Price: $200, extra base $85.
Type: Infant seat, five-point harness.
Limits: 4-30 lbs., 30”.
NHTSA ease of use rating: Four stars out of five.
Pros: EPS foam, newborn insert, adapters available to work with other strollers.
Cons: Skimpy canopy. Large base may be tight fit for smaller vehicles. Pricey.
Comments: After researching and reviewing 34 different infant car seats, we pick the Chicco KeyFit 30 ($200 on Amazon) as the best infant car seat.
Crash protection for the Chicco KeyFit 30 is excellent, with added side impact protection making a difference.
The KeyFit gets high scores from our readers on ease of use— installation is a snap and adjusting the harness is easy. The seat also features EPS foam and a newborn insert.
The KeyFit 30 scores an astonishing 90% approval rating on Amazon (4 and 5 star reviews), with those reviews verified as legit via FakeSpot. (Few infant seats have ratings above even 80%, much less 90%).
The downsides? The seat lacks a no-rethread harness and the canopy coverage is somewhat skimpy.
FYI: Chicco makes four versions of the KeyFit—one that works to 22 lbs. (called the KeyFit, $180) and three that go to 30 lbs. (the KeyFit 30, KeyFit 30 Zip and KeyFit 30 Magic.) Here’s a quick overview of the three 30 lb. limit versions:
◆ The Chicco KeyFit 30 ($200). The basic version described above.
◆ The Chicco KeyFit 30 Zip ($230). Adds a quick-remove machine-washable seat pad, a zip-off canopy, zip on visor and zip-around boot. These are nice add-ons if you can afford the upgrade; the boot especially is welcome if you have a winter baby or live in a cold climate.
◆ The Chicco KeyFit 30 Magic ($220). Basically the same as the Zip but without the zip-off cover. The Magic has upgraded fabrics over the Zip, even though it is ten bucks less.
◆ In 2017, Chicco debuted a new version of the KeyFit: the Fit2 ($280). The Fit2’s unique feature is a base that has two stages: a reclined version for infants and a toddler position that sits more upright, so the seat can be used up to age two (35 lbs.). Also new: an anti-rebound bar and a seven-position no rethread harness.
Between all these versions, we like the base model Chicco KeyFit 30 best . . . unless you live in Chicago and have a January birth. Then by all means, go for the Magic or Zip with the boot! If money is tight, the 22 lb. version (KeyFit, $180) would be ok if you know your child will be around normal birth weight—keep in mind they will likely outgrow that infant seat sooner than those with the 30 lb. limit seats. FYI: the same base works with either the 22 lb. or the 30 lb. carriers.
We do like the Fit2, based on our initial evaluation. Early feedback from our readers on the Fit2 is positive..
Whichever version you choose, all Chicco KeyFits boast a nice list of features: a seat lined with EPS foam for improved side impact protection, thick seat padding, multi-position canopy and comfort grip handle.
Chicco hired a former Graco engineer (who worked on the SnugRide) to design the KeyFit and it shows in the details . . . the base has a “single-pull” LATCH adjustment, a spring-loaded, leveling foot to account for uneven back seats and even a smooth underside to keep from damaging your back seat upholstery.
As you’d expect from Chicco, the fashion of this seat has a hint of Italian flair and there is even a newborn insert to better fit smaller newborns and preemies.
Our readers have been very positive about the KeyFit’s ease of use, lauding the no-twist, easy-to-adjust straps, the ability to leave the handle in the “up” position when driving (most seats require it to be lowered), and overall ease of installation.
Flaws but not deal breakers. Well, no seat is perfect. Here are our quibbles with the KeyFit 30:
◆ The KeyFit carrier weighs 9.4 lbs., a tad heavier than other similar seats. It takes two hands to release/rotate the han- dle on the seat.
◆ The sunshade has its share of critics. Some readers tell us they think it is too small and doesn’t offer enough coverage (even with the extended visor that tucks away when not in use). When you fold the canopy back, it sometimes is hard to reach the handle to release the car seat from the base—especially if you drive a smaller vehicle where the front seats are close.
◆ A few readers also report the fabric doesn’t breathe, so the seat can get hot.
The Chicco’s stroller compatibility used to be an issue, but given the soaring sales of the KeyFit, more brands now offer adapters that fit the seat. Still, it might be wise to check to see if the stroller brand you want has a specific adapter for the KeyFit . . . a few smaller stroller brands still don’t.
Overall, this is an excellent seat that is highly recommended. Rating: A