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Graco Argos 80 Elite Review – It Just Keeps Getting Better

Graco Argos 80 EliteThe Graco Argos 80 Elite is an upgraded version of the original Graco Argos 70 Elite that we reviewed thoroughly here. This Argos 80 model offers plenty of safety, comfort and convenience features which make this seat an excellent choice for families looking for a sturdy, comfortable, forward-facing only seat with a no-rethread harness that will grow with their older child.

The Argos 80 is a forward-facing “combination” seat (Graco refers to it as a “Harnessed Booster”) that can be used with the 5-point harness until the harness is outgrown by weight or height and then the seat can be used as a belt-positioning booster using the vehicle’s lap/shoulder seatbelt. In booster mode you have the option to use the seat with the back (highback booster) or without the back (backless booster). I like to think of combination seats as “Stage 3″ seats that are most appropriate for kids over age 2 who have outgrown their convertible seats. Despite being labeled as a 3-in-1 carseat, the Argos 80 cannot be used rear-facing which is confusing for many parents who have come to associate the term “3-in-1″ with a product that can be used rear-facing, forward-facing and as a booster. If you’re looking for a rear-facing/forward-facing/booster seat, see our reviews of the Graco 4Ever All-in-One and Graco Milestone All-in-One.

Graco Argos 80 Elite Specs:

  • 5-point harness: Forward-facing only for kids 20-80 lbs, at least 1 year old, height 27- 52″ tall (shoulders must be at or below top harness slots).
  • Highback booster with vehicle lap/shoulder belt: 30-100 lbs., approximately 3-10 years old, height 38 – 57″ (top of ears must be below the top of the head support).
  • Backless booster with vehicle lap/shoulder belt: 40-120 lbs., approximately 4-10 years old, height 40 – 57″ (must have adequate head support from the vehicle).

Graco Argos 80 Elite Features:

  • Graco Argos 80 Elite - lockoffNo-rethread harness
  • 3 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Standard hook-style lower LATCH anchor connectors (LATCH limit is 42 lbs.)
  • Lockoff for installations with seatbelt
  • Energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Height-adjustable head support
  • 3 Recline positions on base
  • Integrated cup holder and storage cubby
  • FAA approved for use in aircraft (with 5-pt harness)
  • 10 year lifespan before expiration

Argos 80 Elite Measurements:

  • Lowest harness height setting:  12″
  • Tallest harness height setting:  18″
  • 3 Crotch strap/buckle positions:  5.5″, 7″, 8.5″
  • Booster height:  20″ to bottom of shoulder belt guide with headrest in max height position
  • Weight:  21.8 lbs. (according to my digital bathroom scale)

Graco Argos 80 Elite - lowest height setting Graco Argos 80 Elite - tallest height setting Graco Argos 80 Elite

Graco Argos 80 Elite Graco Argos 80 Elite - 3 crotch strap positions

The Argos 8o Elite model comes with a lower body support insert, crotch strap/buckle cover and harness strap covers. Remove the lower body insert if child weighs more than 35 lbs. The crotch strap/buckle cover is entirely optional. The harness strap covers have a grippy material on the back and they are REQUIRED when using the harness at any weight.

Graco Argos 80 Elite - harness strap covers 2

Installation/Fit-to-Vehicle Comments:

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A License Plate Divided

plate2Dear State of Illinois,

I’ve always contended that Arizona was the most thematic state in the union. Everything about the state screams “Arizona!” If a person were to be abducted by UFOs and dropped in the middle of Arizona, it would only take a couple minutes of wandering around before the person spotted a turquoise lizard or purple kokopelli painted on the side of a building and realized he was in the Grand Canyon State. (I realize this scenario is absurd. UFOs are more likely to abduct people FROM Arizona, not TO it. But I digress.)

Illinois, you might not be as thematic as Arizona, but you seem to be trying. You don’t have stovepipe hats carved into highway retaining walls (at least not that I’ve seen), but you’re fiercely proud of Abraham Lincoln, who spent most of his adult life in the state. As The Land of Lincoln, Illinois even includes Abe’s likeness on its standard-issue license plates.

I’m a huge presidential history nerd and a big fan of Lincoln (who isn’t?) so when we moved here, I was thrilled at the thought of having him on my license plate. But then I started to notice something that bothered me and my sense of order: Lincoln’s head is centered, and it shouldn’t be.

IMG_0724Back when Illinois’ plates used to consist of three digits, a space, and three digits, it made perfect sense for Abe’s head to be centered on the plate, so one could see him. I’m sure it felt right.

But now the standard, non-personalized plates consist of three digits, a space, and then four digits. That means the plate is off-balance and the first digit in that second set inevitably covers part of Abe’s head, and it drives me nuts.

So, State of Illinois, I am humbly asking you to scoot Mr. Lincoln’s head to the left a bit. You could even have two different prints: an off-center one for use on the standard-issue plates, and the centered one for people who order personalized plates where an off-center Abe might look weird. And don’t tell me this would be too complicated. The state currently offers more than 50 specialty plates, so adding one more design shouldn’t be a big deal.

I realize it’s a silly thing to ask, but if Illinois is truly the Land of Lincoln, shouldn’t we avoid stamping over his head as much as possible? It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

Sincerely,

A concerned citizen

Evenflo Triumph Convertible Review – Tried and True

TEvenflo Triumph ProComfort - greenhe Evenflo Triumph convertible has been around in various incarnation for many years. It’s been refreshed several times and continues to be a solid performer. The Triumph is easy to install, very easy to use correctly, comfortable and a good value. In a market dominated by very expensive, and very inexpensive convertible seats – the Triumph is reasonably priced somewhere in the middle. It’s not the cheapest convertible on the shelf but it’s certainly not the most expensive either.

The model I have for review is the Triumph “ProComfort” LX in “Hutchinson” green fashion which is a Target Exclusive. Hot pink “Melrose” is also an option. MSRP is $159.99

Other retailers like Walmart and Babies R Us have their own exclusive versions of this seat. Walmart has the “SureSafe” Triumph LX which has nice, push-on lower LATCH anchor connectors. Babies R Us has the “Platinum” Triumph with OUTLAST temperature-regulating fabrics. A non-exclusive Triumph LX version is also available at Amazon and other online retailers.

The Evenflo ProComfort model at Target offers buckle pockets and “Gel Matrix Technology” in the cover to reduce pressure points and improve child comfort. This review will focus on that particular model but most of the info listed applies to all Triumph LX models with a weight limit of 65 lbs. All the newest versions of this seat have dual integrated cup holders which makes it easy to differentiate the newest models from previous Triumph models.

Triumph Specs & Features:

  • Rear-facing from 5-40 lbs.; 19- 37” tall and top of head is at least 1″ below top of carseat
  • Forward-facing from 22-65 lbs.; 28-50” tall and at least 1 year old (AAP recommends rear-facing until at least age 2)
  •  “Infinite Slide” harness system
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Durable, energy-absorbing EPP foam
  • Dual integrated cup holders
  • Buckle Pockets (on certain models)
  • FAA approved for use in aircraft
  • Made in USA!

Triumph Measurements:

  • Lowest harness height: 7″
  • Highest harness height: 16″
  • Crotch strap/buckle position: 7″ and 9″
  • Seat pan depth (leg room/thigh support): 13″
  • Overall internal height: 23″
  • External width at widest point: 20″
  • Width of base: 14.5″
  • Weight: 18 lbs. (according to my digital bathroom scale)

Evenflo Triumph - naked  Evenflo Triumph - naked

Installation Comments:

2015 Toyota Sienna 3rd Row Preview

2015SiennaHere is a quick look at the refreshed 2015 Toyota Sienna.  The big news for some families is that Toyota has added a fourth LATCH position.   You can now install a child safety seat with LATCH in either second row captain’s chair, the third row “center” position and now the third row passenger-side seat as well.  Another new available feature that some parents may appreciate is the Driver Easy Speak system.  It’s essentially a microphone that can be enabled so the driver’s voice is amplified for those in the second and third row seats.  Now the kids will hear you when you say, “If you don’t cut that out right now I’m going to turn this Swagger Wagon around!”

 

Toyota now makes a backup camera standard on all Sienna models, which is essential for safety.  Bluetooth hands-free is also standard.  They also added a front passenger seat-cushion mounted airbag to reduce leg injury risk.  The driver’s seat retains a knee cushion airbag.  In addition, the side curtain airbag coverage has been increased around 30%.  There is also a handy new multi- information display right in front of the driver, between the main gauges, to help you keep your eyes off the road as briefly as possible.  This standard 3.5 inch screen can be configured to show the information you want without having to turn to the main dash screen and searching for it.

Updated crash tests results are not yet available from the IIHS or NHTSA, but Toyota expects it to do as well as the 2014 model.  Perhaps the one drawback of this refresh?  A full complement of advanced safety features (including pre-collision frontal crash prevention) is only available on the Limited Advanced Technology Package in the new Limited Premium trim.  This package also includes Dynamic radar cruise control, vehicle dynamics integrated management and hill start assist control. Features like Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are standard or available in packages on various trim levels.

Stay tuned for our full review coming later this fall!

Thank you to Toyota USA for the preview of the Sienna, Camry and Yaris.