Graco 4Ever DLX SnugLock 4-in-1 Review: Snug It Up, Lock, and Go

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2021 Graco 4Ever DLX SnugLock 4-in-1 Review

Graco is out with another version of the 4Ever and I think this one is it. There are eight—yes, 8—versions of the 4Ever right now, not including those they’ve discontinued. Isn’t choice a wonderful thing (I mean, they really do all have different compelling features)?! But I will tell you why I think the 4Ever DLX SnugLock is the seat for you in one word: SnugLock. Let me take you briefly back to 2002 when LATCH was fully required on child restraints. It was the miracle that was going to make it so parents would install their carseats easily and correctly every time. HA! Joke’s on us! It took about 15 years for some smart engineer(s) to figure out that belt tensioning was the way to go and here we are. SnugLock. Is that blissful music I hear playing in the background?  🎶🎵

4Ever DLX SL Weight and Height Limits:
  • Rear-facing: 4-40 lbs. AND child’s head is 1” below height adjustment handle AND 49” or less
  • Forward-facing: 22-65 lbs., 49” or less
  • Highback booster: 40-100 lbs., 43-57”, at least 4 years old
  • Backless booster: 40-120 lbs, 43-57”, at least 4 years old
4Ever DLX SnugLock Overview:
  • Dual SnugLock lockoffs that act as a tensioning devices 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 bubble level indicator
  • Energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Fuss-free buckle pockets keep harness out of the way for loading and unloading
  • On-board harness storage for booster mode
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Two cup holders
  • Machine-washable RapidRemove cover
  • 10 yr lifespan before seat expires
  • MSRP $339.99

4Ever DLX SL Tomlin 4Ever DLX SL Leila 4Ever DLX SL Lawson

4Ever DLX SnugLock Measurements:

Harness height: 7 ½ ” with infant insert/8 ½ ” without insert–18”
Shoulder belt guide height: 19”
External widest point: 19 ¼ ”
Shell height with headrest: 30”
Shoulder width: 12 ½”
Crotch strap depth: inner slot: 3 ½” with insert, 4 ½” without insert; outer slot: 6 ½”
Seat depth: 12 ½”
Seat weight: 23.6 lbs. with infant insert, 23.1 lbs. without insert

4Ever DLX SnugLock Installation:

The 4Ever DLX SL installs like a dream: super easy and doesn’t take up a whole lot of room in your back seat front-to-back. However, this won’t be your go-to for a 3-across since it’s about 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.

Even in my Tesla Model 3 center seating position, which is a notoriously difficult installation, the 4Ever DLX SL installed quite easily both rear- and forward-facing.

Rear-Facing Installation

  • When rear-facing, any of reclines 1-3 can be used to achieve an appropriate recline.
  • The bottom cover unVelcros and unsnaps from the front for access to the RF belt path and access to the SnugLock lockoff.

The 4Ever DLX SL has a bubble recline which means you have a range where you place the seat when rear-facing. If you’re using the carseat for a young infant, you’ll want the bubble to be closest to the rear of the vehicle. If the child is older and can be more upright, the bubble can be closer to the front of the vehicle.

Installation was easy using either LATCH or seat belt in the vehicles in which I placed the 4Ever DLX SL. The LATCH connectors are Graco’s InRight™ push-on style, 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 though Graco doesn’t designate a preference in the manual. 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. Remember, there is no difference in safety between the seat belt and LATCH.

Forward-Facing Installation

  • Kiddos under 40 lbs. must use recline positions #4 or #5, while kids over 40 lbs. must use position #6.
  • Unsnap the back cover for access to the belt path and SnugLock lockoff.

Probably the most challenging part of the 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. It’s easy, though. Pull all the LATCH connectors 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:

Not allowed. Lower anchors must be spaced the standard 11” apart.

Inflatable Seat Belts:

Graco has determined that the 4Ever DLX SL 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 4Ever DLX SL. When installing the carseat 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. There’s plenty of room for the chest clip, buckle tongs, and backless booster shoulder belt guide (the black strap with the red plastic loop). While you’re still using the harness, store the shoulder belt guide for backless booster use in there so you don’t lose it. Tech tip: recline the carseat first and the harness will stay put more easily in the compartment and you won’t need 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.

Here’s a video to help you with converting the 4Ever DLX SnugLock from harness mode to booster mode:

4Ever DLX SnugLock Fit to Child:

The 4Evers have a rounded shape internally, which doesn’t matter for most kids and they won’t notice. If your kid has reflux, though, that shape will bend your child over and put pressure on their stomach causing discomfort.

It’s a Graco 4Ever, so it fit my child models great and they loved it. They were comfy and had no complaints for the most part. The only complaint the older kids did have is they felt like the bottom seat cover was sliding around as they got in and out of the seat, even though it is attached with snaps and Velcro. Even without the infant inserts, the bottom cover is thick and soft.

However. This carseat is labeled to fit babies as small as 4 lbs. It does not. Let me show you 2 pictures of a preemie doll in the seat. The first pic shows the preemie doll perched all the way back on the “bump” of the infant insert. The shoulders are where I would consider them to be “at” the lowest harness slot position. In the second pic, the doll is positioned just in front of the bump, as if the doll/baby has settled into the seat. Now the shoulders are considerably below the slots. This positioning could be helped with a crotch roll, but it would have to be larger than the size of a tennis ball. This is the same issue we found in our review of the original 4Ever, so Graco has had plenty of time to work on the insert. I think fair labeling would be to list the 4Ever DLX SL from 5 lbs. minimum so it doesn’t try to over-extend itself. Either that or Graco needs to provide low birthweight padding for parents who want to use the 4Ever DLX SL with low birthweight babies.

Elyza is 5.5 mos. old and 16 lbs. Ruby is 3 yrs old and 35 lbs.

James is 5 and 44 lbs. Lydia is 7.5 and 64 lbs. Sam is 9.5 and 64 lbs.

The only other mention my models had was they felt like their knees were higher than their bums and they felt awkward. When the back was on the seat, it was a less pronounced feeling because of that support pushing them forward a bit. It could also be a factor of my vehicle seat as well. Look at it this way: it’s a bonus that it converts to a backless booster, but it’s very bulky and I think by the time most kids are of the age where they’re using a backless booster, they’ll want something a little less conspicuous.

The 4Ever DLX SL has a head support, body support pad, and harness covers.

Head support (20 lbs. weight limit): Use rear-facing only AND WITH the body support pad (infant insert); use is optional

Body support pad (20 lbs. weight limit): 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

4Ever DLX SL Cover/Maintenance/Ease of Use:

The cover can be thrown in the washing machine on gentle cycle. Hang to dry. The Rapid Remove cover technically has 5 pieces, but you’ll probably only ever remove the main 4 pieces:

  1. A cover for the head wings and down behind the child’s back,
  2. A cover for the torso side areas,
  3. A well-padded cover for the base/backless booster portion (nice since you won’t have to remove the whole cover just for a pee accident),
  4. And a trim piece that fits just in front of the child’s knees and around the cup holders.
  5. The fifth piece is kind of hidden behind the headrest and is what the torso piece Velcros to so it doesn’t move around.

Removing and replacing the covers can be considered easy. The head and front 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. I didn’t remove the cover surrounding the cup holders when I attached mine and thought they had clicked in, but they kept popping off. Totally user error on my part, but be sure to pull the cover off to make sure those cup holders are on securely.

Another favorable mention goes to the instructions and quick start guide that comes in the box. The instruction manual is thorough and easy-to-read. I take full responsibility for my lousy eyes, but I do have to admit that the quick start guide, which is a great idea, is really small! 🤓

FAA-Approval/Lifespan/Crash Guidelines:

The 4Ever DLX SL 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. Honestly, this isn’t a carseat I’d prefer to travel with because at 23.6 lbs., it’s on the heavier side. If you put it on a cart or can squeeze it onto a stroller, that’s a different story, but then you have to carry it over the airplane seats (because you’re using it on the plane, right?). It’s a fabulous carseat to have for travel because of the SnugLock lockoffs—super easy installs—but the weight is definitely something to consider. I know some parents will travel with much heavier carseats that don’t have lockoffs, so . . .

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

4Ever DLX 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 so you don’t lose the harness
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Deluxe push-on LATCH connectors
  • Two cup holders
  • RapidRemove cover, which is easy to remove in pieces for cleaning
  • Lots of padding in the bottom cover for kid comfort
  • Machine-washable cover
  • Quick start guide gets you going with the carseat out of the box
  • 10 yr lifespan before seat expires

Disadvantages:

  • Relatively short shoulder belt guide in highback booster mode
  • Kids complained about the bottom seat cover sliding around
  • Fit to smallest babies will be questionable

Conclusion:

The Graco 4Ever DLX SnugLock takes Graco’s perennial favorite, the 4Ever, and turns it into something fantastic with the SnugLock lockoff arms. If you have a vehicle where you’ve had difficulty in the past installing carseats, this may be the carseat for you. If you have a grandparent who needs help getting their carseat tight, this may be the carseat for them. If installing carseats fills you with dread, check out the 4Ever DLX SnugLock. I think you’ll find yourself installing this seat over and over again, just because you want to.

Thank you to Graco for providing the Graco 4Ever DLX SnugLock used for this review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are those of the author.

 

4.5

CarseatBlog Experts Rating

Recommended: 4Ever DLX and 4Ever SnugLock

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