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2019-2020 Graco TrioGrow SnugLock LX Review

ThatcherGraco took one 4Ever All-in-One carseat, threw it in a container with a lock-off that spins 360°, shook everything up really well, and out popped a TrioGrow SnugLock. Well, not really, but that’s what a crazy carseat geek with a wild imagination comes up with! In all seriousness, Graco has a winning formula with the 4Ever platform: it’s easy to install, easy to use, and fits a wide variety of children. The TrioGrow SnugLock 3-in-1 is a different carseat, though, so as its name suggests, it only offers 3 modes of use: rear-facing, forward-facing, and highback booster. The version reviewed here is the TrioGrow SnugLock LX.

Weight and Height Limits:
  • Rear-facing: 5-40 lbs. AND child’s head is 1” below height adjustment handle
  • Forward-facing: 22-65 lbs., 49” or less
  • Highback booster: 40-100 lbs., 43-57”, at least 4 years old
TrioGrow SnugLock Overview:
  • 360° spinning SnugLock lockoff that acts as a tensioning device for both rear- and forward-facing installations
  • Adjustable base with 3 rear-facing recline positions, 3 forward-facing recline positions, 1 booster recline position
  • No re-thread harness with 10 position headrest
  • Easy-to-read ball level indicator
  • Energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • On-board harness storage for booster mode
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Two cup holders
  • Machine-washable cover
  • 10 yr lifespan before seat expires
  • MSRP $179.99
LX Version Adds:
  • InRight™ (push-on) LATCH
  • Fuss Free harness pockets
  • Rapid Remove cover
  • MSRP $239.99

Thatcher Sonic Leland

TrioGrow Measurements:

Harness height: ~6 ¼” with infant insert*/8” without insert-17 ½ ”
Shoulder belt guide height: 18 ½ ”
External widest point: 19”
Shell height with headrest: 30”
Shoulder width: 14”
Crotch strap depth: inner slot: 2” with padding*, 3 ½” without padding; outer slot: 5 ½”
Seat depth: 12”
Seat weight: 18 lbs. with padding, 17.7 lbs. without padding

*Because of the shape of the infant insert, it was difficult to get an accurate measurement. I chose a spot in about the middle of the padded area from which to measure.

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Installation:

The TrioGrow installs like a dream: super easy and doesn’t take up a whole lot of room in your back seat. However, this won’t be your go-to for a 3-across since it’s 19″ at its widest point. The SnugLock lockoff is a tensioning device, which means that you don’t have to put so much effort into tightening the seat belt or LATCH belt because the lockoff will do that for you by pressing the slack into a channel in the carseat. You remove the slack from the seat belt or LATCH belt and the SnugLock uses leverage so you can easily close it.

The TrioGrow fit well rear-facing behind my driver’s seat in my 2016 Tesla Model X and in the 2018 Ford Focus my husband was driving while his 2018 Tesla Model 3 was being repaired. He’s 6’5″ and I was able to place it in the center of the back seat without making any changes to his driver’s seat. I was also able to place it behind the passenger seat in the most upright position and the passenger seat was pretty far back.

Rear-Facing Installation

  • When rear-facing, any of reclines 1-3 can be used to achieve an appropriate recline.
  • The bottom cover unsnaps for access to both the RF and FF belt paths and access to the SnugLock lockoff. You will also have to remove the front corner of the side cover in order to have room to get to the small-ish belt path.

Installation was easy using either LATCH or seat belt in the vehicles in which I placed the TrioGrow. The LATCH connectors on my LX version are Graco’s InRight™ push-on style, so nicer and easier to use than the hook-on style. My preference with tensioning devices like the SnugLock is to use the seat belt for installation. The seat belt can be easily adjusted more tightly or loosely if needed to close the lockoff versus the LATCH belt where you must sometimes deal with a stiff adjuster.

Forward-Facing Installation

  • Kiddos under 40 lbs. may use recline position #4, while kids over 40 lbs. must use the more upright positions #5 or #6.
  • Just like rear-facing installation, you’ll unsnap the bottom cover for access to the belt path and SnugLock lockoff.

Probably the most challenging part of installation will be moving the LATCH strap from the rear-facing belt path to the forward-facing belt path. The strap is anchored under a metal bar on the inside of the carseat, but unlike other Graco all-in-one seats, it’s on the right side of the interior (when you face the seat). It’s easy, though. Pull all the LATCH stuff close together, then slide it up the metal bar; slide it behind the harness and through the forward-facing belt path. Fortunately, we have a video to show you how:

LATCH Weight Limits
Rear-facing LATCH weight limit: 40 lbs.
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 TrioGrow CAN be installed with inflatable seat belts found in some Ford Motor Company vehicles. Other types of inflatable seat belts are still incompatible for use with the TrioGrow. When installing the TrioGrow with an inflatable seat belt, make sure the SnugLock lockoff is closed and thread the seat belt over the top of it. Lock the retractor to make sure the seat belt stays tight.

Booster Installation

  • The harness is stored on-board in the storage compartment. This is one area where I feel the TrioGrow comes up short; there’s not a lot of room to smoosh the harness, chest clip, buckle, and harness covers into the compartment and get the door to stay closed. You get a smaller compartment in order to have a fabulous lockoff; tradeoffs, I suppose. Ultimately it doesn’t have to look pretty since it’s under the cover behind the child’s back and the child won’t feel it, but you do have to make sure the harness won’t get in the way of the LATCH belt if you’ll be LATCHing the seat in while using it as a booster. Tech tip: recline the seat and the harness will lay more easily in the compartment instead of you needing to to be an octopus and wrangle it vertically.

  • When used as a highback booster, the seat can be secured with LATCH up to 100 lbs., the maximum weight limit as a highback booster. If the LATCH strap or connectors interfere with the vehicle buckle or seat belt in any way, store it through the forward-facing belt path on the carseat instead.
  • The recline position must be set to position 6, which is most upright.
Fit to Child:

The TrioGrow has a head support, body support pad, and harness covers.

Head support: Use rear-facing only AND WITH the body support pad (infant insert); use is optional

Body support pad: Use rear-facing only; must be used if shoulders are below the lowest harness setting; once shoulders are above the lowest harness setting, use is optional

Harness covers: Use is optional; make sure they don’t interfere with chest clip placement at armpit level

Baby E is 4 weeks old and about 9 lbs. in this picture. She fit nicely in the TrioGrow.

G is 6 years old and weighs 43 lbs. The TrioGrow was roomy for him and he was pretty comfy.

Here he is again in booster mode. Belt fit is good: the lap belt is low on his hips/thighs and the shoulder belt is solidly across his shoulder. You can see the combination of the angle at which the shoulder belt comes out of my vehicle seat and how it hits the shoulder belt guide causes it to curl a bit, but it still sits flat on his chest.

Cover/Maintenance/Ease of Use:

The cover can be thrown in the washing machine on gentle cycle. Hang to dry. The Rapid Remove cover comes in 6 or 7 pieces, depending on how you remove the cover: a cover for the head wings and down behind the child’s back, covers for the torso side areas, a cover for the base/backless booster portion (nice since you won’t have to remove the whole cover just for a pee accident), and 2 smaller trim pieces that fit just in front of the child’s knees and behind the headrest. Removing and replacing the covers can be considered easy. The head and smaller trim pieces have a couple of elastics to fish through and secure, but it’s more a hassle than it is difficult. I really like the Rapid Remove cover because you can select the section that needs to be cleaned instead of washing the whole thing.

The cup holders are required to be attached. Listen for a solid “click” to know they’re attached properly.

FAA-Approval/Lifespan/Crash Guidelines:

The TrioGrow is FAA-approved when used with the harness. If you’re using it as a booster seat, you can’t use it on the plane because booster seats require lap/shoulder belts. I think the TrioGrow has awesome potential as a travel seat because it’s not a tremendously heavy seat and it has the SnugLock lockoff. Every time I went to pick it up, I braced myself as if it were a 25+ lbs. carseat and it’s not. I know that every ounce counts when your plane is at that last gate in the airport (they always are!), but it’s also nice to know that with the easy-to-use SnugLock lockoff, you won’t need to figure out an unfamiliar vehicle’s seat belt locking mechanism at your destination when you’re tired and possibly frustrated.

This carseat has a lifespan of 10 years from the date of manufacture. It must be replaced after any crash, including a minor one.

TrioGrow SnugLock Advantages:
  • SnugLock tensioning lockoff does the heavy work for you!
  • 3 rear-facing recline positions, 3 forward-facing recline positions, 1 booster recline position
  • Easy access to both RF and FF belt paths
  • On-board harness storage for booster mode
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • LX version has deluxe push-on LATCH connectors
  • Two cup holders
  • LX version has the Rapid Remove cover, which is easy to remove in pieces for cleaning
  • Machine-washable cover
  • 10 yr lifespan before seat expires
Disadvantages:
  • Relatively short shoulder belt guide in highback booster mode
  • Harness storage compartment for booster mode is somewhat small
  • Small belt paths may frustrate larger hands but at least the cover lifts off from the front easily to expose them
Conclusion:

The Graco TrioGrow SnugLock LX is a great option for parents who are looking for an easy-to-install carseat with Graco ease-of-use. It does rear-facing well, it does forward-facing well, and it will work well as a highback booster too, at least for a while until it’s outgrown by height. The addition of the SnugLock lockoff to a 4Ever-platform carseat makes this seat a good travel option too if you don’t mind a slightly heavier carseat with which to travel. The TrioGrow SnugLock has the look of the 4Ever and installs with the ease and familiarity of the SnugLock rear-facing only infant seat. It’s always a bonus when you don’t have to break a sweat installing a carseat, right?

 

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