RECARO Performance Coupe Infant Seat review

Update June 2017: Recaro has announced it is discontinuing all its car seats and withdrawing from the North American market. Below is an archived review.

Price: $220.

Limits: 4-35 lbs., 32”

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

Pros: Memory foam lined seat, side impact protection, no rethread harness.

Cons: No anti-rebound bar or load leg. Little stroller compatibility. Skimpy canopy. Reader feedback has trended negative.

Comments:  Best known for their convertible and booster seats, Recaro entered the infant car seat category in 2014 with the Performance Coupe. The headline on this seat is memory foam, which lines the seat to provide a more cushy ride.

That’s nice, but most infants don’t really care about padding—this is more an issue for toddlers in convertible and booster seats on longer drives.

Otherwise, the Performance Ride offers what you’d expect for an upper-end seat: included infant insert, side impact protection and a no-rethread harness with five height positions. The base is adjustable with a flip foot and level indicator. We liked the fact that the fabric is easily removable, but the pad isn’t machine washable.

The Performance Coupe averages about $220 online, with some fashions as low as $180 and others up to $270.

The premium infant seat market ($250+) is crowded, so given the competition, what is the Performance Coupe missing? There is no anti-rebound bar, found in seats like the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4.35. Seats like the Cybex Aton Q and Nuna Pipa have load or stability legs, which are an added measure of crash protection (in a front collision, the leg distributes some of the force and prevents the seat from striking the front seat or console). So does the Performance Coupe have this? Nope.

Stroller compatibility is another missing component—the Performance Coupe works with one Recaro stroller . . . and that’s about it. Most stroller brands do not have Recaro adapters.

Feedback on the Recaro infant seat has turned negative in the past six months, as complaints pile up. One major gripe: the carrier gets stuck in the base. Or fails to latch into the Recaro stroller after a short period of time. The canopy gets knocked for skimpy coverage and flimsy design. We might see these quality issues on a sub $100 infant seat from Cosco at Walmart, but Recaro is playing in the $250 league here. And that’s what is so disappointing.

Consumer Reports latest crash test ratings gave this seat a “better rating”, but overall the seat ranked just 24th out of 32 seats. Like the parent feedback we see, CR said ease of use is holding back this seat.

We gave the Recaro a B on its debut, based on Recaro’s track record in convertible seats and the Performance Coupe’s first impressions. We are dropping that by two grades to reflect the recent reader experience with this seat. Rating: D