picture of the graco recline n ride convertible car seat

Graco Recline N Ride Car Seat Review

by Michelle Hand |

Can this comfy car seat really be reclined without being removed?

With reliable car seats, genius strollers, and wonderful pack n plays, Graco has carved out a group of hardcore devotees. As a self-professed Graco girl, I get so excited to review the latest Graco stuff to see if it meets my high standards.

Their newest car seat, the Recline N Ride 3-in-1 Car Seat, is so unique.

It features their brand new “On the Go” recline, which promises reclining without uninstalling or disturbing baby. But can it really do that? With the specially designed frame and sliding system, I think it can! Let’s look at what this car seat has going on and why you are going to want to try it yourself.

But First, A Public Safety Announcement

“Safety first” isn’t just a cheesy saying, it’s also a writing outline. So, we’re going to discuss safety real quick before I chat about the other cool things.

  • This car seat meets or exceeds all Federal safety standards, including FMVSS 213. In fact, it withstands double the impact force that’s required for FMVSS 213.
  • Crash tested under the roughest circumstances at Graco’s very own crash test facility in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Tested at additional temperatures (0 degrees and 140 degrees) to ensure that materials still react how they are supposed to.
  • Side impact tested (despite not being required by law just yet) to make sure that kids stay safe if hit from the side.
  • Built with a steel reinforced frame for durability and protection (lasts 10 whole years from manufacture date!)
  • SafeSeat design complies with and encourages all safety requirements and guidelines as set forth by the AAP and NHTSA.

Now Back to the Recline

Now that we’ve established that this car seat is a safe zone, let’s look at that whole recline thing. I’ll break it down by the 3 modes. This is a convertible car seat, after all.

Mode 1: Rear Facing

You can use this as a rear facing car seat for babies from 5 to 40 pounds. That easily encompasses the first 2 years, which is how long the AAP suggests that you keep your kiddo rear facing.

Installing this car seat is really easy. First, make sure that the recline foot is popped out and clicked into place. This is crucial for getting it at the right angle, and if you forget, you have to unbuckle it and start all over. You can use the latch system or the vehicle seat belt to install. The integrated vehicle belt lock offs and open belt path are nice, and so are the button operated InRight latch straps.  You should follow all the guidelines as set forth in the manual.

Now you can get to the reclining. Once you got it strapped down, you can recline it to one of 4 different spots! You can use the built-in bubble level indicators on either side to make sure that it’s in the safe zone for your child. There’s a lot of leeway with the bubble indicator, so you can recline pretty much any child, at any angle, at any age.

That recline foot I mentioned? Well, it has to be all the way on the seat and that thing requires a lot of space. This isn’t a great car seat for someone with a compact car, because it just isn’t going to fit! And once you get to all the different reclines, the car seat will require a lot of head space, especially when used rear facing. Read: you’ll have to scoot the seat in front of it all the way up or see if you can squeeze it into the middle of the back seat.

There are 2 things that concern me about this ingenious design: the space for crumbs and dirt to go and the ability to tighten the harness straps. I feel like the car seat is going to get really dirty because there are so many spaces for crumbs to get trapped, between the car seat itself and the frame. And while that sliding mechanism allows for easy reclining, I’m worried about it getting in the way of the harness straps. Some Graco car seats have finicky straps, so this could be an issue here as well. Time will tell!

 

Mode 2: Forward Facing

Kids can switch to face forward in the Recline N Ride anywhere from 22 to 65 pounds. The switch should definitely happen after their first birthday, in order to comply with laws.

Switching the car seat to forward facing, or even to another car,  is a slight chore because this thing is heavy! It weighs 30 pounds, which is nearly insane! That, combined with the frame design, makes it difficult and awkward to move and reinstall. Do not pick this car seat if you have to switch your car seats from car to car often!

 

That recline foot I talked about? It has to be rotated forward before installation. This makes it slightly easier to fit the car seat into the car. The nice thing here is that a few inches of the car seat can hang over the seat and still be safe, per the owner’s manual. You can still use the InRight latch system or the integrated vehicle belt lock offs for quick and secure installation. The forward facing belt paths are clearly marked for ease of use. The bubble indicators will help you to know when you’ve got it right.

I love the recline feature at this point. Slightly harder to maneuver, but as you can see from the picture, you are installing the base of the seat and then the seat itself can slide around on that base in order to recline. Why do I love it more at this stage? Because when your kiddo falls asleep in the car, you can recline the seat back as far as safely possible to get rid of the dreaded “car seat head bob” and the accompanying sore neck that your child gets.

Mode 3: Booster

Once they outgrow the harness, your child can turn the car seat into a high back booster seat at 40 pounds and go all the way up to 100 pounds.

The switch from forward facing to booster is easy. You can remove the harness system and put it in it’s very own storage compartment inside the seat of the car seat. Now, here you can use the latch system to help keep the booster seat in place, or you can just use the vehicle’s belt to secure it. Either way, it’s a very nice, comfortable, and basic booster seat.

What Else is There?

For the sake of brevity, I’m going to wrap up all the stuff that doesn’t involve safety, installation or reclining in one neat category.

  • RapidRemove cover. The machine washable seat pad/cover can be taken off in 60 seconds without a struggle. It also comes off without uninstalling the heavy seat.
  • Latch storage compartments. There is a place to store the top and bottom latch straps for when they aren’t in use. This keeps the seat safe, since they won’t be flopping around and interfering with installation. It also keeps us busy parents from losing them!
  • 2 cup holders. This car seat has a cup holder integrated into the armrest on each side. They’re a good size and having 2 is convenient- one for drink, one for snacks.
  • Simpy Safe harness and headrest in one. The harness and headrest are attached to each other. Simply pull the lever and slide both the straps and the headrest up or down.
  • 10 position headrest. For the best fit at any age and the accurate placement of the seat belt.

Customer Reviews

None yet! This thing is about to hit the market, then we’ll see people buying and trying.

Pros

  • Great, dependable safety
  • Convertible car seat with 3 modes
  • On the Go recline can be adjusted without uninstalling
  • InRight latch and vehicle belt lock offs for ease of use
  • Great extras, like 2 cup holders and machine washable seat cover

Cons

  • Requires a lot of room
  • Many nooks and crannies to get dirty
  • Super heavy

Final Thoughts

The Recline N Ride 3-in-1 Car Seat from Graco is really nice, and it’s very unique.

See this article for a review of all our best convertible car seats.

The base is strapped down and the seat can be reclined into any of 4 positions each in forward facing and rear facing mode. This design allows you to make needed adjustments without taking the whole car seat out.

This car seat is big, heavy, and takes up a lot of space in order to really work correctly. Not a great choice for those with small cars. But for those of us who have already taken the minivan or SUV leap, it will work fine.

The booster is nothing to brag about, but it does its job. It makes it a really cost effective car seat, since you won’t have to purchase a new seat once your kiddo outgrows the harness.

The extras make parents sigh with relief. There are 2 cup holders for snacks and drinks, an easy adjust headrest and harness in one, and an easy off, machine washable seat cover.

Overall, I think Graco made another great car seat here. It’s safe, it’s easy to use, and it will keep your kid comfortable. Definitely a great choice if your child rides with you for long commutes and sleeps in the car a lot.

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Michelle Hand
Michelle Hand is the mom of a very busy one-year-old and a super fun kindergartener. She splits her time between writing and hanging out with her family. Her business has helped her hone her research and writing skills. She loves helping new moms find the best products. When she has some free time, she likes hiking, singing and playing the piano, reading, and taking her dog for walks.

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