The Chicco NextFit Zip has been updated since this article was originally published. The recently released, updated version comes in newer colors but has the same great features. The nicer version of the NextFit Zip, the NextFit Zip iX discussed in this article, has been discontinued. The current upgraded version of the NextFit Zip is the NextFit MAX Zip Air, which features a higher rear-facing weight limit, extended legroom, and breathable mesh fabrics.
Chicco rolls out some pretty impressive features with the Nextfit Zip. Is it worth the price?
At first glance, the Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat appears to be a parent’s dream car seat. With its steel-reinforced frame, amazing safety features, and easy installation, I was pretty much sold. Upon closer look, I realized there were a few things that could be improved and this model might not give enough bang for your buck.
Safety First and Easy Installation
Buying a car seat is one of the most important purchases a parent will make for their little one and, hands down, the biggest concern is safety. The Chicco Nextfit Zip delivers on the safety front. Chicco makes the Keyfit30, my infant car seat of choice, due to its amazing safety features, so I had high hopes for the Nextfit Zip. Just like the Keyfit30, Nextfit Zip is steel reinforced and exceeds federal safety regulations for crash protection.
Installing this car seat was SO EASY: You could have the safest convertible car seat in the world but if it is not properly installed, all those safety features are negated. I actually despise installing car seats because I find it frustrating and stressful. My husband usually takes that job but since I am the one testing the product, I put on my big girl pants, read my manual and made my installation.
Husband Agreed?!! My husband verified that the ease of installation was indeed credited to the Netfit Zip’s features and not me. The LATCH connectors push on and Chicco’s SuperCinch technology makes it, funnily enough, a cinch, to tighten and adjust. The bubble-level let me know the seat was angled just right, and works for rear-facing and front-facing positions. So, there you have it, installation so easy a mom that can’t even put a Melissa and Doug easel together can do it.
Nice Belts! The Chicco Nextfit Zip’s five-point harness and super-padded headrest enhance your child’s safety even more, and easily expand as your little one grows. Designed to allow for rear-face riding, the safest position, through 40 pounds, safety wise, this car seat a great choice. As a self-admitted worry wart, I feel good, and safe, about buckling little ones up in the Nextfit Zip.
- Steel-reinforced frame and exterior
- Super easy installation
- Bubble lever meter for perfect angle
- 5-Point Harness
Comfort is Key
Between sporting events, work, school, and the occasional road trip, our babies log some serious hours in their car seats. For that reason, comfort is of the utmost importance. The Chicco Nextfit Zip has some neat features to enhance kids’ comfort.
It Reclines! Reclining is important as it helps encourage sleep, something all parents love their children to do, especially on long car rides. The Nextfit Zip reclines in nine different positions, which is pretty unheard of in the convertible car seat world. If you have a mini-van or SUV, you will love this feature ,but for me and my sedan, reclining in more than three positions wasn’t possible with the front seats in the way.
Thick Pads: The harness pads are super full which is nice for the baby, a feature not found only on this model and the Nextfit IX. Imagine being strapped down for hours on end. Proper padding is appreciated. The harness and padded headrest are easily adjusted, which I love. After two hours in the car, my toddler had yet to complain “ouchie buckle” which is essentially, from her a five-star review.
A Good Fit: My good friend has a newborn so we were able to test out the infant insert. At just under seven pounds, baby Anya fit just great in the NextFit Zip with the included infant insert, the harness hitting just below her little shoulders. For the first three months of baby’s life, I prefer a portable infant car seat, like the Keyfit 30, for convenience and stroller usage.
- Reclines in nine different positions
- Padded harness pads and headrest
- Included infant insert
Battle of the Buckles and Ease of Use
Buckling an unwilling baby or toddler into a convertible car seat is akin to wrestling a buttered-up alligator in a swamp. Not fun. I am happy to report that strapping my sweet child into this chair, mood aside, was not a problem. The Chicco Nextfit Zip’s bucket style seats help to natural nestle your child into place and the thick harness straps have yet to twist up on me.
The aforementioned straps stay put, right where they should, and the padding helps keep the bottom buckle in place, saving you from a search and saving your baby from getting pinched or burned by hot metal.
Extra Heavy: I loved all the buckle features on the Nextfit Zip but you know what I didn’t love? This car seat is super heavy at over 26 pounds. If I really think about it, the weight contributes to the safety but since I had to drag this from the house to the car and then to my friend’s house and to her car, I had a lot of experience in how much of a pain (literally and figuratively) a heavy car seat can be. This is not a huge concern for convertible car seats like this one, as they usually stay put once installed, but something to consider if you are an air traveler or switching cars often.
With that heavy weight, comes bulk. As I mentioned, the Nextfit won’t fully recline when rear-facing in my mid-sized car. I love this seat but, since I have more than one child riding in a car seat, I am more likely to use an equally safe but thinner model, like a Chicco KeyFit 30.
- Bucket-style seats
- Non-twist straps
- Heavy and bulky
All the Little Extras
Chicco boasts about the Nextfit Zip’s thermal-insulated cup holder, which can go on either side of the car seat. My little ones only drink water in the car, so temperature regulation isn’t really a top concern for me and, as luck would have it, the generic colored sippy cups I use don’t fit in the cup holder.
If you like options, the Chicco Nextfit Zip convertible car seat comes in many different colors. If you shop around, you can probably find the one you really want. Amazon has three color options and Toys R Us offers a few more on top of that.
The cup holders, the colors, the buckles, and the padding are all amazing features but there is one feature on the Nextfit Zip so innovative that I had to give it a section of its own. Behold, the zipper.
- Thermal-insulated cup holder
- Several color options
The Zipper. Is it worth it?
Something Special: Let’s end with what sets the Chicco Nextfit Zip apart from the other Nextfit models. The zipper. The entire inside of this convertible car seat, padding and all, unzips from the shell and is machine washable. When I was pregnant with my first child, I don’t think this feature would have mattered much to me but, as a mom of three, with my fourth on the way, easy clean-up sounds like heaven on earth.
Car seats get dirty. Actually, if I am being honest, they get nasty. Crumbs, spit-up, spilled drinks, contraband candy, and leaky diapers take their toll. Your convertible car seat is going to get gross. To be able to zip the fabric and padding right off and toss it in the wash sounded like a miracle to me but, that miracle comes at a price. The Nextfit Zip is priced at a higher price point than the Nextfit (sans zip). Is it worth it?
Worth It? Yes and no. I would gladly pay $25, maybe even $50 for a truly easy-to-clean car seat. Your child uses their convertible car seat for three to five years, so, in the long run, it’s worth the small investment. The problem? The Nextfit Zip’s pad must be air dried. That puts you out a car seat while you wait for a fresh-from–the-washer piece of padding to dry out. Furthermore, if your kid pukes or spills, you are likely going to be hand cleaning the straps and buckles, so you might as well do the inside as well.
If you are a neat freak, the zip feature is worth the extra money. If you are the kind of parent that cleans their car out once a year, you can probably do without.
Only the Best for My Baby
I’m not going to lie to you, the sticker price on this bad boy came as a bit of a shock to me. I associate the Chicco brand with affordability. Much as I do with Graco, I expect a sturdy, safe product at a decent price. It may not be the prettiest convertible car seat on the aisle but it’s a workhorse.
The thing is, with the NextFit Zip, Chicco has placed itself in the same price category as Clek or Peg Pegero. Personally, if I am going to shell out the big bucks for a super-safe car seat, I appreciate a bit of attention in the aesthetics department, which Chicco does not deliver. I wish Chicco had put a bit more effort into dolling up the Nextfit Zip and producing some fun color combinations.
- 4.6 stars, 319 reviews – BabiesRUs
- 4.8 stars, 23 reviews – Target
- 4.6 stars, 44 reviews – Buy Buy Baby
- 5.0 stars, 319 reviews – Albee Baby
- Super safe, steel framed and exceeds all federal crash test regulations and
- Comfortable for long trips and reclines in 9 positions
- Extremely easy to install
- Inside material unzips and is machine washable
- Heavy and a bit bulky for sedans
- High price point
- Inside material must be air dried
Ease of Use Ratings
When it comes to safety, installation and ease of use are incredibly important. While all car seats are required to pass federal safety testing, some are easier to use than others. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration computes an ease of use rating for every car seat in several categories. See the ratings below.
Overall, the Chicco Nextfit Zip Forward-facing received a rating of 4 stars.
Super safe, the Chicco Nextfit Zip is a great choice for a long-term convertible car seat. Rear-facing from 5 -40 lbs., and forward-facing from 22-65 lbs., with adjustable harness and headrest, it will comfortably see your baby all the way to school age. It is the perfect car seat for the installation-challenged parent and has cool features such as the nine recline positions. The zip feature for easy cleaning sounds amazing, but it’s not really worth the extra money. Our suggestion, go with the Nextfit CX.