Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Carseat Review: The “Shut Up and Take My Money” Seat 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 will be offering an Extend2Fit 3-in-1 at Babies R Us in May! That seat will have 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.

 

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Extended Rear-Facing Recommendations Updated

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IMG_1135Nearly all current convertibles will keep most kids rear-facing to 2 years old (the minimum recommend age to turn forward-facing). But if you want to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible, we have some recommendations for you.

We’ve recently updated our list of “Super Extended” Rear-Facing Seats to include relative newcomers like the Britax Boulevard ClickTight and the Safety 1st Grow and Go EX Air.

We have also updated our list of Best Convertible Seats for Extended Rear-Facing to include the new Graco Extend2Fit.  Stay tuned for our full review of the E2F!

Check them out to find the seat that’s right for you!

If you need more information on why you should keep your child rear-facing, you can check our post on Why Rear-Facing is Better.

Worried that a rear-facing seat would be hard to fit in your vehicle? We have a comprehensive Space-Saving Guide that compares how much room convertible seats take up. Many are very compact and are great for smaller back seats.

You don’t need to keep your kids rear-facing through college, but rear-facing them through at least a good chunk of preschool is easy to do!

Don’t Sing and Drive?

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While doing research on distracted driving, I came across some articles about the dangers—or lack thereof—of singing while driving.

Honestly, listening to music or singing while driving wasn’t something I’d ever really thought about. Sure, I tend to turn off/down my music when I’m in dangerous road conditions or trying to navigate a tricky situation. I make sure not to play my music so loudly that I can’t hear sirens. But I’d never considered whether the music itself was dangerous.

Yet an Australian study found that people singing along to music are more likely to vary their speed and less likely to notice peripheral distractions. There was even a negative effect when people were just listening, not singing along.

However a British study showed that people who listen to music in the car might actually be safer. They’re less likely to fall asleep, they do a better job staying in their lane, and they tend to feel calmer. The study did find, though, that people listening to music took longer to respond to hazards in front of them.

The type of music might make a difference. “Hardcore” music tended to make people tense up, while pop and acoustic had the best results.

Given that somewhat contradictory information, what’s the bottom line? Does music make you a better driver or a more dangerous one? Probably neither.

I couldn’t find the actual Australian and British studies (just articles about them), but I did find a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that showed…listening to the radio had almost no impact on safety. It did create a negligible increase in cognitive distraction, but significantly less than the distraction caused by talking to a passenger or talking on the phone.

The good news is you can probably keep listening to your music. Just use common sense and listen responsibly.

2016 Britax Pioneer Review Update

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IMG_1141When the Britax Pioneer first came out, it was kind of the overlooked little sister of the Frontier ClickTight and Pinnacle ClickTight. It was the Jan Brady of combination seats: perfectly capable but not as talented or popular as Marsha. Not only did the Pioneer lack the ClickTight features, it also had harness and booster limits significantly lower than the other two seats.

Well, a lot has changed since the Pioneer first debuted.

It still doesn’t have the ClickTight feature (which is okay–that’s what makes it a more affordable option), but it now has a top harness height, standing height limit, and seated booster limit equal to the Frontier and Pinnacle, making it very attractive as a combination seat option.

Britax Pioneer 70 - KiwiBack in February 2014, Britax raised the Pioneer’s harness limit from the original 18.5 to 19.5 inches. For 2016, the Pioneer’s harness height is now raised to 20.5 inches, putting it on par with its big sisters that are the tallest 5-point harness seats on the market at this time. The seated booster height also increased from 22 to 23 inches to match the other seats.

Note: Although the changes to the harness height were effective as of October 2015, cartons and user guides might lag a bit behind. In the US, the white cartons were updated in January 2016. The kraft carton and user guides were updated in February. In Canada, the user guide and labels were updated in February. The cartons won’t be changing until April.

With these updates, there are more similarities than differences between the Pioneer and Britax’s other combination seats:

 

2016 Pioneer 70

Frontier 90

Pinnacle 90

Height range: harness

30-58”

30-58”

30-58”

Height range: booster

45-62”

45-62”

45-62”

Weight range: harness

25-70 lbs

25-90 lbs

25-90 lbs

Weight range: booster

40-110 lbs

40-120 lbs

40-120 lbs

Age minimum

2

2

2

Top harness height

20.5”

20.5”

20.5”

Top booster height

23”

23”

23”

No-rethread harness

YES

YES

YES

Front-adjust recline

YES

YES

YES

Safe Cell base

YES

YES

YES

Steel reinforced shell

YES

YES

YES

ClickTight system

NO

YES

YES

HUGS

NO

YES

YES

Side Impact Cushions

NO

NO

YES

The stats:

  • Age minimum, harness: 2 years
  • Harness limits: 25-70 lbs, 30-58″ (2016 Models)
  • Booster limits: 40-110 lbs, 45-62″ (2016 Models)
  • Lowest harness height: 12″
  • Highest harness height: 20.5″ (2016 Models)
  • Highest booster setting: 23″ (2016 Models)
  • Crotch strap positions: 6″ and 8″
  • LATCH limit: 40 lbs.
  • Top Tether use always recommended; required for children over 65 lbs

Features:

  • True Side Impact Protection: Deep sides and EPS foam.
  • SafeCell technology: The base is designed to compress and lower the center of gravity in a crash.
  • Front-adjustable harness height
  • Front-adjust recline
  • Cup holders! This isn’t a new thing, but kids want ’em and the Pioneer has ’em.
  • Easy transition between harness and booster mode
  • Easy-off cover (one of the easiest I’ve encountered)
  • SecureGuard compatible (SecureGuard clip sold separately)

Fashions:

coral domino reflect silvercloud

Top row fashions: Coral, Domino, Reflect, Silvercloud

Kiwi PacificaSummit

Bottom row fashions: Kiwi, Pacifica, Summit

Pros:

  • Price: Currently selling for around $180 on Amazon ($229 MSRP) the Britax Pioneer 70 is competitive to the prices of the Graco Nautilus, making it an attractive option for people who can’t/don’t want to shell out for the pricier Frontier 90 or Pinnacle 90.
  • Size maximums: 20.5″ slots are now among the highest on the market. The 70-lb weight limit is probably more than sufficient for what the vast majority of people will actually need/use.
  • Covers: Easy-on, easy-off, cute, plus with better placement of the harness-release slot.
  • Comfort: Well-padded and the design doesn’t promote head slump.
  • SecureGuard is a clever, optional accessory adding a 4th point of restraint for booster mode
  • Made in the USA!

Cons:

  • Quirky belt path: The open belt path makes installation easy, but people could easily route the belt incorrectly. The way the seatbelt bunches isn’t a safety issue, but is annoying.
  • Quality: Even at a more-budget price, parts of the Pioneer (especially the panel hiding the LATCH connectors) feel flimsy. Britax is known for quality, but the quality feels mixed on the Pioneer, especially in regard to the storage compartment. It’s still a very sturdy seat where it counts, though.

Bottom line:

The Pioneer 70 may not be as flashy as the Frontier 90, but it shares enough of the same features to make it a worthwhile consideration if you’re in the market for a high-weight, high-harness combination seat. Despite a few downfalls, the seat feels safe, sturdy, and comfortable when installed. The price makes it an attractive option for people considering mid-range combination seats.

For additional information on the Pioneer 70 please visit the Britax website: http://www.britaxusa.com/car-seats/pioneer-70

You can read our full review of the original Pioneer here. The Pioneer is available at Amazon and other stores for around $180.