Graco’s got a great seat with some new installation tech, but is it that great?
Graco SnugRide car seats have been around for a hot minute. I’ve gone over them before, and I really like Graco stuff in general. That’s why I’m so excited about the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 30. It took the best of the SnugRide 30, paired it with some amazing installation technology, and made an affordable and user-friendly car seat that can be paired with any Click Connect stroller.
The SnugRide SnugLock 30 is another reliable Graco gem.
Let’s do a quick once-over of the SnugRide SnugLock 30’s safety credentials.
- Meets or exceeds all US crash safety standards. In fact, it’s made to withstand twice the force that’s recommended by the standards.
- Side impact tested. The seat will keep protecting the head, neck, and body from both sides in case of a side-impact crash. It does this by ensuring occupant retention via the 5 point safety harness.
- Extreme temperature tested. This might seem silly, but it’s not. Where I live, we reach triple digits and negative digits all in the same year. You have no idea what kind of havoc those temperatures, especially the heat, can wreak on plastic! It makes parts like buckles and connections easier to break.
So now that you know that the car seat meets all the standards and has major safety chops, we can move on to installation.
Want to find the safest infant car seat? Click the link to read our Best Infant Car Seat article.
How to Install a Car Seat for Dummies, by Graco
You may have giggled at the heading for this section, but I used it on purpose! This new SnugLock thing makes secure installation so easy. It’s pretty much dummy-proof.
How it works is that you lift the SnugLock arm. Then just latch or buckle in the base as you normally would. Tighten it and remove any slack from the latch straps or belt. Lower the SnugLock arm until you hear a very loud and forceful click, and then you are done! The base won’t be able to move even a half an each to any side. Since the SnugLock is a built in lock-off that does the work for you, you don’t have to muscle or rig anything to get a good, tight fit.
The SnugRide SnugLock has regular, manual latch hooks. Combine that with the locking base tech and you have a really secure car seat. In fact, the installation is so amazing that you can’t undo it. Okay, you can, but it’s a real pain. The base is so tight that you really have to work at it just to get it loosened enough to attempt to remove it from the car. That makes moving this base from one car to another a royal pain. I suggest buying an extra SnugLock base if you would need to move from car to car often. Plus, you can buy a base that comes with Graco’s InRight latch hooks for much easier latching.
For the whole SnugLock thing to work correctly, you have to have your incline right. This base features 4 recline positions and a built in level indicator (yes, a real level, not just a printed sticker that you line up to the ground using your best guess). As an aside, the base is also amazing because it has a compartment that will store the car seat manual and the latch straps and hooks when not in use.
The SnugRide originally got its name because of the compact size. Graco said it’s “more snug” and “less to lug.” This car seat still lives up to that original promise.
This car seat is still regular sized- it can fit an infant from 4 to 30 pounds and up to 30 inches. But it does that by being a lot smaller. For comparison, it’s about 2 inches shorter and 1 inch skinnier than the Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat.
The narrower size makes this car seat ideal for those who are trying to fit multiple car seats in the back seat of one car. On the flip side, this car seat probably isn’t ideal for those who have big babies. That is to say, it only goes up to 30 lb and 30 in, and there’s a lot less space in this car seat compared to other car seats, so a baby on the bigger side might not be comfortable in this car seat for very long.
One of the best features of this car seat is the weight. It weighs only 7 lb, which is crazy light. Yet again, compared to the Chicco KeyFit 30, it’s 2 pounds lighter. That difference becomes more marked as baby gets heavier and heavier. This makes it ideal for using in a travel system. You can fit this car seat into any Click Connect Graco stroller and you’ll have a lightweight and custom travel system in no time.
We covered the safety, the install, and the size. So what about all the other stuff? You know, the day-to-day, how comfy is it and am I gonna be able to use it easily stuff? It’s pretty great too.
There’s a standard sized canopy on the SnugRide SnugLock 30. It comes out nearly to the carrying handle and does a good job shielding baby. I will say that the way it’s weighted, if you don’t have the canopy fully extended, it tends to slide back to being all the way flat with the car seat. It won’t hold any sort of position in between. This isn’t a huge problem though, since most of the time you either have the canopy fully extended or fully folded down.
The car seat comes with a removable newborn cushion support. It’s actually a pretty nice pillow because it has both head support and side/body support. Although, it isn’t very soft. Like the rest of the car seat, it’s made from a poly-cotton blend that ends up feeling a bit rough and stiff. I do like how easy it is to clean, though. You can machine wash it and drip dry. Yay!
The car seat itself is snug and cozy. There is EPS foam that lines the entire car seat. This serves 2 purposes: it absorbs energy from a collision and it provides padding for your kiddo. In any case, there’s a generous amount, so you don’t have to worry about your baby getting cranky because the car seat is too hard.
There is a 5 point safety harness with some pretty nice shoulder pads. The buckle is easy to do and undo with one hand, which this busy mamma loves. There are 4 different positions for the shoulder straps and 2 different positions for the bottom buckle. I wish that it was easier to move the harness. You have to go around to the back of the seat and do it manually. At least the tightening strap at the front of the car seat is convenient and easy to use.
This thing is still pretty brand new, so there aren’t a lot of reviews to speak of. The reviews that are out look really good, though!
- Superb safety
- Easy, fast, and secure installation
- Lightweight and small
- Canopy, newborn cushion, and 5 point safety harness
- Hard to get the base back out the the car once installed
- Smaller height and weight parameters
- Canopy likes to fall back
- Have to manually adjust harness height
The Graco SnugRide SnugLock 30 is a good car seat. It has everything I’d expect from Graco- safety, style, and reliability. I think that the SnugLock technology on the base could rival the built-in lock offs of some of the more expensive brands. I love how lightweight the car seat is, but that small size makes me nervous for big babies! It’s a good car seat for the price, and a good entry-level product.
To get a great seat, I would personally look at the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite car seat. For a tiny bit more money, it has a bigger capacity (35 lbs and 32 inches), as well as better fabrics and a much larger canopy. It also solves the problem of manually adjusting the straps, as it has the easy harness adjust system. It’s even got the InRight latch hooks that make latching and unlatching this base even easier.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with a SnugLock car seat. The SnugRide SnugLock 30 car seat is a great option for those who are on a budget and don’t mind a bit of a hassle when it comes to things like latching and harness adjustment.
I think that the user-friendly and quality improvement upgrades on the SnugLock 35 Elite make it much better than the SnugLock 30. If you can afford slightly more for a car seat, you’ll get a better product that’ll save you a lot of time and frustration by getting the SnugLock 35 Elite.