Price: $191; extra base $67.
Limits: 35 lbs., 32”
NHTSA ease of use rating: Five out of five stars.
Pros: Auto height harness adjustment, high-tech screen to advise on correction installation. Top rating for ease of use.
Cons: Version 1.0 of any car seat is usually best to skip.
Comments: Summer’s first infant car seat, the Prodigy, debuted in 2011 to generally positive reviews—yet it barely made a blip on the sales radar.
On paper, the Prodigy looked good: features included a no-rethread harness that automatically tightens with one pull. There’s also SmartScreen, a LCD readout tells you when you’ve correctly installed the belt, testing the install to ensure safety. A special vehicle belt-tightening system enables a parent to tighten the belt with one hand. A newborn head and body support pillow allows use for preemies starting at four pounds (top capacity is 32 lbs).
The only negatives: At 9.9 lbs, the carrier (which has two crotch positions) is on the heavy side, but oddly lacks any EPS foam.
Clearly, Summer put a lot of thought and design effort behind this seat. And by attaching a $200 price tag to the Prodigy, Summer hoped to compete with top-rated seats from Britax and Chicco, not to mention category leader Graco.
However, the sales of the Prodigy clearly disappointed Summer. The company “re-launched” the Prodigy in 2012. It’s not a good sign when you launch a new product—and then need to re-launch it six months later.
Part of the problem here is the difficulty in launching an infant car seat without a strong stroller line to pair it with—Summer is better known for its video monitors than travel gear. And few (no?) stroller makers offer adapters for the Prodigy. So if you buy this infant car seat and want to snap it into a stroller, you’d have to buy a stroller from Summer as well.
On that score, Summer dropped the ball—its first matching stroller for the Prodigy weighed in at nearly 30 lbs. and lacked much pizazz. And at $330 for the travel system, Summer simply priced itself out of the market.
Reader feedback and online reviews of this seat have been thin—and considering the seat has been on the market since 2011, that’s probably an indication of very low sales.
So it is a mixed review for Summer—a good first effort with the Prodigy, but the weak line-up of compatible strollers and high price make this one a tough sell. Rating: C