for strollers outside the Graco lineup will appear in the future. The Thule Urban Glide 2 offers a universal adapter, the Thule Infant Car Seat Adapter. While this will work with the Graco seat, it is a strap in place adapter we worry many parents will fail to use properly.

Manufacturer Videos


Car Seat Features


Car Seat Installation


Other Versions


Graco SnugRide SnugLock Extend2Fit 35
Graco makes a variety of infant car seats. They also have a new upgraded version of the seat we reviewed here called the Graco SnugRide SnugLock Extend2Fit 35. This new version includes an anti-rebound bar, non-rethread harness adjustment, and a 4-position extension panel that creates 3.5" of extra legroom so little ones can comfortably sit rear-facing for longer. The price tag is significantly higher, and its crash test results are unknown to us, so we aren't sure it is worth the additional money.

Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz