Graco 4Ever Extend2Fit All-in-One: Rear-Facing Space Comparison

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

One of our most popular blogs is the Rear-Facing Space Comparison where we rate convertible seats based on the amount of room they take up in my vehicle compared with other seats in the group.

I was eager to add the new Graco 4Ever Extend2Fit to the comparison but I knew this was going to be more work than usual based on the many rear-facing installation options you have with this particular seat. This seat has 4 recline positions on the base that can be used to achieve an acceptable rear-facing recline position as per the angle indicator. The angle indicator is a liquid bubble level that has to be in the range of the blue line shown on the window. 4Ever Extend2Fit also has Graco’s unique 4-position legrest extension feature (truthfully there are 3 extension positions, the first position is fully retracted) AND the coveted 50 pound rear-facing weight limit.

 

I summarized my findings in the space comparison ratings but I wanted to supplement that information with the full scope of my conclusions here.

I started with the 4Ever Extend2Fit in base position #1 (most reclined), no legrest extension, head rest flush with shell. This is how the seat would be installed for a newborn or younger baby. I gained 3.5″ of room (based on the worst performing seat in the peer group). This measurement translates into a “B” rating in the comparison.

 

 

Base position #2 (more upright), no legrest extension, head rest flush with shell. This is how the seat might be installed for an older baby who has good head and neck control and can tolerate being seated in a more upright position. In this position I gained 4″ of room. This is a B+ rating in the comparison.

 

 

Base position #3 (very upright), no legrest extension, head rest fully extended. In this position the bubble level was outside of the acceptable range for rear-facing. This was NOT an acceptable installation as per the angle indicator so I’m not counting it. However, for those who are curious, it only gave me an extra half inch of room beyond what I got with the base in position #2. My measurement with the seat in this position was +4.5″ of space.

 

 

At this point, it seemed likely to me that you would only be able to use 2 of the 4 base positions in any particular vehicle to achieve an acceptable recline angle in the range allowed. But as I found out when I started to install using the legrest extension, the recline angle can change when you start to use this feature. More on that in a little while.

I went back to base position #2, extended the legrest 1 notch, head rest is still fully extended. Because I’m using the legrest extension now, I’m starting to lose space. Now I have +3.5″ (which is what I had with the seat fully reclined reclined in position #1 and no legrest extension). Again, this rates a “B” in the comparison.

 

Here we are in the same #2 base position, with the legrest fully extended and the head rest fully extended. As you can see, it’s taking up a LOT of space now. At this point I’m measuring a gain of only 1″ (based on the biggest space hogs in the peer group). In the comparison, this is a C- rating.

However, I was surprised to see the bubble level indicator in the middle of the blue line range now. When I installed using the same #2 base position without using the legrest extension, the bubble was much closer to the end of the allowable range. This made me wonder if I could get an acceptable installation using recline position #3 on the base with the legrest panel fully extended…

 

 

Final installation: Base position #3, legrest fully extended, head rest fully extended.  The liquid bubble is on the most upright end of acceptable range but it is within the range. I picked up a extra half inch of space with the base in position #3. The measurement is now +1.5″ which is a little better but still rates a C- in the comparison.

 

The other thing to keep your eye on when using the legrest extension feature is the amount of overhang allowed. When you start extending the legrest panel you increase the space between carseat and the vehicle seat and that positions the base closer to the edge of the vehicle seat cushion. Thankfully, Graco put a little blue sticker label on the edge of the base to show what the acceptable amount of overhang is. Overhang past that blue line is NOT acceptable. Too much overhang could be an issue in backseats with shallow cushions (e.g., Jeep Wranglers, some compact cars, extended cab pickup trucks, etc.). Luckily, you don’t have to use the legrest extension so you can just ignore that option if overhang becomes an issue.

 

Summary:

The Graco 4Ever Extend2Fit is a versatile 4-in-1 product with a 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit and a very unique legrest extension feature. You may use base positions 1, 2, 3 or 4 to achieve an appropriate RF recline angle as per the angle indicator but don’t expect that all 4 positions will yield an appropriate recline position in your vehicle. You may use any of the legrest panel positions rear-facing without restriction. The only rules are: make sure your recline angle is in the allowable range and make sure you don’t have too much overhang of the base.

Having so many rear-facing installation options creates more potential for finding a suitable recline angle, giving your child some extra legroom and taking up less space in your vehicle. However, the reality is that once you start using the legrest extension feature, the seat definitely takes up more front-to-back space in the vehicle. I lost 2-3″ of space in my vehicle when I extended the legrest fully and that was using the more upright #2 & #3 recline positions. The seat would have taken up even more room if I had extended the legrest in the most reclined position.

Parents who are taller than average and/or driving vehicles with limited legroom in the backseat may find that they aren’t able to take advantage of the legrest extension feature without seriously compromising the space upfront for the driver or passenger. I found it interesting that in my vehicle the less expensive Graco Extend2Fit convertible actually takes up slightly less space without the legrest extension than the 4Ever Extend2Fit model. With the legrest fully extended, both seats had the same +1.5″ measurement.

Regular Extend2Fit convertible on left; 4Ever Extend2Fit on right

 

 

 

If front-to-back space is a big issue in your vehicle, and you don’t think that you will ever be able to take advantage of the legrest extension, then you might be better off with a different convertible seat since it doesn’t make sense to pay for a feature you won’t ever use. The original Graco 4Ever All-in-One, Graco Milestone All-in-One, Graco MySize 65 convertible & Graco Contender 65 convertible are all options that did better than average in our Rear-Facing Space Comparison but don’t have the Extend2Fit legrest feature.

Advertisement

Evenflo Spectrum 2-in-1 Booster *Giveaway* – USA & CANADA

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

Happy Valentine’s Day!

How do we love thee? Let us count the ways…

We know we have the most awesome, most thoughtful, most caring readers and followers and we love you all for that! We also know that our most awesome, most thoughtful, most caring readers and followers love to win cool stuff so we thought this would be the best way to show you how much we love and appreciate you.

For this promotion we’ve partnered with our generous friends at Evenflo to give away not one, but two awesome new Spectrum Booster seats in the “Seascape” fashion – one for the U.S. and one just for Canada!

Spectrum Specs & Features:

  • Weight 40 – 110 lbs.
  • Height 44 – 57”
  • For kids at least 4 years old
  • Dual mode (highback & backless)
  • Adjustable headrest with 8 height settings (it’s taller than most other highback boosters)
  • Lyf+Guard side-impact protection technology in the head rest
  • Rollover tested
  • 6 year lifespan before expiration
  • Dual cupholders/snack trays
  • Machine washable cover that can also be thrown in the dryer
  • Made in USA

See our complete Evenflo Spectrum review here: https://carseatblog.com/41458/all-the-specs-a-review-of-the-evenflo-spectrum-2-in-1-booster/

This promotion is now closed. Congratulations to our winners, Amy H. & Jasmine D. 

How to Enter Evenflo Spectrum Booster Giveaway – USA

  • Leave us a comment below telling us what you love about the new Spectrum booster (comment required to be eligible to win), then click on Rafflecopter to qualify yourself.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Now for the fine print – winner must have U.S. shipping address to claim the prize. Only one prize will be awarded in the Seascape fashion. Only one entry per household/family, please. If you leave more than one comment, only the first one will count. We reserve the right to deem any entry as ineligible for any reason, though this would normally only be done in the case of a violation of the spirit of the rules above. We also reserve the right to edit/update the rules for any reason. The contest will close on February 14, 2017, and one random winner will be chosen shortly thereafter. If a winner is deemed ineligible based on shipping restrictions or other issues or does not respond to accept the prize within 7 days, a new winner will be selected. Good luck!

How to Enter Evenflo Spectrum Booster Giveaway – CANADA

  • Leave us a comment below telling us what you love about the new Spectrum booster (comment required to be eligible to win), then click on Rafflecopter to qualify yourself.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Now for the fine print – winner must have Canadian shipping address to claim the prize. Only one prize will be awarded in the Seascape fashion. Only one entry per household/family, please. If you leave more than one comment, only the first one will count. We reserve the right to deem any entry as ineligible for any reason, though this would normally only be done in the case of a violation of the spirit of the rules above. We also reserve the right to edit/update the rules for any reason. The contest will close on February 14, 2017, and one random winner will be chosen shortly thereafter. If a winner is deemed ineligible based on shipping restrictions or other issues or does not respond to accept the prize within 7 days, a new winner will be selected. Good luck!

Please note: If this is your first comment at CarseatBlog, or if you are using a different computer/device or a new email address, your comment may not appear immediately. It will not be lost; it may just take a few hours for it to be manually approved by one of us. Thank you for your understanding and patience as this is the only way we have to reduce comment spam.

Mythbusters: Can Rear-Facing Car Seats Touch Front Vehicle Seats?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

There aren’t a lot of absolutes in child passenger safety. Just when you think something is a hard and fast rule, like, never use lower anchors and seatbelts together, companies (I’m looking at you Clek and Nuna) decide that’s okay for one or more of their seats. Today we’re going to examine another “rule” that is commonly perceived as an absolute.

Last month we ran an article on the new rear-facing law in California and in it, there was a picture of a child in a rear-facing convertible seat that, from the camera angle, looked like it was touching the front vehicle seat. If you actually looked at the picture more closely, it’s not, but it didn’t stop a lot of people from being confused about it and indicating some frustration that the picture showed misuse. But, did it? Even if the rear-facing seat was touching the back of the front seat, does that always mean it’s being used incorrectly?

Myth: a rear-facing car seat is never allowed to touch the vehicle seat in front of it.

I decided the first place to look was the CPS Technician training curriculum. I read through the rear-facing section and the airbag section and…nothing. There is nothing specific in the curriculum that says that a rear-facing car seat touching the front seat is inherently forbidden. This doesn’t mean that it might not be, but it’s clearly not one of those hard and fast rules that we teach technicians to teach to parents.

So, since it’s not in the curriculum, we’ll have to dig into this differently.

Let’s stop and look at why people think it’s forbidden. The first explanation I heard was that it prevents ride down time (time for the crash forces to be dissipated) for the child and the child restraint. I hear that concern, but I’m not sure it’s actually valid. Think about rear-facing seats with load legs that make contact with the vehicle floor. Also think about rear-facing seats which allow what we commonly refer to as “European beltpath routing”. Euro belt routing means the shoulder belt portion of the seatbelt is routed behind the shell of the rear-facing seat, limiting its ability to rotate down in a frontal crash. All of these things essentially do the same thing that a car seat making contact with a front vehicle seat does. We know the crash test data for those seats are almost universally better than seats without load legs or Euro beltpath routing so this theory doesn’t hold water. Touching the vehicle seat back should not result in greater crash forces being directed onto the child.

The second explanation I’ve heard is that it de-activates the front seat’s airbags. My research on this shows many articles without references, but I can’t find any official word on it that speaks for all cars. My very unscientific experiment showed that no matter how hard I pushed against my husband’s passenger vehicle seat, it did not cause the airbag to turn off with my husband sitting in the seat. Obviously this isn’t hard or fast proof and shouldn’t be assumed to be as much.

Do any car seats explicitly allow touching? The answer is yes.

There are many other seats, more than I could list and more than I have time to verify, that do not mention it at all in their manuals. We have confirmed that Chicco allows their rear-facing only seats (KeyFit & Fit2) and convertible seats (NextFit) to make light contact with the front seat after being properly installed, however this is not stated anywhere in the manuals or on Chicco’s website. Therefore, we suggest you call Chicco yourself to confirm this information since we are unable to provide you with a direct link to this allowance.

Do any seats forbid it explicitly? The answer is also yes. The most significant of these is Evenflo, whose rear-facing only seats, Embrace, Nurture, LiteMax & SafeMax Infant, all require 1.5 inches of space between the child restraint and the vehicle seat when the car seat is installed in an outboard seating position. This information can be found under the subtitle “Location Warnings” (usually on or near page 5 in the instruction manual). This rule does not apply when these infant seats are installed in the rear center seating position of the vehicle. This 1.5″ space rule also does not apply to any Evenflo convertible seat.

Okay, so no clear consensus for car seat manufacturers. What about vehicles?

I looked at my vehicle’s manual (2015 Honda Odyssey). I read the airbag and child safety sections thoroughly and nowhere does it forbid a car seat from touching the front vehicle seat. It DOES say that if there’s no front seat passenger and the airbag light doesn’t switch to the OFF position, it could be because a car seat is touching the vehicle seat back, but it never says not to do this. So it looks like this pressure, at least in my car, will actually prevent the airbag from turning off, rather than resulting in it not deploying if it’s supposed to.

For good measure I checked my husband’s as well, since they are different companies and both have advanced airbags. Unlike my Odyssey, my husband’s Nissan Rogue does seem to forbid it, though not in very certain terms. In a troubleshooting section, they said that if the airbag light is not working as expected, “(m)ake sure that a child restraint or other object is not pressing against the rear of the seatback.” I would assume this is as good as saying don’t do that, but then it also forces the question is touching the same as pushing?

This might be the heart of the issue. Is light touching of a car seat likely to change the airbag function? I would argue no. If you’re putting less than 2 pounds of pressure (which seems to be an allowable amount of weight in seat backs for airbags) on the vehicle seat, then you are unlikely to impact the function of the airbags. If you’re unwilling to take that risk, it’s understandable and that’s your choice. But I think we should be clear that there is a difference between forceful touching, where the vehicle seatback is deformed from pressure of the seat, to light contact where the car seat and vehicle seat are merely contacting one another.

So what about crash mechanics? I’d like to make a somewhat unverified assertion here and you can evaluate it and decide if it has merit on your own. A child restraint making light contact with a vehicle seat in a crash seems less likely to cause damage to the child restraint and the child than a child restraint that isn’t close to the vehicle seat and slams into it during a crash. The forces involved in hitting the front seat during the initial downward rotation of a frontal crash seem far more problematic than the front seat limiting some motion of a car seat in a crash. I don’t have any links handy to prove this theory, but it makes sense that slamming into a vehicle seat during a crash will generate higher impact forces than not slamming into it.

Touching vs. Bracing: What’s the difference?

The term “bracing” has been used in many different ways over the years but the consensus seems to be that bracing means more than just light contact. The definition of the word brace is “anything that imparts rigidity or steadiness”. If your rear-facing car seat is “braced”, that means it’s relying on the front seat for support. To my knowledge, no car seat manufacturer allows this as it may alter the recline angle or otherwise affect the installation of the car seat. As stated in the Britax FAQ (pictured above), your rear-facing car seat should be installed securely first and then the front seat should be moved back and/or reclined until it makes light contact.

What about sliding a piece of paper between the rear-facing car seat and vehicle seat? 

Sometimes a CPS Technician will tell a parent or caregiver that if they can slide a piece of paper freely between the back of the [properly installed] rear-facing car seat and the front seat, then it’s not a problem. This is a reasonable comment in many situations since it’s a concept that is easy to understand and visualize even if you don’t literally slide a piece of paper between the two. However, this isn’t a “rule” and it’s not mentioned anywhere in the technician training curriculum or in any car seat manuals that I’ve noticed. This is simply a teaching tool that someone came up with years ago and many of us said, “hey, we like that analogy and we’re going to use that when we educate parents too.

So what’s the verdict?

Kind of busted, but only because I wrote the statement, “a rear-facing car seat is never allowed to touch the vehicle seat in front of it”, as an absolute truth.

Some rear-facing seats cannot make contact with the vehicle seat in front of them because the car seat manual forbids it. Some rear-facing car seats cannot make contact with the vehicle seat in front of them because the vehicle manual forbids it. But, if neither the car seat manual nor the vehicle manual expressly forbid it, your car seat can lightly touch the vehicle seat in front of it.

 

So the official decree is, as always, read your manuals thoroughly before installing your car seats!

All the Specs! A Review of the Evenflo Spectrum 2-in-1 Booster

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

Evenflo Spectrum BoosterEvenflo has made safe, affordable carseats for decades, and they aren’t new to booster seats either. Spectrum is the newest member of the Evenflo family with some unique and innovate features. My first impression upon taking it out of the box was that it was very streamlined and modern looking. I know booster seats can be pretty run of the mill when it comes to looks, but Spectrum has some special touches that add to its unique appearance.

There is some assembly required when it comes out of the box but it isn’t difficult if you follow the directions in the manual. There are no tools (or screws) required and it doesn’t come in a million pieces like Ikea furniture. 
 

Spectrum is currently available at Target, Babies R Us, Amazon (coming soon) and directly from Evenflo. MSRP is $59.99.

Spectrum Specifications:

(say that 10 times fast!)

  • Weight 40 – 110 lbs.
  • Height 44 – 57”
  • 4 year age minimum. I got all nerdy over the spread in the manual regarding how to know if a child is appropriate to ride in a booster.

Evenflo - When to Put Your Child in a Booster Seat

  • Adjustable headrest with 8 height settings
  • Lyf+Guard side-impact protection technology in the head rest
  • Does not require a vehicle head restraint when used in high back mode
  • 6 year lifespan before expiration
  • Dual cupholders/snack trays
  • Machine washable cover that can also be thrown in the dryer!!