How fun to come home and find a brand new car seat on the front porch! Since Laura and I (Lindsay) both have new babies, we got the opportunity to review Graco’s new Snugride Click Connect 35. The new Click Connect line involves a different attachment method from the older Classic Connect seats, as well as some structural and shell changes. Depending on the trim level of the seat, it may have a lock off on the base, as well as infant body support and/or harness covers. It states it will fit infants from 4 pounds, making it a great choice for preemies and twins.
Right now, the Snugride Click Connect 35 is available at Toys R Us starting at $220 for the seat on its own. As of this writing, one of the travel systems that includes this seat is on sale for $300 (regular $400) in a trim level that includes infant body support and harness pads. The base, which is compatible with the Snugride Click Connect 35 but not the Classic Connect seats, is now available on its own at Toys R Us for $74.99. Keep an eye out for it as it starts to be available in more locations.
Before putting it through its paces, I decided to pull out an older Snugride 35 seat and see what the differences are. For ease of identifying in these pictures the older Classic Connect version is beige, while the new Click Connect is black. I noticed right away that the Click Connect is lighter. According to Graco, the new one is a mere 7.5 pounds without the base, more than 2 pounds lighter than the older model, which is a large difference when carrying an infant seat around with an infant in it. Another very obvious difference is the width. The Click Connect no longer has the flare present in the Classic Connect, making the base only 14” across at the widest point, as opposed to 17” of the Classic Connect. The seat itself is also significantly trimmer, making the Snugride Click Connect 35 a strong contender for parents needing a seat that will fit in a 3-across situation. As you can see in the photos above, the dial for changing the angle of the base has been moved to the front of the seat, and on this particular model there is no lock off on the Click Connect. For those wanting a lock-off note that it is available on some models of the SnugRide Click Connect 35, and the stand alone base available for purchase separately also comes standard with a lock-off. The version we were sent for review came with a removable all-weather boot and an infant head support, but no infant body support or harness covers.
We tried out the seat with a variety of children and vehicles. First, the children.
Our first model is Alexandria, who was 7 days old, 7 pounds 8 ounces, and 20” at the time of these pictures. I was very impressed with how well the seat fit a baby of her size. There was no need for a crotch roll and the harness straps were well below her shoulders on the lowest setting, as required when rear-facing. Other seats (including other infant seats and infant/child seats) often say they will fit babies as small as five pounds, but the lowest harness slots may not actually be low enough to take into account how short newborns are. Remember, the harness slots must be at or below the shoulders when rear facing. This seat definitely doesn’t have that issue and I can easily see a smaller baby still fitting this seat very well. I felt like the seat had plenty of support for her, and I did not miss the body support cushions that some trim levels provide. However, I would use receiving blankets or the provided head support in the vehicle, whichever gave the better fit. Always consult your manual for specifics regarding required or optional infant inserts, padding, body support, head positioners, harness covers, belly pads, etc, but in general, so long as they are not interfering with the correct harnessing of the child, it is acceptable to use tightly rolled receiving blankets for added support as in this picture. The chest clip doesn’t seem huge with such a little baby and the straps were nice and close together. The crotch buckle is small and didn’t dig into her. Please see our YouTube here for a demonstration on harnessing a newborn into an infant carrier, including how to use crotch rolls and receiving blankets safely.
Our next model is Thea, who is 4 months old and about 16 pounds and 26″ long. Thea normally cries a lot in the car in her usual car seat. Laura found that she seemed much happier in this seat and seemed to enjoy being able to look around more since the sides of the seat are not as deep around her head. She was still on the second from bottom slot with lots of room to grow. Laura loved the smooth adjuster, how light the seat is, and the substantial canopy.
Guinevere is 5 months old, 16 pounds, and 27” long. Prior to trying out the Snugride I had her in an infant/child seat, and so I was immediately taken by how close together the straps are on her. With a baby her size, I do miss the harness pads, but love how nicely the straps fit on her shoulders. The handle is comfortable to carry around and the seat doesn’t feel overly heavy, even with her inside it. It is easy to get her in and out of it.
Lastly is Calista, who is 2 1/2 years old, and just shy of 32” and around 25 pounds. While she is well under the maximum weight, she is very close to outgrowing the seat by overall height. This is fairly typical, and most children will outgrow most seats by height before weight. The seat has two sets of loops on the harness strap, providing a better fit for a wider variety of children. For children on the third or fourth slots from the bottom, the outer loops need to be used, resulting in a longer harness to better fit a larger child’s size. Not surprisingly, Calista was over the top harness slot. There was lots of room left on the harness and I could see that even a heavier child at the max end of the height would still have room in the harness. Calista still fit in the seat, with just over an inch left over her head on the shell. It is hard to see that from a frontal picture but she had told me I could take one picture and she held me to that, so I didn’t get a chance to take a good side view photo. See here for a good pictorial on how to check if a child has outgrown a rear-facing seat. She told me she didn’t like how close the harness straps were on her neck at first, but said they were okay when I pulled her shirt up between them and her neck. Otherwise she told me it was comfortable. If this were her seat now, I would be advising her parents to move her into an infant/child seat sooner rather than later due to how close she is to outgrowing it, but there are likely not many other infant seats on the market that a child this size would still fit.
With all the children, we loved how smooth and easy to use the harness adjuster is. The straps are very close together, which is great on smaller babies but we would like to see them a little further apart on the higher settings for older children. I did miss the harness pads, though in the winter it’s fairly easy to pull the child’s clothing up a bit to protect their necks. All our models fit well in the seat and seemed comfortable and happy in it. We were very impressed by how well the seat fit such a wide range of models, from birth to 2 1/2 years old.
Next we tried it out in a variety of vehicles. Since many parents ask about seats that will fit well in small spaces, I was curious to see how well it would fit in our 1990 2-door Honda Civic hatchback. There is not a lot of room in the back seat, disqualifying many seat options from being able to fit back there, especially at the approximately 45 degree recline angle a newborn needs. I tried the seat both in the center at one of the more upright angles (above left) and behind the driver at a reclined newborn angle (above right) and as you can see it fit with room to spare, especially in the center. I am 5’11” and have long legs and was able to sit comfortably in the seats with lots of room left to drive. This seat would definitely be in the running if I needed an infant seat for a compact car. There is no UAS in this vehicle, but I found the seat belt install with the lap belt in the center to be pretty straight forward. I needed a locking clip to lock the belt outboard as the belts in this vehicle don’t lock except in an emergency. I would likely opt for the base with the lock off if I were purchasing a seat for this vehicle, for ease of use and faster installation.
The next vehicle is a newer Toyota Yaris, a compact vehicle with a small back seat. On the left is an install with the base using the UAS. Again, the seat installed easily and there was plenty of room for the driver to sit comfortably. The base is equipped with basic hook connectors, which helps to both keep the price of the seat down, and reduces overall weight. I found them relatively easy to use. I tried a baseless install (right) and again found it to be straight forward and to fit nicely with ample room in front for the passenger.
My van is a 2003 Kia Sedona. I wasn’t surprised that it installed quite easily and quickly with the UAS and seat belt in the middle row. The rear row of my van can be a challenge though, due to a lack of lower UAS and extremely long buckle stalks, and many seats are incompatible in those seating positions. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get the base installed acceptably with the stalk twisted three times and the base at the highest position. As always, try a seat out in your own vehicle before purchasing and consult our vehicle shopping guide if you’re in the market for a new one.
Laura tried it out in a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL. The leather in this vehicle can make installing seats tricky, but it went in okay with some pressure with both a UAS install and a seatbelt install. There was plenty of room for the front passenger to sit in front of it.
Overall, this seat was very easy to install in all of the vehicles we tried it in. It is a compact seat front to back as well as side to side, making it a good contender for both compact vehicles and situations where a parent may need to install three seats across the same row, and yet it retains the high weight and height limits parents and techs have come to love about the SnugRide 35, and accomplishes it all while still shaving 2.5 pounds off the weight of the carrier.
One thing we noticed was that in vehicles with flatter seats (particularly the Yaris and Sedona above, but also the Civic), the level indicator never got to the more upright 3+ month level, even with the base at the lowest position. This means it is unlikely to need pool noodles to achieve the proper recline for a newborn (bonus!), but you may not be able to get it more upright for older babies. Reading through the manual, having it at the more upright angle for babies 3+ months seems to be optional, though it is worth noting that some babies are happier with the seats more upright once they have the neck control to handle it. My daughter does not seem bothered by being a little bit more reclined than she was in our infant/child seat. For baseless installs, there is a line on the side of the seat to ensure that it is at the right angle for an infant. There is only one line when baseless, regardless of the infant’s age or size. Note that the handle must be in the upright position at all times for use in vehicles.
Overall, this seat is an excellent value for the price. It would be a great choice for parents expecting twins or with a history of preterm infants, is an excellent fit for an average newborn, and will fit smaller babies comfortably right into toddlerhood while also being a good choice for parents with larger babies who want to keep them in an infant carrier as long as possible. We loved how narrow and compact it is compared to older versions, the ease of install, and the wide variety of children and vehicles it fit well in. It is nice that there are alternate trim levels available for parents who would prefer a lock off on the base or are interested in infant body support and harness pads. After using this seat for the last several weeks, I definitely feel that it deserves its spot on our favourites list. For help installing, please don’t hesitate to contact a tech, we now have both a Vancouver Island and a Canada-wide list.
We would like to thank Graco Baby Canada for providing the seat used in this review. All opinions are our own.
Graco Baby Canada is also giving away a Snugride Click Connect 35 to one of our lucky readers in Canada. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Make sure to leave a blog comment letting us know what you look for when you are shopping for a new seat. If you do not have a child who would fit, feel free to enter on behalf of someone you know who could use the seat for themselves. Good luck!