Infant Car Seat review: UPPAbaby Mesa

Price: $300.

Limits: 35 lbs., 32”

NHTSA ease of use rating: Five out of five stars.

Pros: No-rethread harness, side impact protection, adjustable headrest, hideaway canopy with stretch fabric, innovative base with self-retracting LATCH system.

Cons: Pricey. Uppa’s first effort in this category. No anti-rebound bar or load leg like other seats in this price range.

Comments: Stroller maker UPPAbaby entered the crowded infant car seat market with the Mesa back in 2013.

Uppa’s effort here is nothing if not ambitious—the Mesa is loaded with top end features. Examples: a no-rethread harness, side-impact protection with an adjustable headrest, a canopy made of lightweight stretch material (similar to the Maxi Cosi Prezi) and a base that has a self-retracting LATCH system. Innovations include a tension indicator (Smartsecure) on the base that shows when you’ve tightened the belts correctly.

They’ve even thought of the little things, like a base with a smooth bottom surface, so it won’t mar your auto’s back seat (parents are tempted to use third-party seat protectors with other seats, which are not recommended by safety techs). And the canopy (which disappears when folded) has a 50 SPF protection rating.

What’s missing on the Mesa? Well, there is no anti-rebound bar as you see on the Maxi Cosi Prezi or Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Nido. Nor is there a load leg like on the Cybex Aton Q or GB Asana35 DLX.

And at 10.3 lbs, the Mesa’s carrier is on the heavy side. That’s a gripe about the Mesa we hear from our readers.

And let’s talk about stroller compatibility. The Mesa does work with the Uppa’s Vista (newer models) and Cruz strollers without an adapter. As for other stroller makers, that’s hit or miss. Baby Jogger has a Mesa adapter, but other strollers makers (Britax, for example) are not Mesa compatible.

At $300, the Mesa is priced at the top of the market. On the plus side, it scored near the top of Consumer Reports latest rankings (#8 out of 30+ seats) with excellent ease of use. Despite not having an anti-rebound bar or load leg, the Mesa scored a “better” on CR’s crash tests.

So how’s the real world feedback? Well, we see a split opinion here. Fans love the ease of installation and overall fit and finish of the seat. The cover is machine washable, which is a major plus. UPPAbaby’s customer service also wins kudos for solving issues or concerns.

Detractors complain about the way the canopy works with the handle—when the canopy is extended, some found it hard to carry the seat since the canopy and handle are so close together. Moving the handle when the canopy is extended can damage the canopy fabric, said some parents.

Another issue: the harness isn’t removable for cleaning (you have to spot clean it). Cover yes, harness no. Finally, some parents note that the Mesa takes up a good amount of real estate in a vehicle’s back seat (it failed to fit in even mid-sized SUV’s, say some online reviews).

UPPABaby hasn’t revised this seats in the four years since its debut—and the Mesa looks like it is falling behind competitors when it comes to anti-rebound features. Yes, Uppa has debuted a special new fabric or fashion here or there, but that’s it. (The latest fabric, Henry, is touted by Uppa for being flame retardant free—it’s a wool blend that is naturally flame retardant. The Mesa with Henry fabric runs $350.).

On balance, we will recommend the Mesa. It boasts an impressive design and feature list. The $300 price tag, however, limits its appeal to mostly UPPAbaby fans. Rating: A-