Chicco KeyFit 35 Review | Tested by BabyGearLab
As one of Europe’s leading baby brands, Chicco (Kee-Ko) is a company that provides various types of items. They make kits that include items for feeding, travel, some parents’ favorite strollers, and more. Founded by Pietro Catelli, Chicco offers products for children from birth to preschool. you can find their products in more than 120 countries around the world.
In our analysis of crash test sensor data, the keyfit 35 demonstrated an additional margin of protection over the group average with g-force results lower than most.
Reading: Chicco keyfit 35 cleartex infant car seat reviews
for the head sensor (hic score), the keyfit 35 had a result of 342, where the maximum allowed is 1000, and a lower number is better.
Only a handful of infant car seats scored lower for the hic sensor. the lowest result and the best performer is chicco keyfit 30 with a reading of 330.
for the chest clip sensor, the keyfit 35 result was 51, where the maximum allowed is 60 and a lower number is better. This result is within the guidelines set by the federal government for car seats. the best result of the group is a 44 obtained by the cybex aton 2.
The keyfit 35 manufacturer claims to include energy absorbing foam for side impact protection (sip). sip is not a defined term universally accepted in the industry. therefore, it can mean different things depending on the manufacturer. For this and other reasons, it is difficult to say what this statement means and how it was tested or whether or not it contributes to the performance of the seat during crash testing. it also has an anti-rebound bar, and while science supports that this addition increases safety, it’s hard to know if it does in the real world. While we love the safety features, we think crash test results should sway your decision-making more than manufacturer-provided claims about additional safety features.
ease of installation – latch
keyfit 35 is so easy to install with a latch that it earned top honors in our tests.
the latch connectors are push style and work well (top left). They are easily pushed in with a pull on the center strap to tighten (top right). the strap is easy to pull on and the base tightens with no problem. the red release button is easy to press and the connector releases on its own.
keyfit 35 has a spirit level indicator on the base (top left), which helps parents achieve the correct installation angle. a level on both sides allows parents to see what’s going on no matter where they install the seat. we did not need towels or pool floats during installation to achieve a proper fit.
ease of installation – belt
The keyfit 35 is less easy to install using the vehicle belt, but it’s still better than some of the competition and not complicated.
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the keyfit 35 has a seat belt, which is nice, but this version is more difficult to use than much of the competition. When the shoulder belt is used in the vehicle, it may be difficult for the latch to tighten the belt enough to prevent it from shifting along the belt. the belt path is not color coded, which, while not necessary, is a great visual cue that you’re doing it right. overall the 35 feels more stable and secure once installed than the 30.
easy to install – without base
The chicco 35 is also more difficult to install without the base than it is with the latch method. this method is popular with commuters or city dwellers who rely on public transportation.
This car seat uses lap belt routing and the routing is not color coded. The bypass crosses the wearer’s foot and isn’t hard to see, but it’s harder to thread than much of the competition. And despite our efforts to buckle down, the seat still felt pretty wobbly compared to the competition. It’s probably best to install this seat using the base unless you can’t do it at all.
Using towels might do the trick to get a tighter, more stable fit depending on your car, but then you need to take towels with you in addition to the rack. We think the Keyfit 35 would benefit from the Euro belt path which uses the shoulder strap around the wearer’s back for added stability.
ease of use
keyfit 35 is easier to use than much of the competition.
The keyfit 35’s buckle is stiffer than the 30’s. However, it has no padding and is easy to operate with either hand. the chest clip is average and has a center button release. it will require two hands for most parents.
The chest clip isn’t the stiffest, but it’s not as easy to press and slide as it could be. some testers had a hard time getting their thumbs caught in the ring around the button, but overall it’s easy to connect and pair the two sides.
Adjusting the keyfit 35 harness is easy with a smooth working strap, and the release button is bright orange and pushes with little effort. the button is not under the padding so it is very easy to access.
Shoulder strap height adjustment is a no-rethread operation, which is better than rethread-style harnesses. there are double tabs on the back of the luggage rack. they are placed further back and in an alcove, making them harder to reach, which seems unnecessary. however, it is still easier than rethreading. It has five shoulder height positions and one crotch strap position.
The keyfit 35 handle works by squeezing the double levers on both sides to rotate it to the desired position. it has four positions, and two of them are allowed while driving. Unfortunately, the handle and copy have some collision and friction, which is not ideal. It’s not a deal breaker, but it feels like an oversight. We like the rubberized grip in the center, which makes it more comfortable to hold and easier to hang.
carrier and base connection
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The connection of the operator to the base is simple and works well. we had no difficulty making the attachment and never messed up. very little readjustment was required. The release handle is in a good place on the rack and squeezes easily to detach the seat. we prefer this release location so you can release and lift in one motion.
latch anchoring and manual storage
keyfit 35 latch anchors store near the front of the base. the latch connectors are easy to insert and do not fall out. They keep straps and connectors out of the way (mostly) but they’re nothing special. taking a few extra moments to tuck the straps in will help keep everything contained. manual storage is a compartment at the front of the base. In our opinion, this location is not the best, since you won’t have it if you need to install the seat without the base.
keyfit 35 performed well in terms of comfort and quality compared to the competition. His score is better than average and better than the keyfit 30.
The comfort padding is relatively thick and comfortable, but not very dense. this feels comfortable but could condense over time and become less. The fabric is an upgrade from the less expensive Chicco seats, and it’s something they call Cleartex. It has a somewhat rougher feel to it, but it also feels more durable and of higher quality. the shell is neither the best nor the worst; while it is not smooth for easy cleaning, it also does not have a grid pattern or small spaces for dirt to collect.
fit and finish is also better than average. The seat fabric is perfectly tailored to the shell and has a clean, elegant finish. Even the baby insert snaps into place without looking messy or like an afterthought like much of the competition does. The handle is sturdy and has a grippy center part that makes it more comfortable to hold. the fabric on the canopy looks nice, but the canopy bumps into the handle, which is a disappointment and a flaw in an otherwise nice car seat.
The keyfit 35 weighs in at 10.87 pounds, making it a bit heavier than its little brother and a bit big for the pack. it manages to stay below the heavier options, but we’re not sure it’s a weight most parents want to carry with a baby on board.
selecting your car seat based on the weight of the carrier is not ideal. other concerns, like ease of installation and crash test scores, should be more important. however, city dwellers can use this metric as a tiebreaker if they are going to carry their little one in a carrier regularly.
keyfit 35 is compatible with most chicco strollers. The Chicco Keyfit Caddy is a lightweight frame stroller that can buy you time before you decide which type of stroller will best suit your long-term needs. As long as your little one is still secure in their infant car seat, you can use the stroller.
should you buy the keyfit 35?
Once upon a time, we thought we loved the chicco keyfit 30, but then the keyfit 35 came along. fickle friends? We could be, but you’ll forgive us, given all the Keyfit 35 brings to the table. the keyfit 35 is definitely a seat we would recommend to a friend. We think there’s a lot to love about this seat, with better crash test results and the easiest installation for the latch in the bunch. It’s also reasonably priced and compatible with a variety of different strollers (assuming they accept infant car seats with adapters).
what other infant car seat should I consider?
if the keyfit 35 isn’t in your budget, the keyfit 30 is still a great seat with one of the best hic crash test results. It’s also compatible with most strollers, has the same crash test analysis score, and is easy to use. We love this simple seat and think most parents will, too. Alternatively, if your budget is bigger and you want the best for crash test analysis, the Cybex Aton 2 is the one for you. However, if you go this route, you’ll likely need a top-tier carrier, as it’s not compatible with many strollers.
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