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Graco Contender 65 vs. Graco My Ride 65: Which is the better choice?


If your baby has outgrown their car seat or you are looking for a 2-in-1 car seat, you may be in the market for a convertible car seat. A convertible car seat is two car seats in one as it transitions from one position to the next. Both the Graco Contender 65 and the Graco My Ride 65  transition from an infant seat to a forward facing position. While both have many qualities that are similar, they also have features that are different. So which is the better choice? Ultimately, I like the Graco Contender 65 because it is easier to use and offers a more comfortable ride. These two car seats offer similar features but which is better? Let’s look at them both.

Graco Contender 65

Graco Contender65 Convertible Car Seat Cheer

Pros

Weight Limit

While many car seats have a low weight limit, this seat offers extended rear facing up to 40 pounds. Once your child has outgrown the rear facing position, they can be turned around to the forward facing five-point-harness position until they are 65 pounds.

Simply Safe Adjust

Graco Contender65 Convertible Car Seat Cheer

This car seat offers the Simply Safe Adjust system which allows you to adjust the 8-position headrest and harness at the same time. This means that you don’t have to rethread the harness to adjust it. This car seat grows with your child and offers a simple one-handed motion to adjust the seat to accommodate your growing child.

Built for Safety

Graco Contender65 Convertible Car Seat Cheer

Side impact tested, this seat includes EPS energy-absorbing foam and it meets or exceeds federal safety standards. This seat can also withstand extreme car temperatures so the plastic doesn’t wear down in the hot summer sun. This seat has also been tested at twice the federal regulation speed.

Up Front Adjustment

To tighten the harness, all you have to do is pull the strap in the front. This means that your child gets a custom fit with each use which makes the straps sit securely against their body.

Accurate Installation

This seat features a level indicator which ensures that your seat is at the proper angle upon installation.

Washable

This seat has a washable cover that can be thrown in a washing machine. You can also spot clean the seat with mild soap and a rag. This seat is easy to clean should it get dirty or if there is a mess.

Removable Infant Insert

An available infant insert is included with the car seat to offer head and body support to your newborn. Once the insert has been outgrown, it can be easily removed to offer your child more space.

Lightweight

Weighing 15.2 pounds and measuring 18.5 inches wide, this seat is both lightweight and narrow. This seat could easily join other car seats because it is not bulky. It will also be easy to transfer between vehicles.

Cup Holder

This seat offers a cup holder which can hold a drink or snack.

Cons

Difficult Installation

While this seat does feature the LATCH system, it can be extremely difficult to install. The LATCH belt may be too short for some vehicles and the clips may be difficult to connect. In addition, the latch release button may be difficult to push and tightening the LATCH belt may be difficult. Also, even though the seat features a level indicator to ensure an appropriate angle, it does not have reclining options so some vehicles may not allow for the seat to sit at the proper angle.

Loose Harness

The harness can be difficult to tighten and may be too loose which is very unsafe. Furthermore, the harness can be unbuckled by a curious toddler which can be deadly. The harness itself may be too wide for some children and it may slip off their shoulders which can be very unsafe.

Color Options

Image of the Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat - Brass Image of the Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat, CharterImage of the Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat with Auto Seat Protector & Backseat Mirror, SapphireImage of the Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat STEPHANIEImage of the Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat STEVEN

 

Ease of Use Ratings

When it comes to safety, installation and ease of use are incredibly important. While all car seats are required to pass federal safety testing, some are easier to use than others. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration computes an ease of use rating for every car seat in several categories. See the ratings below.

Overall, the Graco Contender 65 in forward-facing mode received a rating of 3  stars.

NHTSA ease of use rating for the Graco Contender 65Forward-Facing
Credit: NHTSA

Graco My Ride 65

Graco Contender65 Convertible Car Seat Cheer

Pros

Versatile

This seat caters to infants up to 40 pounds in the rear facing position and toddlers up to 65 pounds in the forward facing position. This seat is like having two car seats in one.

Washable

This seat has a removable cover that is machine washable. Spot cleaning the buckle and harness can clean up spills or messes. Washing this seat is easy should it become dirty.

Safe

Graco Contender65 Convertible Car Seat Cheer

The Graco My Ride 65 has been engineered to meet or exceed all federal safety standards. It has also been side impact tested and it also features EPS energy-absorbing foam to protect your child in the event of a crash.

Removeable Insert

This seat features an infant insert which offers your newborn head and body support. Once your child has outgrown the insert, simply remove it to give your child more room in the car seat.

Accurate Installation

Graco Contender65 Convertible Car Seat Cheer

A level located on the top side of the car seat lets you know if the car seat has been installed at the proper angle. This improves accuracy during installation.

Up Front Adjustment

This seat offers an easy up-front adjustment for the five-point-harness. This means you can give your baby a secure fit in the harness each time you use it. Other seats require that you adjust the harness in the back of the seat which may require uninstalling the seat and will not give a customized harness fit like an up-front adjustment does.

Comfortable Headrest

A headrest is available for your little one which not only offers them comfort and support but it also protects their head in the event of a crash.

Lightweight

Weighing 15.8 pounds, this seat is lightweight and can be easily transferred between vehicles or carried for travel.

Cup Holders

This seat offers two cup holders which can hold drinks and snacks for car rides.

Cons

Limited Adjustment

The headrest of this seat does not adjust and this seat does not offer the no re-thread harness feature which means you have to rethread the harness each time you have to adjust the height. This limited adjustment means that the seat doesn’t have a customized fit for your growing child and you have to uninstall the seat each time you need to adjust the harness height.

Wide

At 20.8 inches wide, this seat is a little bulky and wide. It may not be suitable for a small car. It may be difficult to install this seat in a car that has multiple car seats.

Uncomfortable

While the newborn insert offers padding once installed, the seat itself offers limited padding which may make for an uncomfortable ride. Padding is also a safety feature so limited padding means less protection for your little one in the event of a car accident.

Difficult to Install

This seat does come with the LATCH system but it can be difficult to install. The hooks of the LATCH system can be difficult to clip onto the anchors and the belt can be extremely difficult to pull tight. The LATCH button may be difficult to push and release the belt. Faulty installation can be deadly so this is a big drawback. Furthermore, while the seat includes a level indicator, it does not offer any reclining options which means the seat may indicate that it is at an improper angle but there is nothing you can do about it.

Watch: My Ride 65

Ease of Use Ratings

The My Ride 65 received a rating of 4 stars in the forward-facing category.

Credit: NHTSA Graco MyRide 65 front
Credit: NHTSA

How do they compare?

The Graco Contender 65 is unique because it offers plush padding throughout the seat as well as an adjustable headrest which also adjusts the harness at the same time. This seat does include a level indicator for installation but the LATCH system may be very difficult to use. Toddlers successfully unhooking themselves from the seat may make you hesitate in purchasing this seat.

The Graco My Ride 65 offers up-front harness adjustment as well as two cup holders. The seat does not offer a lot of padding which may make your child uncomfortable. The seat also does not allow for adjustment of the headrest. The difficulty of installation may result in improper installation. Also, this seat is wide and bulky so it may not work in some smaller vehicles.

Both seats offer important safety measures. The Graco Contender 65 and the Graco My Ride 65 both offer EPS energy absorbing foam and they have been side impact tested. Each seat has the same weight limit which allows for infants to remain rear facing up to 40 pounds and toddlers to remain in the front facing position until they weigh 65 pounds. A newborn insert is available in both seats and both seats have at least one cup holder. Both seats are lightweight and can be easily transferred between vehicles.

 

Customer Reviews

Graco Contender 65

  • 4.7 out of 5 stars, 671 reviews - Walmart.com
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars, 626 reviews – Target.com

Graco My Ride 65

  • 4.6 out of 5 stars, 395 reviews – Walmart.com
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars, 131 reviews – Target.com

Other Choices

Here are Experienced Mommy’s full reviews of the best convertible car seats overall.

My Recommendation

I prefer the Graco Contender 65 over the Graco My Ride 65.  The Contender offers an 8-position headrest which easily adjusts the harness at the same time. This prevents you from having to unthread the harness and fumble with the seat each time the harness needs adjustment. The Contender also offers a more cushioned ride while the My Ride has little padding which may become uncomfortable. Both seats are safe however the Contender may be more convenient to use. It is also more narrow which may allow it to fit in smaller vehicles or in a row with other car seats.

Sarah Loucks
Sarah Loucks
I am a veteran mom to three children and I am seasoned in raising children on a budget.

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