Price: $85-$150; extra base $45.
Type: Infant car seat, five-point harness.
Limits: 4 to 35 lbs.
NHTSA ease of use rating: Four out of five stars.
Pros: Three-position adjustable base, easier to release base and handle. Affordable.
Cons: Two safety recalls. Model is showing its age.
Comments: Here, in a nutshell, is why Evenflo is in last place in the car seat biz: the Embrace infant seat was supposed to be a fresh start for Evenflo, after their last major car seat (the PortAbout) was recalled for failing a crash test back in 2005. The Embrace features a new, easier release mechanism for the carrier (this was a gripe for past models). The seat also has a three-position adjustable base and an ergonomic handle that releases with one hand.
Yet, Evenflo had to recall 450,000 Embrace infant seats in 2007 after 679 reports of the handle of the carrier unexpectedly releasing, causing 160 injuries to children. (As a side note, 679 reports? 160 injuries? At what point did Evenflo think it was time to pull the plug?). And then there was a 2014 recall of 200,000+ Embraces for defective buckles. This seat just seems snake bit.
The Evenflo Embrace earned the honor (dishonor?) of placing near the bottom in the most recent Consumer Reports report on infant car seats. (The Embrace ranked 29th out of 32 seats tested).
FYI: Evenflo sells the Embrace in three flavors: the entry-level LX is $85-$100 and features basic fabrics. The Embrace Select is $80-$100 and features upgraded fabrics. The top-of-the-line model is the Embrace Select with SureSafe is $79 at Walmart and features premium LATCH connectors to ease installation. As you might note from the pricing, the lower-end Embrace models are roughly the same price as the top-of-the-line model. So if you want an Embrace, the Embrace Select With SureSafe is the best deal.
The newest Embrace features a warning system to alert parents when a baby is left in a car seat—the Evenflo Advanced SensorSafe Embrace DLX seat features a gadget that plugs into a vehicle’s diagnostic (OBD) port (under the dashboard). The sensor generates a series of tones once the vehicle’s engine is turned off; this is to remind a parent a child is in the car. You also get a warning if the seat’s chest clip is unbuckled when the vehicle is moving. Price: $197.
Finally, we should note that there is a Target-exclusive version of the Embrace called the Embrace ProComfort. This Embrace embrace is outfitted with OUTLAST fabric that helps regular temperature and Gel-Matrix padding. The Target seat comes with a boot and upgraded canopy. Price: $110.
Reader feedback on this seat has been mixed. Fans like the under $100 price point and overall ease of use (Amazon reviews are 83% four stars and up). But critics point out the flimsy canopy on the low-end LX version is disappointing and the buckle can be hard to open. There also are no lock-offs on the base for seat belt installation.
The Embrace is showing its age—newer Evenflo infant car seat models (LiteMax, SafeMax) make the Embrace look old school.
Given the past safety issues here, we suggest passing on the Embrace. Rating: D+