I could say with confidence that Chicco KeyFit 30 definitely has the largest parent fan base on the car seat market. So, it didn't catch me by surprise that so many parents were hyped about the new KeyFit 35 model.
But of course, since it costs a few extra bucks, skepticism found its way into the parents' circles. Does it really have anything new to offer?
Today we are comparing Chicco KeyFit 30 vs 35 to finally determine what the differences between them are and decide whether the newer version is inevitably better.
Table of Contents
- Comparison Table
- Safety Features
- Travel-Friendly Features
- Independent Crash Results
- Parents' Thoughts
Rear-facing infant mode
Rear-facing position infant mode
Lower anchors LATCH + vehicle seat belt
Lower anchors LATCH + vehicle seat belt
No Rethread Harness
Chicco KeyFit 30 is a rear-facing infant child restraint system that comes with a car seat base.
It includes thick infant inserts that make it suitable for babies as little as four pounds, and it has a top weight capacity of thirty pounds. The maximum height limit is thirty inches, which is a pretty standard capacity.
The seat also includes a large handle, so it can be used as a car seat carrier, which is why this model is one of the parents' favorites for taking the baby out of the hospital. Another awesome thing about it is that it clicks right into Chicco strollers and makes a perfect travel system.
KeyFit 35 is also a rear-facing infant car seat. It also has a car seat base, a removable canopy, and a handle that allows you to use it as a carrier.
The first difference between these two models, though, is the weight limit. KeyFit 35 also starts at four pounds, but unlike KeyFit 30, it maxes out at thirty-five pounds, and the maximum height limit is thirty-two inches.
Why is that important?
Well, extensive testing has proven that the rear-facing position is the safest position for your baby to be in, and it's the official recommendation to keep your baby in it as long as possible, which KeyFit 35 allows you to do.
The next big difference is the base which has an anti-rebound bar. This is one of the best safety features your infant car seat can have because it stabilizes the seat in crashes and prevents rotation. It is also responsible for the extra leg room that actually allows you to keep your baby rear-facing longer.
Design-wise, these seats are almost identical. Both car seats are rear-facing infant car seats that can be used as carriers and can be converted into travel systems.
However, the main difference is that KeyFit 35 has a higher weight limit and an anti-rebound bar, which from the start gives it an advantage since it makes it safer than KeyFit 30.
Starting from the base, Chicco KeyFit 30 incorporates two of Chicco's patented features: RideRight® bubble level indicators and the ReclineSure® spring-loaded leveling foot.
The level indicators help you find the right angle for the base in the car seat, and the leveling foot lets you choose between multiple recline positions to find the perfect angle for the seat within the base.
Another awesome thing about the base is the LATCH system, allowing you to install it with precision in seconds. Plus, it has a special SuperCinch® tightener which uses force-multiplying technology to help you tighten everything easily.
But this is not the only installation option.
If you need to install the seat with a seat belt, you can do so thanks to the integrated lock-offs. The seat includes a five-point harness strap, but it requires retreading as your baby grows.
KeyFit 35 has Chicco's trademark features as well; the RideRight® bubble indicators, ReclineSure®, and SuperCinch® tightener are at the base of its design. However, it includes additional design innovations such as the LockSure®, a steel-reinforced belt locking system. In fact, Chicco KeyFit 30 has a European belt guide for an easy baseless installation.
Another fantastic innovation is the Easy-Extend Headrest system. It allows you to modify the headrest height along with the five-point harness straps. So, it is way more convenient to use than the standard rethread harness that the original KeyFit has.
Both seats feature a one-hand, one-second click-in attachment for effortless conversion into a travel system with all Chicco strollers.
So, to sum it up, both models have Chicco's patented features that facilitate the installation process with or without the base. But, KeyFit 35, on top of that, has a no-rethread harness and a European belt path for a super easy baseless installation. A special LockSure belt locking system and a rebound bar significantly improve the overall safety of the car seat.
Both models are available in many different styles, but most importantly, there are different materials to choose from.
For example, besides the standard versions, both KeyFit 30 and KeyFit 35 are also available in the ClearTex version.
Clear Tex line is basically Chicco's eco line that has been GreenGuard Gold certified, which means it has low emissions and protects the environment. What is more, this fabric is naturally fire-retardant, so it has no harmful chemicals added.
Another version you can choose is the Zip version. Namely, Chicco KeyFit 30 ZipAir has a 3D breathable mesh backrest. With its elevated airflow channels, it is highly breathable and provides the airflow where your baby needs it the most, preventing excessive sweating and overheating.
KeyFit 35 does not have the ZipAir line; their Zip model is known for its breathable canopy that has a zip-open mesh panel that improves the breathability of the seat and helps with thermoregulation.
Both models have removable infant inserts but also removable covers. The covers can be machine washed in cold water on a delicate cycle. Plastic parts and straps need to be hand-washed with mild soap and cold water.
Also, the seat pad is removable and machine washable. For exact details on maintenance and cleaning, you can refer to the products manual, which is available on Chicco's official website.
Although both car seats are available in standard, ClearTex, and Zip versions, only KeyFit 30 actually has a breathable mesh back. KeyFit 35 has a canopy with breathable mesh panels, but I don't think it is as breathable as Chicco KeyFit 30 ZipAir.
Safety is Chicco's number one priority.
In fact, Chicco has its research center in Italy, where the consultation, planning, and designing happen and where all of its seats are tested to comply with the federal safety standards.
Both these models comply with the US FMVSS 213 federal safety standards. Also, both KeyFit 30 and KeyFit 35 are JPMA certified. This means they have been tested above and beyond the standards to ensure they are completely safe for your child.
The safety of both models starts from the core. They have a sturdy, reliable frame that keeps the structure together and maintains integrity in crashes or collisions.
Then, there is the EPS foam shell that absorbs the crash forces and directs them away from your child, keeping him/her safe and sound.
Also, the newborn positioners are fundamental for a good fit from day one. They help you find a center seating position for your little ones and cradle them for maximum comfort and safety. Once you remove them, the EPS shell acts as impact protection and keeps your baby safe.
Now, Chicco KeyFit 35 also has an integrated anti-rebound bar, so it is among the safest car seats on the market since the anti-rebound bar will prevent rotation in crashes and keep your baby intact.
The bubble level indicator and spring-loaded system for angle adjustment are also crucial for safety because they help you install the seat correctly, which is the first step in car seat safety. And the premium latch connectors ensure you do it precisely every time, so chances for a mistake are genuinely minimal.
All in all, both car seats have all the great features Chicco patented to ensure the safety of its products. But, because of the anti-rebound bar, easier shoulder belt installation, and steel-reinforced lock-offs, I'd say KeyFit 35 is slightly safer.
Most infant car seats are fairly heavy. They are usually loaded with impact protection to provide adequate body support and secure fit. Therefore, they are not ideal travel options, but if your baby is younger than three, you have no other option than to bring along a rear-facing infant car seat. That being said, let's see which one of the two models is a more travel-friendly option.
Chicco KeyFit 30 weighs 9.5 lbs, and the base additionally weighs 7 lbs, so in total, it's a 16.5 lbs heavy infant car seat. Because of the wide handle, it's great to use as a carrier, and it's fairly convenient for carrying, so if you're walking a lot with your baby, it won't be a huge issue.
Another great traveling advantage is that the car seat clicks right into the Chicco stroller, so in one simple step, you can convert the seat into a travel system.
Thick inserts make it very comfortable and soft, but there are no cup holders or hidden storage pockets. What I also like is a large extendable canopy that offers additional protection on sunny days and adds up to the overall elegant look.
As for the Chicco KeyFit 35, the car seat itself weighs ten pounds, and the base weighs 8.5 pounds. So overall, it weighs 18.5 pounds, which is a lot. But given that most rear-facing infant seats weigh at least 20 pounds, this is not bad at all.
It also has a convenient handle that makes it very comfortable to carry. It is approved for airplane use as well and can be installed with either latch connectors or a seatbelt. A release handle makes it super easy to remove the car seat from the base, so the seat is very convenient for transfer from one car to another.
Also, it has a full-size canopy with UPF 50+ sun protection. Therefore, this car seat is great for summer vacations.
To sum it up, both car seats are great for traveling. They are approved for airplane use, stroller compatibility is on point, and they can be installed with or without the base. This is important if you're renting a car or you're moving your child from one car to another.
Also, both models weigh less than twenty pounds, being thus lighter than average infant car seats. But, the original KeyFit is slightly lighter, so I'd have to say it's a slightly more travel-friendly option.
Independent Crash Results
Chicco KeyFit has been the number one parents' budget choice for years. Why?
What Chicco seems to blend is an innovative design, flawless engineering, and affordable price. Within the given price range, this brand delivers the best quality, and even its design and style are generally better than what parents expect.
On top of everything, KeyFit models have scored highly on some independent crash testing that third parties such as Baby Gear Lab performed; therefore, it really gave parents peace of mind, proving they are really a reliable, safe choice.
Namely, the two most significant tests that Baby Gear Lab performs are the chest sensor test and the head sensor test. The maximum allowed for the chest sensor is sixty, and the lower result is better. While for the head sensor, the maximum allowed is seven hundred, and again the lower result is generally better.
So, when it comes to our two models, both scored results that are way better than the average, and we can say their safety level is genuinely high.
KeyFit 30 scored 330 in the HIC test and 50.5 in the chest sensor test. It also scored one of the highest rates for the ease of installation, so this model is often referred to as the easiest infant car seat to install.
On the other hand, KeyFit 35 scored 342 on the HIC test and 51 on the chest sensor test. So, although this car seat does have some additional safety features in comparison to the original KeyFit, it did not perform as well as the original did in this independent testing of Baby Gear Lab.
In fact, Chicco KeyFit 30 had the best HIC results of all infant car seats tested, so it did deserve the attention and love of the parents it has had all these years. In the chest sensor category, this seat was the third best, which again is an amazing result.
Overall, if we are to believe Baby Gear Lab's crash test results, Chicco KeyFit 30 had better results in both main categories: the head sensor test and the chest sensor test. What is more, the HIC category had the best results in the entire group.
But, the final rating that KeyFit 30 got from Baby Gear Lab is lower than the rating of KeyFit 35. I believe that is due to the overall ease of use and ease of installation without the base. And while both seats are honestly simple to install, KeyFit 35 is slightly more intuitive.
1. Chicco KeyFit 30
Most parents agree that this car seat is generally fantastic. I've seen it being praised for its quality and practical design. It's one of the best infant car seats you can get for the price, and parents recognize this.
From the fabrics to the frame, everything is well made and durable. And since the covers and the seat pad can be removed and washed in a washing machine, it is fairly easy to clean, so you don't have to live in fear of a diaper blowout.
I also noticed some comments that praised how quiet the system is. The handle goes up and down silently, and the entire car seat clicks right into the stroller without making any noise. This comes in really handy when your little one is asleep and you really don't want to wake her up.
I even saw comments from the parents who were in crashes with their babies restrained in the Chicco KeyFit 30, and they testified their children got out of it without a scratch.
As for the negative things, most people don't like the stroller compatibility. Generally, this is not the only car seat you will need over the years, and once you buy a convertible car seat, you want it to be compatible with the stroller you bought.
2. Chicco KeyFit 35
When it comes to Chicco KeyFit 35, most reviewers start with "It is slightly heavy, but..". And it is true that most parents who originally had the KeyFit 30 find this model heavy, but compared to the other infant car seats on the market, this one is lighter than most.
Now, what parents really like about it is the ease of use. Most moms say it is a piece of cake to figure out how to install the seat and adjust it. When you start using it and see how intuitive its design is, the seat weight becomes insignificant.
Parents are also thrilled with the fabric and quality. They mainly praise the smoothness and soft touch of the covers, and most find it really well cushioned.
The only complaint I was able to find is the weight. Moms find it heavy to be carried with one arm only, and as I said, most are used to the lighter design of the KeyFit 30, which, to my mind, is the main reason for disappointment.
Do the Chicco KeyFit 30 and 35 have the same base?
No, they don't. Although both bases have the standard Chicco features like ReclineSure, RideRight, and SuperCinch, there is one significant difference between them.
Chicco KeyFit 35 base has an anti-rebound bar. This bar is a significant upgrade in safety because it acts as a stabilizer and prevents the rotation of the car seat in crashes.
In addition to this, it also provides more legroom as your child grows, so you can keep him/her in a rear-facing position longer. This is the second big difference between the two seats.
KeyFit 35 has a higher weight range in a rear-facing position.
Is the Chicco KeyFit 30 good for newborns?
Yes! Chicco KeyFit 30 is actually fantastic for newborns.
The first reason why is the thick newborn inserts. These inserts are ergonomic, soft, and strategically placed to cradle your baby from day one and protect its head, neck, and shoulders. These inserts make KeyFit car seats suitable for babies as little as four pounds.
The next reason why it is great for newborns is the handle that allows you to use the seat as a carrier.
For how long can a baby be in a KeyFit 30 car seat?
Chicco KeyFit 30, like most infant seats, has a maximum weight capacity of thirty pounds. The maximum height limit is thirty inches, so your child will be able to use it for approximately two or three years.
With the infant inserts, the seat can accommodate children up to eleven pounds, but once the newborn inserts are removed, it is suitable for children up to thirty pounds.
KeyFit 35 infant car seat offers more flexibility here and accommodates children up to 35 pounds and 32 inches in height.
What's the difference between KeyFit 30 and 35?
The main difference between these two seats is the weight limit.
KeyFit 30, as the name suggests, accommodates children up to thirty pounds in weight and thirty-two inches in height. KeyFit 35, on the other hand, accommodates children up to thirty-five pounds in weight and thirty-two inches in height.
Also, KeyFit 35 has an anti-rebound bar, which offers extra leg room, thus the higher weight limit and more stability and extra protection in crashes.
KeyFit 30 is also lighter than KeyFit 35, but KeyFit 35 has steel-reinforced belt guides.
Is Chicco KeyFit 30 FAA approved?
Yes, Chicco KeyFit 30 is FAA-approved, so you can bring it to your flight with peace of mind.
You can install the seat using the airplane seat's lap belt, and due to its fairly lightweight design, it doesn't add too much to your luggage. With a proper carrying bag, you can transport it to the airport with ease.
Is KeyFit 35 FAA approved?
Yes, Chicco KeyFit 35 is FAA-approved, just like KeyFit 30, and can be used in an airplane. It is slightly heavier, though. So, I wouldn't say this model is an ideal option for traveling and flying.
But, If the weight is not a problem, you can use it in an airplane without a worry on your mind since it is aircraft approved and can be installed without the car seat base.
Can Chicco KeyFit 35 be used without the base?
Yes, Chicco KeyFit 35 can be used without a base. It has steel-reinforced belt guides, and it has a European-style belt path, so it's fairly simple to install it with or without the base.
To do so, you need to place the car seat on the vehicle seat and level it up. Then you take the vehicle seat belt and thread it through the seat belt guides at the front of the KeyFit 35.
Additionally, you can thread the shoulder belt through the guide on the back of the seat and provide additional stability.
And to end this story, it's not easy to choose between these two models. Not just that they both are coming from the same brand, but they are part of the same line, so they are almost identical.
The aspect in which they differ, though, is the weight of the seat itself and the weight range of the seat. Because KeyFit 35 has an anti-rebound bar, it offers more legroom and a higher weight limit, but it is slightly heavier too.
All in all, both car seat models are genuinely fantastic, the best you can get for the price, and I've seen nothing but words of praise from parents who bought them.