The best car seat is the one that fits your child, vehicle, budget, and lifestyle and has the features important to you. The safest car seat is the one you can install correctly and use properly on every ride! Let us know in the comment section what questions you have about this full review of the Graco SnugRide 35 DLX with load leg infant car seat. If you want to compare car seats and let us help you find your recommended car seats, our Car Seat Buying Kits are your best bet!
Graco SnugRide 35 DLX w/load leg Car Seat Review (USA)
The Graco SnugRide 35 DLX with load leg is a recent addition to Graco’s extensive range of infant seats with stroller compatibility. While this is only the second Graco infant seat to feature a load leg, it is offered at a more budget-friendly price compared to other versions, which is great for your baby and your wallet! The combination of a load leg, ease of installation, and moderate pricing makes it a viable option for a wide range of families.
An infant car seat
From birth until it’s outgrown, 12-15 months
What you need to know before you go.*
- height limit: 32″
- weight limit: 4-35 lbs
- head height rules: at least 1″ below the top of the headrest
- preemie fit: might work, but there are better options
Other Seat Stats
- width of seat: 17″
- weight of seat: 8.7 lbs
- crash replacement policy: Replace after any crash
- expiration limits: 7 years
- harness system: no-rethread
- lock-off: yes
- handle positions for the vehicle: any locked position
*Head to the Car Seat Buying Kits for a complete database of all car seat stats for our recommended car seats.
✅ Seat is Good for You If:
✅ You are looking for a seat with extra safety features.
This seat has a load leg which reduces rotation in a crash and helps absorb crash forces, providing an added layer of protection for the child.
✅ You want a seat with an easy installation.
The SnugLock mechanism makes proper installation with either the vehicle seat belt or to latch with the lower anchors easy and fast. You open the SnugLock arm, thread the seat belt or lower anchors underneath it, tighten it up, and then close the arm. Check for 1″ of movement and readjust as needed.
✅ You need to fit 3 across.
This seat is only 17″ wide and it has a seat belt lock-off, which makes it a good choice in a 3 across configuration with comfort. The lock-off helps you get a tight, secure installation, even if you need to move the base closer to the door in order to fit another seat beside it to get a comfortable fit. Here we have used this seat in a 3 across configuration in a 2012 Toyota Camry with a Peg Perego Viaggio Flex (review) and Safety 1st SlimRide (review).
🚩 Use Caution If:
🚩 You have a vehicle that doesn’t allow the use of load legs.
There are a handful of vehicles that do not allow load legs to be used. Vans with stow-and-go seating and some trucks with underfloor storage will sometimes forbid the use of load legs. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for more information.
🚩You are expecting a small baby.
There are better options for small babies, but if you must use this seat, you’ll need to make some adjustments. The large crotch buckle depth will likely cause a gap between the baby and the crotch buckle. It would be necessary to add a crotch roll as pictured above if this is the case. Doing so will prevent the baby from slumping down. You will also need to shorten the crotch buckle strap.
️ Stand Out Features
A load leg is a metal pole that comes down from a rear-facing car seat and rests on the vehicle’s floor. Load legs reduce crash forces which offer additional protection for rear-facing infants, especially for your child’s head, neck, and spine in the event of an impact.
One-Hand Adjustable Handle
Once we become moms, we don’t often have 2 hands anymore. Graco has made it easy to change the handle position with this seat as you only need one hand!
Seat Belt Lock-off
The SnugLock lock-off helps you get a tight installation. This is especially nice in the center seating position of most vehicles, as lower anchors are not an option generally. This would also allow you to use the seat in vehicles made before 1996, which would not have locking seat belts. Or in international vehicles, which would also have non-locking seat belts.
European Seat Belt Routing for Baseless Mode
This seat can be installed baseless with European or American/Standard belt routing. You can find a video showing both of those methods here. When considering the American belt path and the European, the European routing method is preferred! European belt routing means the shoulder belt portion of the seat belt is routed behind the shell of the rear-facing seat, limiting its ability to rotate down in a frontal crash. This routing functions similarly to a load leg. Pretty cool, huh?!
▶️ YouTube Videos
✈️ Airplane Use
The Graco SnugRide 35 DLX with load leg is a recommended choice for both domestic and international travel as it is FAA-approved. When traveling within the United States and Canada, installing the seat without the base is a breeze, as the seat belts in these countries have locking mechanisms that ensure a secure fit. For international travel, it is recommended to pack the base in your luggage and utilize its seat belt lock-off or lower anchors for installation because, typically, seat belts in other countries will not lock. If you choose not to travel with the base, you will need to contact the manufacturer for a locking clip and learn how to use it before you travel. For help with all things airplane travel and car seats, check out our Wheels Up Course and private Facebook group.
SITS Bottom Line
The Graco SnugRide 35 DLX with load leg is well-suited for those seeking extra safety features, such as a load leg technology that minimizes rotation and absorbs crash forces, at a moderate to lower price. Installation is simplified through its SnugLock mechanism, which works with either seat belts or lower anchors. The seat is narrow at 17 inches, making it a viable option for fitting three seats across in a car. However, caution is advised for vehicles that don’t permit the use of load legs and for those expecting smaller babies.
Other Versions of this Seat:
Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX* (US) – no load leg, no lock-off, doesn’t have one-hand adjustable handle, has rethread harness
Graco SnugRide 35 Lite LX* (Canada) – no load leg, no lock-off, doesn’t have one-hand adjustable handle, has rethread harness
Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX (US) – no load leg, has anti-rebound bar, Rapid Remove cover
Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 LX* (US) – no load leg, has anti-rebound bar
Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 (US) – no load leg, doesn’t have one-hand adjustable handle, has rethread harness
Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35* (Canada) – no load leg, doesn’t have one-hand adjustable handle, has rethread harness
Graco SnugRide SnugFit Elite (US) – no load leg, has anti-rebound bar, Rapid Remove Cover, all-weather boot
Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 (US) – no load leg, has anti-rebound bar, doesn’t have one-hand adjustable handle, no lock-off
Graco Premier SnugRide SnugFit 35 XT (US) – no load leg, has anti-rebound bar, Rapid Remove cover, storage pocket
Graco Premier SnugRide SnugFit 35 XT with load leg* (US) – has anti-rebound bar, storage pocket, buckle storage
*A SITS recommended seat. Recommended seats are in our Buying Kits because they have ranked high on our vehicle, child, ease of use, and features scales. Because Graco makes a lot of infant seats, we do not have every single one of them in the buying kits. But we don’t have an issue with any of them for average-sized newborns.
Compare Car Seats
Looking to compare car seats and narrow down the best car seat for your family? The Infant Car Seat Buying Kit walks you through our 7Cs of selection, then on to an interactive quiz, and finally, a recommended car seat list is generated just for you! If you are overwhelmed and sick of spending hours researching and reading car seat reviews like this one, the Buying Kit will guide you to Safe in the Seat’s recommended car seats for you in under 30 minutes!
We check every day for our recommended car seats on sale, and we have all the deals here for you.
What About Seats We Don’t Recommend?
Just like anyone, we have preferences! This goes for car seats, too. If we don’t recommend a car seat, it’s not because it’s unsafe for your little one. All car seats are safe if they’re installed and used properly, are not expired or damaged, and when they’re made and sold by a reputable manufacturer and/or retailer. Click here for our full list of car seats that we do not recommend.
A note about crash-tests
How does the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 DLX with load leg perform in crash tests?
Well, that’s a great question. We know that it passes the strict federally required testing that applies to all car seats sold in the United States. But we don’t know exactly how it performs. That data isn’t released by any official sources in the US — not by car seat manufacturers, not by government agencies like NHTSA, not anywhere!
There are a few third-party websites that claim to offer objective crash test data for a variety of car seats. But we at Safe in the Seat don’t pay attention to that data for a few big reasons. First of all, third-party crash tests don’t actually give us meaningful data! Car seat manufacturers crash-test their products hundreds, even upwards of a thousand times. They crash test the finished product in every single installation configuration using every applicable-sized crash test dummy, not to mention a whole lot of testing at each stage of the development process too. So one or two crash tests completed by another organization just can’t give the same level of information! One or two crash tests aren’t going to represent the overall average performance of any car seat across its lifespan.
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