Top positive review
Snugride 30 vs. Snugride 35 vs. Snugride 35 LX
May 3, 2017
First off, let me start by saying that I didn't see the need to buy the most expensive car seat out there and was looking for the best deal. This led me down the path of multiple purchases and disappointment, until I ultimately found the right car seat. I have therefore seen and handled these three car seats in person and can hopefully shed some light on questions I had that I was unable to answer solely with the descriptions. The Snugride 30 and 35 are effectively the same car seat, with a few minor differences. The Snugride 35 LX is a completely different, and much nicer, car seat.
Head support - the Snugride 30 and 35 have the same infant head/body support - a very lightly padded insert that provides barely any head support. I have a long and curvy drive, and given newborns cannot support their own head, this left me searching for more support as I didn't want to resort to using rolled towels along their body and head. The Snugride 35 LX has lots of support with the built in head cushion and the removable infant body support. I've seen some reviews complain of their infant not being able to move their head with the Snugride 35 LX but this is the whole point of the head support. It's there to support the head in the event of a crash.
Harness - some Snugride 30's come with a harness that can only be tightened/loosened from the BACK of the car seat. If there is not a crotch strap hanging down in the photo then this is the case. Otherwise, it's a front-adjust Snugride 30 and it's got the same harness system as the Snugride 35. As an FYI, the Snugride 30 LX includes the front harness strap as well so you don't have to tighten and loosen the harness from the back of the seat. You slip your finger into the slot in the fabric to loosen the straps and then tighten them by pulling on the crotch strap. To adjust the height of the harness straps, you have to rethread them through the back of the car seat. The Snugride 35 LX has a nice button you push to loosen the straps and you simply adjust the harness height by squeezing and lowering or lifting the lever on the back of the car seat. It's so easy and so worth the extra $20 difference right there. The crotch/hip straps have to be rethreaded in all three cases but these won't be adjusted as frequently as the harness straps.
Latch - if you will be using the latch system, which seems much more secure in my opinion but is said to be equally as safe as the seat belt option, the Snugride 30 and 35 come with the standard latch hooks. These are very difficult to get on and off but do loosen up a bit over time and get easier as you learn how to twist them to get them on and off. The Snugride 35 LX comes with the In Right Latch, which you just push over the latch hook and it clicks on and then releases with the push of a button. Amazing!! This is another feature that I would gladly pay the $20 price difference for. I will say the Snugride 35 LX I ordered from Amazon did not have the In Right Latch but rather had the standard latch hooks. It was also an early 2016 model so I am not sure if that was the issue. The model number on Graco's website described it as having the In Right Latch so I am not sure what the issue was. I contacted Graco and they were very gracious and willing to send me the correct base to rectify the situation, which was a testament to their customer service.
Base - the Snugride 30's base is not adjustable in terms of height. If you need to recline it more, which you likely will for a newborn, you need to put rolled towels under the base. This did not seem very safe to me although is stated you can do so in the Graco manual. Also the level indicator is just a straight line on the base that you need to ensure is level with the ground. The base on the Snugride 35 and 35 LX is adjustable and I've found I use the highest position for newborn. Also, the bubble level indicators are much easier to use and take out any guess work in determining whether the seat is properly reclined. Side note, the main difference between the Snugride 30 and 30 LX, is the 30 LX includes the same adjustable base with bubble level indicator as the Snugride 35.
Seatbelt lock off - the Snugride 35 LX has an integrated lock off for seat belts which is another way to ensure the installation is nice and secure when using a seat belt. The Snugride 30 and 35 do not have a lock off.
Weight/height - the Snugride 30's allow you to use them until your child is up to 30 lbs and 30" and the Snugride 35's allow you to use them until your child is up to 35 lbs and 32". So you get a little more use out of the 35's which helps compensate for any added cost.
Overall - the Snugride 35 LX has feels more nicely appointed and the seat cushion feels thicker and more securely attached to the car seat. Also, the canopy on the Snugride 35 LX moves much more smoothly and interferes less with the handle than with the Snugride 30 and 35. For the small increase in price to get the Snugride 35 LX, it is money well spent!!