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 All in One 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 different models going on within that whole Graco car seat family.
- 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (available in another model with TrueShield Technology)
- Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat (also available in a model with TrueShield Technology, another model with a Rapid Remove cover, another model with Safety Surround Side Impact Technology, and a platinum model)
- Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Car Seat
- 4Ever Extend2Fit All-in-One Car Seat, which also comes in a platinum version and a version with Safety Surround Side Impact Protection.
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 All-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 an All-in-One?
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.
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 force 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 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 keeps 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
You can’t buy a bad Graco car seat, in my opinion. And you can’t go wrong with the 4Ever Extend2Fit All-in-One 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 All-in-One Car Seat. Same cool features, lower price, and less hassle.