Type: Infant seat.
Limits: SnugRide 22: 22 lbs., 29”; SnugRide 30: 30 lbs., 30”; SnugRide 35: 35 lbs., 32”; SnugRide 40: 40 lbs, 35″.
NHTSA ease of use rating: Four out of five stars.
Pros: Lightweight carrier (for the base model), level indicator, canopy, easy to use. Front belt adjuster on some models. Works with many strollers.
Cons: Only one crotch position for some models. Other seats have better side-impact protection.
Comments: Here is the country’s top-selling infant car seat—and it deserves the crown. The Graco SnugRide is an affordable infant seat with excellent features: good crash protection, EPS foam lining, adjustable base (in some versions) and good fit in most vehicles.
It’s good to be the king . .. when it comes to stroller compatibility. The SnugRide’s best-seller status means many other stroller makers have Graco adapters. One caveat: if you plan to use a non-Graco stroller, check compatibility before buying a SnugRide. Some strollers makers have adapters that only work with the older Classic Connect SnugRides (now discontinued; see discussion below).
Graco has had such success with the SnugRide that they’ve rolled out several different versions of the seat over the last few years, keeping the SnugRide name. And that’s where it gets confusing: there are now six different SnugRides. With so many versions, be sure to carefully check the box or online description before buying.
Before we wade knee deep into the SnugRide specific models, we should note that current SnugRide car seats are part of the Click Connect family. Click Connect refers to the way these car seats attach to strollers—they take one step to snap in. (At one point, Graco also sold a version of these seats called Classic Connect which required two steps. The Classic Connect versions of the SnugRide are now discontinued, but may still be sold online.).
Here’s a quick overview of the versions:
• SnugRide 22. This seat work to 22 lbs., 29”. This is the least expensive SnugRide that is sold as part of low-price travel systems. This model lacks a front harness adjuster (requiring you to adjust the harness from the back, a major pain).
• SnugRide 30 / 30LX works to 30 lbs., 30”. Graco sells two versions of this seat. Entry-level SnugRide 30’s have rear-adjust harnesses and non-adjustable bases. More expensive versions (LX) of this seat have front-adjust harnesses and adjustable bases (which we prefer). These seats sell for $100-$130.
• SnugRide 35 / 35LX works to 35 lbs., 32”. Yep, there are two versions of this model—the basic 35 that runs $130-$140. And the 35 LX ($150-$190) which adds a no-reathread harness and base with seat belt lock-offs. The LX also has upgraded fabric. For 2016, Graco has released a version of this seat with additional side impact protection—it is called the Graco SnugRide 35 LX with Safety Surround. It is a Target exclusive for $200.
• SnugRide 40. This is the newest SnugRide and, as the name implies, it is the first SnugRide to work to 40 lbs. Price: $200-$230. This top-of-the-line model features a no-rethread harness and an adjustable base that slides back to give 8″ of additional legroom—allowing babies to use the seat up to age two. That’s nice . . . but the downside is the seat then takes up a lot of space in the backseat and that could make it a no go in smaller vehicles. The SnugRide 40’s base is also much larger/longer than other SnugRide bases, again making fit in smaller cars a challenge.
So, which one should you get? The picks of the litter, in our opinion, are the SnugRide 35LX and 40. We like the no-thread harness and seat belt lock-offs for easier installations. The 35 LX seat is available in two versions: Amazon sells the base version for $160. And as we mentioned above, Target has an exclusive version of this model with additional side impact protection (Graco SnugRide 35 LX with Safety Surround) for $200. If you can afford the upgrade, go for that one.
Finally, we also like the Graco SnugRide 40—but its large size may make it a no-go for smaller vehicle back seats.
If the budget is tight, the SnugRide 30LX runs about $50 less than the 35LX. Just make sure you get a model with the front adjust harness and adjustable base.
Overall, readers give the SnugRide a thumbs up for ease of use and overall quality. The no rethread harness on the 35LX and 40 is excellent. We also like the machine washable covers.
Is the SnugRide perfect? No. Even the most expensive SnugRide’s lack premium (push-on) LATCH connectors. And the low-end SnugRides that have rear-adjust harnesses and non-adjustable bases should be avoided. Those seats also have only one crotch buckle position, which some larger babies can quickly outgrow.
Are there trade-offs between the SnugRide and more expensive seats? Well, with the exception of the SnugRide 35 LX with Safety Surround, most other Snugrides lack extra side-impact protection as seen on competitor’s seats.
SnugRide does lack extra side-impact protection like you see on Britax infant seats. Anti-rebound bars or load legs like the GB Asana35 DLX? Nope, the SnugRides don’t have them.
Despite this lack of extra safety features, the Graco SnugRides scored “better” in Consumer Reports’ latest crash tests (the rating scale is Basic, Better, Best). Overall, the SnugRides landed in the middle of pack of 30 seats tested, with fit to vehicle with a safety belt scoring below other seats. Our own reader feedback contradicts this, with most parents giving the SnugRides good marks for both ease of use and fit to vehicle.
We’d like to see more side impact protection as a standard feature . . . and the addition of anti-rebound features would also be welcome.
Besides that, overall, the Graco SnugRide family is a winner—good crash protections, excellent ease of use and features. Add in the affordable price and you’ve got yourself a very good car seat. Rating: A