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Cheryl Brody Franklin
Contributing Writer

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Infant Car Seat Review

This Italian-made car seat delivers big on safety as well as style.

Pros
• Base is easy to install
• Safe and comfortable (with two cushions)
• Easy to use without the base when traveling

Cons
• Needs an adapter to fit into non-Peg Perego stroller bases and not many other brands are available

Bottom Line
Meet the triple threat of car seats: The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Infant Car Seat is easy to use, incredibly safe and perfect for travel.

Rating: 4 stars

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When I first started a registry the entire process felt overwhelming because there were so many options for every single product we needed. With so many different styles, colors and materials, I often had a hard time zeroing in on what I wanted, but one exception was the car seat. When I got to that section of the baby store, the first thing I did was ask the store representative to show me the safest options. I didn’t care what color, material or brand it was, and he immediately identified three models. After going through each one, I ultimately chose the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 infant car seat because I felt like it was the most compact and comfortable.

Features

One of the nicest parts of this seat is the plush first-stage cushion that it comes with. You remove this insert once baby reaches 8 pounds (which happened quickly with my son, Jacob—within a few weeks), but I liked that I had that option in case he had been a smaller baby. The second stage cushion is just as comfortable, and considering baby is strapped in so snugly with the five-point harness, I appreciated how soft it felt. It’s made from a breathable Fresco Jersey performance fabric that absorbs moisture to keep baby cool and dry.

My friends all warned me the most annoying part of using an infant car seat was rethreading the harness as their babies got bigger. But that’s not an issue with the Primo Viaggio seat. You pull down on the back rear compartment door to expose the harness, and lift the straps to pull the harness up (along with the side impact protection cushion). It’s so easy and convenient, especially after you realize your child went through a grow spurt overnight, and it only takes about a minute to adjust. I will note the straps often get tangled, but I’ve come to learn that straps—in a car seat, stroller or high chair—will always get tangled, so that seems par for the course with most baby gear.

Infant car seat bases are notoriously bulky, but the Primo Viaggio 4-35’s base is very narrow (14.6 inches wide; several other popular brands are 15+ inches), which is especially nice if you have a compact car. As for weight, it’s about average for infant car seats at 9.5 pounds, while the base weighs 7.4 pounds. It also has the option of being installed with the LATCH strap system, included in nearly every vehicle manufactured after September 1, 2002, or the seat belt (but never both at the same time). We tried both options to see which was best for our car, and we ultimately decided on the LATCH system because it felt more secure. Both options are completely safe, though, and suggested by the company.

In terms of safety features, the Primo Viaggio is fully loaded. Side impact protection is adjustable to six different positions, a generous amount of energy absorbing EPS foam (expanded polystyrene foam, a common type of foam used in most car seats, is designed to cushion baby from the impact force of a crash) lines the shell to protect baby’s head and torso, and the base features its “Right Tight System,” which easily and securely locks it in place for added stability. This seat also comes with a built-in anti-rebound bar that offers maximum protection in case of a collision. Unlike many other infant seats, the anti-rebound bar is designed to be installed both with or without the base.

Performance

We used the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 up until my son turned 18 months and, at 33 inches, was too long to safely fit (the seat has a 32-inch and 35-pound weight limit). That said, the weight limit is fairly high (many car seats have a 30-pound limit), so you could realistically keep this car seat in rotation for a while.

We live in the city, so I don't drive often. When I do it's typically to go from point A to point B, and the car seat usually stays in the car. But when we visited my parents or in-laws in the suburbs, I did find the car seat to be a bit of a burden compared with my suburban friends who all had snap-and-go travel systems. I had to lug out the car seat and carry it around, or snap it into the converter frame for my two main strollers, the Uppa Baby Vista and the BOB Revolution. This was a bit of a pain and woke Jacob up when he was napping, but we didn’t do it often, and it always felt sturdy and secure once it was set up. The Primo Viaggio 4-35 can attach directly to all Peg Perego strollers (except the Skate and Pliko Mini) without using an adapter, but I didn't have a Peg Perego stroller, so that, unfortunately, didn’t work for me.

Since the car seat functions perfectly without the base it’s also great for travel or for using it in a taxi since you don’t have to drag that extra piece along. When we went to St. Thomas on vacation, the one thing I was certain about schlepping was the car seat. Many people suggested I rent one there, but I couldn't imagine putting my son in anything other than our Primo Viaggio because I knew how safe it was. We used the seat belt option to snap it (rear-facing) into our rental car. The seat has foolproof, coded belt paths to help guide you when using it without the base, so we knew we were installing it correctly. Those guidelines made me feel secure when we drove all over the island and allowed me to actually enjoy my vacation.

If I lived in the suburbs, I might have made a different choice based on the napping and sleeping issue alone, or even opted to get a Peg Perego stroller to complement the car seat, but for city living the car seat has been perfect.

Design

I’m a New Yorker, so not surprisingly, I tend to choose things in classic black. My car seat color was no different, and it matched our black car interior. It’s also available in 16 other fabrics for parents who actually embrace bright shades and patterns. And you can match it to the fabric on your stroller for a consistent style statement. Like all Peg Perego products, this car seat is Italian-made, so it is probably the most glamorous design of all the car seats you’ll see lined up at the baby store. Plus, it's ridiculously easy to maintain. Jacob was a great "car baby" and never got sick (well, in this car seat; I wasn't as lucky once he graduated to the convertible seat), but he was rather messy with his snacks. I never had a hard time getting the puff crumbs out of crevices or removing a blob of an apple strawberry pouch off the material, so it always looked neat and clean (the upholstery is also removable and washable).

Summary

Driving with your first child is terrifying, but I always felt much calmer knowing he was in this particular car seat. That kind of security is huge, especially with a first child when everything feels unknown and scary. Strapping him into that seat for the first time and going home from the hospital was nerve-wracking. I made my husband drive 25 miles an hour (not an easy task in New York City, and I'm sure lots of taxi drivers were angry at us!), but I never worried once about the safety of the seat—just the crazy drivers around us. While I did find it frustrating to not have the corresponding stroller base for this seat, I was ultimately happy with my choice.

Writer/editor Cheryl Brody Franklin lives in NYC with her husband, Drew and their two sons. She's also the Vice President of Ed2010, a volunteer, networking and mentoring organization committed to helping aspiring and junior-level editors reach their dream magazine job.