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2018 Graco Extend2Fit Review (Canada)

Editor’s Note: For readers in the USA, click here for our full review.  The Extend2Fit is a 2018 CarseatBlog Editors’ Pick from our Recommended Carseats list.

I think the first words out of my mouth were, “Whoa.  This has serious potential for a new favorite seat!”

I had just unboxed the Graco Extend2Fit, a convertible carseat option that looks sharp, installs easily, and has the coolest extendable tray to give a bit of extra leg room to those bigger rear-facing kids traveling in the back of our Canadian cars.  It also has dual cup holders, a 22.5 kg (50lb!) rear-facing weight limit, and a no-rethread harness.  Oh, did I mention the six recline positions?

Here’s the need to know info:

Weight and Height Limits

  • Rear-Facing: 1.8-22.5 kg (4-50 lb), 46-125 cm (18-49 in).  Child’s head must be 2.5cm (1″) below the headrest adjustment lever.  Harness straps should be at or just below the child’s shoulders.
  • Forward-Facing: 10-30 kg (22-65 lb), 69-125 cm (27-49 in).  Child’s ears must be below the top of the headrest.  Harness straps should be at or just above the child’s shoulders.

Features / Advantages:

  • 22.5 kg (50 lb.) rear-facing weight limit
  • 4 position extender tray for adding extra rear-facing leg room  (Note that position 1 is with the tray retracted.)
  • Dual cup holders (Required!  These came separately in the box and must be installed by snapping into place)
  • Push-on style UAS anchors that store nicely along the sides of the seat
  • 10-position headrest with no re-thread harness
  • Two crotch buckle positions
  • Ball level indicator for checking the rear-facing and newborn recline
  • Six positions of buttery smooth recline.  I’m talking hold-that-carseat-steady-as-you-go because if you squeeze the recline handle it will lean back into the most reclined position VERY easily!
  • Buckle storage pockets on each side of the seat – no digging for the buckles!
  • Easy height adjustment with a no-rethread harness
  • 10 year expiration
  • MSRP of $349.99 CAD

  

Installation

I found installation of this carseat among the easiest I’ve done.  I went straight for a seatbelt install first as that’s what I use personally most of the time, but did install with UAS after taking photos and found it equally easy.

Rear-Facing

  • Use a seatbelt install when the child weighs more than 20kg (45 lb)
  • Use recline position 1, 2, or 3.  For children over 18kg, use recline position 2 or 3.
  • Ensure the base is 80% on the vehicle seat.  There’s a sticker marking this point so no need to guess.
  • For infants 3 months and under, the ball must cover the light blue circle within the recline level.
  • To keep children rear-facing longer, the extender tray can be pulled out.  For children over 10kg, use positions 3 or 4.  For children over 18kg, use position 4.

I first installed this rear-facing for my 11 month old son easily in my 2008 Ford Expedition.  I tried both with and without the extended tray and at various recline levels.  The seat fit nicely and seemed to install well in all the configurations I tried.  The Extend2Fit does take up a fair amount of space front to back when installed for a larger child such as my almost 5 year old daughter, who still fits the seat’s requirements to ride rear-facing.  My Expedition is a large vehicle, but my powered driver seat returns to a base position when the vehicle turns off and I found it pushed gently against the Graco.  If I were using this seat for her, I would either install it more upright or move it to a different location.  She felt there was plenty of room for her feet!

  

Forward-Facing

  • Use a seatbelt when the child weighs more than 20kg (45 lb)
  • Use recline position 4, 5, or 6.
  • Retract the extendible tray: it’s only for rear-facing!
  • Ensure the base is 80% on the vehicle seat
  • Use the top tether, stored nicely on the upper back side of the seat

I installed this forward-facing for my almost 5 year old daughter, and I also sat my 7.5 year old son in it.  He has outgrown this seat by height but the seat fit nicely and both kids found it comfy.  I took photos of the kids in the seat before realizing I had not yet attached the top tether for this install – which is REQUIRED in Canada.

 

Ease of Use

While I think this seat has great features on paper, I find it really shines in its day-to-day ease of use.  My three kids range from 11 months to 7.5 years and I was immediately impressed as I smoothly adjusted it to all of them with very little effort.  My 7.5 year old has outgrown this seat by height as the harness comes out from below his shoulders.  Still, he’s a tall model and I was happy to see that the Extend2Fit really would span a large size range of kids.

The cover is machine washable, feels sleek, and looks nice in the two-tone grey of the model I tested.  It was held on by elastic straps which, admittedly, are not my favorite.  I found removing the cover easiest once I extended the seat tray. There is a step in the rear-facing directions that instructs to lift the seat pad to make it easier to route the seat belt through the belt path, but it would be very hard to get that seat belt pad back down once the seat was tightly installed!  

After you lift the cover, the UAS straps are easy to slide from rear-facing to forward-facing along a metal guide bar hidden underneath the seat padding.

The labeling on this seat is an easily overlooked feature but is also very well done.  I appreciated the ball recline indicator, the stickers showing 80% of the seat in both forward- and rear-facing installations, and the reminders of which reclines could be used when.  With three kids and occasional friends using my various seats over the years, I definitely appreciate all the information having been laid out for me so clearly.

The harness buckle pockets are a really nice touch if you don’t like digging for buckle tongues under kids dressed in their car-seat safe winter layers.  You do need to loosen the harness each time or the buckles won’t reach to the pockets near the edge of the seat.

The covering over the harness adjuster by the child’s feet is sewn down tightly, requiring you to sneak your finger under.  This might be a real plus if you have a child who likes to reach for that adjuster to loosen their own harness.

The infant padding is a really brilliant design. The headrest portion inserts through an open slot on the headrest itself, which both holds the padding in place and allows it to slide up and down vertically to adjust for various sized babies.  We strapped a small stuffed monkey into the seat and while she’s no good representation of a very small baby, it does seem like this seat would work well for an average to larger sized newborn.

Dislikes:

While I really like this seat and I think it has some awesome features for the price point, I had a few criticisms:

  • When installed fully extended for a larger rear-facing child, the seat does take up a fair bit of room.  Still, it’s a seat with high height and weight limits, and the various recline levels definitely help to give some room to adjust.
  • The cover is not the easiest to remove and the elastics require a bit of patience.  Extending the tray helps to reach those under the seat.
  • There is no lockoff device for using a seatbelt for installation.  You’ll need to know how your seatbelts lock.
  • Due to the way the harness is routed through the headrest, it is a bit harder to tighten on smaller kids than larger ones.  I found reaching behind the seat and gently snugging the harness straps from behind helped as I pulled on the harness tail.

Overall, I’m pretty impressed with this convertible from Graco.  It seems like it would easily fit a wide variety of children, it encourages rear-facing longer by providing a tray for extra leg room, and the recline indicator along with thorough labeling make installation and use of the seat quite clear.  Add in the smooth no-rethread harness and 10 year expiration date and it’s a really well thought out seat with a whole lot of usable life.

Potential for a new favorite seat, indeed!

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