Monthly Archive:: April 2012

2012 Mazda CX-9 Quick Review and Video: Kids, Carseats & Safety


Here is a quick video review of the midsize crossover SUV offering from Mazda. The CX-9 is well-balanced and very nice overall. Among other SUVs in its class, I find that it ranks above average in most every category, though perhaps standing out in no particular category. There’s simply aren’t any major things most people will find objectionable about it, though I did manage to come up with my usual list of minor annoyances, if only for the sake of completeness. It’s among the larger midsize models, similar to the Honda Pilot and Buick Enclave we have reviewed. It handles pretty well for such a large vehicle, while at the same time having decent road noise and ride comfort qualities. That’s a trade-off some manufacturers never seem to balance well. The styling, both interior and exterior, are quite nice as well.

In terms of child passenger seating, the second row is just wide enough to fit three-across with careful selection of carseats.  The middle seat isn’t quite as functional as the one in the Honda Pilot, but certainly more useful than the handy removable seat in the Toyota Highlander.  The second row moves back far enough to allow for installation of a rear-facing seat and still leave some legroom in the front seats.  The only issue I had in the second row was that the seatbelt buckle stalk for the passenger side seemed to get lost easily, making it hard for my son to find in order to buckle himself in a booster.  The LATCH anchors are somewhat recessed and angled downward a bit, but shouldn’t be a problem for most carseats.  That did make installation of the rigid LATCH Clek Oobr take a few extra seconds to install!  Here’s an overview video; apologies for the windy Chicago weather on the audio!

Graco SnugRide 35 Infant Carseat Review: 4th Generation is a Homerun!


The Graco SnugRide 35 Classic Connect has been around in various incarnations since 2005 when it was first introduced as the Graco Safe Seat “Step 1” infant carseat. Graco recently rolled out their 4th generation of this popular infant seat and this time they focused on expanding the lower end of the weight range. They accomplish this with the addition of a new and unique infant body support cushion. Only SR35 models with this new 2-part body support are rated down to 4 lbs. Previous versions of the SR35 had a 5 lbs minimum weight rating and often the harness didn’t provide an ideal fit on smaller newborns. This new model clearly aims to correct that shortcoming.

This is a review of the SnugRide 35 Classic Connect model. The SnugRide 35 LX Click Connect is the newest infant seat from Graco and it’s a completely different carseat. See our full review of the Graco SnugRide 35 LX Click Connect here.

The SnugRide 35 Classic Connect pattern I have is named “Orlando“. The solid black fabric in the center is soft and plush while the patterned accent fabrics on the sides are not. This particular fashion comes with “Gracopedic foam” which adds extra comfort padding. In addition to the plush 2-piece body support insert, this model also comes with harness strap covers.

Extra bases for the SR35 Classic Connect are available for around $50. This particular base can also be used for previous generations of this carseat (Graco Safe Seat Infant & SnugRide 32) as well as the SnugRide 30 which is a completely different infant carseat. We have a review of the Graco SnugRide 30 here. This particular base is NOT compatible with the original Graco SnugRide model (5-22 lbs). Various weight and height limits apply to the base, depending on which compatible Graco infant carseat you have. All the specifics are printed on a label on the base (click image to enlarge).