Traveling with baby can be either a pleasure or a chore. Whichever the case may be for you, your priority is your child’s comfort and safety inside the vehicle. Having them sit on your lap isn’t ideal for them and restricts your own movement, too. That’s why a fundamental piece of equipment you should purchase is a baby car seat.
Car seats are available at different prices with varying features, and it could get overwhelming for a parent to choose the best one. One of the top-selling products is the Cosco Senera NEXT Convertible Car Seat. It’s inexpensive, safe, and easy to install—less than three minutes! The instruction manual is fairly comprehensive and there’s even a special slot on the back of the seat to keep it for quick referencing.
Like many car seats, this one has met federal safety standards. It follows the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation for keeping infants in a rear-facing position until the age of two, after which it converts seamlessly into a front-facing seat. It has a five-point harness for easy adjustment and features Side Impact Protection for your peace of mind.
Is this the right car seat for you? Let’s take a closer look.
Cosco Scenera NEXT Pros and Cons
If you feel that product reviews are tl:dr, here is a quick summary of the benefits and disadvantages of the Scenera NEXT. However, these are partly subjective; a thumbs-up for us might be a thumbs-down for you. Knowing the details will help you make a better-informed decision. So, if you want to learn more, don’t stop here.
- Affordable price
- Easy to clean
- Detachable cup holder
- Approved by the FAA
- Lots of color options
- Not for everyday use
- Not the best fit for newborns
- Could be outgrown quickly
- Insufficient padding
- No locking clip
What We Love
The Cosco Scenera NEXT offers many advantages. Majority of Amazon reviewers (72%) gave it five stars and we agree with most of the points raised. Among them are:
1. Affordable Price
You know that buying a car seat could be a major investment. Prices can run up to the hundreds of dollars, and you might not be ready to spend so much. (After all, the family has to eat, too!) This convertible car seat is one of the most inexpensive in the market today. The price is almost too good to be true. Of course, you get what you pay for, but if all you want is the basics, then this one fits the bill nicely.
You won’t believe how light this thing is—only 6.8 pounds. One of the worst things about the more expensive car seats is the weight. It seems like the higher the price, the heavier it is. This unit allows you to bring it everywhere with ease. Imagine running with baby, luggage, and stroller in tow through a crowded airport to catch your flight. The feather-light Scenera NEXT won’t slow you down.
With its slim profile, you can fit three Scenera NEXTs in the back seat of your car. That means it can go in some tight spots where others can’t. At only a smidge over 17 inches at its widest point and 24 inches high, it can fit under large strollers. Or, you could hang it from the handle of a smaller stroller using the top strap.
4. Easy to Clean
Is your child a messy eater? We feel your pain. Cleaning up this car seat is a piece of cake. Simply take the removable cover off and toss it into the washing machine. It is also dryer-safe. As for the body and the harness, just wipe them down with a sudsy washcloth and follow up with another washcloth moistened with water to remove the soap.
5. Detachable Cup Holder
This product comes with a cup holder that clips on either side. You can remove it entirely if you’re installing car seats next to each other or if you have to wash it. It is also dishwasher-safe so there is no need to manually scrub the dirt off.
6. Approved by the FAA
Not all car seats are approved for use in airplanes. This one has the FAA approval tag on the left side of the seat next to the rear-facing belt. It is clearly marked so that you can show it to airport staff quickly. For more information about proper installation on a plane, you can check out the Federal Aviation Administration website.
7. Lots of Color Options
The Scenera NEXT is available in 17 colors and patterns. From the understated Otto to the eye-catching Orchard Blossom Pink, there is sure to be one to suit your taste.
What We Don’t Love
This is by no means the perfect product. Given its low price point, you can expect some limitations. Some of them are:
1. Not for Everyday Use
The Scenera NEXT is a great product to bring on trips or to install in an infrequently-used second car. Although it has passed all the safety standards set by the NHTSA, it will experience more wear and tear than a full-size unit if you use it as your primary car seat.
2. Not the Best Fit for Newborns
Because the shoulder strap holes are pretty low, this seat is compatible for infants who weigh as little as five pounds in the rear-facing position. However, the lack of an insert might not make it the coziest fit.
3. Could Be Outgrown Quickly
If your toddler is quite tall, then this car seat is not the best for you. Cosco says the maximum kid height is 40 inches for rear-facing and 43 inches for front-facing. Nevertheless, the top harness slot is at 13 inches only. This means that your child will probably outgrow the product by height even before they reach the 40-pound weight limit.
4. Insufficient Padding
Part of the reason the Scenera NEXT is so lightweight is thatx the padding is a little skimpy. Baby’s comfort might be compromised especially on a long trip, but what do you expect at this price? Baby blankets could help if you feel that additional padding is necessary.
5. No Locking Clip
A locking clip is a small piece of metal about the size of a credit card. In a car wherein the lap-shoulder seatbelt does not lock at the retractor, you need this device to keep the seatbelt from sliding freely and to hold the car seat tightly. The NEXT doesn’t come with a locking clip, but this isn’t a total dealbreaker because it has a LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system anyway. But, should you need one, the Diono Super Lock is a cheap and reliable option.
Cosco Scenera NEXT Statistics
- Rear-facing weight range: 5 to 40 lbs
- Rear-facing height range: 19 to 40 inches
- Forward-facing weight range: 22 to 40 lbs
- Forward-facing height range: 29 to 43 inches
- Lowest harness position: 5 inches
- Highest harness position: 13 inches
- Crotch buckle strap positions: 2 inches, 3 inches, and 4.5 inches from the back of the seat
- Assembled product dimensions: 17 ¼ x 22 x 24 inches
- Seat depth: 11 inches
- Seat weight: 6.8 lbs
- Life span: 8 years from the date of manufacture
A car seat is a must-have if you’re planning to take baby with you on errands or trips. If you’re looking for a premium one that has loads of extra features, then this might not be your best option. However, if all you want is a basic product that baby can use from age zero to whenever they reach 40 pounds, then the Cosco Senera NEXT Convertible Car Seat is perfectly adequate. It’s affordable, lightweight, compact, and airplane travel-ready. The cover is easy to clean and comes in a wide array of colors and patterns. Plus, there’s a detachable cup holder.
Nonetheless, we wouldn’t recommend it as your primary car seat. Even though it has been tested for safety, it is more susceptible to wear and tear compared to a more expensive model. The padding isn’t as thick, either, and the fit isn’t great for newborns or too-tall toddlers. Still, as a backup car seat, this is an excellent choice.