According to official rankings and crash tests, Chicco makes some of the safest car seats on the market. Their most popular line of infant car seats, KeyFit, now has a new member – KeyFit 35. Is it as good as its predecessors? Or maybe even better? Our Chicco KeyFit 35 review will hopefully answer all your questions.
How do you imagine a perfect car seat for an infant? Chicco believes it should be, most of all exceptionally safe, versatile, durable, super-easy to use, and beautifully designed.
One of their newest car seats, Chicco KeyFit 35, ranks pretty high in all of these categories. Still, there are some minor drawbacks you should know about.
First of all, let’s focus on its major features:
- 1 Features of Chicco KeyFit 35
- 2 Specifications of Chicco KeyFit 35:
- 3 What’s NEW? Chicco KeyFit 30 vs 35
- 4 Advantages of Chicco KeyFit 35
- 5 Disadvantages of Chicco KeyFit 35
- 6 Chicco KeyFit 35 alternatives you might like to try
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 Conclusion – Is Chicco KeyFit 35 good for you?
Features of Chicco KeyFit 35
Here’s a brief summary of Chicco KeyFit 35‘s most important features and characteristics:
- Infant car seat for babies weighing between 4 and 35 pounds
- Can be used with kids up to 32 inches in length
- Cannot be used with inflatable seat belts and various add-ons (strap pads, toys, etc.)
- Comes with 6 years expiration period
- The manufacturer recommends replacement after any car crash
- Includes integrated anti-rebound bar for added stability, and extended legroom
- Patented SuperCinch LATCH system
- Bubble levels for precise positioning
- Contains a full-cover UPF50+ canopy
- Easy click-in connection to base – secures into Chicco KeyFit 35 seat base
- European-style harness routing enables baseless installation
- Compatible with all Chicco strollers (and travel strollers) that connect to car seat
- Comes with 6 years expiration period
- Cannot be used with inflatable seat belts and various add-ons (such as strap pads, toys, etc…)
NOTE: The manufacturer recommends replacement after any car crash.
Specifications of Chicco KeyFit 35:
Here are some of the product’s general technical specifications:
- Dimensions: 28.00 x 16.50 x 22.50 inches
- Seat weight: 10 pounds (18.5 pounds assembled with seat base)
- Batteries required: No
- Position: Rear-facing only
- Variations: 4 gender-neutral styles (Iris, Onyx, Element, Drift)
- Washing machine safe: Yes (textile padding)
What’s NEW? Chicco KeyFit 30 vs 35
- Easy-Extend Headrest System with no-rethread harness
- Anti-rebound bar provides added stability and more legroom
- Full-coverage canopy with UPF 50+ sun protection
- Hybrid Woven and Knit fabrics, to provide superior child comfort and durability
- LockSure® steel-reinforced seat belt locking system
- Integrated on-the-go European seat belt routing for carrier-only installation
- New modernized styling
- 35 lbs weight limit (vs. 30)
- 32” standing height limit (vs. 30)
Advantages of Chicco KeyFit 35
Chicco KeyFit 35 is basically an upgrade of Chicco’s acclaimed KeyFit 30 car seat (we’re comparing the two in our recent article here), which was announced as the safest car seat of the year by New York Times’ Wirecutter.
The two have a lot in common, and they are also both fully compatible with various additional equipment from Chicco. (seat bases, travel stroller systems, etc.) But if you take a closer look, you’ll see that KeyFit 35 also comes with various innovations and changes – one of the least desirable ones is its higher price.
So, what makes this car seat worth the investment? Here are some of its most important advantages.
Beautiful gender-neutral design
Gender-neutral car seats are nowadays very popular. Besides looking very sleek and tasteful in any make and type of car, they are also a safe choice for parents who plan to reuse car seats with more infants.
Chicco KeyFit 35 comes in four beautiful unisex designs that combine elegant shades of gray, black, and purple. Although they are not very contrastive, if you like these muted tones, you’ll surely pick your favorite one easily. Nice accents of orange on buttons and levers make it easy to find these functional features on a first sight – and they look nice too.
Besides the colors, KeyFit 35 boasts beautiful shapes and curves that make it look very modern and stylish. All in all, I’m pretty convinced that this is one of the prettiest infant car seats currently on the market.
Car seat, in general, represents a relatively large investment, so it’s always nice to know that you can use it for a longer period of time. Although KeyFit 35 is not a convertible car seat, it still can be used longer than many other infant seats due to its higher weight and height limits.
Thanks to the adjustable headrest and anti-rebound bar, which adds some more legroom, this infant car seat can be used with babies up to 32 inches in height. According to averages, this corresponds to 1-2 years of age (in practice, I believe most babies reach this limit between 12 and 18 months of age).
When it comes to weight, Chicco KeyFit 35 can be used with babies weighing between 4 and 35 pounds. Tiniest newborns can benefit from the two-piece newborn insert, which can be part by part removed until your little one is big enough to fill out the whole car seat without the insert.
Chicco recommends using KeyFit 35 only until your little one fits in both height OR weight safety limits.
Convenience of use
Chicco KeyFit car seats are designed for super-simple manipulation – whether it’s assembling the seat with the stay-in-car seat base or installing it on one of the Chicco’s travel stroller frames, everything is thoughtfully designed and requires very little effort.
Positioning is also easy and precise thanks to the bubble levels, which help you set the seat in the right angle. Most of the operations really require just one click, push, or pull, although it might take some practice at the beginning.
As I’ve already mentioned earlier, KeyFit 35’s predecessor, KeyFit 30, is highly acclaimed for its great safety record. The newer version sports many of its tested and proven qualities, so you can rest assured that this car seat will provide your little one with very good protection in case of an accident.
Moreover, Chicco also improved this new car seat with one highly valuable safety feature – an anti-rebound bar, which basically holds helps prevent whiplash in the event of a frontal collision.
Standard protective features of this seat include a 5-position no-rethread harness. (their routing allows both on-base and baseless use) KeyFit 35 also supports LATCH technology, and there’s also a SuperCinch force-multiplying tightener for super-secure installation.
Reputation and reviews
Chicco is a well-renowned manufacturer that has been around for more than 60 years now. Although like many other producers, it had experienced some recalls in the past (this was for their high chair, not car seat), the company’s safety record is pretty impressive, and so is its reputation among customers.
Even though opinions about car seats can be very individual, positive feedback from parents from around the world certainly feels reassuring: KeyFit 35 is relatively new on the market, yet customers already gave it 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Disadvantages of Chicco KeyFit 35
Even the best infant car seat has some drawbacks. Here are several KeyFit 35’s disadvantages you should know about:
It’s relatively bulky
Although KeyFit 35’s sleek design makes it look very compact and lightweight, this 10-pound car seat is in practice relatively bulky.
As a result, petite mums can find it a bit difficult to manipulate with this car seat, and it can also limit your ability to install this seat in cars with atypical interiors or in shopping carts (in fact, Chicco warns against using this seat in shopping carts, in general, stating it’s unsafe).
All this being said, the added bulk equates to more interior space for the baby. Narrow car seats typically are less able to keep up with a growing baby. In short, the added bulk means the Keyfit 35 lasts longer (better value) than many peers.
There are certainly numerous pricier car seats on the market, but still – Chicco KeyFit 35 is relatively expensive, certainly more than its predecessor KeyFit 30.
Combine its basic price with the additional purchase of the seat base, plus consider the fact that this car seat must be replaced by a bigger one after 12-18 months, and you’re looking at an investment that might be well out of the budget for some parents. For KeyFit 35’s current price quote check here.
Restricted use of add-ons
Chicco forbids using its seats in combination with inflatable seat belt options. You also shouldn’t use it with most of the common add-ons such as strap pads, hangable toys, towels, and noodles, etc. Of course, all of these restrictions are imposed purely on the grounds of your baby’s safety, so they should be fully respected.
Rear-facing position only
Chicco KeyFit 35 is designed for the smallest babies – from newborns to approximately 18-month-olds. Researchers and pediatricians agree that a backward-facing position is the safest one for such small kids.
As a result, Chicco made this seat exclusively for rear-facing installation. If you have any issues or uncertainties about this position, this might not be the best seat for you.
It’s made in China
Although Chicco is an Italian brand with safety and compliance certifications valid in all parts of the world (including the strictest markets in the US and EU), car seats of this brand are actually fully manufactured in China.
While I can reassure you that you won’t notice this on the seat’s looks, materials, or construction quality, I understand that some parents prefer buying locally produced equipment for their babies and this might be a serious deal-breaker for them.
Chicco KeyFit 35 alternatives you might like to try
If you’re not entirely convinced about Chicco KeyFit 35, these two alternatives might work for you better:
Chicco KeyFit 30
I’ve mentioned this car seat repeatedly throughout this review, and now I have to do it again. Chicco KeyFit 30 is simply the closest you can get to Chicco KeyFit 35 while cutting your expenses quite significantly.
This car seat is suitable for kids weighing 4-30 pounds and up to 30 inches in height. It also sports a beautiful, gender-neutral design with various styles, and it can be directly attached to any of Chicco stroller constructions. You can learn more about this seat in our Chicco KeyFit 30 vs Chicco Fit2 comparison.
If you’re not thrilled about the fact that KeyFit 35 cannot be used past 18 months and the only position it allows is rear-facing, you should probably opt for a convertible multi-position seat such as Cosatto All-in-All. This is the ultimate purchase – a single car seat that lasts from your baby’s birth until his or her 12th birthday.
This seat has a 5-point safety harness equipped with a convenient quick-release buckle, it’s ISOFIX-friendly, and you’ll surely like its joyous design too.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the commonly asked questions about Chicco KeyFit 35:
Chicco KeyFit 35 is not only newer but also an innovative version of Chicco’s KeyFit 30 car seat. This model has greater weight and height limits, updated design, and added anti-rebound bars for even more safety and stability. On the other hand, it’s also slightly heavier and more expensive.
Chicco KeyFit 35 can be adapted for newborns (from 4 pounds) with a newborn insert – softly padded, a two-piece nest that keeps the baby snuggly stable and protected inside the seat while they’re too small to fill the whole seat’s inside.
This insert is intended to be used until the baby weighs about 11 pounds. You can start removing it part by part, leaving the cushioned headrest in its place a bit longer.
Yes, the KeyFit 35 comes standard with a base. Chicco KeyFit 35 car seats can be used with or without a stay-in-car seat base. You can use a dedicated KeyFit 35 base or some of the other compatible seat bases by Chicco (check manufacturer’s specifications before purchase here).
Conclusion – Is Chicco KeyFit 35 good for you?
An infant car seat is one of the accessories you’re going to use and interact with on a daily basis. If you pick a good one, it will spare you from lots of frustration and keep your dearest one safe in some potentially dangerous situations.
I believe that Chicco KeyFit 35 is a great choice for most parents mainly because of its top safety standards (including an anti-rebound bar), timeless unisex design, and numerous convenient features.
Nevertheless, buying an infant seat that can be used only in a rear-facing position and won’t suffice your needs past 12 to 18 months is a bit questionable, especially when it costs practically the same as many convertible seats on the market.
If your budget requires a more practical solution, you might be just as happy with some of the cheaper or more versatile options, such as the Chicco KeyFit 30 infant seat and Cosatto All-in-All convertible seat.
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