The 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:
- No-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)
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.
Recline Positions – there are 3 recline settings on the base (reclined, semi-reclined and fully upright). You cannot switch back and forth between the different recline positions without uninstalling and reinstalling the seat. Kids over 65 lbs. using the 5-point harness MUST use the fully upright position. If using the seat in booster mode you also must use the fully upright position.
Installation with LATCH:
The basic hook-style lower anchor connectors are relatively easy to work with although not as easy as the push-on “InRight” connectors that Graco offers on some of their convertible and All-in-One seats.
LATCH Weight Limits: LATCH can be used to install this seat until the child weighs 42 lbs. Once your child exceeds 42 lbs. you need to discontinue using the lower anchor connectors and re-install the Argos 80 using the seatbelt plus the tether strap.
Tether requirements: tether usage is recommended at any weight and height but is REQUIRED if using the 5-point harness for a child weighing more than 65 lbs. or taller than 49″.
Non-Standard LATCH Spacing: Graco allows installation of the Argos 80 in the center seating position with LATCH if the lower anchors bars are spaced 11 inches or wider AND if vehicle manufacturer permits a LATCH installation in that seating position.
Installation with Seatbelt:
Seatbelt installation with top tether is generally quick and easy too because this seat has a built-in lockoff device. There is a lockoff on each side of the seat but you only use one of them. The lockoff device clamps just the shoulder belt and keeps the seatbelt tight.
Always remember to attach the top tether strap to the tether anchor in your vehicle even if you’re installing a forward-facing carseat with the seatbelt!
When the Argos 80 Elite is used as a booster, no part of the base (bottom of seat) may hang over the edge of the vehicle seat cushion.
Also, in booster mode – the vehicle seat headrest should not create a gap between the vehicle seat and the back of the booster. If this occurs remove the headrest, if possible. Or try a different seating position.
Fit to Child Comments:
With 5-point Harness
This seat is appropriate for children who have outgrown their rear-facing convertible seats. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children ride rear-facing until at least age 2. For this reason, we do not recommend this seat for children less than 2 years old even though Graco states that the minimum age requirement to use this seat is 1 year old (and can sit upright unassisted and weighs at least 20 lbs.).
The headrest has a total of 5 height settings is adjusted up and down by squeezing the red button at the top of the headrest. The max height setting is just for use in booster mode. When using the seat with the 5-point harness, use any of the 4 lower headrest positions to position the harness at or slightly above the child’s shoulder level.
The high weight limit on the 5-point harness combined with tall top harness slots gives this seat good longevity. Most kids won’t outgrow the 5-point harness until age 6-7 and by that time they should be mature enough to safely transition to using the seat in booster mode.
The child pictured is 4 years old, 34 lbs. and 40″ tall. She still has plenty of growing room left in the harness. After we finished taking photos we went for lunch and she fell asleep almost immediately. As you can see – she looks pretty comfortable and no head slump!
As a Belt-Positioning Booster
The Graco Argos 80 will provide optimal belt fit for most older kids and the original Argos 70 model has a “Best Bet” booster fit rating from the IIHS. We expect a similar rating for the Argos 80 when the next round of results are published. The Argos 80 can also be used without the back – as a backless booster – for kids who are too tall to use the back portion of the seat.
Although the LATCH connectors are stored in these pictures – Graco allows you to secure the Argos 80 using the lower LATCH connectors and tether strap in booster mode while using the seatbelt to secure your child. There are no LATCH weight limits when using the seat as a booster because in this case the LATCH connectors are just securing the weight of the carseat while the seatbelt does the real work, restraining the child in a crash. When using LATCH in booster mode, verify that the LATCH connectors do not interfere with the seatbelt buckle and the lap/shoulder belt and lower LATCH anchors align side-to-side.
Truthfully, it is unlikely that this seat will fit a child weighing over 100 lbs. in booster mode. Realistically most kids should fit comfortably in this seat until about 80 or 90 lbs.
Ease of Use:
This seat is very easy to use properly once installed. The headrest is easy to move up and down – simply press the red button at the top of the seat to adjust the harness height position. The harness is easy to tighten and loosen, the straps are thick and not prone to twisting and the IMMI buckle is easy to buckle and unbuckle.
The cover can be machine washed which is always appreciated (cold water – delicate cycle – drip dry). However, removing and replacing the cover can be a tedious process and it does require detaching the harness straps from the splitter plate. Thank goodness for the diagram on page 66. That was very helpful as I was attempting to put the cover back on and trying to figure out how all the elastic loops were routed and what they were supposed to be attached to.
FAA-Approval/Lifespan/Crash Guidelines/Inflatable Belts:
- FAA certified for use on airplanes
- 10 year lifespan before expiration
- Must be replaced after any crash
- Installation with inflatable seat belts is NOT allowed when installing seat using the harness
Graco Argos 80 Elite Advantages
- No rethread harness that adjusts from the front
- Generous height & weight limits
- Easy to install properly with LATCH or seatbelt
- Built-in lockoff for installations with seatbelt
- Easy to tighten and loosen harness straps
- Generous crotch strap/buckle positions
- Harness straps are thick and not likely to twist
- FAA approved for use in aircraft (with 5-pt harness)
- Good belt fit when used in booster mode
- Can use LATCH in booster mode (highback only)
- Harness is replaceable if necessary
- 10 year lifespan
Argos 80 Elite Disadvantages: (In fairness, these may not be a problem for everyone but I list some potential disadvantages that may be an issue for some parents.)
- Heavy and bulky
- Basic, hook-style lower LATCH attachments
- Minor assembly required
- Harness strap covers required (only an issue if your kid doesn’t like them)
- Removing and replacing cover is tedious
- Transition to booster mode requires multiple steps
- Made in China (but to be fair, so are many other good quality carseats)
The Bottom Line:
The Graco Argos has been a popular and trustworthy forward-facing combination seat for years. That’s why it’s already on our list of Recommended Seats. In general, it’s easy to install and easy to use properly. The 5-point harness should accommodate most average-sized kids until age 6 or 7 and they can continue to use the seat as a booster after the harness is outgrown. As a highback booster, it isn’t especially tall, however, by the time your child is too tall to use the back in booster mode they will probably be big enough and mature enough to use the seat as a backless booster until they can pass The 5-Step Test.
The addition of the 3rd crotch strap position, seatbelt lock-off, increased weight limit and 10 year lifespan on this Argos 80 Elite model just add to the list of things we already loved about the original Argos model!
Thank you Graco for supplying the Argos 80 Elite for this review. No other compensation was provided and the opinions expressed are entirely those of CarseatBlog.