< Go to Infant Car Seats

Hands-on Gear Review

UPPAbaby Mesa Review

UPPAbaby Mesa
Top Pick Award
Price:   $300.00 List
Pros:  Easy installation, non-rethread adjustment
Cons:  Higher price, heavier, rougher fabric
Bottom line:  Impressive Top Pick seat that is easy to use and install
Editors' Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   UPPAbaby

The Skinny

The UPPAbaby Mesa is the third highest scoring option in our infant car seat review. The Mesa won a Top Pick for City Living award, owing to a strong performance for installation in a taxi cab or Uber without the base. We love the retractable LATCH anchors and the easy-to-use harness height adjustment. We think this seat has much to rave about and offers features that make it both easier to use and a standout in the group. While its higher price or heavier weight mean it may not be the right choice for all families, its high-quality materials, and sleek design mean it will appeal to many.

Update — 2017
UPPAbaby has a new version of the Mesa that will be available Spring 2017. The new Mesa claims to be the first flame retardant-free infant car seat in the industry, using naturally flame resistant wool in place of chemicals. Wool has the added benefit of being a wicking fiber, making it comfortable in both warm and cool weather. The new chemical-free fabric is only available in Henry (blue marl), but other colors are available as well.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Infant Car Seats of 2017

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
76
$300
Editors' Choice Award
A great all-around seat with good crash test results
71
$280
Editors' Choice Award
Easy to install and use seat made with quality materials, but has limited stroller options
68
$300
Top Pick Award
Impressive Top Pick seat that is easy to use and install
68
$200
Editors' Choice Award
Crash test results and ease of install with a nice price make it a good choice for most families
67
$400
Top Pick Award
The best option for safety conscious parents with a higher budget
67
$320
Compelling high quality seat with additional safety features that is harder to use and pricey
66
$200
Comfortable seat with nice features, but is harder to use.
65
$160
Best Value Award
Best Value that is a good bang for the buck
62
$270
Not a bad seat, but there are better options that cost less.
60
$500
Top Pick Award
Fills a niche for safe vehicle transportation of baby for parents who frequent taxis and Uber
60
$220
Nicer than the other Gracos, but not nice enough for the price
59
$230
An easy to use seat that is average
57
$150
Uncompelling performance with disappointing test results that is harder to use
57
$210
Easy to use LATCH, but disappointing overall performance
56
$100
Difficult to install seat that is fairly poor quality

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

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

Last Updated:
Saturday
February 18, 2017

Share:
UPPAbaby is an American company with over a decade of family combined experience in juvenile products. UPPAbaby is inspired from their everyday family life to create new gear that is easy to use, safe, light and fun. UPPAbaby's goal is to making improvements to products without losing convenience, usability, or cool styling. The company offers the UPPAbaby Mesa infant car seat, and a variety of stroller options from full-size to lightweight and doubles.

Performance Comparison


The chart below shows a comparison of all the infant car seats purchased and tested in this review. The UPPAbaby Mesa is shown in blue.


Below you will find detailed information on how the Mesa performed in each metric during testing. Individual metric scores were used to determine overall scores.

Crash Test


We analyzed crash test data from two sources: data from our own crash tests which were commissioned at the same national testing facility used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and data from tests conducted by NHTSA at that same facility.


These tests are designed to measure the G forces of crash impact on the chest and head region of the crash dummy. We were interested in learning the relative differences between car seats, and identify those products that go beyond the Federal guidelines to offer an added margin of protection.

This chart shows the comparison between the head G force results for the UPPAbaby Mesa vs the Chicco Keyfit 30  the best crash test head sensor results
This chart shows the comparison between the head G force results for the UPPAbaby Mesa vs the Chicco Keyfit 30, the best crash test head sensor results
The chart above shows the Mesa head force sensor data in black, and the seat with the best head force (HIC) results, the Chicco Keyfit 30 in green. The UPPAbaby performed well in the head impact scores, with results that were better than average, and well below the Federal safety requirements.

This chart shows the comparison between the head G force results for the UPPAbaby Mesa vs the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40  the best crash test chest sensor results
This chart shows the comparison between the head G force results for the UPPAbaby Mesa vs the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40, the best crash test chest sensor results
The UPPAbaby earned what we consider to be a basic score for chest crash test results, which are shown above with the Mesa in black, and the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 in green with the best results from chest force (g) sensors. Earning a basic score indicates it exceeds the Federal guidelines, but does not seem to offer an additional margin of safety.

The Mesa offers Side Impact Protection (SIP) head padding
The Mesa offers Side Impact Protection (SIP) head padding
The Mesa makes the additional claim of side impact protection (SIP) and padding in the head area of the seat. They do make the claim that this SIP feature has been tested, but we were unable to obtain disclosure of actual crash test results from UPPAbaby that would quantify what level of additional protection, if any, their SIP provides. In answer to our request for crash test information, UPPAbaby's representative told us, "we don't provide this information you will find that no other manufacturer will do the same" (in fact, we did find other manufacturers were more forthcoming and transparent with their test findings than UPPAbaby, and let the company know their assertion in this regard was incorrect). Given that we don't have any crash test data for their claimed SIP feature, we cannot remark on whether or not it improves the safety of the seat. We also can't confirm what they mean when they say SIP, as most manufacturers use a different definition of this phrase. However, we do like any extra effort for safety and feel that UPPAbaby appears to be attempting to build a better seat.

Ease of Install - LATCH




Installing the UPPAbaby is a breeze, earning a 9 of 10 for ease of install using the LATCH system tying with the Chicco Keyfit 30 and one point lower than the perfect 10 earned by the Chicco Fit2.


All of these seats offered a unique LATCH feature that makes installation relatively foolproof.

The LATCH anchors on the UPPAbaby have their own stow pockets for when you aren't using them
The LATCH anchors on the UPPAbaby have their own stow pockets for when you aren't using them

The Mesa has self-ratcheting LATCH connectors that tuck into the base when not in use. They release with a touch of a button and pull out one at a time or simultaneously.

We found one at a time is easier for attaching to the anchors on the vehicle. The connectors are the type we prefer that have a hard shell buckle with push button release. There is an audible click when anchor connects.

The Mesa has easy to use functional buttons for easy anchor release  foot adjustment and tightness indication
The Mesa has easy to use functional buttons for easy anchor release, foot adjustment and tightness indication

Once the base is attached, adding pressure causes the straps to ratchet and tighten on their own. There is a visual indicator that turns green when the seat is tight and secure. We caution that the indicator is a little finicky and would occasionally register green, but move to red after a bumpy ride, so consider it helpful, but not definitive.

The level indicator on the handle of the Mesa flashes green when the seat is properly aligned
The level indicator on the handle of the Mesa flashes green when the seat is properly aligned
The base has an adjustable foot and level indicator to assist in obtaining a level installation. The indicator has a window with green for good and red for bad. This adds to the ease of install and makes it harder to get wrong.

Installation with a vehicle belt isn't too bad on the Mesa  but it can be hard to fold over
Installation with a vehicle belt isn't too bad on the Mesa, but it can be hard to fold over

Ease of Install - Belt


The Mesa earned a 7 of 10 for installation using a belt. The Chicco Fit2 also scored 7 and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 earned the high with 9.


The Mesa has a belt lock-off that is easy to use and a color coded belt path. Overall the seat is relatively easy to install with this method.

The Belt lock off on the UPPAbaby is easy to use  but can be hard if it is 2 layers
The Belt lock off on the UPPAbaby is easy to use, but can be hard if it is 2 layers

Threading of the vehicle belt only takes a moment and is harder if the shoulder strap is involved because it requires two layers in the lock-off. We did have a problem with the "button" on the seat belt getting in the way of the lock-off so it wouldn't or couldn't close, and we had to cinch down tight on the belt to get the indicator light to turn green.

The Mesa uses the so-called "American belt path" method over the lower portion of the carrier. This is super easy to do and helped it earn a Top Pick award in our review.
The Mesa uses the so-called "American belt path" method over the lower portion of the carrier. This is super easy to do and helped it earn a Top Pick award in our review.

Ease of Install - Without the Base


Installing the Mesa without the base scored an 8 of 10. The high is 10 earned by the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35.


This test is crucial if you expect to take your infant in taxi cabs or services like Uber where you will need to be able to quickly and safely secure the seat without the base.

The Mesa uses the American belt path method across the lower portion of the carrier
The European belt path on the 2014 Mesa helps create a more secure install by using the shoulder belt across the back of the carrier
 
The photos above show the American belt path of the current Mesa (left) vs the European belt path of the 2014 Mesa (right). We think the European method feels more secure and are sorry they eliminated this feature on the newer seats.

The Mesa uses the American belt path, which has the advantage of being easier to accomplish, a key feature for a new parent in a rush to secure the baby in the back of a taxi. The color coded pathway helps parents remember where to thread the belt and how it should be connected. The vehicle belt extends across the lower portion of the carrier and threads in the clips located on the side and out of the reach of baby or padding. The Mesa feels stable when properly installed.

Ease of Use




The Mesa earned a 7 of 10 for ease of use coming in 1 point lower than the Doona that earned the high for the metric with an 8.


The buckle on the Mesa scored two points lower than the highest in our tests for ease of use. It is stiff, but not hard to operate like some of the others we tested and probably needs to be this stiff to meet safety guidelines.

The buckle and chest clip on the Mesa are easy to use compared to much of the competition
The buckle and chest clip on the Mesa are easy to use compared to much of the competition

The chest clip is one of the easiest to connect and disconnect. The button is easy to depress and the sides slide apart without sticking. The sides mate up easily and slide together smoothly with little force. Most of the chest clips in this review were annoyingly stiff to use making the Mesa a standout.

The harness release button on the Mesa is on the top of the padding and easy to access
The harness release button on the Mesa is on the top of the padding and easy to access

Loosening and tightening the harness are both about average. It is somewhat easier to loosen, but both are readily manageable. The tightening strap is located at the foot of the carrier. The release button is also located at the foot of the carrier and is on top of the padding making it easy to access.

The harness height adjustment on the Mesa can be done from the front with baby in the seat. It does not require any rethreading of the harness straps
The harness height adjustment on the Mesa can be done from the front with baby in the seat. It does not require any rethreading of the harness straps

The Mesa harness shoulder height is easy to adjust in any of the possible positions without the need to rethread the straps. The release strap is at the head of the seat, and the height assembly moves smoothly. The assembly has five height positions and can be adjusted from the front with the baby in the seat. The buckle has two positions to help ensure the best fit for babies of any size. We believe parents will be more likely to keep baby in a proper fitting harness if it can be adjusted as quickly as this one.

The large handle adjustment buttons on the Mesa are easy to operate
The large handle adjustment buttons on the Mesa are easy to operate

The Mesa carrier is easy to attach to the base and falls into place without jostling it around to find just the right footing. It offers no visual indicator to tell you if its on correctly, but we tested it multiple times and never had a problem attaching it properly. There is a release handle located on the back of the carrier that disengages the carrier/base connection and allows you to lift the carrier up and off the base.

The handle is comfortable and works as it should. It rubs on the canopy somewhat when both are up, but it isn't as bad as the Graco products. The handle moves by depressing levers on both sides and pivoting to the desired position. It has three positions and all are acceptable for driving.

The Mesa offers little stow pockets for the harness latch plates to keep them out of the way when putting baby in the seat or prevent them from getting too hot in the sun
The Mesa offers little stow pockets for the harness latch plates to keep them out of the way when putting baby in the seat or prevent them from getting too hot in the sun

The sides of the seat have stow pockets for the latch plates of the buckle. You can pull the plates off to the side and tuck them in to hold the harness open, so you can place baby in the seat without adjusting baby to get to the straps. While a thoughtful addition, we aren't sure parents will bother using it. It feels like a time waster, not a real benefit.

The Mesa earned the top score for LATCH storage with retractable anchors that tuck into pockets and release with the press of a button. There is no way the anchors can obstruct attaching the carrier onto the base.

The fabric on the Mesa is high quality  soft  and comfortable
The fabric on the Mesa is high quality, soft, and comfortable

Comfort/Quality


The Mesa earned a 6 of 10 for comfort and quality, earning a slightly better score than the 2014 model thanks to the nicer fabric in the head region of the seat.


The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 and the Chicco Fit 2 earned the high for this metric with an 8.

The UPPAbaby is a quality car seat made with nice materials. Not only does everything on this seat feel really durable and solid, but it is brought together in a way that offers a sleek fit and finish. With all of the products side-by-side, it is a stand out in the group.

The seat offers thicker padding and better fabric in the head area than the 2014 model offered (though they both have fairly rough fabric in the bottom and leg regions that feels to us like really fine grit sandpaper). The fabric feels very durable and easy to clean, perhaps lasting through more than one baby. Overall we think baby will be comfortable, but we hope UPPAbaby continues to make improvements for softer fabric overall.

The canopy on the Mesa is one of the best looking in the group and it hides away when not in use for a sleek overall look
The canopy on the Mesa is one of the best looking in the group and it hides away when not in use for a sleek overall look

The canopy is medium sized with a hard storage flap that keeps it out of the way when not in use. We like the slick look of the seat without the canopy and think it is a nice touch for keeping unused accessories out of the way. The canopy rated higher than average for durability and remains taunt easily.

While lighter than the previous version of the Mesa this eat is still on the heavy side at 10.25 pounds
While lighter than the previous version of the Mesa this eat is still on the heavy side at 10.25 pounds

Weight


This seat is a fairly heavy with a carrier weight of 10.25 lbs. However, it is an improvement over the 2014 model that weighed over 12 lbs. Unfortunately, it is still above average, and we wish it were closer to 9.


The UPPAbaby company website states the carrier weighs under 10 lbs, and while it only weighs .25 pounds over 10 it is still a discrepancy from our measurements that we think it is misleading to customers.

While we believe weight should never be a number one deciding factor, we do think it should hold some "weight" (pun intended) in the decision making process. We hope UPPAbaby will continue to find ways of trimming down this seat in the future so it can be more manageable to lug. Even one more pound could make it more of a contender.

Stroller Compatibility


Choosing the Mesa for a car seat makes the choice of stroller almost a no-brainer. In our review of the best full-size strollers both UPPAbaby choices won awards and proved to be user-friendly options that work best with the Mesa. The UPPAbaby Cruz earned an Editors' Choice award, and the UPPAbaby Vista earned a Top Pick for versatility with a frame that can work with two car seats, or multiple combinations of the toddler seat, car seats, and a third child ride on.

Best Applications


The Mesa truly is a great seat, and we feel its perfect score for installation makes it a good pick for parents who frequent public transport.

Value


The list price of $300 for this UPPAbaby seat makes it one of the higher in the group. While it is a highly ranked car seat, the higher scoring Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 has the same price tag. The Chicco Keyfit 30 scored one point lower than the Mesa, but has a list price close to $100 less, making it potentially a better value overall. The Chicco is also lighter and has somewhat friendlier fabric and good scores overall.

The UPPAbaby Mesa comes with a positional insert for smaller babies
The UPPAbaby Mesa comes with a positional insert for smaller babies

Conclusion


This seat has a unique easy to use LATCH system that has self-ratcheting straps that make installation a breeze. It offers an easy-to-use non-rethreading height adjustment feature that allows changes easily with your baby in the seat. Whether it is the great ease of use score or the higher installation without the base score, it is hard not to be intrigued by this UPPAbaby offering.

Unfortunately, the seat is heavier compared to most seats we tested. Also, the remaining rough fabric on the bottom portion of the seat is a bad design choice for a high-end product in our opinion.



Other Versions and Accessories


The Cabana
The Cabana
UPPAbaby only makes one infant seat. It does offer two different accessory shields for keeping the elements out. These include the UPPAbaby Rain Sheild and something they call a Cabana that looks like a full seat sunshade cover for protection from the sun, wind, rain, insects, and curious looky-loos. It is one of the coolest covers for a seat we have seen.


The Back Seat Mirror from Cozy Greens is perfect for keeping an eye on baby from the front seat.
The Cozy Greens back seat mirror
The Cozy Greens back seat mirror
The mirror is held out a few inches from a flat base that fits against the front of the headrest. The base secures with two adjustable straps that fit around the headrest. A convex shatterproof surface and a pivot point at the base provide a wide field of view. Once the mirror is correctly adjusted, the pivot point tightens so the mirror can't accidentally shift. One downfall of this mirror is that the car headrest must be adjustable for attachment.

Video




UPPAbaby's official video on their SmartSecure base attachment system:
Juliet Spurrier, MD & Wendy Schmitz

  • Share this article:
You Might Also Like

BabyGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: February 18, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


Have you used the UPPAbaby Mesa?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...

Write a Review on this Gear
 

Follow Us

Unbiased.