The latest trend in child restraints is higher rear-facing weight limits.  We’ve been seeing 35 lbs. rear-facing weight limits, but now we have a standout.  Graco has introduced a new seat called the My Ride 65 that breaks the 35 lbs. barrier and accommodates a rear-facing child to 40 lbs.!  This is a convertible (rear-facing and forward-facing) child restraint for kids 5-65 lbs. who are less than 49″ tall.  Rear-facing the seat is rated from 5-40 lbs.  Forward-facing, it can be used for children over 1 year old who weigh between 20-65 lbs.

The My Ride 65 comes with an infant body support cushion, a head support pillow, and harness strap covers.


Features and Advantages

Side Impact Protection: Many seats are now touting side impact protection.  The My Ride 65 has deep side wings lined with EPS foam.  It’s been side impact tested by Graco for “occupant retention by the harness system,” which means a child should stay in the restraint in a side impact crash.

5-point Harness to 65 pounds: Most convertible seats have weight limits of 40-65 lbs.  The harness is good quality and is nontwisting.  The buckle tongues fit the width of the harness and allow the harness to slide freely through them.

High Rear-Facing Weight and Height Limits: Graco has introduced the first American car seat to rear-face to 40 lbs.  Rear-facing is the safest way for kids to travel; for many years, experts have recommended rear-facing for as long as possible and one study has shown that it’s five times safer for children under age 2 to ride that way.   Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing for children for as long as the convertible seat allows.  Because the My Ride 65 has a tall shell and high rear-facing weight limit, it will allow the average child to rear-face for 2-3 years or more.

5 Harness Slots: There are five harness slot heights on the My Ride 65.  For rear-facing, the bottom 4 slots may be used and the straps should be in the nearest slot at or below the level of the child’s shoulders.  The top 4 can be used for a forward-facing child and the straps should be in the nearest slot at or above shoulder level.   The lowest harness slot height is approximately 8″ with the infant pad in place and approximately 8.5″ without the infant pad and the top slot is about 17″ when measured with the cover on.  A child will outgrow this seat by height when he exceeds the 49″ height limit OR when the top of his ears are above the back of the restraint OR when the shoulders are above the top slots.

Adjusting the harness height is accomplished by removing the shoulder straps from the splitter plate in the back of the restraint and re-threading them through the desired slots.  If the seat is installed rear-facing it is possible to re-thread the harness without uninstalling.  However, if the seat is forward-facing you will have to uninstall it to move the harness straps to a different height.  Because the seat is rated for such a wide range of weights, Graco has 3 harness strap lengths from which to choose.  When the harness is in the lowest slots, the top loops (shortest length) should be used.  When the harness is in the 2nd or 3rd slots from the bottom, the middle loops should be used.  When the harness is in the top two slots, the bottom loops should be used (longest length).

Recline Adjustments: Recline for rear-facing is achieved by tucking the feet sideways under the base of the seat.  Flip the feet back out into locked position for forward-facing.  There is no recline for the forward-facing position, but the restraint has a deep natural recline to it.

Harness Adjuster and Use: To tighten the harness, pull on the harness adjuster strap on the front of the restraint. It is similar to the type found on many car seats and is somewhat stiff, requiring some muscle to tighten the harness. The buckle clicks audibly when each buckle tongue is inserted. The chest clip has a pictogram showing proper placement on the child’s chest.  I found the clip to be difficult to unlatch; it could have been user error since I’m not used to using that type of chest clip or something that will loosen up over time.

LATCH: The My Ride 65 has two flexible straps to attach to the lower anchors found in newer vehicles; one strap is threaded through the rear-facing belt path, the other is threaded through the forward-facing belt path and they are different colors.  There is an adjuster on one side of these straps.  The LATCH connectors are the clip-on style connectors.  There are clearly designated storage areas on the shell to store the LATCH connectors and tether strap when not in use.  The tether strap is to be used forward-facing only. While tethering a forward-facing child restraint with a harness is always recommended, a top tether is not required for this seat.

Note: Graco prohibits using the LATCH system for a child weighing over 48 lbs.  This is an issue with almost all child restraints that have a harness rated above 40 lbs. At some point, it will be necessary to use the seatbelt for installation. Seatbelt installations are just as safe as LATCH, providing that you can get a good, tight installation.  Consult your vehicle owner’s manual for more specific information.  Some vehicles have a lower, 40 lbs. weight limit for the lower LATCH anchors and you should conservatively defer to the lowest number in these cases.  Graco does allow the use of LATCH in the center seating position of the back seat if the lower anchors are less than 11″ apart from the center of one anchor to the center of the other anchor.

 

Crotch Strap Adjustment: There is only one crotch strap slot located approximately 6.5″ from the back of the seat without the infant pad in place.

Padding, Comfort and Appearance: The My Ride 65 cover is nicely padded along the bottom and back, but there is little padding along the sides.  The cover on the restraint I tested is called Edgemont Dots and the fabric is a gray soft polyester with tone on tone dots in the seating area with a plush black trim around the edge.  It’s machine washable on the gentle cycle.  The harness straps are black and chest clip is light gray.  The strap covers and head support pillow are entirely optional and must be removed when the child reaches 40 lbs.  Kudos to Graco for labeling right on the front of one harness cover the rear- and forward-facing weight limits!

Infant Support Cushion: An infant body support is included with the seat and is well-padded.  The infant body support is styled in the same manner as the cover with the gray dots in the middle and the black plush fabric along the edges.  It’s to be used only when the child is using the bottom harness slots.

6 Year Expiration: The My Ride 65 has a 6 year expiration and the “Do Not Use Past” date is stamped on the bottom/back of the seat.  Graco specifies in the manual not to use the seat if it is in a crash.

Airplane Certification: The My Ride 65 is FAA-approved for use in aircraft.  Because the cupholders take up so much width, I don’t think the restraint will fit on an airplane seat unless the armrests are lifted.  It also is a fairly heavy restraint weighing in at 14.7 lbs., so if you do travel with it, you’ll want to use a luggage cart to avoid having to carry it.

Value: With high weight limits, safety testing and other safety features, and a price point that is competitive with other popular, high-end convertible seats you’ll definitely get your money’s worth with a My Ride 65.

Construction: The My Ride 65 is solidly made in the USA, though the sides that flare out with the cupholders are more flexible.  The cupholders are designed to fit cups or juice boxes and are deep enough to hold them securely.

Disadvantages

Weight and Width: At 14.7 lbs., the My Ride 65 isn’t the heaviest restraint on the market for sure, but it is something to consider if you carry it through an airport.  Also, because of the permanent cupholders, it’s a wide seat; however, it may puzzle well with other seats that sit lower on the vehicle seat if you have other children to restrain in your back seat.

Installation Issues: I had trouble installing it forward-facing because of the natural recline.  The bottom of the restraint sat very far forward of the vehicle seat bight (crack) in order to have the back of the restraint touch the seat back.  I had to resort to some tricks to get it to work in my van, but I’m not sure those tricks would work in a vehicle that has a stationary vehicle back.

Also, the forward-facing belt path is quite narrow.  If the seat is being installed with a vehicle seat belt, it will be a tough fit for many people with medium to large hands.

Cover Issues: One problem I had with my cover is that it didn’t fit securely on the edges of the restraint.  There should be elastics to hold the cover in place on these edges, especially since these are locations that will get a lot of handling. 

 


Recline Feet: The recline feet are flimsy.  I felt like I was breaking them as I tucked them under the seat and in fact, one of the recline feet was incorrectly installed when I pulled the restraint out of its box.  The feet are held in place by a screw on one end and are fed under tabs on the other end.  On the right side of my seat, the right foot wasn’t placed under the tabs.  It was an easy fix, but not something that immediately caught my eye as I was giving the seat the once-over.

Conclusion

Rear-facing installation of the My Ride 65 in my 2005 Sienna using both LATCH and later the vehicle seat belt was both a breeze and a pleasure.  The recline angle was fantastic, even for a newborn; however, I know that in other vehicles this restraint may require a noodle or two to achieve a proper recline for a newborn.  I was able to vary the angle from a good 45° to a more upright position appropriate for a toddler and still maintained the ball in the green area on the angle indicator on the side of the seat.

As I specified above, the forward-facing installation was more of a challenge, but it was also rock solid just as the rear-facing installations were.  The natural recline angle for forward-facing makes the My Ride 65 a wonderful seat for low-tone or special needs kids that won’t break the bank.  Given the $150 price point of the seat and the features included-the long-awaited 40 lbs. rear-facing weight limit, EPS foam, 65 lbs. forward-facing weight limit-it is a seat definitely worth considering.

 

Graco’s webpage for the My Ride 65 - www.gracobaby.com/Search%20Results/Pages/Search.aspx?search=my+ride

For more information on child passenger safety, please visit:

http://www.car-seat.org

http://www.car-safety.org