Is Graco’s 4ever all-in-one option really the only seat you’ll ever want to buy?
I remember seeing commercials for a Graco convertible car seat and thinking that it was so cool. I love the idea that the Graco 4Ever Extend2Fit 4-in-1 Car Seat can literally be the only seat your child will ever need, with leg room to boot. Since it’s from Graco, you know that it’ll be safe and have some nice touches and fun extras. But is it easy to use? Is it really the only seat you will want, or will you get frustrated before it’s life is over? Can it really give your long-legged kiddo more room? Depends on your car and your patience. Let’s take a look.
Graco 4Ever vs Extend2Fit – The Same Car Seat?
So what I want to talk about first is this whole 4Ever vs Extend2Fit thing.
We’ve got 4 main models going on within the whole Graco car seat family (updated with current models as of Spring 2022).
- 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (available in a Safety Surround model, a DLX model, a DLX SnugLock Model, and a DLX SnugLock Grow)
- Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
- Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Car Seat (available in an Extend2Fit 3-in-1 with Anti-Rebound Bar model and a model with TrueShield Technology)
- 4Ever Extend2Fit 4-in-1 Car Seat (available in a premiere DLX version)
That’s a grand total of 11 car seats. I know, I know, this is super confusing. What goes to what and what’s the difference? I’ll break it down.
|4Ever 4-in-1||Extend2Fit Convertible||Extend2Fit 3-in-1||4Ever Extend2Fit 4-in-One|
|Modes||4: Rear facing car seat, forward facing car seat, highback booster, regular booster||2: Rear facing car seat and forward facing car seat||3: Rear facing car seat, forward facing car seat, high back booster||4: Rear facing car seat, forward facing car seat, high back booster, regular booster|
|Extra Legroom?||None||5 inches||5 inches||5 inches|
|Harness||SimplySafe Easy Adjust Harness and Headrest (10 positions)||SimplySafe Easy Adjust Harness and Headrest (10 positions)||SimplySafe Easy Adjust Harness and Headrest (10 positions)||SimplySafe Easy Adjust Harness and Headrest (10 positions)|
|Install||InRight Latch||InRight Latch||InRight Latch||InRight latch and integrated vehicle belt lock-offs|
|Extras||Dual cupholders, 6 position recline, washable pad, harness storage||Dual cupholders, 6 position recline, washable pad||Dual cupholders, 6 position recline, washable pad, harness storage||2 cup holders, 6 position recline, Rapid Remove washable cover, harness storage|
|Other Models/ Upgrades Available||TrueShield Technology model with advanced side and core protection||TrueShield Technology model with advanced side and core protection, Rapid Remove cover option, platinum version with EZ Tight Latch, Safety Surround model with extra side impact protection||None||Platinum version with EZ Tight Latch, Safety Surround model with extra side impact protection|
Summary: The Graco 4Ever vs Extend2Fit Car Seats
So if you look at the Graco 4ever vs Extend2Fit car seats, the big difference is that the 4ever has more modes. While the Extend2Fit will get you the 5 extra inches of room, it won’t give you booster seat options. Price-wise, the 4ever is usually a bit more expensive because you are paying for those 2 extra modes. Other than that, they are nearly the same car seat.
You can see the different models for the Graco 4ever and the Graco Extend2Fit car seats. But then there’s the Graco 4ever Extend2Fit. Since that car seat has most of the features that the other ones have, and it covers both the 4Ever convertibility and the Extend2Fit roominess, I’m going to go over that one in-depth. Here goes.
What Exactly Comes with a 4-in-1 Car Seat?
Let’s take a quick look at what this seat is. There are 4 modes:
Rear-facing harness car seat. This works from 4 to 50 lb and until your child’s head reaches within 1 inch of the adjustment lever on the headrest.
Forward-facing harness car seat.This will hold a child from 22 up to 65 lb, and from 27in to49 in tall.
High-back booster.This is appropriate for a child who weighs 42 to 100 lb and is 43 in tall to 57 in tall.
Backless booster.This works again for a child that weighs 40 pounds all the way up to a hundred and twenty pounds, and also holds a43 inch tall child to a57 inch tall child.
As you can see, the appeal of this car seat is that it’s the only car seat you’ll ever have to buy. From the time your tiny little five-pound baby comes home from the hospital, all the way up until your 12-year-old child needs that extra boost to get them to a safe level where the car seat belt can do its work. Definitely appealing to parents that are strapped for cash and time.
One downside: you can’t use it as a carrier for your infant. It stays in the car. That can get tricky because you’ll be waking up your baby to get them in and out. A big consideration if you have used and like the traditional baby carrier infant car seats.
I want to go to the big selling point- the Extend2Fit feature that allows your child to stay rear-facing longer.
What does Extend2Fit do?
This is a fun little tray that you pull out to make the legroom of the seat longer for use when rear facing. This helps to give your child more room so that they’ll stay rear facing until at least 2, per American Academy of Pediatrics and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommendation. When fully pulled out, it can offer up to 5 inches of extra room. They can keep staying rear facing until their head comes within 1 inch of the headrest adjustment handle. As an upgrade from the regular4Ever Car Seat, this seat can keep kiddo rear facing until 50 pounds, instead of 40 pounds.
Worth the extra cash?
The 4Ever Extend2Fit costs a little bit more than the regular 4Ever car seat. So is it worth it? Well, answer these two questions:
- Is keeping your kiddo rear facing of the UTMOST importance to you?
- Do you have a large back seat with plenty of depth?
If you answered yes to both questions, then absolutely this upgrade is worth it! If you answered no to either question, then I would suggest you save yourself roughly a nice dinner out and skip the Extend2Fit.
Why? Because this car seat is not small. The base is 21 inches deep. When the extendable foot portion is pulled out, you are looking at about 18 inches from the back of the seat (where the child’s back touches) to the tip of the foot thing (sorry for using technical terms). I just measured my Honda CR-V’s back seat, and it’s only about 19 inches from the back of the seat to the seat’s edge. So as you can see, it’s gonna be a stretch to get this thing to fit when fully extended, even in an SUV.
If you do go ahead and buy this seat, you may not even be able to extend it and still get it properly installed and reclined with the Extend2Fit out. It’s a risk for sure.
A Safe Option from Start to Finish
One wonderful thing about Graco car seats is that they are reliably and dependably safe. They are safety tested at an independent crash facility and are guaranteed to work. This seat is complete with a steel-reinforced frame for extra strength and durability across its 10-year life span.
That’s all part of their Safe Seat engineering, which is their own series of testing protocols that help make their car seats as safe as they are. The seats meet or exceed the US Standard FMVSS 213. They actually meet the NCAP crash forces at approximately 2 times the current car seat standard. In addition, they’ve been side-impact tested and also tested to withstand extreme car interior temperatures.
As if that weren’t enough, the 4Ever car seat (which is essentially the same model as this seat) is a IIHS Best Bet Booster. This includes both the highback booster and the backless booster. So the safety continues beyond the harness days.
Installing the Beast
I’m not one to shy away from funny headlines in my articles, but this car seat is actually a beast. It weighs 24 pounds to be exact. Combine that with the extra legroom that it requires, and it is a beast.
Thankfully, this beast is easy to install, but you’re only going to want to do it once. I would not recommend this car seat for a parent that is going to be moving the seat from car to car often.
As far as installation goes, you have the option of the InRight Latch system, which offers the push-button install and remove. It also has integrated belt lock-offs, but these only work for the forward facing position. It would be nice if they also offered these for the rear facing installation. But no matter what installation mode use, it’s really easy to do as long as you follow the instructions in the manual. Once installed, this car seat will not wiggle.
The Nice Touches and Fun Extras
We looked at all the very important things, now what about the little things that feel like big things? I’m talking about the things that you have to use everyday. Those are not disappointing either.
First, we have a six-position recline. This is a really important feature since you’re able to use the seat rear-facing and forward-facing. You need to be able to recline it to get it to the right level, as shown by the awesome bubble level indicator on the side. Anytime you have a convertible car seat, you want lots of recline options so that you can have it safely installed, but also so that your child will be comfortable.
Speaking of comfort, let’s move on to the next feature: the 10-position easy adjust harness and headrest in one. Graco’s Simply Safe harness system is amazing, as you don’t have to worry about rethreading your buckles. You can just move the headrest to one of 10 positions to get a safe fit for your child. One thing I don’t like about that feature on this particular car seat is that it seems to fit weird. The headrest is really bulky depth-wise, and it causes the child’s head to somewhat protrude forward. You really have to work to get the headrests in the right position, the recline in the right position, and get the bubble level indicator to the right position. Once you do that, your kid is golden, but it can take a lot of trial and error to get to that golden area.
Third, we have a machine-washable seat pad. Yay! And another bonus is that you don’t have to uninstall a car seat to remove the seat pad. You can just unhook it in all the right places while it’s still in the car, do your washing, and put it back on. It’s all very simple and actually easy to do.
Fourth, this thing is not short of storage. Their storage for your kid in the form of two cup holders, one on either side. These cup holders can pop out and can definitely be pulled off by a strong and naughty toddler. But, they are huge! I’m talking they can fit any sippy or child drink up. It definite perk. And another perk is the harness storage compartment featured on the 4Ever Extend2Fit Car Seat. This is amazing and smart built-in storage that helps parents keep all the parts and pieces of this car seat where they should be, and makes it more streamlined once you decide to go to a booster mode, so you don’t have extra straps dangling around or sitting on the back of the seat digging into your child’s back.
- 4.2 stars, 93 reviews- Target
- 4 stars, 43 reviews- JC Penney
- 4 stars, 54 reviews- Walmart
- Only car seat you’ll ever need
- Safe design and easy install
- Keeps kid rear-facing longer
- Washable pad and cup holders
- 6 position recline
- 10 position headrest
- Very good convertible car seat ratings
- Heavy and needs lots of room
- No carrier option for infants
- Extend2Fit may not work in your car
- Cup holders pop out fairly easy
- Headrest makes head tilt forward
What’s the difference between the Graco Extend2Fit and 4ever?
We’re going to compare the main models here, not all the variations mentioned above.
Here’s the 2 main differences:
1 – The length (leg room) of the Extend2Fit car seat can be extended, which helps your baby remain in the rear-facing position much longer, but the seat serves only as a rear or forward facing car seat
2 – The 4Ever is convertible from rear-facing infant car seat to forward facing toddler car seat to high-back booster to backless booster. It is the only car seat you will ever need.
Note: Extend2Fit, (at 19.25 W x 25.16 H x 22.13D”, 19.8 pounds), is both taller and deeper than the 4Ever, which is also a larger car seat (21.5W x 24H x20D”, 23 pounds). Before purchasing Extend2Fit, you’ll want to measure the seats of your vehicle to be sure that you can take advantage of the extra times in the rear-facing position as your baby grows.
Is Graco Extend2Fit safe?
Yes, Graco makes car-seat safety a high priority. The leg extension is completely safe and has been crash tested.
How long should a child be rear-facing?
Until at least age two, and as long as the child’s height and weight both remain within the height and weight limitations for the specific car seat.
Is it okay to use an expired car seat?
For your child’s safety, you should always use an unexpired car seat! Plastic parts can weaken over time, safety standards can change, and new technology and information are always becoming available. An up-to-date car seat is the best way to keep your baby safe!
Will my Graco 4Ever or Extend2Fit car seat serve as an infant carrier and transfer to a stroller?
Nope. These are a totally different kind of car seat. They are larger, heavier seats that you will want to install in your car and leave in your car.
Does the Graco 4ever fit on a plane?
Yes, and it is FAA approved, with harness, but the seat is rather big and heavy for transport to and from the terminal.
You can’t buy a bad Graco car seat, in my opinion. And you can’t go wrong with the 4Ever Extend2Fit 4-in-1 Car Seat. It has a cool extend feature, a cute and super safe design, and great features, like dual cup holders and a washable seat pad. Your kid will be comfortable in one of 6 recline spots and one of 10 headrest spots.
All that said, this seat can be tricky. If you don’t get the recline and headrest right, your child’s neck will tilt forward awkwardly. Also, if you have a small car, this thing isn’t going to work. You just won’t have the room to get the Extend2Fit tray out.
If your child is really, really tall and you absolutely need to keep them rear facing, then this seat will work. But otherwise, just stick with the regular 4Ever 4-in-1 Car Seat. Same cool features, lower price, and less hassle.