UPPAbaby Mesa

Last updated date: January 10, 2019

DWYM Score
7.6

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We looked at the top 1 Infant Car Seats and dug through the reviews from 10 of the most popular review sites including New York Times Wirecutter, Top Ten Reviews, Reviews.com, Baby Gear Lab, Consumer Reports, Lucie's List, Car Seat Blog, Best Car Seat Hub and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Infant Car Seat you should buy.

Overall Take

The UPPAbaby by Mesa gets high marks for easy installation, featuring a red to green indicator window, self-retracting straps and a no-thread harness. While the merino wool fabric is safe and comfy for little ones, the seat is heavy and a little cumbersome for parents. In our analysis of 106 expert reviews, the UPPAbaby UPPAbaby Mesa placed 3rd when we looked at the top 13 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note March 15, 2019:
Checkout The Best Infant Car Seat for a detailed review of all the top infant car seats.

Expert Summarized Score
7.0
10 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.8
136 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
The UPPAaby Mesa passed our commissioned side-impact test without incident and scored the best of the four seats we tested for seat angle in our commissioned front-impact test.
- New York Times Wirecutter
August 21, 2017 | Full review
There’s an indicator window that changes from red to green to let you know the base is correctly installed and an auto-retracting LATCH system that makes it easy to tighten. The reclining base has a finished bottom that helps protect your car’s upholstery.
- Top Ten Reviews
August 6, 2018 | Full review
It's one of the easiest to install and use infant car seat we've tested. This is for three primary reasons. First, it uses a great automatically tightening LATCH system with a convenient indicator to tell you when the base is fully secured to the seat.
- Mommy Hood 101
At its core, the Henry MESA has all the right parts that make it easy to use: recline positions that are easily adjusted with the press of one button, a no-rethread harness to find the safest fit for your baby with the pull of a strap, and built-in lock-offs that enable the most secure install possible with minimal hassle.
- Reviews.com
The Mesa has easy to use, unique, self-retracting LATCH straps with color-coded guides that make installation as foolproof as it can get. With new, upgraded, naturally flame retardant wool fabric, this new model is a step up from the previous Mesa that had rougher material.
- Baby Gear Lab
May 4, 2018 | Full review
Push-on LATCH connectors with automatic retractors that improve installation Tightness indicator to tell you when the base is installed securely Harness adjustment does not require rethreading harness Handle can be in any locked position during travel Excellent labels and instructions
- Consumer Reports
The schtick with the Mesa is ease of installation with a self-ratcheting base. Just clip the LATCH connectors into your car, push the base down with your body weight and BAM! He’s done.
- Lucie's List
June 1, 2018 | Full review
UPPAbaby claims that the LATCH installation on this seat only takes about 10 seconds and I will say that is accurate. As you can see in the video above, there’s not much to it and it’s as easy as they claim. Lower the recline foot until the recline indicator shows green, then push the LATCH release buttons to remove the LATCH connectors, clip them onto your lower anchors, and press down on the base.
- Car Seat Blog
March 26, 2014 | Full review
The installation is so easy! I love being able to visually check with every click in that the base is still tight enough and level. Even taking the seat cover off to wash has been easy with this seat
- Baby List
January 2, 2018 | Full review
Parents love how easy it is to install with or without a base, and also appreciated the easy strap adjustments with the no-rethread harness as their child grew. They also loved how well it fit onto UPPAbaby strollers and how easy the seat cover was to remove and wash.
- Best Car Seat Hub
What experts didn't like
Usually about $300. This is a slightly more expensive option than most other infant car seats
- Mommy Hood 101
Testers noticed that the fabric on the KeyFit isn’t as plush as the Henry MESA — if the MESA is a living room recliner, the KeyFit feels more like a sleeping bag. The canopy is also a little on the short side
- Reviews.com
With a list price around $300, the Mesa may not be the top choice for all families.
- Baby Gear Lab
May 4, 2018 | Full review
Can be difficult to hold the needed tension on seat belt while closing the lock off
- Consumer Reports
At almost 10 pounds, the Mesa is heavy.
- Baby List
January 2, 2018 | Full review
While some parents thought the MESA was lightweight, many felt it was too heavy and bulky. Some had difficulty fitting it into the back seat and had to push the front passenger seat too far forward to be comfortable.
- Best Car Seat Hub

From The Manufacturer

The MESA is designed with intuitive innovations you can see and features that remove the guesswork. Its SMART Secure System combines auto-retracting LATCH connectors and a visual indicator that turns from red to green, providing an installation that is both simple and accurate. Front adjust no-rethread harness with integrated side impact protection as well as a one handed release from both the VISTA and the CRUZ deliver a seat that effectively pairs safety with simplicity. Four position adjustable foot for easy leveling.

Overall Product Rankings

1. Chicco KeyFit 30
Overall Score: 9.8
Expert Reviews: 11
2. Peg Perego Primo
Overall Score: 8.5
Expert Reviews: 10
3. UPPAbaby Mesa
Overall Score: 7.6
Expert Reviews: 10
4. Graco SungRide 35
Overall Score: 7.6
Expert Reviews: 10
5. Evenflo LiteMax 35
Overall Score: 7.2
Expert Reviews: 7
6. Maxi-Cosi Mico NXT
Overall Score: 7.2
Expert Reviews: 4
7. Chicco Fit2
Overall Score: 7.1
Expert Reviews: 8
8. Baby Trend Inertia
Overall Score: 7.1
Expert Reviews: 3
9. Evenflo Advanced SensorSafe
Overall Score: 7.1
Expert Reviews: 6
10. Cyber Aton
Overall Score: 6.8
Expert Reviews: 8
11. Recaro Performance Coupe
Overall Score: 6.7
Expert Reviews: 5
12. Baby Trends EZ Flex-Loc
Overall Score: 6.6
Expert Reviews: 5
13. Britax B-Safe 35
Overall Score: 5.9
Expert Reviews: 9

An Overview On Infant Car Seats

You’re probably already nervous about your first ride home with your tiny bundle of joy. On top of that, you have to try to pick the best infant car seat from a seemingly endless array of options. From the ease of installation to fabric comfort and whether or not it works with your stroller system, it can be overwhelming, to say the least. It’s simple to break down the basics of what you need in an infant car seat so you can find the right infant car seat for your growing family.

Infant car seats — sometimes called bucket or pumpkin seats — are rear-facing and made for infants and toddlers up to two years old. The height and weight requirements vary from seat to seat but they typically work for babies from around 4 to 35 pounds and up to 32 inches in height. Some seats, like the Chicco KeyFit 30, are preferred for preemies but only go up to 30 pounds and 30 inches. The seat usually clicks into or attaches to a base that stays in the car.

Many infant car seats have a carrying handle and an adjustable shade. They also have various types of cushions and inserts that can be used for the smallest infants and then taken out as your child grows.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that children stay rear-facing at least until two years old or when they reach the height and weight limit for the seat. According to the CDC, using a car seat reduces the risk of injury in a car crash by 71 to 82 percent. Overall, kids may end up using a car seat or booster up to the age of 12, based on their height and weight.

Knowing that their child will be using a car seat for such a long time prompts many parents to opt for a convertible car seat. Unlike the infant car seat, a convertible car seat starts rear-facing and can change its configuration to a front-facing car seat and then finally a booster. They are just as safe as an infant car seat and must meet the same standards. While this option can certainly be budget-friendly and you may be able to keep your child rear-facing longer, there are some trade-offs.

For some, the biggest deal breaker is giving up the ability to easily transfer a sleeping baby in and out of the car while still in the seat. Since convertible car seats are meant to stay in the car most of the time, they also don’t typically work with strollers and don’t have carry handles. And, since they’re larger to accommodate a growing child, they may not fit well in all vehicles. You’ll want to make sure to consider how you’ll be using the car seat and if it’s important for you to be able to keep your child in the car seat when you’re out and about. Many infant car seats work with a complimentary stroller or travel system, like the UPPAbaby Mesa, and you may save money buying this as a package deal.

The most important part of any car seat purchase is safety. Each car seat uses different materials and features, but they all have to meet the same federal safety standards. Some may choose to do additional safety testing, like the Evenflo LiteMax 35, which is rollover tested. There are a few things you’ll want to look out for, such as a five-point harness and a base that clearly indicates when the seat is attached and positioned correctly with a color change or a bubble level like the Chicco KeyFit 30.

Actually installing and using the seat the right way can be stressful for any new parent, so the easier it is to do, the better. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) maintains an ease-of-use rating system to help parents find seats that have clear instructions and are easy to install and use. Anything rated 4 or 5 tends to be more intuitive.

All cars are now required to have a LATCH system (which stands for lower anchors and top tethers) that allows you to attach the car seat with clips near the seatbelt base and behind the headrest or seat. It can sometimes be a struggle to make the connectors the right length so the UPPAbaby Mesa self-retracting option may be a major plus if you have to take the base in and out more frequently. 

Finally, it’s important to consider overall comfort, for you and for baby. Look at features like the weight of the car seat, the ergonomics of the carry handle and quality or type of fabric. Infant car seats can vary widely in weight. For example, the Evenflo LiteMax 35 is only 16 pounds, while the UPPAbaby Mesa is 25.5 pounds. That can make a big difference if you plan to tote the seat any distance with your little one inside.

If you live in a warm climate you may want to look for a cooler fabric like breathable jersey found with the Peg Perego Primo car seat.  The UPPAbaby Mesa features moisture-wicking merino wool which is also naturally flame retardant. While buying online can be the most cost-effective and convenient, you may want to go to a store where you can compare the feel of the fabric and other materials.

DYWM Fun Fact

As of 1985, all states finally have laws requiring the use of car seats on the books. But in 1987, only 80 percent of people were using them. It wasn’t until 2003 that all cars we required by federal regulation to be manufactured with LATCH systems (lower anchors and top tethers) for car seats. This helped promote usage by making it easier and more consistent to install car seats.

Still, according to the CDC, car accidents and related injuries are the leading cause of death among children (ages 0-12) in the United States. They also found that in one year, 618,000 children did not use a car seat or booster seat at least some of the time. While there are a number of factors that cause injury in car accidents, the NHTSA did a study that found that 46 percent of car seats and booster seats are misused in some way. Front-facing car seats are the most common misuse, at 61 percent.

The CDC urges the use of car seats as the best way to reduce the risk of injury. In addition to following the recommended stages for car seat use, you can also find a certified child safety technician in your area to get installation instruction and tips one-on-one. The bottom line: it’s better to use a car seat or booster as recommended than not and there are resources to help you install and use your seats correctly.

The Infant Car Seat Buying Guide

  • Any parent or caregiver who has cleaned a car seat mess will tell you how important easy-to-clean fabric is. Even better, look for car seats that allow you to remove the lining or pad entirely and toss it in the washer, like the Evenflo LiteMax 35.
  • If you travel frequently or live in a city where you may need to use your car seat in a taxi or rideshare you may want to opt for an infant car seat like the Peg Perego Primo. It can be used with or without its included base, giving you more flexibility when on the go.
  • You are not alone when it comes to learning how to install a car seat properly. The NHTSA offers free car seat inspection locations (usually at local fire stations) with trained technicians who can show you how to install it and use it.
  • Believe it or not, car seats expire. That’s why it’s not recommended to purchase a car seat from a yard sale or online reseller or reuse one from a friend. Most infant car seats expire in five to six years. Some convertible car seats last up to 10 years. You may be able to find the expiration date on the car seat itself or in the owners’ manual. If you can’t find a date, note the model number and call the manufacturer. Most car seats do end up looking kind of beat up, but the real risk is caused by plastic getting hot and cold repeatedly over the years. This may cause hairline cracks or brittleness that aren’t easy to see, and are very dangerous in a crash.
  • Once you’ve chosen the perfect seat, you also have to make sure you’re strapping in your little one correctly. Straps should be at or below the shoulder without any looseness or slack. Your child may protest but you should only be able to fit a couple fingers behind the strap. The chest clip should be at armpit level in the middle of the sternum. If it’s too high, it could cause neck injury and if it’s too low, your child could be thrown from the car seat.
  • As an added safety precaution you can add a luggage tag or label to the side of the seat with emergency contact info. Include details like your child’s name, parents name, address and phone numbers, pediatrician name and any medical conditions. This way, first responders can find valuable information quickly, in case the parent or caregiver is injured or unable to speak.