We’ve been fans of the Chicco NextFit since it arrived on the market in 2013. Since then, Chicco has added some additional flavors of the seat — first the NextFit Zip, which has a cover that zips off for easy installation access and cleaning, and now, the NextFit iX Zip, which has a few additional features that we’re already pretty fond of!
Those features include:
- Updated lockoffs
- Additional headrest positions to help optimize the fit to child
- Easier to adjust harness
- One-position chest clip
I realize that these changes don’t sound like a lot but our readers think they’re important — and we do, too! Our recent Facebook Live session where the fabulous Joshua Dilits from Chicco explained these features during the 2017 JPMA show had over 31,000 views!
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Rear facing weight range: 5-40 pounds
- Rear facing height range: 49 inches or less
- Forward facing weight range: 22-65 pounds
- Forward facing height range: 49 inches or less
- Expiration: 8 years
- Rear facing lower anchor weight limit: 35 pounds
- Forward facing lower anchor weight limit: 40 pounds
- Seat belt lockoffs for rear and forward facing
- Push-button lower anchor connectors with SuperCinch tightening mechanism
- 9 recline positions
- Two-position crotch buckle
- No-rethread harness with 9 harness height positions
- Storage cubbies for lower anchor straps and slide path to switch lower anchors from rear to forward facing
- Newborn insert can be used for infants under 12 pounds
- Shell height: 26 inches tall with headrest fully extended
- Lowest harness position: 5.5 inches with insert
- Highest harness position: 17.5 inches
- Width at widest point: 18 inches
- Seat weight: 26.2 pounds
The lockoffs on the previous version of the NextFit were a bit quirky compared to the lockoff we know and love from the KeyFit and Fit2 rear facing only car seats. They opened to allow the seat belt to pass through, then they had to be clamped back into place on the side of the car seat away from the seat belt buckle. While we didn’t find this terribly difficult to use, a lot of caregivers did. And Chicco listened to their concerns!
These new lockoffs work like the ones on the KeyFit and Fit2 — the vehicle seat belt slides through on the side opposite of the vehicle belt buckle. That’s all there is to it. Add a bit of pressure to the car seat while threading the belt, and a secure install is fairly painless to achieve! We did find that sometimes the rear facing lockoff got snagged on an edge of the belt path opening but we were able to push the seat belt past the snag and install the seat.
The previous version of the chest clip had two settings — a smaller one for smaller children, and a larger one for larger children. This chest clip offered a variable fit for growing children, but it presented some challenges in figuring out when to use each mode. It was also easier than we’d like for the tiniest passengers to open on their own.
Now, the seat sports an IMMI chest clip with one setting. This chest clip is a time-honored piece of equipment that’s found on a great number of car seats for one reason — it’s very easy to use! It’s also more difficult for Littles to open. We’re happy to see this chest clip make an appearance on the new NextFit iX Zip.
Additional Harness Positions
The NextFit iX Zip adds an additional three headrest positions to the no-rethread harness. The older version of the seat had six headrest positions. While six sounds like a reasonable number, there was roughly an inch of space between them. This space made it awkward to get children properly harnessed when they had grown but were between harness positions.
With nine headrest positions, the NextFit iX Zip offers more flexibility in fit to child. The smaller space between positions means that the harness can always fit the child properly — harness at or below the shoulders for rear facing, harness at or above the shoulders for forward facing.
Custom Harness Fit on Every Ride
You’ll see us talking about this a lot in the coming months — the idea that every ride for every child starts with a custom fit on the harness. As children grow, leaving the harness set to one height can lead to a young child feeling compressed by a harness that’s suddenly too small. The NextFit iX Zip makes adjusting the harness for every ride a cinch!
That’s due to what Chicco calls the Everyday Use feature. They’ve used the SuperCinch force reduction technology in the harness, which makes the harness as buttery smooth as the KeyFit harness.
Lower Anchor Storage
Like everything on the NextFit iX Zip, there’s a tidy storage compartment for the lower anchor connectors.
These are on both sides of the seat; they open like a drawer and the premium lower anchor connectors store neatly inside.
To move the lower anchors between rear and forward facing modes, slide them along these compartments.
Top Tether Storage
Unlike almost every other car seat around, the NextFit iX Zip has a clearly labelled, easy-to-use top tether storage compartment.
Most other car seats have a handy place to clip the tether but Chicco offers an even more elegant solution. This attention to detail brings a lot of value to the seat.
Installation: Rear Facing
The NextFit iX Zip sports a unique lower anchor tightening mechanism called SuperCinch. This system makes for a fairly easy lower anchor installation. This is the same mechanism used on the previous model — it remains pretty awesome!
A Word About SuperCinch
The SuperCinch lower anchor system is a bit different from the setup we typically see on other car seats. The Pull 1 side of the mechanism has a traditional adjuster but the Pull 2 side features the SuperCinch. This thin strip of webbing attaches to the wider, more typical part of the webbing, has a small orange button to release it, and, as the name suggests, cinches the car seat into place. Unlike a more conventional lower anchor connector, the SuperCinch webbing will secure itself when pulled in almost any direction.
In rear facing mode, I found that unzipping the cover to access the belt path made for a fairly painless install.
Installing the NextFit iX Zip on the very deep vehicle seats of my 2016 VW GTI worked best when I did this:
- Unzip the cover all of the way to expose the belt path from the inside of the seat.
- Connect the lower anchors on both sides of the seat.
- Tighten the lower anchor on the side labelled Pull 1st.
Here’s the trick: stand on the Pull 2nd side of the seat, then reach down into the belt path on the Pull 1st side, grab the Pull 1st loop, then pull it straight up through the inside of the seat.
- Finally, zip the cover back up, then tighten the Pull 2nd strap on the other side of the seat. This 2nd strap tightens by pulling the strap in any direction.
Recline Angle Indicator
The NextFit iX Zip has a rear and forward facing angle indicator. Most convertible and multimode car seats only have a rear facing angle indicator but Chicco offers caregivers an additional way to confirm that their child’s car seat is installed correctly with the forward facing indicator. The bubble is clearly marked.
Vehicle Seat Belt
Installing the NextFit iX Zip with the updated lockoffs was also fairly painless. Set the NextFit iX Zip rear facing on the vehicle seat, then thread the vehicle seat belt through the rear facing belt path. Buckle the seat belt, then remove slack from the lap portion of the vehicle seat belt. With one hand, apply pressure to the portion of the NextFit iX Zip’s seat pan where the child’s bottom would go to remove slack from the vehicle seat belt. With the other hand, on the outside of the car seat’s shell on the side away from the buckle, pull the vehicle seat belt away from the buckle to remove all of the slack. Finally, slide the vehicle seat belt through the lockoff and let go of the seat belt. This should result in a snug installation.
Fit for Larger Children
When my kiddos rode in harnessed seats, one of our biggest challenges was the padding behind the child. When the child was tall enough to have the harness at the highest settings, some car seats had a padding gap behind the child’s back.
As I was installing the NextFit iX Zip, I noticed a sizeable gap at the top range of the harness height and started to cringe. Investigating further, I reached behind the padding and discovered an extra flap of padding just waiting to be extended.
Once again, I’ve fulfilled my dream of being a hand model.
With the flap fully extended, the padding gap is eliminated. Like the original NextFit, which also has this feature, kiddos of all sizes can fit comfortably in this seat!
My biggest struggle with the NextFit iX Zip is the high sides, especially for larger rear facing kiddos. Though all car seats pass the same federal safety standards, features that are outside of the standard can add to a seat’s overall ease of use or overall safety. The high sides on this seat may add a level of protection but they can also make loading and unloading a larger child a bit of a challenge. They can also reduce the airflow to the child, especially when the child is rear facing.
Many families use this seat for many years without issues regarding the sides but we’ve seen enough families who have struggled with the shape of the seat that it seems pertinent to mention it here.
Fit to Child
Newborn Doll — with padding
Our doll is a Huggable Images newborn. She weighs 7 pounds and is 19 inches tall. With the padding in, the NextFit iX Zip fit the doll well. We’ve consistently found the NextFit to be a seat that fits newborns well — that hasn’t changed one bit with the NextFit iX Zip!
Newborn Doll — without padding
Without the padding, the harness fit on our doll isn’t nearly as fabulous as the fit with the padding in. On the lowest setting, the harness is well above our doll’s shoulders. So we’d be hard pressed to suggest this seat for newborns without the padding in use.
18 Months Old
This young model is 18 months old. He weighs 28 pounds, and is 29 inches tall. He’s got plenty of room to grow in the NextFit iX Zip and the harness fit him well.
3 Years Old (Newly 3)
This 3-year-old model weighs 26 pounds and is 36 inches tall. She has plenty of room to grow in the rear facing mode. She could climb into the seat on her own. If she wasn’t able to climb in, the high sides could make loading her into the seat a bit of a challenge. She had plenty of legroom and space inside the seat.
3 Years Old (but almost 4!)
This model is 3 years old, just weeks away from his 4th birthday. He weighs 38 pounds and is 39 inches tall. Normally, he rides rear facing in a Diono Radian, which has some pretty low sides. We were curious about how he’d feel when riding in a seat with significantly deeper sides than his regular seat, but he had no issues! Loading a bigger rear facing kiddo like this little guy can be a bit of a challenge thanks to the deep sides.
The generous padding on the harness straps and crotch buckle added comfort for all his parts and reduced any chafing at the neck. He felt this seat was comfy and found ways to position his legs with no trouble.
Vehicle Seat Belt
Installing the NextFit iX Zip forward facing was as painless as installing it rear facing. Set the NextFit iX Zip forward facing on the vehicle seat, then thread the vehicle seat belt through the forward facing belt path. The cover unsnaps to provide access to the belt path.
Buckle the seat belt, then remove slack from the lap portion of the vehicle seat belt. With one hand, apply pressure to the portion of the NextFit iX Zip’s seat pan where the child’s bottom would go to remove slack from the vehicle seat belt. With the other hand, on the outside of the car seat’s shell on the side away from the buckle, pull the vehicle seat belt away from the buckle to remove all of the slack. Finally, slide the vehicle seat belt through the lockoff and let go of the seat belt. This should result in a snug installation.
The lower anchors slide between the rear facing and forward facing positions in a very convenient way — they slide on the outside of the seat’s shell!
The only challenging part of this move was making sure I had enough slack in the webbing to reach both sides of the seat — if the Pull 1st side of the webbing wasn’t all the way extended, the webbing was a little too short to slide between positions.
Once I moved the lower anchors to the forward facing position, I was able to install the NextFit iX Zip with almost no struggle and no sweat on a 90 degree day. I am not making this up!
The only issue I found was likely unique to my car, which has exposed lower anchors with a plastic piece around them. This configuration makes access to the anchors quite easy but when it came to installing the NextFit iX Zip, it meant the lower anchor connectors sat straight up and the push buttons on the lower anchor connectors got sort of trapped by the webbing. I had to loosen the Pull 1st side, then reach around the webbing to access and release the button.
Fit to Child
3 Years Old
This model is almost 4 years old. He weighs 38 pounds and is 37 inches tall. Normally, he rides rear facing so trying out the NextFit iX Zip in forward facing mode introduced him and his parents to the world of backseat driving. The seat fit him well and he’s got plenty of room to grow.
5 Years Old
Our five year old model weighs 40 pounds and is 44 inches tall. The NextFit iX Zip fits her well in forward facing mode. Though she’s currently booster training, she could easily ride harnessed for quite a while in this seat.
Her primary complaint was about the padding behind her back. She seemed to be sensitive to the part of cover that folds down for small babies, and said she didn’t like where it touched her back when it was unfolded for larger children. She didn’t like how her legs dangled over the seat’s edge. She may be more comfortable in a seat that sits lower than the NextFit iX Zip does.
She didn’t have any other problems using the seat, and could use it full time or even part time while booster training.
7 Years Old
This kiddo is 7 years old. She weighs 45 pounds and is 46 inches tall. She still fits in the NextFit iX Zip’s harness with a little growing room left over.
She didn’t like the comfort padding on the harness and crotch buckle and felt a little enclosed by the high sides. She rides in a booster seat full time so trying this seat felt a little different for her.
Note: she’s on the small end of the growth chart. It’s rather unusual that a 7 year old can fit in this seat!
Important Information: Where to Find
FAA Approval: the NextFit iX Zip is approved for use on aircraft. The label is found on the outside of the seat’s shell, behind where the child’s left shoulder would be. At 26.2 pounds, the NextFit iX Zip is a bit heavy for airplane travel but it is approved.
Manual storage: there’s a cute little cubby for manual storage on the back of the seat’s base.
Date of manufacture: the NextFit iX Zip has an 8 year expiration. The expiration date and manufacture dates are printed on a label that’s kind of lonely on the bottom of the seat’s base.
The recent set of updates to the NextFit have taken a well-featured, long-lasting car seat and made it that much better!