Better Convertible Car Seat: Chicco NextFit Review
Last updated: May 9, 2016. Better Convertible Car Seat Review. The Chicco NextFit is pricey ($280), but is packed with features like a no rethread harness and enhanced side impact protection that make it worth a look. The nine recline positions are unique—the NextFit is easy to install and use.
Car seat 101
There are three types of car seats: infant, convertible and booster seats. This page focuses on convertible seats. Want to learn a bit more on choosing a convertible seat? Check out our Car Seat 101 for a quick overview.
How we picked a winner
We evaluate car seats with hands on inspections, checking seats for ease of use (installation and adjusting the seat). We also gather significant reader feedback (our book, Baby Bargains has over 1 million copies in print), tracking seats on ease of use, quality and durability. Besides interviewing parents, we also talk with car seat “techs,” certified child passenger safety technicians who install dozens of seats at safety check points.
We’ve been rating and reviewing car seats since 1994. As part of our research, we have also visited manufacturer facilities and watched car seat crash tests. While we don’t personally crash tests, we compare our reader feedback with crash tests done by organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Consumer Reports. We also look at evaluations of seats by groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which focuses on booster car seats.
The Winner: Chicco NextFit
After successfully topping the infant car seat charts with their KeyFit infant seat, Chicco’s NextFit launched in 2013 as the brand’s first effort on the convertible car seat market.
The seat features nine (!) recline positions, dual level indicators and a harness rated for 65 lbs. forward-facing (40 lbs. rear-facing). The NextFit has a small footprint (to work well with smaller cars) as well as an infant insert cushion.
The NextFit features “Super Cinch” LATCH technology, which Chicco says make the NextFit easier to install than competing seats and we would agree (see below).
Also innovative: the seat’s harness widens to accommodate larger toddlers. The no rethread harness is a major plus. And yes, the NextFit has side impact protection.
What does all this Chicco car seat goodness cost? $280, which makes this seat quite competitive with Britax’s offerings. We were surprised the price for this seat is under $300, considering the KeyFit infant seat runs a bit more than most other infant seats.
Feedback on this seat has been positive, although some parents have complained about the strap adjustment–they find the straps get twisted and have to be “dug out” from underneath the child. The high harness height (17.5″ for the NexFit; for comparison, the Advocate is 17) is a plus.
It’s clear Chicco has done its homework with the NextFit: the seat is very easy to install, either with LATCH or vehicle belt. We like the harness adjuster and recline, which are as easy to use as any Britax seat. The attention to detail is obvious: note the storage compartment for the LATCH and tether straps; the fabric is also excellent and soft to the touch. Many parents say their kids prefer the Chicco NextFit to other convertibles when it comes to comfort.
Here’s a video overview of the NextFit’s features:
Flaws but not deal breakers
As with any version 1.0 seat, there are always bugs to work out. Example: unlike the Britax Advocate, there is no Velcro on the sides of the NextFit to hold the harness when the seat isn’t in use. As are result, once a child is put in the seat, the parent has to fish around under the child to find the harness. Ditto for the crotch strap.
Other negatives include the seat’s large bulk (yes the base is narrow, but the rest of the seat is huge) and weight (you won’t want to haul this on an airplane).
And a few folks complained about the NextFit’s deep side walls (which are there for side impact protection)—getting a squirmy toddler in and out of the seat can be a challenge, thanks to these walls. Seats like the Diono Radian are easier to use for toddlers, since they have lower side walls. So even though the NextFit expands to better fit toddlers, the deep side walls somewhat defeat the innovation when it comes to ease of use.
Another minor negative: we also see reports that the rear-facing harness position is too small/tight, positioning the straps too close together—this has annoyed some babies.
Perhaps the biggest initial complaint area for the NextFit is the harness. The harness pads are universally panned by readers—-too bulky/rough, they cut into a baby’s neck, etc. Others complained the harness is hard to tighten. And the chest clip is way to easy to unbuckle (for enterprising toddlers).
Chicco quietly moved to address the harness issues a couple of years ago—-now the hated harness pads are removable (if you choose), a revised crotch strap is now longer and harness is easier to adjust.
Unfortunately, Chicco hasn’t changed the model name to reflect these refinements to the NextFit. So if you decide this is the convertible seat for you, make sure you are getting a seat that says the harness pads are removeable.
Britax Boulevard ClickTight$296.00* at Amazon
* Prices change daily. Shop carefully.
The Britax Boulevard ClickTight ($280) combines both ease of installation and use with excellent safety features. The new ClickTight base pops open to enable a super simple install with a safety belt. The Boulevard ClickTight features a no rethread harness, seven recline positions, enhanced side impact protection and an easy to remove cover for cleaning. Bonus: this seat doesn’t take as much room in the back seat when installed rear-facing (except when it is fully reclined). FYI: there are two versions of the Boulevard on the market: ClickTight and G4. G4 is the older model with much the same features, but lacks the ClickTight base.
The Britax Boulevard ClickTight features excellent side impact protection, a no rethread harness and excellent ease of use.
To Sum it Up
The Chicco NextFit is an excellent seat that is packed with an impressive list of ease-of-use features—the deep recline and side impact protection are stand-outs. Installation is a snap and the overall safety features are excellent.
Chicco’s NextFit is an excellent convertible seat with deep side wings for side impact protectin. We love the deep recline (with nine!) positions! But it lacks a no rethread harness, a bummer at this price.$299.99* at Amazon
* Prices change daily. Shop carefully.