Reviewers say there's not much wrong with the Chicco KeyFit 30 -- many parents say the seat is so easy to use that you'll hate every other car seat. The KeyFit's unbelievably simple installation is the main driver behind such praise. Owners also love the smooth-to-adjust harness and solid safety reputation. Of course, there are minor qualms: The canopy is small, and some say the seat's fabric is just too warm on hot days.
A solid safety performer. The Chicco KeyFit 30 features energy-absorbing foam for increased side-impact protection, a five-point harness with a chest clip and push-button LATCH connectors. The seat gets high marks in independent crash testing. Parents like that they can safely leave the seat handle in any locked position while driving, including upright, which experts say reduces the chance of car-seat misuse.
Proper installation can't get much easier. The Chicco KeyFit 30 has earned a reputation as the easiest-to-install infant car seat, which reviewers say is deserved. The seat has a single-strap LATCH adjuster and push-button LATCH connectors that are easier to position than older, hook-style LATCH. Its base easily adjusts to different heights, so parents can obtain a proper angle without bolsters such as towels or pool noodles. The base also has two built-in level indicators that take the guesswork out of whether the seat angle is correct. Seat-belt installation gets more mixed reviews -- some experts say it's easy, but others say the belt lock-offs can slip. Reviewers say the harness adjusts smoothly and the straps resist twisting. The harness must be rethreaded through the back of the seat to adjust the height, but experts say it's a relatively easy process. The KeyFit's handle is simply designed without an S-curve or triangular grip -- some parents love this, while others wish for the opposite. The seat fabric is machine-washable, and reviewers say it's easy to remove. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the seat 4 out of 5 stars for ease of use, reserving mild criticism for incomplete labels and the lack of a no-rethread harness.
Good for tiny babies, but fabric can run hot. The Chicco KeyFit 30 accommodates children from 4 to 30 pounds and up to 30 inches tall, but Chicco says to discontinue use regardless of height if a child's head is less than an inch from the top of the shell. The seats included infant insert and ability to accommodate babies as light as 4 pounds make the KeyFit 30 a good pick for even the smallest babies, reviewers say. The seat is well padded, and parents say they like the stylish colors, but several complain that the fabric doesn't breathe well and causes their babies to sweat on hot days. At just over 9.5 pounds, the seat is comparable or slightly heavier than similar seats, and experts say the big base can hog space in some smaller vehicles. Some reviewers complain the canopy isn't big enough to fully shield their children from the sun.
Standard warranty and expiration. Chicco backs the KeyFit 30 with a limited one-year warranty. The manual is easy to find and download from Chicco's website. Service reviews are limited, but customers report mostly positive experiences. The seat expires six years after its manufacture date. Chicco advises owners to replace the seat after any crash, even if there is no visible damage.
1. Baby Bargains
"Baby Bargains" covers all major infant car seats in depth. Authors Denise and Alan Fields consider performance, ease of use and the brand's track record to come up with their overall rating for each seat. Reviews are comparative, thorough and unbiased.
Review: Car Seats: Picking the Right Child Safety Seat, Denise and Alan Fields, 2013, 10th edition
This website, run by professional child passenger safety technicians and instructors, names the Chicco KeyFit 30 to its recommended seat list. It's praised for fitting small babies and an easy install. The only downside is that parents must rethread the harness, editors say.
Review: CarSeatBlog's Recommended Car Seats List, Editors of CarSeatBlog.com, February 2014
3. Good Housekeeping
The Chicco KeyFit 30 earns praise for its ease of adjustment: The harness straps can be easily tightened or loosened, and the angle of the car seat is also easy to adjust. Editors note that the harness straps must be rethreaded in order to adjust for height.
Review: Infant Car Seat Reviews, Editors of Good Housekeeping, Not dated
Editors of ConsumerReports.org test 29 infant car seats on safety, ease of use and fit to vehicle. The ratings are reliable and unbiased, and they include editors' "highs" and "lows" for each seat -- helpful for parents who want a quick summary of each seat.
Review: Infant Car Seat Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
5. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Since all car seats meet federal safety and crash performance standards, NHTSA rates car seats only on ease of use. The Chicco KeyFit 30 earns an overall ease-of-use score of 4 stars out of 5, noting that connectors aren't labeled well, but the car seat is otherwise easy to install.
Review: Child Safety Seat Ease of Use Ratings, Editors of NHTSA, Not dated
The Chicco KeyFit 30 receives 4.4 out of 5 stars in more than 460 reviews. Most parents rave about its fit to baby and ease of use. There are some complaints that the seat makes babies uncomfortably warm, and some parents say the seat takes up too much room front to back.
Review: Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2014
Michelle Horton reviews the Chicco KeyFit 30 as a travel-system-compatible car seat, praising its safety record and weight capacity both in the upper and lower range. She also likes the easy installation and light, 9-pound weight. She cautions that parents will want a compatible Chicco stroller.
Review: Babble Blogger Favorites: Infant and Toddler Car Seats, Michelle Horton, Nov. 12, 2012
The Chicco KeyFit 30 tops this roundup, with Corley praising its easy installation, weight capacity and reasonable weight. She does not note any cons. It's also not certain if she personally tested the car seat or merely reviewed it using available data.
Review: Top 6 Infant Car Seats, Heather Corley, Not dated
Editors note the Chicco KeyFit 30's reputation for safety and easy installation. They also say it's a good pick for small cars and praise the infant insert. However, the seat is on the pricier side and the sunshade is small, they note.
Review: The Best Infant Car Seats, Editors of BabyCenter.com, Not dated
The Chicco KeyFit 30 earns the top spot in BabyCenter's 2012 Moms' Picks, beating out the ever-popular Britax and Graco seats because of its easy installation, compact design and safety.
Review: Top 15 Baby Products of the Year: Moms' Picks, Contributors to BabyCenter.com, Not dated
The Chicco KeyFit 30 is ranked second to the Graco SnugRide 35, with editors praising its ease of use and safety. They dislike the lack of a cold-weather boot.
Review: Chicco KeyFit 30, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, Not dated
12. Parents Magazine
Hartshorn and Scheflin recommend the Chicco KeyFit 30 for its easy installation. The short review doesn't discuss any other features or note any cons.
Review: Best Car Seats for Babies and Toddlers, Jessica Hartshorn and Hallie Scheflin, Not dated
The Chicco KeyFit 30 is one of Baby Gizmo's Editor's Choice Top 5 car seats along with the Graco SnugRide 35, Cybex Aton, Maxi-Cosi Mico and Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 30-30, but there is no accompanying review. It's also unclear when the list was compiled.
Review: Infant Car Seats, Hollie Schultz, Not dated
The Chicco KeyFit 30 is praised for its energy-absorbing foam and for accommodating babies as light as 4 pounds. The short review is light on details and notes no cons.
Review: Top 10 Car Seats, Sarah Yang, Not dated