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UPPAbaby Mesa car seat review

The UPPAbaby Mesa car seat is available on both Amazon and Walmart

$300 on

$300 on


UPPAbaby is a new name in the car seat world, but  isn’t new to the baby market.  Their higher-end strollers have been around for some time.  Due to their prestige in the stroller department, I was extremely excited to try out their newest addition of a rear-facing only seat.

See below for our full UPPAbaby Mesa car seat review
Last updated August, 2018

Quick Stats

  • Weight range: 4-35 lbs.
  • Height range: up to 32″
  • Shell height: 18″
  • Lowest Harness position: 4.5″
  • Weight (carrier only): 11 lbs.
  • Expiration: 7 years
  • Handle position: Any locked position


  • Seat belt lock off
  • 2 position adjustable crotch buckle
  • Adjustable recline foot
  • Euro belt routing
  • Push button lower anchor connectors
  • Adjustable head support with no rethread harness
  • Infant insert for small babies (4-8lbs)
  • SMARTSecure System which includes Auto-retracting LATCH and a tightness indicator
  • Buckle storage pockets
  • Hideaway canopy with SPF 50


Unique Features of the UPPAbaby Mesa car seat

The Mesa has several unique features that set it apart from other rear facing only seats.

The ratcheting lower anchor straps that are part of the SMARTSecure System are the most unique feature of this seat.  To read more about these lower anchor straps please refer to the lower anchor installation section in this review.

The next unique feature is the hideaway sunshade with SPF 50+.  This is a nice feature for keeping your Little safe from the UV from the sunlight.

The integrated head support with no rethread harness is a feature many infant seats are now incorporating in their car seats.  When UPPAbaby was developing the Mesa, they went back and forth about having the integrated head support with the no rethread harness due to the weight it added to the seat.  The safety was more important to them and therefore they went with the head support that travels with the child at all times and contains their head.  Having the integrated no rethread harness was also key because of the high misuse rate all CPSTs and advocates want to eliminate.  UPPAbaby has also gone above and beyond by testing the Mesa to NHTSA’s proposed side impact standards.

The Mesa also has a unique way of adjusting the head support.  There is a small tab at the top of the seat that you pull on, then pull up or down on the head support to get it at the correct position.  This allows the no rethread harness and head support to be adjusted from the front rather than back of the seat which in turn makes it easier to adjust with a child in the seat.

The buckle storage pockets are the last unique feature on the Mesa.  This feature consists of small pockets sewn into the side of the seat fabric which allow you to tuck the harness buckles into the seat and out-of-the-way for easy loading and unloading of the child. They also keep the buckles cool on hot days.


Installation With the Base

A four position recline foot on the base allows for multiple recline levels to accommodate many different vehicle seat slopes.  It’s easy to adjust with the grey button on the top of the base.  The side of the base has a level indicator that turns green when the base is at the correct recline level as well.

The SMARTsecure system consists of a tension indicator and ratcheting lower anchor strap.  The tension indicator is on top of the base and works for both lower anchors and vehicle belt install.  This indicator is similar to the level indicator in that it turns green when the install is tight.  We still encourage checking the tightness of the seat, though.  There should be no more than 1″ of movement from side to side or front to back at the belt path.  The ratcheting lower anchor strap is stored inside the seat and pulled out to attach the lower anchor connectors to the vehicle anchors.  This is explained a bit more in the lower anchor install section.

Vehicle Belt Install

The Mesa has a standard vehicle belt install and I had no issues getting it nice and tight.  It incorporates a belt lock-off, like many other infant seat bases.  This feature allows you to install the car seat without locking the vehicle belt.  The tension indicator which is incorporated into the SMARTsecure system also works with the vehicle belt install.  You thread the vehicle belt through the belt path, then under the lock-off, tighten the belt, and close the lock-off.  Once you have the vehicle belt tight the indicator window shows green.  We still encourage checking the tightness of the seat though.  There should be no more than 1″ of movement from side to side or front to back at the belt path.

We have been told by UPPAbaby that if for some reason the base still is not to the desired tightness, the vehicle belt’s locking mechanism can be used while still being routed through the lock-off door.

They have also stated that if you have a convenience button or a sewn in loop on the lap portion of the vehicle belt, you can install without using the lock-off.  This button or loop helps the buckle on the vehicle belt remain easily accessible rather than slipping down to the floor of the vehicle for adult passengers, but sometimes cause installation issues with lock-offs.

The lock-off stays closed and the vehicle belt is routed over it but still under the ‘T’ of the lock-off.  As with all other installation methods the indicator window will still show green with this install method.  Please remember to  use the locking mechanism on the vehicle belt when installing using this method.

Lower Anchors

The Mesa is one of the easiest lower anchor installs I’ve ever done.  The SMARTSecure system integrates the ratcheting lower anchor strap.  These ratchet straps consist of two independent retractors in the base.  The retractors are similar to that found in a vehicle belt retractor.  To start the install the lower anchor connector needs to be pulled out of the connector storage compartment on the base, then the orange button is pushed on the top of the base.  This button allows you to pull the straps out of the base.  The straps need to be pulled as far as possible from out of the base while continuing to push the orange button.  The hardest part of the install is that you’ll need to hold the strap so that it doesn’t ratchet back in until the lower anchor connector is connected to the vehicle lower anchor.  The push on lower anchor connectors help with this step.  Once the connectors are connected, you release the lower anchor strap which ratchets into the base making the base tight without having to pull any lower anchor strap tail as in most car seats.  You do this with each side, then push down on the back of the base until the tension indicator turns green.  Rocking the base back and forth can help with this step.

Installation Without the Base

If a baseless install is wanted or needed, it is also an easy install.  Set the Mesa on the vehicle seat without the base, line up the red level line on the side of the car seat so that it’s even with the ground, thread the lap portion of the vehicle belt through the blue belt guides on either side of the car seat.  While putting your weight into the car seat, tighten the vehicle belt, then lock the vehicle belt at either the retractor or latch plate once the desired tightness is accomplished.  There should be no more than 1″ or less of movement from side to side or front to back at the belt path.  If you’re having a hard time keeping the bottom part of the seat, where the child’s feet go, from flipping down you can use a pool noodle pyramid.

European Routing

This install method is the same as the vehicle belt install described above.  The only difference is that you route the shoulder belt portion of the vehicle belt behind the infant seat instead of laying it against the vehicle seat.  The shoulder portion will be routed through the open blue door on the back of the infant seat.  This is NOT a lock-off though and the vehicle belt will still need to be locked.  This installation method helps the stability of installation and also over rotation in a crash.


Fit to child: Preemie

At 4 pounds and 17 inches long, our  “preemie” doll represents the average small preemie.The UPPAbaby Mesa fit our doll very well with her shoulders right above the bottom harness slot.  Due to her weight  we used the infant insert (use between 4-8 lbs) under her.  The chest clip is also small which makes the harness straps fit nicely over her shoulders.  Since the Mesa has 2 buckle positions, she fit very nicely with the crotch strap at the smallest position.

Fit to child: Newborn

Our newborn doll weighs 7 pounds and is 17 inches long.

Since she was under 8lb, the infant insert was left in. Overall, we felt that the Mesa was pretty easy to use, but felt that the infant insert made adjusting the harness a little difficult. It also seemed that using the infant insert pushed our doll’s bum forward and her head down towards her chest so that her cheeks rested on the large harness pads. Even with the harness pads off, which did make the harness easier to adjust, our dollwas still a little slouchy; it didn’t seem like her bum was all the way back in the seat. Using the infant insert did allow our dollto use a harness position one above the one she would be using without the insert. She is closer to the 8lb maximum of the insert, so it’s possible that the fit would have been different if she was a little  smaller.

We felt that removing the infant insert provided a better fit, with or without the harness pads. Ultimately, that is how the Mesa was used for our doll, and we were much happier with the seat overall. With her bum all the way back in the seat, our doll didn’t seem like she was slouching and her head didn’t look like it was being pushed forward; rather it tilted slightly to the side. There’s not really any support on the sides without the infant insert, but that wasn’t a problem for our doll. Standing above the seat and putting one hand next to the adjuster while pulling the harness adjuster strap made tightening the harness pretty easy, and especially so after the insert was removed.

I love how easy it is to wipe anything off the cover.  If your baby spits up frequently, the cover does not appear dirty or stained.  Our newborn doll seems very comfortable in it.

The only downfall I’ve found so far is the height of the head support above the actual harness straps.  This makes side head slump a problem.  Side head slump isn’t a safety issue even with newborns, but as a new parent you always want your child to look comfortable in his or her seat.  This  problem can be solved by adding rolled receiving blankets to either side of the child.  I’m excited to keep using this seat and see how it grows with a larger model.

Another downfall with the Mesa is that it’s a heavy carrier weighing in at 11 lbs, it’s a pound or so heavier than some other infant seats on the market, making it a bit of a strain to carry with a child in it.  Due to the no rethread harness and lack of splitter plate, cover removal is a bit difficult.  Once the cover is removed, it does clean up nicely though.  

Fit to child: toddler

Our toddler has outgrown the Mesa due to her head surpassing the limit of 1″ from the top of the head to the top of the head support.  We thought we’d cover how a bigger kid right past the limits fit though.  She had plenty of harness left and her shoulders were just barely over the top harness position.  She seemed perfectly comfortable in it and didn’t seem to be squished in it.  As a disclaimer though, she is a very skinny little peanut, so width isn’t typically a problem with her.

Final Thoughts

Overall the Mesa is a great seat.  It’s a long-lasting seat with many features that make it a nice seat for both big and small kids.  These features include the no rethread harness, small overall footprint, high limits, amazingly easy install, European belt routing, and hideaway canopy.  It does have a few minimal downfalls such as the weight of the seat, the large gap between the head support and harness straps, and difficult to remove cover.

We can’t forget the most fun part of this seat: the color choices!!  It’s amazing how many questions I got about the Mesa due to its unique color and shape.  The colors pop and the sleekness of the seat are very eye pleasing.

You can find the UPPAbaby Mesa car seat on Amazon for right around $300.


uppababy mesa

Where to Buy

The UPPAbaby Mesa car seat is available on both Amazon and Walmart

$300 on

$300 on

As always, all opinions included in this review are our own. 

Working Parents Handbook did not receive and does not accept any solicitation or compensation for this review from UPPAbaby or its affiliates. 

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