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Graco SnugRide Infant Seat Review

Weight: 7.8 lbs

In the world of infant car seats, the Graco SnugRide is a name as recognizable as Wonderbread. It’s a favorite seat among parents and one of our favorites as well, especially in the economy to mid-range department. You can get some really nice features for your money.

Navigating the various SnugRide models can be downright confusing. Note: this review is for the Graco SnugRide – in general. I’ve broken down the basic features here, but you’ll find my top 3 model picks down below.

SnugRide. SnugLock. SnugFit. What the hell does it all mean? It’s a valid question.

For starters, “SnugRide” is just the umbrella term used for all of Graco infant car seats. But there are still a zillion different Graco SnugRide models (just kidding, there are only 17).

A few years ago, they introduced the “SnugLock” seat belt lock feature (more on that below), so now they have SnugLock seats and non-Snug Lock seats.

Just recently (2021), they also added a new “SnugFit” feature to their higher-end models, which basically an anti-rebound bar (remember: SnugFit = anti-rebound bar). Anti-rebound bars are usually only found on higher end/luxury/Euro style car seats, so this is probably the most affordable way to get an infant seat with an anti-rebound bar. (You already read about the basics of infant car seats, right? Highly recommend you start there to orient yourself).

What is SnugLock ?

Back to SnugLock.

“SnugLock” offers an easy way for you to install the base with a seatbelt without having to wrestle it in place to tighten it. Parents or grandparents who have arthritis (or who aren’t very strong) — this base is for you! The SnugLock “arm” requires only a small amount of force to close, and it can be closed with only one hand. It’s basically a giant clamp for the seatbelt. It’s user-friendly — especially if you don’t want to mess with LATCH. Check out our video review here (or click below).


Just to recap… SnugRide is the name of Graco’s infant seat. SnugLock is a giant clamp that offers easy installation, and SnugFit offers an anti-rebound bar. Got it? K.

Various SnugFit Models

Shorthand

LX: If you see the letters “LX” on a Graco SnugFit (that’s the one with the anti-rebound bar) infant seat, it means it also has the SnugLock feature. So if you see SnugRide SnugFit LX, you can expect the anti-rebound bar and the one-minute install (LX is just a way of shortening the name).

DLX, XT and Elite: Graco has many models that have various comfort and convenience options, including a no-rethread harness, a handle you can adjust with one hand, extra padding for infant support and more.

There are so many variations, gang, it’s hard to keep up with them, as they are constantly changing.

You’ll find most of the aforementioned bonus features on the DLX and Elite versions of Graco’s car seats. I personally feel like buying a super fancy Graco is like buying a Kia and putting expensive rims on it, but… to each its own.

Note: the “Extend2Fit” versions of the SnugRide have been discontinued.

Winners

I’ll pick some models that stand out in each price category…

Value pick: If you’re looking for a decent economy seat, check out the SnugRide 35 Lite LX for $109. It lacks the SnugLock feature, which means you have to use their very basic (crappy) LATCH connectors, but at 7.2 lbs and for $109, this seat gets the job done, especially if you can install the car seat base and leave it be. I wouldn’t recommend this seat for anyone who needs to take the base in and out of the car a lot. It’s a good value considering you’ll probably use an infant seat for less than 12 months. It’s very highly rated, lightweight and easy to carry.

Mid-range value: For a mid-range price ($179), check out the SnugRide SnugLock 35, which adds the SnugLock “locking arm” feature we discussed before. At 7.5 lbs, this is also a lightweight seat that’s easy to install with a seatbelt. This model is their bread and butter – it’s also highly rated (see pic below).

Upper end: In the $200 range… the SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite model for $204 is highly rated and offers a no re-thread harness (which means you don’t have to detach and re-thread the harness straps manually to change their height as your baby grows). When compared to the Chicco Keyfit (whose base model starts at $219) does NOT offer a no rethread-harness… I think this seat is honestly a better value. This model also has higher end LATCH connectors (the kind that won’t break your nails) if you choose to install with LATCH – AND it has a “rapid remove” cover, for when it is inevitably puked or pee’d on.

Again, you can find many models in between these 3^, but these are my top picks.

Bottom line: The Graco SnugRide “SnugLock” version (and its 17 variations) are affordable, reliable, and fairly easy to install. My big complaint of the entry-level SnugRides is that they have basic “hook-style” LATCH connectors, which I detest, but this is a moot point with the SnugLock versions. It’s tried and true and compatible with many different stroller brands, except for the luxury/European brands.

*The Graco SnugRide is an American-style seat (although the SnugFit has an anti-rebound bar!)


Stroller Compatibility

Graco is an economy brand, and you get what you pay for. Their strollers are okay, but generally heavier, bulkier, and more “plasticky” than others. On the plus side, any SnugRide car seat will click firmly into place with any Graco Click Connect stroller.

So that’s good.

Your lightweight stroller options: Their basic car seat “frame stroller” is the SnugRider Elite ($109). This stroller can only be used with a car seat. It has a huge storage basket, is super lightweight and very easy to fold and heave into your car. Frame strollers are very popular for the first year of life — and something we highly recommend, especially if your other primary stroller is quite heavy/full size.

Graco SnugRide + SnugRider Stroller Frame

Your “bigger stroller” options: Graco offers three main travel system strollers which include the popular Modes/Modes 3 Lite (and all of its variations) and the FastAction Fold (and all of its variations). Read more about the Graco Modes in “Favorite Strollers.”

Again, the benefit of buying a Graco stroller is that they are all guaranteed to work well with the SnugRide car seat. As previously stated, not many other stroller manufacturers make car seat adapters for the SnugLock or Click Connect (although more now than did in previous years), so if you’ve got your eye on the UPPAbaby stroller, for example, you won’t be able to use it with this car seat. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya. 😉 *Always check with the stroller manufacturer for compatibility before you buy because they change quite often.

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