Get Your Facts Straight With the Ultimate Graco SnugRide Snuglock 35 Review

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Are you thinking about getting the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35?

Let me help you make that decision.

I have had this seat for a while now, and I've decided to write an honest review, explaining whether it lived up to my expectations and what I really think about it. Moreover, I will break down the entire SnugRide SnugLock line since there are a lot of similar models.

I hope you enjoy my Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 review and feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

Quick Summary

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 is a rear-facing infant car seat meant for kids between four and thirty-five pounds.

  • Value for Money - 4/5: The seat exhibits excellent quality for the price, but given that it's the first Graco seat in the SnugLock line, it doesn't keep up with the newer versions.
  • Safety - 5/5: Safety is not an issue with Graco SnugRide models. This seat is equipped with a 5-point harness, EPS foam, side-impact protection, and it exceeds federal safety standards.
  • Portability - 4/5: For an infant car seat, this model is very lightweight. It weighs around 7.5 pounds without the base, so it's pretty easy to get it in and out of the car.
  • Convertibility - 2/5: This is not a convertible. It can be used in a rear-facing position only, but you can use it with a Graco stroller frame to form a travel system.

The price: from $150

What I Like About It
  • Easy installation
  • Seatbelt and LATCH system
  • Fairly Lightweight
  • Excellent weight range
  • Four recline positions
  • Machine-washable covers
What I Don't Like About It
  • Infant inserts
  • Rethread harness
  • Hook LATCH system
  • No forward-facing mode

A Few Words About It

This seat is budget-friendly to a mid-range rear-facing car seat, the first in the SnugLock line that Graco released. It has both LATCH anchors and easy seatbelt installation, and the entire process takes no more than a couple of minutes.

The seat offers extended rear-facing use, and with four recline positions and level indicators, you can easily find a proper angle to keep your little one accommodated comfortably over the years. It's ultra-safe since it passed rigorous testing and clicks right into the Graco stroller frame.

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Infant Car Seat | Baby Car Seat, Redmond*
  • SnugLock Technology: Installs in less than one minute using vehicle seat belt or LATCH
  • Helps protect rear-facing infants from 4-35 lb and up to 32"
  • Adjustable base with 4 recline positions lets you customize fit to your vehicle
  • Easy-to-read level indicator helps eliminate guesswork from the installation process, so you can feel confident it’s installed correctly
  • One-step secure attachment to Graco car seat bases and strollers to create a travel system

General Features: Is It Good?

Honestly saying, we got this Graco car seat a while back, and from this point of view, it is a bit outdated. What keeps it viable on today's market, though, is good quality and safe design.

Don't get me wrong, it's a great car seat, and I will explain why in a bit, but there are just so many better options on the market now, and while it is a fantastic budget-friendly car seat, I feel like I would buy something else if I were choosing today.

That being said, let me tell you my opinion about this car seat.

Overall, I am fairly satisfied with this car seat; I would give it an 8/10. It's a rear-facing infant car seat with a weight capacity between 4 and 35 pounds, pretty low-cost for the quality you get.

When we first bought it, I was delighted with the installation.

Namely, the seat incorporates Graco's SnugLock system that allows you to install the seat with either a vehicle seat belt or a LATCH. The entire process has only three steps, so it definitely is very straightforward and intuitive.

graco snugride snuglock 35 dlx reviews

Source: Youtube

I like that it has a convenient compartment that stores lower anchor connectors, so the entire base is very neat and functional. And without the base, it weighs only 7.5 pounds, so it's overall lightweight and pretty portable.

Moving on, the base has a 4-position recline and level indicators which genuinely made the installation even easier, and the five-point harness can be tightened from the front side. It's not a no-rethread model, though, so it's not quite effortless to adjust it.

Another handy feature I like is that this infant seat is compatible with Graco strollers; it clicks right into the frame to make a full-size travel system. And this was very important for us because we tend to stick to one brand when it comes to baby equipment.

The seat is packed with EPS foam, and it meets or exceeds US safety standards. Like all other Graco car seats, it has been rigorously tested, so safety is not an issue.

As for the negative things, I don't like the infant inserts. They are not ergonomic and definitely not good enough for a newborn. If you look at the newer models, they are packed with padding and offer fantastic support to the baby's neck and head, but not this one. And I'm glad they fixed this issue with newer models in this line.

Now, let's check out some of the other features.

1. Adjustability

Many parents expect to buy one or two seats max for their children until they are ready for the seatbelt. If these are your expectations, this is not a seat for you. This car seat has only a rear-facing mode, but it allows extended use.

I actually love this design because the official recommendations are to keep our children rear-face for as long as possible.

What I don't like, though, is the adjustability. It has removable inserts, and there are four recline positions, but the headrest is not adjustable, and the harness is threadable, which is way more effort-consuming than a no-rethread harness.

I like that it's compatible with the Graco Click Connect stroller, though, and that there are two ways to install it.

2. Comfort

I cannot say that the seat is not comfortable.

It has EPS foam that is known to absorb the pressure and keep your baby's body protected from the crash forces. The harness straps come with covers to protect your baby's neck, and shoulders and the rotating canopy is pretty easy to adjust.

However, I don't think the recommendations for the baby's age are quite accurate. The inserts are very thin and definitely not good enough for a newborn to be safely driven around.

3. Durability

This seat is fairly durable. It comes at a more than an affordable price for the quality it portrays, and it genuinely lasts through the years.

The expiration date is seven years, so that's a bit of a shame. I say that because most car seats have an expiration date of eight or even ten years.

4. Maintenance

If there's one thing I love, it's the maintenance.

The covers are removable and machine-washable, so it takes only a small amount of detergent and a machine washes cycle to make it as good as new.

5. Portability

All in all, this infant car seat is genuinely portable.

The carrier weight is 7.5 pounds which is fantastic for an infant car seat. It is FAA approved, which means you can use it for flying, and due to simple installation, it's very convenient for switching between cars, carpooling, and traveling.

Now, there are much lighter models on the market, that's for sure, but this one is also in the lighter category.

Graco SnugRide SnugLock: The Ultimate Showdown

Graco is a fantastic brand. I honestly love them for their affordability, quality, and innovativeness.

But I think they really brought confusion among parents with their SungRide SnugLock line. There are just too many products.

Still, I wasn't lazy in my intention to learn all about it, and I decided to break it all down for you. So, let's start with the name.

First of all the SnugRide refers to the line of infant car seats that have a weight capacity between four and thirty-five pounds.

The SnugLock refers to the installation.

It is actually a three-step installation system that allows parents to connect the infant car seat to the car seat using either a vehicle seat belt or a LATCH system. Either way, all you need to do is these three steps:

- Pull the straps through the belt path

- Tighten the LATCH or the vehicle seat belt

- Click

The next word in the name is the number 35, which refers to the maximum weight limit of the seat. And with that, we come to the first model in this line - The Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35. 

graco snugride snuglock extend2fit 35 reviews

Source: Amazon

From here, each new model is an upgrade of the basic SnugLock SnugRide 35 model with a feature or two added for more comfort and convenience.

For example, the next model is the SnugRide SnugLock 35 XT, and what's typical for it is a removable all-weather boot and a subtle change in the canopy and the seating area.

graco snugride snuglock 35 elite reviews


Next, the SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX is known for its TrueShield technology.

It represents a special side-impact protection system that offers more safety in the event of a side crash. Also, it has a one-hand adjustable handle.

Additionally, it also came with an upgrade in the canopy that is firmer and not as close to the handle, and it has more padding.

graco snugride snuglock 35 platinum reviews


And finally, Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite, as the name suggests, is the most expensive and the most luxurious model in the line.

graco snugride snuglock 35 xt reviews


The most significant change is the different base which this car seat has. It doesn't include the hook LATCH as the previous models, but Graco's patented InRight LATCH.

Standard hook LATCH

graco snugride snuglock 35 platinum xt review

Source: Youtube

In-Right LATCH

graco snugride snuglock 35 dlx review

Source: Youtube

Also, this model has the SimplySafeAdjust harness system that helps you adjust the harness and the headrest in one motion only.

The materials are overall softer, and the infant inserts are cushier and generally more comfortable and ergonomic. Look at the basic, XT, and elite infant inserts side by side; the difference is obvious:

graco snugride snuglock 35 elite review

Source: Youtube


So, to sum it all up, all models are infant car seats. They all have the three-step SnugLock installation system and a weight capacity between 4 and 35 pounds.

SnugLock 35 is the base model

SnugLock XT includes the boot

SnugLock LX includes the TrueShield side impact protection

SnugLock Elite has the In-Right latch and SimplySafeAdjust harness

1. SnugRide SnugLock 35: What do we love?

Once again, let me remind you why I love this infant car seat and why I bought it in the first place.

First of all, all seats from the Graco company exceed government test requirements, so it's perfectly safe for your baby to ride in it. And although it's a budget-friendly seat, it's fantastically built and very durable.

Secondly, the easy installation makes my life so much easier. You can choose between the latch installation method with lower anchor connectors or a seat belt installation. Either method takes only three simple steps.

Thirdly, this car seat supports extended rear-facing use, and it has an adjustable base, so you can keep your little one in a safe, comfortable position over the years.

Finally, the seat is ultra-easy to wash. The covers can easily be removed and machine-washable, so it's pretty simple to keep them clean.

2. What we don't like

As I already mentioned, the first thing I don't like about this seat is the newborn insert. It's too thin, not ergonomic enough, and it did not provide good head support to my newborn.

This might be a huge deal breaker because most new parents want to take their baby out of the hospital in the infant car seat, and with this model, you can't do it.

graco snugride snuglock 35 platinum review

Source: Amazon

Next off, all the car seats that parents recommend nowadays have a no-rethread harness. This one doesn't.

It's an older model, so it has a traditional rethreadable harness and traditional latch anchors. Since I mentioned these, I also don't like them.

They are basically hooks you need to attach to the car seat anchors, but they are not as effortless to work with as In-Right latches, so I like that they improved them on the newer models.

Lastly, the canopy is just not firm enough. It offers nice coverage, but it's flimsy and stands too close to the handle. Therefore when the canopy is down, you can barely pick up the seat.


How long can a baby use Graco SnugRide 35?

This model is recommended for children between four and thirty-five pounds or up to thirty-two inches. Due to its specific design, you can keep the baby rear-faced for an extended period, but the expiration period is seven years.

So once your baby outgrows the seat, you have a chance to use it for another child for a few years or sell it right away, and it's done.

We've used it until our daughter was three, that's when we converted to a forward-facing seat, but as long as your child doesn't hit the upper height or weight limit, you can keep using it.

What is different between Graco SnugRide 35 and 35 LX?

As I already explained, SnugRide 35 is the basic model of this line. It's the first one out, so it's not as upgraded as each model that came afterward.

SnigRide LX is known for the TrueShield protection system that offers the ultimate protection in crashes and in general.

It has a thicker infant insert too, a firmer canopy, and a one-hand handle system that allows you to adjust the handle single-handedly without any struggle. Therefore, it's basically cushier and better designed than the basic SnugLock 35 model.

Can you use Graco SnugRide without the base?

Apparently, you can install this car seat without a base.

Now, the SnugLock system that refers to the seat belt and latch installation needs the base because that's where the threading happens. However, there are belt guides on the seat itself, so you can definitely install it without the base too.

I haven't personally tried it, and I haven't flown with this seat either, but I know it's FAA approved, and parents install it without the base on a plane, too, so it's most certainly doable and safe.

Here is a video you could find helpful when it comes to the installation without the base.

What is SnugLock technology?

The SnugLock technology is a special installation system that Graco designed. It refers to the three-step installation with either a LATCH or a seat belt.

Basically, what you need to do is lift the SnugLock arm, thread the seat belt through the belt path, tighten the seat belt strap to remove any slack, and lock the SnugLock arm back in. When you hear a click, you've safely installed it.

The process is the same with the LATCH connectors. You lift the arm, guide the latch strap through the belt path, remove the slack and click the arm back in. As simple as that.

Is SnugLock the same as ClickConnect?

No, these two are not the same. SnugLock system refers to the installation system that I just talked about.

On the other hand, the ClickConnect system refers to the attachment of the seat on a stroller frame. It's a special system designed by Graco that allows you to connect your car seat to a Graco stroller in one step only.

You simply click the seat in, and you're ready to go. Most models have both the SnugLock and Click Connect systems.

Final Verdict

So, to conclude this story, do I regret buying Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35? No. Would I buy it again? Back then, probably yes, but now, I wouldn't.

The only reason why I wouldn't buy this model specifically If I were buying an infant car seat nowadays is because there are so many better models.

Slightly more expensive seats have no-rethread harnesses, adjustable headrests, and a thick infant insert that offers better head support.

I don't think that this seat is unsafe, though. On the contrary, for all but newborns, it's perfectly safe, and if you're on a tight budget, this is definitely my recommendation.

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Infant Car Seat | Baby Car Seat, Redmond*
  • SnugLock Technology: Installs in less than one minute using vehicle seat belt or LATCH
  • Helps protect rear-facing infants from 4-35 lb and up to 32"
  • Adjustable base with 4 recline positions lets you customize fit to your vehicle
  • Easy-to-read level indicator helps eliminate guesswork from the installation process, so you can feel confident it’s installed correctly
  • One-step secure attachment to Graco car seat bases and strollers to create a travel system
Avatar of Kathy Warner

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here