For the last several years Graco has had two combination seats available for purchase, the Argos 65 and the Nautilus. Both models have two modes: forward-facing harnessed mode and a booster mode that fits most children well. These seats have been around for a while and are two very popular options at CSFTL because they fit a range of children well and have a lot of great ease-of-use features.
The range of Graco’s offerings in this category has expanded with the addition of the Argos 80. It’s based on the shell and design of the Argos 65, but has a few added features that allow it to be rated for children weighing up to 80 pounds.
So… what makes the Argos 80 Elite 3-in-1 car seat different from the Argos 65? The obvious answer is 15 pounds, but there is more to it than that. Let’s take a closer look.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Forward facing weight range: 20-80 pounds
- Forward facing height range: 27″-52
- Harness mode weight range: 20-80 pounds
- High back booster weight range: 30-100 pounds
- High back booster height range: 38-57 inches tall
- Backless booster weight range: 40-120 pounds
- Backless booster height range: 40-57 inches tall
- Highest harness position: 18 inches
- Highest booster guide position: 19.5 inches
- Expiration: 10 years
- Lower anchor weight limit: 45 pounds *Some older models may have a 42 pound lower anchor weight limit. Please consult your seat’s manual to confirm.
- Seat belt lockoff
- Adjustable crotch strap (6, 7.25, and 8.5 inches from the back of the seat)
- Three recline settings
- Body support cushion
- No rethread harness
- Allows use of lower anchors in booster mode
- Cupholder and cubby holes
- 2014 IIHS Best Bet in both highback and backless mode
The Argos 80 Elite comes out of the box in a prone position. The back portion needs to be rotated up perpendicular to the bottom portion. Even though that sounds tricky, the directions are clear and easy to follow. The only part to note is that the hip straps must be threaded through the slits in the padding. They can easily get caught in the crease when assembling.
The no-rethread harness allows this seat to be easily adjusted for correct fit when used by different children, without uninstalling the seat from the vehicle. It also means that you don’t need to uninstall the seat to adjust the harness height as your child grows. Simply squeeze the red handle to raise or lower the headrest. The harness straps travel with the headrest. Graco states to have the straps “even with or just above the shoulders” – this will place the headrest in the correct position.
A body support cushion is included in the box. It is required with a child from 20 to 22 pounds, and optional up to 30 pounds (it cannot be used over 30 pounds). Please note: A 10.5 month child in the 50th percentile would weigh 22 pounds. A child that young needs to be rear facing for safety. CSFTL recommends (along with the AAP and NHTSA) rear facing until a minimum of 2 years old, and as close to age 4 as possible.
Three available recline positions serve primarily to assist in fitting the seat to different vehicle seats, but also can be adjusted to a position most comfortable for the child. The most upright position MUST be used for children weighing over 65 pounds OR over 49 inches tall (this applies to both harness and booster mode).
The covered armrest has inside cubby holes, outer pockets, and a convenient cupholder.
The Argos 80 Elite comes with a lockoff for use with seat belt installation. This is a new feature of the Argos 80 and we’re pretty excited about it. The Argos has a fairly high belt path so installing previous versions of this seat in some wider captain’s chairs with a seat belt was a bit of a challenge.
We’re pleased to share that the lockoff made a big difference in how easy it was to install the Argos with a seat belt. Just thread the vehicle belt through the belt path, and close the lockoff over the shoulder portion of the belt (on the retractor side). The lockoff snaps closed very easily even with the belt threaded. The resulting installation was secure and held the belt firmly in place.
Graco allows the use of the lower anchors until 45 pounds of child weight in accordance with the 2014 LATCH changes. Some older models of this seat may have a 42 pound lower anchor weight limit. Please consult your seat’s manual to confirm. The lower anchor connectors are the “hook on” style. They clip onto the lower anchors. Removing them can be difficult, especially with a very firm install. One trick to remove these anchors is to put some pressure on the Argos while loosening the lower anchor strap.
Don’t forget the last part of the install: always use your tether.
Fit to Child: Harnessed Mode
The Argos 80 Elite offers four different harness positions for growing children (note: there is a 5th headrest position that is only allowed in booster mode). It also has rather wide harness covers that are required at all times. These covers have rubberized backs and enable this seat to be used to 80 pounds. The wide covers may provide an awkward fit on a smaller child. The chest clip must sit on the pads and when positioned properly, the rounded top corners on the pads push into either side of the neck. If you have a child who sensitive to fabrics, materials, or has sensory issues, consider this when purchasing.
Our three harnessed models ranged in weight from 36-38 pounds and 41-42.5 inches in height. They all liked the cupholder and “secret” compartments. Two of them found the seat to be comfortable and enjoyed riding in it. The 3rd child did not find the harness covers comfortable and claimed they hurt her neck.
The Argos Elite 80 does an excellent job keeping most children harnessed until they are ready for boosters. It will last most children to age 6-7 in harnessed mode.
Crotch Buckle Adjustment and Use
In a small but important update, Graco has added a third position for the crotch buckle, creating more room as children grow. Use the one closest to, but not under your child.
To move the crotch buckle, thread the metal part through the slot and re-thread in the new slot. We were excited to find the buckle easier to move than on previous Graco combination car seats.
Fit to Child: Booster
Simply remove the harness straps and crotch buckle, and you are ready for the high back booster mode. Graco allows you to use the lower anchor connectors and tether to secure the booster to prevent it becoming a projectile when not in use.
The Argos 80 Elite does NOT allow any overhang when used in booster mode. The entire bottom must be on the vehicle seat. In addition some vehicle headrests may tilt forward causing the back of the Argos 80 Elite to not make contact with the seat. Graco does not allow a gap behind the Argos 80 Elite. Remove the vehicle headrest, if possible, to eliminate the gap.
Any recline position may be used in booster mode, but if the lap belt is not positioned correctly, adjusting the recline may help. NOTE: The most upright position MUST be used for children weighing over 65 pounds OR over 49 inches tall (this applies to both harness and booster mode).
The shoulder belt goes through the red belt guide and the lap portion will thread in the vehicle belt guide behind the armrests. The belt will actually be positioned vertically, not horizontally in front of this belt guide (see picture). As always, check for a proper belt fit in booster mode: lap belt low and snug across the hips, and shoulder belt crossing mid-shoulder. Adjust the head support (5 available settings) to improve shoulder belt fit. The red belt guides should be even with or just above the child’s shoulders.
The Argos 80 Elite also can be used as a backless booster. To convert the seat to a backless booster, simply lift the seat pad on the base of the seat and slide the red buttons to release. Once this lowers the back, you will see another set of red buttons. Pinch them together to remove the back.
There is an optional shoulder positioning clip for backless booster mode. This ships in a plastic bag that’s not attached to the seat. In order to use, it attach it to the slot on the bottom of the seat.
The Graco Argos 80 Elite 3-in-1 will do all three modes – harness, high back booster, and backless booster- well for most children. With its high weight limit, it allows parents to harness their children longer until they are mature enough for boosters. Most children will enjoy the features and comfort of the seat, but if you have a child with sensory issues or that is sensitive to touch or materials, the harness covers may be an issue.
Currently the Graco Argos 80 Elite 3-in-1 is available in two color choices. Gatlin, which is dark grey and black, is available at a variety of retailers. Astro, which is black and cream, is exclusive to Babies R Us. Would you like to win one for your Little? Graco is giving away one Argos 80 Elite, enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Graco graciously provided the Argos 80 Elite used in this review. As always, the opinions are our own.