Parents who want a no-frills car seat with top-of-the-line safety features, an easy install, and a mid-range price should consider a new car seat in the Graco linethe Admiral 65. This convertible car seat works from 5-65 pounds as a rear-facing or forward-facing car seat, making it the only seat that your child needs before they transition to a booster. Let’s take a closer look at this option in this Graco Admiral 65 Convertible Car Seat Review.
A Quick Look
A child’s size is especially important when it comes to car seat safety. The Graco Admiral 65 is designed to be used with infants in rear-facing mode from 5-40 pounds. You can turn the around at 22 pounds, but it is safer for them to stay rear-facing as long as their head is at least 1-inch below the headrest. Once your little one is ready to turn around, the car seat supports a child from 22-65 pounds and up to 49 tall. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best features of this seat.
Loaded with Safety Features
No parent wants to think about getting into a car accident with their child in the back seat. However, if you do, it’s important that you have peace of mind in knowing that your child is safe. Even though this car seat is not especially heavy, it does feel solid and durable when it is picked up.
This car seat has also been tested using the Graco ProtectPlus Engineered Testing Standard. This testing standard sets rigorous requirements for safety in accidents. It checks front-impact, rear-impact, side-impact, and rollover safety. Additionally, this guarantee means the car seat exceeds the standards set by the department of transportation regarding car seat safety by at least double and remains intact and undamaged when exposed to extreme cold or heat in the car.
See our complete list of the best convertible car seats here.
Installing the Seat
When it is time to install, this works with the LATCH system in your car seat. The LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) system works by anchoring your child in the car. The LATCH on either side stops the car seat from wobbling side to side, while the upper tether is designed to keep the car seat in the car in case the seat belt fails. A level indicator helps you be sure you have installed the car seat safely in the backseat, giving even babysitters, grandparents, and other relatives no excuse for not properly securing your child before they leave the house.
For people who are unfamiliar with the install system, Graco makes it easy to be sure your child is secured. Not only is the LATCH system easy to use once you are familiar with it, but it also makes car seats fairly standard to install. If you do have questions, there are plenty of tutorials on the Graco website. The car seat also has a convenient pocket for the manual to be stored in, so you’ll never be without a reference guide.
The Graco Admiral car seat is not especially wide, but might be a little wider than the LATCH system the backseat of some sedans. It will still fit safely, however, you probably won’t be able to sit three car seats across the backseat comfortably. Another issue some parents have is reclining the car seat at all when in forward-facing mode in smaller cars. Parents of multiple children may want to consider a narrower car seatyou can find some of our top reviews for convertible car seats here.
One of the biggest factors you should look at considering functionality is how well the car seat will fit into your lifestyle. Even though this is not an especially heavy car seat, it is sturdy enough that you might not want to be constantly switching it between cars.
Once your child is in the seat, there is an adjustable harness that ensures they are snugly in place. The five-point harness works by lowering or extending the headrest. This is easy to adjust, however, it can be difficult to loosen when the seat is sitting in the rear-facing position. This is especially true in smaller cars that might not have room for a full recline.
The bottom strap that attaches to the buckle can also be easily repositioned for a better fit. With both areas being adjustable, you can feel confident that your child is secure while sitting in the seat.
Finally, the car seat cover is very easy to remove and machine washable. This is good news for parents who are worried about messes, which are common for babies and toddlers. Since most kids can sit in this car seat until they are 5 or 6, this car seat cover will likely need to be washed at least a few times and the convenience of it is a nice bonus.
One thing that this car seat does not have is tons of extra features. Some parents spend hundreds on buying a plushy, comfortable car seat that has extra cupholders, a toy bar, and convenience features. Unless your child is going to be spending a lot of time in the car, however, these features do not really matter.
This seat does have a good amount of padding in areas that touch your child and comes with inserts, which provide support, comfort, and space as your child grows. One thing that could improve this car seat is the addition of padding for the shoulder straps. The straps might be uncomfortable for long trips, especially for wiggly kids that may push against the straps a lot.
The included cupholder is nice. Even though it is not removable like the holder included in some other car seats, it is more sturdy and has a lower chance of falling off. However, there is only one cup holder so you will need to store snacks or a drink, not both.
- Supports babies and toddlers
- Only car seat you’ll need until your child transitions to a booster
- Easy to install
- Rigorous safety testing
- Seat belt adjusts using headrest instead of rethreading the harness
- Car seat cover is machine washable and easy to remove
- Pocket to store the car seat manual in
- Car seat feels solid and durable
- Sturdy cup holder
- Has comfortable fabrics
- Doesn’t come with shoulder padding
- Only one cupholder
- Difficult to adjust the seat belt in rear-facing mode
- Might be wider than the LATCH system in some smaller sedans
- May not recline in smaller sedans
When Should I Turn the Graco Admiral 65 Around?
Even though the weight limit in forward-facing mode is just 22 pounds, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your child is at least two before making the switch to front-facing. Even though it might seem like your little one would be uncomfortable as they grow, they are used to having their legs curled slightly. If you travel long distances and are worried about comfort, consider a car seat that has extended legroom like the Graco Extend2Fit car seat.
For safety, it’s important that your child’s head sits at least 1-inch below the headrest of the car seat. You can turn them around once they exceed this point and weigh more than 22 pounds. However, if at all possible, you should wait for them to turn around until they are at least 2 years old.
When your child is an infant, they are still building their head and neck muscles. If you do not give them time to fully develop, they could be seriously injured in a car accident if their head is thrown forward. In addition to being sure they are secured properly every time that you put your little one in the car, you can keep them safe by keeping them rear-facing as long as you possibly can.
When Can I Switch My Child to a Booster Seat?
Each time that you turn your child’s car seat around or transition them to a seat designed for older children, you are lowering the amount of safety that they have. You should not switch your child to a booster seat until they have outgrown the recommendations on their forward-facing seat. Even then, it’s important to choose a booster seat that supports your child’s height and weight requirements.
In addition to checking height and weight, it is important that your child can sit properly in the booster seat. Sitting properly lets the shoulder strap and lap belt sit across them in a way that protects them in a car accident. If you aren’t sure what to look for, check out our article on the 5-step test for booster seat safety.
The Graco Admiral 65 Convertible Car Seat is a great choice for parents who want a car seat they can feel secure about without breaking the bank. Even though it isn’t loaded with features like extra plush padding or numerous cupholders, it does excel at being easy to use and keeping your little one safe. Additionally, being a convertible car seat, this is an excellent choice for parents who don’t want to worry about buying a second car seat from birth until the toddler years.