Kiddy Evolution ProUSA Review

Car seat manufacturer Kiddy is originally a German company and continues to be a strong contender in the European market in children’s goods. Kiddy currently offers three seats in the United States: the Kiddy World Plus, the Cruiserfix Pro, and the Evolution Pro.

Unlike many brands of child restraints, Kiddy seats sold in the United States have a very similar look to their European counterparts. We have previously reviewed the other Kiddy seats and were eager to look under the hood of the Evolution Pro!

CSFTL Quick Stats

Kiddy Evolution featured image

  • Weight limit: 4-35 lbs
  • Height limit: up to 37″ or 1″ from the top of the seat to the top of the child’s head.
  • Lowest harness position: 7″ (with insert)
  • Highest harness position: 17.5″
  • Shell height: 28″
  • Expiration: 8 years
  • Lower anchor weight limit: Not applicable.

Features

  • No-rethread harness
  • 7 position recline foot
  • Multiple positions recline positions for different sized infants
  • Removable newborn insert
  • KLF ergonomic recline function
  • Push button lower anchor connectors
  • Large canopy
  • Easy to access storage area for the manual
  • Ratcheting lower anchor strap
  • Seat FAA approved for baseless use during air travel

Unique Features

Kiddy Evolution harness adjuster

Kiddy Evolution harness adjuster

There are a few things that make the Kiddy Evolution Pro stand out from other rear facing only car seats on the market. We’ll take a closer look at many of these unique features in the installation section.

 

No-rethread harness – The Evolution Pro’s harness adjusts in a unique way.  Here’s how it works:

  1. There’s a white button on the back of the seat near the top.
    Push that button and a door will open.
  2. Under the door find a grey ring.
  3. Twist the ring 90 degrees, then slide it up or down to adjust the harness.
  4. Once the harness is in the correct position for the child, twist the ring back to its original position.
Kiddy Evolution Pro infant insert

Kiddy Evolution Pro infant insert

 

Removable newborn insert – This insert is for use with infants up to 6 months of age.  It helps to keep the infant’s head from side head slump but doesn’t address any fit issues around the child’s hips.

7 position recline foot – The Evolution has a wide variety of recline foot positions, which should offer a wide array of recline options for different cars. However when installing the seat we didn’t quite find that to be the case.

KLF ergonomic recline function – This is a unique feature that’s not available on any other rear facing only car seat. The recline feature is ONLY usable when the car seat is OUT of the car. It is adjusted using the buttons on the handle. Here’s how it works:

  • When the handle is back toward the child’s head, the seat can be reclined.
  • When the handle is up, the seat will not recline and can be used in the car.
  • The carry handle must be up whenever traveling with the car seat in the vehicle.

Our biggest question about this feature is: how does the seat prevent caregivers from installing the seat in the reclined position?

Kiddy Evolution Pro

Kiddy Evolution Pro

Though there’s a plastic piece that flips up to prevent a caregiver from threading the seat belt through the belt path, we didn’t find that piece quite large or obvious enough to prevent this particular misuse.

Update 2/2/16: Kiddy has stated that they are now aware of this and are working very hard to make sure this happens with no seats.

Kiddy Evolution Pro canopy

Kiddy Evolution Pro canopy

 

 

Large canopy – The Evolution Pro canopy is quite large and sports a 50 UPF protection rating.

Kiddy Evolution Pro ratcheting lower anchor strap

Kiddy Evolution Pro ratcheting lower anchor strap

 

 

Ratcheting lower anchor strap – The Evolution Pro also boasts a lower anchor strap that tightens via a ratchet in the seat.

Installation with the Base: Lower Anchors

I first installed the base using the lower anchors in the captain’s chair of my 2010 Honda Odyssey. The installation was relatively easy. While the ratcheting handle of the lower anchor strap was a little difficult to detach from the base itself, once detached, it was pretty easy to use.

To install the Evolution Pro USA with lower anchors, attach the lower anchor connectors to the vehicle’s lower anchors, then raise and lower the handle to tighten the anchors. Then, push the ratcheting handle back. The handle will click onto the base.

The ratcheting handle has two buttons — both must be pushed in order to loosen the lower anchor strap. Although these buttons were a little tight, they definitely get the job done. The seat was pretty easy to install in the Odyssey using the lower anchors. However, this method of installation was a little more difficult in my 2003 Pontiac Grand Am due to lower anchors that are more buried in the vehicle seat bight and harder to access than the ones in the van.

Installation with the Base: Seat Belt

Installation with the base and the vehicle belt proved to be a little problematic in all of the cars we tried.  At first, we thought it was vehicle-specific — one of the cars has a buckle that’s forward of the seat bight and a rigid buckle stalk, a combination that can make many car seat installations problematic. Another vehicle we tried to install the seat in has locking latchplates, which present a different challenge.

Kiddy Evolution Pro base has a high belt path

Kiddy Evolution Pro base has a high belt path

Because the belt path for the base was a bit high, it was very difficult to get the seat installed at the proper recline angle. More often than not, it was a challenge to install the seat at the under 9 months level. We find this a fairly significant issue with the seat.

The manual doesn’t mention whether a pool noodle or rolled towel is allowed to help with the recline angle. We contacted Kiddy for clarification on the issue, but we did not receive a response.

Update 2/2/16: Kiddy has stated a pool noodle is acceptable to assist with the recline, but not a towel as it may compress too quickly.

Eventually, we were able to install the seat at an angle that’s just within the proper recline range for our 5 month old baby, but we would not have felt comfortable with a using this seat reclined at that angle for a younger infant who does not have adequate neck control.

Installation Without the Base

Kiddy Evolution Pro baseless install

Kiddy Evolution Pro baseless install

The belt guides for a baseless installation are well-marked.  The installation itself was fairly simple but there are a couple of unique and concerning issues.  First, the seat is quite shallow so when we installed the seat without the base, the seat belt was right on top of our 13 month old model’s legs.  This isn’t something we see with deeper rear facing only seats.
Secondly, even though the recline mechanism has a plastic guard that is supposed to prevent the seat from being installed while in recline mode.  We didn’t find this piece to be large enough to prevent a determined caregiver from threading the belt through the belt path.

Fit to Child

  • Weight limit: 4-35 lbs
  • Height limit: up to 37″ or 1″ from the top of the seat to the top of the child’s head
  • Expiration: 8 years

Jo, Preemie Huggable Images Doll, 4 lbs, 17 inches tall

Kiddy Evolution Pro: preemie, 4 lbs, 17 inches tall

Kiddy Evolution Pro: preemie, 4 lbs, 17 inches tall

Though the Evolution Pro has a a 4 lb minimum for use, preemie Jo did not get a good fit. The harness was above her shoulders and there was a significant gap in the harness at her crotch. I used a rolled washcloth to attempt to fill the gap, but there was still too much room for her to fit properly. Without the rolled towel, my entire fist could easily fit between the child and the harness — with room to spare!

Kiddy Evolution Pro: preemie crotch gap

Kiddy Evolution Pro: preemie crotch gap

A big concern about this first version of the seat was around the chest clip being so close to the child’s neck with no real way to move it downward due to the sewn portion of the harness straps. When the seat was reclined, the chest clip shifted upward onto her neck. There would be no way to use this seat for a preemie as small as Jo because she would not get a good fit.

The padding on newer versions of this seat is a little different so that’s a positive change.

Fiona, Newborn Huggable Images Doll, 7 lbs, 17 inches tall

Kiddy Evolution Pro newborn, 7 lbs, 17 inches tall

Kiddy Evolution Pro newborn, 7 lbs, 17 inches tall

The Evolution Pro fit Newborn Fiona better than it fit her little sister Jo. The harness was at her shoulders and, with the rolled towel at her crotch she did not have a large gap at the buckle.

Kiddy Evolution Pro newborn crotch gap

Kiddy Evolution Pro newborn crotch gap

However, there was still a smaller gap at the crotch that might be enough to allow her to slouch forward. We weren’t very comfortable with the fit on her, either. Because she’s a doll, even though she is weighted, we couldn’t experience the normal shifting that would happen with a human baby, but we’re fairly certain that a real baby would shift around and slouch down to a possibly dangerous position. It seems possible that a human baby could get both legs out of one side of the harness and get caught up on the chest clip.

Update 2/2/16: Kiddy has stated that they hope to bring their European insert to the US this year, so the preemie and newborn fit may be improved greatly. But right now the insert is not available.

Kiddy recommends for this reason that the seat will fit larger infants better.

Infant, 5 months old, 12.5 lbs, 25 inches tall

Kiddy Evolution Pro: infant, 5 months old, 12.5 lbs, 25 inches tall

Kiddy Evolution Pro: infant, 5 months old, 12.5 lbs, 25 inches tall

Our model is tiny for her age and usually wears cloth diapers. This can change how a harness fits and impact which harness setting she requires for a proper fit. Her cloth diapers took up some of that extra space between her body and the crotch buckle that we noticed on the newborn and preemie dolls. When she modeled this seat while wearing disposable diapers, there was a bit of a gap. As she is very small for her age, it’s possible that there may not be a gap between the crotch buckle and an average sized baby.In addition to the concerns with fit, we had two issues. The first was that I could just barely get the base installed at the proper angle for babies under nine months in my 2010 Odyssey.

The second issue involves getting our model into the seat. Like many babies her age, our model can be squirmy and resistant to being buckled into a car seat. Having a 3 point harness (on the initial version of the seat; newer versions have a 5 point harness) made it easier to load and unload my antsy and uncooperative baby.

I appreciated the attached harness pads, and felt that the seat was sufficiently padded; she tends to complain while in her car seat but I felt that she complained less in the Kiddy Evolution Pro. We were able to bring the seat with us to stores and church, and she seemed to like the recline mode when she was sleepy or sleeping.

The Evolution Pro is a big seat front to back, it can take up a huge space in a grocery shopping cart basket, which is where we recommend caregivers put rear facing only seats when shopping with baby. There was lots of room for our little model to grow in this seat. She now rides in her rear facing convertible seat full-time, so we would not use this as a long-term option.

 

Older Infant: 11 Months Old

Infant, 11 months old, 23 lbs, 30 inches tall

Kiddy Evolution Pro: 11months, 23 lbs, 30 inches

Kiddy Evolution Pro: 11 months old, 23 lbs, 30 inches tall

Anders is 11 months old, 23 lbs, 30 inches tall. He has plenty of room width wise and seems comfy.  He does not have the issue with the extra space in the crotch area that our younger models did.
Since this seat is designed for use with infants, the observation that it fits older infants better than tiny babies is a big concern for us.

Preschooler, 3 years old, 28 lbs, 37 inches tall

Kiddy Evolution Pro 3 years old, 28 lbs, 37 inches tall

Kiddy Evolution Pro 3 years old, 28 lbs, 37 inches tall

Our 3 year old model weighs 28 lbs, is 37″ tall, and has already reached the maximum height limit for the seat. We’re showing her to illustrate the size range of children who might fit in this seat.The seat would probably have accommodated her until she was 37 inches tall.  The shell is relatively tall, but offers little legroom for bigger toddlers. You can see that she’s feeling a little cramped!

A concern we have around an older infant or toddler using this seat is the seat’s weight. The seat is not lightweight — we don’t expect that parents will load a heavy toddler into the seat and then pick it up to put it into the car. Having an older toddler or younger preschooler get into the seat after it is put into the car involves a bit of toddler origami.

Another concern was whether or not the harness would physically accommodate a larger child. Surprisingly, I was able to buckle her into the seat without much difficulty, and there was a little slack to spare. However, the harness was positioned far below her shoulders. While there isn’t exactly a harness position that is “too low,” it’s worth mentioning.

She is skinny and on the smaller side for her age, so she may not be the best representation of what an average kid would look like in the Kiddy Evolution Pro USA. Having never used a rear facing only seat, being a model for this review was a fun exercise and a novelty. She would never ride in this seat because she has reached the maximum height limit, so she’ll continue to ride rear facing in her convertible car seat.

Important Information: Where to Find

FAA Approval: The car seat itself is approved for use in aircraft.  The FAA approval label is found on the underside of the seat.  Like some other rear facing only seat bases, the base is not FAA approved but the car seat itself is.

Kiddy Evolution Pro manual storage

Kiddy Evolution Pro manual storage

 

Easy access storage area for the manual:  This area is on the front of the base under an easy to open door.

Kiddy Evolution Pro lower anchor connectors

Kiddy Evolution Pro lower anchor connectors

 

 

Push button lower anchor connectors: These store on the bottom of the car seat.

Overall Thoughts

The Kiddy Evolution Pro is pretty! Looks aren’t everything, but we are suckers for the zebra print that our review seat came with. The 7 position recline could be interesting, but at this point, it seems more like a gimmick than a necessary feature. Achieving the proper recline angle using the base was more of a challenge than we’d like to see, and the seat’s heavy weight is a bit of a drawback.

While the Kiddy Evolution Pro attempts a number of interesting features, unfortunately, it misses the mark on the most critical of things: a solid fit for newborns and younger infants. The gap in the crotch buckle area for our preemie, newborn, and 5 month old models makes the Kiddy Evolution Pro a seat that, unfortunately, we can’t recommend.

There is an updated version of this seat that resolves a number of these issues.  We hope to have the chance to review that seat and compare the improvements between this version and the latest version.

Kiddy graciously provided this car seat to Car Seats for the Littles for a full review, but opinions, as always, are entirely our own.