2016 Graco Extend2Fit Review: The “Shut Up and Take My Money” Convertible Carseat Is Here!

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Best in class legroom? A 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit?? Superb height limits??? Under $200???? Extend2Fit is a winner!

Extend2Fit SpireWhat’s the one thing most people say when faced with an older rear-facing toddler? “What about their legs? Aren’t they uncomfortable?” Well, no, actually, but Graco has taken the bull by the horns and addressed this issue with their new Extend2Fit convertible carseat. Their engineers have designed a unique tray that slides out to accommodate growing legs as a child sits rear-facing, giving epic legroom while still maintaining legroom for the adult in the front seat. They gave it a 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit then added 2 (count ’em!) cup holders! How do they do it and for a reasonable price point? Keep reading and see if the Extend2Fit is the seat for you and your child.

Weight and Height Limits:

  • Rear-facing 4-50 lbs. AND child’s head is 1” below gray adjustment handle
  • Forward-facing 22-65 lbs., 49″ or less, at least 1 year old*

*We recommend following the American Academy of Pediatrics minimum guidelines of rear-facing to at least age 2 before turning your child forward-facing. It’s safest to rear-face past the minimum of age 2 and with a seat that has such a high rear-facing weight limit, why not?

Extend2Fit Overview:

  • 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit—a leader for Graco’s convertible line!
  • 4-position leg extension for rear-facing comfort: adds up to 5″ extra legroom!
  • 10-position headrest with no re-thread harness
  • Fuss Free Harness Storage pockets on both sides of seat for storing buckle tongs out of the way
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • 6-position recline
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • InRight LATCH system
  • Two cup holders
  • Machine-washable cover
  • FAA-approved for use on aircraft
  • 10 yr lifespan before seat expires

Graco also offers an Extend2Fit 3-in-1 version at Babies R Us. That seat has all the Extend2Fit features plus the capability of being used as a belt-positioning booster seat from 30-100 lbs. Its suggested retail price is $249.

Extend2Fit SpireExtend2Fit KenzieExtend2Fit Campaign TargetExtend2Fit Gotham TargetExtend2Fit Mack TargetExtend2Fit Rosie TargetExtend2Fit Valor WM

Extend2Fit Measurements:

Harness height: 7”-18”
External widest point: 19.625”
Shell height with headrest: 27”
Shoulder width: 13.75”
Crotch strap depth: 4.5”, 6.5”
Seat depth: 12”
Seat weight: 18.4 lbs.

Installation

Installation was amazingly easy in my ’11 Acura MDX using either the vehicle seat belt or the lower LATCH strap. The LATCH strap is attached to the inside right side of the carseat with a metal bar, so it will never get tangled in the harness straps. The E2F comes out of the box set up with the LATCH strap set in the rear-facing belt path, so unless you are using it for an older child who will be forward-facing, there’s no need to move it. To move the LATCH strap, lift the cover and slide the strap up to the forward-facing belt path.

Extend2Fit LATCH move Extend2Fit LATCH install

The lower LATCH connectors on the Extend2Fit are the deluxe push-on style, called the InRight LATCH system by Graco, which easily snap onto the vehicle’s anchors and remove with the push of a button.

Rear-Facing Installation

This is a feature-rich carseat and as such, there are several things to keep in mind when setting the Extend2Fit up for rear-facing.

4 rear-facing recline settings: Infants 3 months and younger must have a recline that allows the ball in the recline angle indicator to be fully in the light blue circle, but after that age, you can make the recline as upright as your child is comfortable. The recline handle is on the very bottom of the seat and you pull on it to engage the mechanism.

4-position extension panel: If you would like additional legroom for your child’s tootsies, squeeze the handle under the front of the seat and pull the panel out to one of 4 positions. To be fair, there are really 3 extended positions, since position 1 is fully retracted. For kids over 40 lbs., any of positions 2-4 must be used (any extended position). With the extension panel fully extended, it’s the most legroom of any convertible carseat on the market.

Extend2Fit LATCH install extend Extend2Fit RF seatbelt extend

80% of the base must be on the vehicle seat: To achieve a more upright installation and allow more room for the extender to be in positions 2-4, you can move the E2F base out on the vehicle seat. However, you must maintain at least 80% of the base on the vehicle seat at all times. I don’t know about you, but I don’t walk around with a ruler in my back pocket and Graco doesn’t expect you to either: they’ve put a handy dandy sticker on the base showing you the exact amount of E2F base that needs to be on the vehicle seat for both rear- and forward-facing installs. Cool!

Extend2Fit RF overhang sticker Extend2Fit FF overhang sticker

Forward-Facing Installation

There are also some attributes to keep in mind when using the E2F forward-facing.

Use recline position 4 only for children weighing 22-40 lbs.: This is a very reclined position for forward-facing and will leave very little legroom for many kids in most vehicles. Unless your child has outgrown the carseat by height, it’s worth it to leave them rear-facing in this weight range. Kids over 40 lbs. must use recline 5 or 6.

 Extend2Fit ff recline 4 Extend2Fit FF upright

Move the crotch strap to the forward position: The crotch strap has to be all the way out when forward-facing.

No extender: Put that leg extender away. It’s for rear-facing only! No exceptions.

No harness covers: Remove the harness covers and put them in a safe place when using the E2F forward-facing. It’s as if Graco wants you to use this seat rear-facing!

As always with any forward-facing installation, don’t forget to use the top tether regardless of whether you install the Extend2Fit using the seat belt or lower LATCH strap.

For fun, I put the E2F in my dh’s Tesla Model S and it fit nicely both rear- and forward-facing. In fact, it fit better rear-facing because the back seat doesn’t have the side bolsters like my back seat does, so the Extend2Fit was able to sit further back on the vehicle seat, leaving more room for the front passenger seat. Using the E2F in its tallest position, though, won’t work in this vehicle because of the low ceiling height. Even though our back seat is stained with red softball dirt, I didn’t want to risk damaging the headliner by installing the E2F and extending the headrest to it’s uppermost position. I did get it to one position below the highest.

Extend2Fit RF Tesla Extend2Fit FF Tesla side Extend2Fit FF center Tesla

Rear-facing and forward-facing LATCH weight limit: 45 lbs.

Center LATCH installations with Non-Standard Spacing:
Graco allows LATCH installation in the center seating position if the vehicle manufacturer allows it and the LATCH anchor bars are spaced at least 11” apart.

Inflatable Seat Belts
Graco has determined that the Extend2Fit cannot be installed with inflatable seat belts found in some Ford, Lincoln, and Mercedes vehicles, and in some airplane seat belts.

Locking Clip
Like most other convertibles of its generation, the Extend2Fit does not come with a locking clip. If your seat belts do not lock at the retractor or at the latchplate, you will need to contact Graco for a locking clip.

Fit to Child

The Extend2Fit is designed to fit children from 4-65 lbs. and to fit small babies, a body support and head pillow are included. The body support must be used if the baby’s shoulders are below the bottom harness slots, and it must be removed when the E2F is turned forward-facing. The harness pads also must be removed upon forward-facing. The head pillow can be removed at any time. Though it looks puffy, the pillow actually compresses pretty easily so bigger noggins will be comfy with it too.

My 4 lbs. preemie doll did not fit well in the Extend2Fit; this is not a carseat that will work for a very small newborn. The harness was too high and there was too much space around the hips and crotch. My doll, Romeo, is about the size of an 8-9 lbs. newborn and he fits well without the body support. In the rear-facing fit section, the instruction manual specifies that the harness height must be at or below the child’s shoulders.

Extend2Fit preemie front Extend2Fit preemie side Extend2Fit Romeo closeup Extend2Fit Nora legroom Extend2Fit Emma legroom

Nora, left, is 1 and around 25 lbs. Emma, right, is 4 and about 30 lbs. You can see the abundant legroom the Extend2Fit offers both girls.

Extend2Fit Emma FF

Here’s Emma forward-facing. At age 4, she’s very safe to ride in this position.

Cover/Maintenance/Ease of Use

The cover that shipped on my seat wasn’t the easiest to remove. It was attached in 4 places with tight elastics that had me saying some not-so-nice things and since this is a family blog, there’s no need to impress you with my knowledge of sailor vocabulary (no offense to sailors intended!). Two of the elastics are attached under the extender. If you undo one of those to lift the cover to expose the rear-facing belt path, it is impossible to reattach if the extender is retracted. It is nearly impossible to reattach if the extender is extended at all. I don’t think that over time a child will work the cover up in that location getting in and out of the seat since it’s so tightly attached around the cup holders, but it is poor design.

I also don’t like elastics because they’re hard to thread through tiny holes or slits to attach to hooks and they don’t last more than a single hot season here in Las Vegas. OK, so I’m clearly not a fan of the logistical design of this cover, though I do like the look. I’m especially fond of the seafoam blue-ish Spire cover on the sample I was sent; it’s lovely, though all the E2F covers are sharp-looking. Some of the covers are mesh in the seating area and my experience with mesh is that crumbs can be ground into those little holes and never see the light of day again, so stay on top of the snacks. The cover can be washed in the washing machine on cold and air-dried.

The harness is one long length, but it has a butterfly attachment in the middle under the child’s bum area, so there’s not a possibility of one side being longer than the other. It can be cleaned like any other: dip a washcloth in water and use a drop of mild soap (Dawn, Dreft) to clean it. Be sure to wipe off that soap with the wet washcloth and let the harness thoroughly dry. Set it in full sun if it still stinks. But . . . the harness *is* replaceable, so if it’s just that nasty, buy a new one!

Graco has gone to a 1-harness-slot design on their no re-thread convertibles, which means that it will be more difficult to tighten and loosen the harness in lower “slot” positions because the headrest is pushing on it, causing friction. As your child gets older and taller, there will be less friction and it will be easier to use.

Extend2Fit without cover Extend2Fit back

FAA-Approval/Lifespan/Crash Guidelines

The Extend2Fit is FAA-approved, but you will most likely need to raise the armrests on the airplane seat to get it to fit because of the cup holders.

The Extend2Fit has a lifespan of 10 years and Graco wants you to replace it after any crash.

Advantages

  • 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit—a leader for Graco’s convertible line!
  • 4-position leg extension for rear-facing comfort
  • 10-position headrest with no re-thread harness
  • Fuss Free Harness Storage pockets on both sides of seat for storing buckle tongs out of the way
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Replaceable harness
  • 6-position recline
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Push-on LATCH system
  • Easy install in both rear-facing and forward-facing positions
  • Two cup holders
  • Machine-washable cover
  • FAA-approved for use on aircraft
  • 10 yr lifespan before seat expires

Disadvantages (In fairness, these aren’t necessarily problems but I list them here to inform potential consumers of specific Extend2Fit issues)

  • Lacks a lockoff device for installations with seat belt
  • Seat takes up more space rear-facing when the legrest panel is extended
  • Harness strap covers cannot be used when child is forward-facing
  • Recline position #4 is required when the seat is installed forward-facing for a child weighing less than 40 lbs.
  • Cover difficult to remove and reattach in front
  • Made in China

Thank you to Graco for providing the Graco Extend2Fit used for this review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are those of CarseatBlog.

 

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS FOR PARTICIPATING!

 

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Aidia Pathfinder High Back Booster & Scout Backless Booster Review!

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As a mom to a 4 year old and almost 2 year old, I have spent quite a lot more time with my hands on convertible car seats than boosters, so I jumped at the chance to check out new boosters from a company near my home. Aidia, is an up and coming company that makes booster seats, and pretty darn good ones at that. They have a few different high back models and a backless booster, and for this review we’ll look at one of each category.

Aidia Pathfinder Booster Aidia Scout LBB

First up is the Aidia Pathfinder Belt Positioning Booster. It is a highback booster that not only has an adjustable headrest, but is unique in that the width of the side wings also expands as the headrest is moved. It gives bigger kids more space so they can comfortably use the Pathfinder until they transition to a backless booster or until they pass the 5 Step-Test and can safely use just the adult seat belt. The Pathfinder is just a highback booster – it cannot be used without the back.

The second seat, the Aidia Scout Backless Booster, is a narrow backless booster that can fit into tight spots, but doesn’t sacrifice quality or comfort. Both the Pathfinder and the Scout are available at Amazon and on Aidia’s website.

Aidia Pathfinder Belt Positioning Booster Specifications and Features
For children 30-100 pounds; 38-57 inches tall and top of ears must be below top of headrest when fully extended; at least 4 years old*
-7 headrest/side wing positions
-Lightweight
-8 year lifespan before expiration
*Age limit of at least 4 years is listed on the box, but it is not specifically stated in the manual
-Not one, but two(!) cupholders that are integrated into the seat and can be completely stowed when there is a space constraint. We thought these were great because they were so non-intrusive when stowed to fit 3-across in our minivan, but in a situation where you have more space, they’re available for use.
-Shoulder belt guide was designed in an S shape so it traps the buckle and doesn’t let it slip out, but it doesn’t trap extra slack in the seat belt, as can be the case with some high back boosters.

pathfinder cupholders

Pathfinder Measurements
-7 headrest positions: lowest 13.25”, tallest 18” measured from seat to the bottom of the shoulder belt guide.
-Depth:

Mythbusters: Are Backseat Baby Mirrors Deadly?

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Myth: Backseat baby mirrors present a life threatening danger specifically as a projectile in a crash.

There are a lot of black and white things about child passenger safety. Always read the manual. Always follow the manual. Chest clip always goes at armpit height. Harness should always pass the pinch test. But when you get outside of those black and whites, you’ll find that there’s a lot of gray. And that gray can be almost exclusively be explained as parental discretion. As CPS Technicians we can give you suggestions about things that may or may not be dangerous, but we don’t always have the hard evidence for these things like we do for the black and white things.

One such gray area are the mirrors that attach to the rear vehicle seat head restraints so that parents can see their rear facing babies and toddlers (and preschoolers!). There are some CPS Techs who will tell every single parent that these are patently unsafe and are a projectile. Other CPS Techs use them in their own vehicles. So which is it – are they deadly projectiles or perfectly safe? Or neither?

mirror1

Alright, so let’s look at the science:

Well. Technically there is none. No studies on this to cite, no federal safety standards that mirrors have to pass in order to be sold, but I don’t think that means we can’t come to a decision based on evidence. Let’s look more abstractly at the science. Specifically, how does speed impact the effect a projectile can have on a child? For this, we have to go back to high school physics. The force an object exerts is equal to that object’s mass times its acceleration. So let’s apply this to mirrors.

Based on a quick Amazon search, the average weight of a mirror is around 1 pound, which is equal to .45kg. So let’s say you were hit while traveling 30 miles per hour or 13.41 meters per second (for simplicity’s sake we’re going to say this happened in 1 second. This is not mathematically accurate, I am aware). If Force = mass x acceleration, the force of the mirror would be equal to .45kg x 13.41m/s, which comes out to 6.03N (newton). I know what you’re thinking. Cool math, Katie. But what does it mean?

What is 6N in real life? What does any of this mean?

6N is equivalent to the force of hitting your child with a 5 pound object traveling at 5 miles per hour. Or throwing 10 pound object at your child traveling 3 miles per hour. Those all exert the same force and it’s not a trivial amount of force.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to linger on the math. Basically, an object exerts more force when it’s moving quickly than when slowly, so a 1 pound mirror seems pretty insignificant, but when it’s traveling at 40 miles per hour, it will dramatically increase the force it exerts on whatever it hits.

But, is it deadly?

Well, for it to strike the child, first, it would have dislodge from the vehicle headrest. There are a variety of ways that mirrors attach to the headrest. Some attach to the vehicle top tethers, others buckle or hook to plastic hooks around the top or back of the headrest. There is a chance that these attachments could break or fail in a crash, and logically, it would be more likely for a heavy mirror, like the ones with batteries and moving lights and music speakers, to break from its attachment than a light one (back to that force equation- the heavier mirrors impart more force, so the straps have to be able to restrain them).

Assuming the mirror did dislodge, the injury to the child would depend greatly upon the speed of the crash, the weight of the mirror and I would also argue the design of the mirror is also worth considering. Obviously a heavy mirror will exert more force and a lighter one less and a faster crash will likewise increase force, and a slower force will increase it less. But I think we also need to consider that a mirror with a thick plastic edge is likely going to result in a more significant injury than a mirror with a soft/padded edge just due to the way it will strike a person, even if it is with the same amount of force.

mirror2

After a solid google search, I haven’t been able to find mention of any injuries from backseat mirrors and certainly no fatalities from them. In terms of physical injuries caused by mirrors, I think we are left to assume that it is possible for a child to be injured by a poorly attached heavy mirror that becomes dislodged in a crash at a high speed.

Before we rule on this myth, are there other dangers we’re not considering with regard to mirrors?

As a CPS Technician who makes the personal choice to use a mirror, I can tell you without question that they can be distracting. It’s easy to spend just an extra second checking to see if baby is asleep and in that second, if the traffic ahead of you stopped suddenly, you would be at risk for a significant collision. Likewise it’s easy to miss hazards in the road, someone changing their lane into yours, etc. Anytime you take your eyes off the road, you put yourself and your child at risk. I personally believe (and again, I’m not anti-mirror, I use one in my vehicle) that a parent can be distracted enough by a backseat mirror to cause a crash.

So, what about our myth?

Verdict: This myth is a tough one. We have no scientific proof that it has happened or will happen, but I think when looking at the physics, it is PLAUSIBLE.

As a CPS Technician, I tell parents fairly frequently that I do not recommend using mirrors, but if they are going to, there are a few things they can do to lower the risks associated. First, make sure you pick one that is as lightweight as possible. There are several that are lightweight plastic with soft edges. I’m not endorsing any particular product but some appear to be less risky than others.

mirrors

Second, make sure that it is well attached to your vehicle head restraint. Again, designs and attachment systems vary a lot from one product to the next and some appear more secure than others. Give it a good hard tug and decide if you think that it would stay put in a 30 mile per hour crash.

And, most importantly, I think, remember that it is a distraction and that distracted driving is deadly driving. If you’re going to use a mirror, check it as briefly and sparingly as possible. If you find that you are getting distracted by it, take it off. If you don’t give your children food or toys with small parts you don’t have to worry about choking and other car seat issues can be triaged when you arrive at your destination or take a pit stop.

I’m sorry we weren’t able to get a more clear answer on this, but I think that it’s an important topic to discuss. Please feel free to offer other suggestions or information you may have found in the comments section.

Graco 4Ever All-in-One *Giveaway* – The Blogiversary Celebration Begins!

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8th-birthday-cakeThis summer marks 8 full years of CarseatBlog.com! We can hardly believe it. In some ways it seems like not so long ago that we began writing about carseats, child passenger safety and vehicle safety. And in other ways it feels like we’ve been doing this 4Ever… Lol! Along the way we’ve shared a lot of laughs, made some amazing friends, written about 1,400 blog posts and oh, yeah – reviewed over 100 carseats and boosters!

Whether you’re new to CarseatBlog.com or have been with us since the start in 2008 – we’d like to share our celebration (and our cake!) with you. You are the reason we’re still here 8 years later, still blogging away, always looking for ways to improve our content and better serve our readers.

The field of Child Passenger Safety is really heating up and we can’t wait to see all the awesome advances in safety, technology and innovation that the next 8 years is going to bring. We hope you stick around and enjoy the ride with us!

During the next 8 weeks we’re going to be celebrating by giving away some really great carseats so stay tuned! Each week will feature a new giveaway promotion and your odds of winning something are pretty darn good. Consider it a personal “thank you” from Darren, Heather, Kecia, Jennie, Alicia, Andrea, Katie and all of our guest bloggers at CarseatBlog!

To kickstart our 2016 Blogiversary Celebration, we’ve partnered with our very generous sponsor, GRACO, to offer a new Graco 4Ever All-in-One Convertible Carseat! Fashion choice will be limited to what is currently in stock at Graco.

We have a complete review here:  Graco 4Ever Review: Is a 4-In-1 Carseat Your New BFF?

This promotion is now closed. Thank you for participating. The winner is Taylor C. from OR!

Graco 4Ever All-in-One Specs

  • graco4ever studioRear-facing 4-40 lbs
  • Forward facing 22-65 lbs with harness; 27″-52″ tall
  • Highback booster 30-100 lbs; 38″-52″ tall
  • Backless booster 40-120 lbs; 40″-57″ tall

Graco 4Ever Features

  • 4-in-1 seat grows with your child, so you can enjoy 10 years of use
  • 6-position recline adjust to fit and keep your growing child comfortable; it’s comfy for them and convenient for you
  • Simply Safe Adjust™ Harness System is safe & simple.
  • One-hand, 10-position head rest to give your growing child a proper fit
  • InRight™ LATCH system for an easy, one-second LATCH attachment
  • Side-impact tested* (*In addition to meeting or exceeding all applicable US safety standards, the Graco 4Ever car seat has been side impact tested for occupant retention solely with the built-in 5-point harness .)
  • Engineered & crash tested to meet or exceed US standard FMVSS 213
  • Washable seat cover is easy to remove without removing the harness
  • Steel-reinforced frame provides strength and durability
  • Integrated harness storage compartment holds unused harness straps while in the belt positioning booster mode
  • Features an easy-to-read level indicator for hassle-free installation
  • Plush inserts keep your child comfortable
  • EPS, energy absorbing foam for effective impact energy management
  • 2 integrated cupholders keeps your child’s drinks close at hand

Graco 4ever - all modes stock

How to Enter Graco 4Ever Giveaway:

  • Leave us a comment below (required to be eligible to win), then click on Rafflecopter to qualify yourself. 
  • For extra entries, be sure follow the Rafflecopter instructions to visit our Facebook page, visit the Graco Facebook page and tweet about the giveaway.

Now for the fine print –  winner must have a USA shipping address to claim the prizes. Only one prize will be awarded to one winner. Only one entry per household/family, please. If you leave more than one comment, only the first one will count. We reserve the right to deem any entry as ineligible for any reason, though this would normally only be done in the case of a violation of the spirit of the rules above. We also reserve the right to edit/update the rules for any reason. The contest will close on Sunday, July 31, 2016 at 10 PM Eastern time and one random winner will be chosen shortly thereafter. If a winner is deemed ineligible based on shipping restrictions or other issues or does not respond to accept the prize within 7 days, a new winner will be selected.

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