UPPAbaby knows how to make a splash. For a couple of months, buzz has been building around a new product launch planned for the ABC Kids Expo. But instead of just debuting the product at the show itself, UPPAbaby instead planned a party for the first night of the show. Tonight, in front of a packed crowd, they unveiled their newest addition — an infant car seat.
Any car seat that can successfully pass the required crash testing is a feat of engineering, and designing an infant car seat is not a task for amateurs. So I wasn’t sure what to expect from UPPAbaby. Not that they’re amateurs, but their expertise is in strollers, not car seats. It would’ve been easy for them to customize an off-the-shelf infant car seat design with fabrics that coordinated with their strollers and call it a day, but that’s not their style. Instead, they designed something completely new and innovative beyond any of my wildest expectations.
The UPPAbaby Mesa Infant Car Seat has a litany of great features. Let’s go through them.
The car seat base installs in a car using a very unique self-retracting LATCH system called Smart Secure. Simply click in the LATCH connectors, and push down hard. The retractors work like a charm, and there’s an indicator window that goes from green to red when the seat is snug. This tension indicator measures pressure on the bottom of the base, so it works for seatbelt installations in addition to LATCH. For seat belt installations, there are also built-in lockoffs. The base itself is a low-profile, slim design that gives parents a clear sightline to be sure the car seat is docked properly, and fits even contoured vehicle seats nicely. There’s an adjustable level, and an easy-to-read level indicator on both sides of the seat. The bottom of the base is completely finished, eliminating the need for a seat protector under the car seat (a CPST no-no).
The car seat
The car seat has side-impact protection with a nice visual cue on the adjustable headrest that shows exactly where the head should be positioned relative to the side cushions for optimal protection. The harness adjusts quickly and easily with no rethreading necessary. The lowest harness position is optimized for preemies. There are clever pockets built into the sides of the seat to hold the metal buckles out of the way (and keep them from getting too hot during the summer). The canopy is made of a lightweight, stretchy material, but it’s thick enough to carry a rating of SPF 50+. Best of all, it hides away when it isn’t open, which makes the seat look so sleek.
If you’re installing the car seat without the base, the Mesa uses the European belt path, where the shoulder belt goes around the car seat shell, which leads to a much more secure installation.
The Mesa will work for babies from 4-35 pounds and up to 32″. The seat itself weighs 10.5 pounds, which is a little hefty, but on balance, the UPPAbaby team felt that the side-impact protection was well worth the extra bulk.
Crash testing has been ongoing, as you might expect, but right from the outset, the Mesa has passed all tests with flying colors, including an astonishingly low score on Degree Rotation (70 degrees is the maximum acceptable score, and the Mesa measured at just 15 degrees — in contrast, the excellent Chicco Keyfit measured at 54 degrees… someone please stop me, I think I just crossed an invisible geek line).
As you might expect, the Mesa has tight integration with the UPPAbaby line of strollers. And there’s a very smart push-button release built into the handle of the car seat. The Cruz requires no special adapter to use the Mesa, and the current generation of the Vista will use an adapter that will be included with the car seat, so there’s nothing else to buy. But the Mesa is fabulous – it looks beautiful, and the functionality is very impressive. So hopefully other stroller manufacturers will sit up, take notice and hustle to get their own adapters into the pipeline.
The Mesa is expected to launch in March and will retail for $279.99. It will come in four colors – Tangerine, Black, Wheat and Teal. Check out this video I shot of Jamie Grayson installing the Mesa. It’s just 21 seconds long. And a big thanks to Jamie for the picture of the Mesa on the Cruz, above. Pre-order your UPPAbaby Mesa Infant Car Seat at Magic Beans today!