It’s no secret that we’re advocates for extended rear facing so when a car seat comes along with a high rear facing weight limit, we can’t wait to check it out. The Graco Extend2Fit convertible car seat is compact, easy to install, easy to use, has a 50 pound rear facing weight limit, extra leg room for kids, and is under the $200 price point!
Many technicians swoon at the description alone.Well, my fellow caregivers and technicians, avail yourself of a swooning couch. The Graco Extend2Fit delivers.
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Rear facing weight range: 4-50 pounds
- Rear facing height range: 1″ below the adjuster handle when fully extended (not to exceed 49″)
- Forward facing weight range: 22-65 pounds
- Forward facing height range: under 49″
- Seated Height: 27″
- Lowest harness position: 7″ with insert
- Highest harness position: 17.5″
- Expiration: 10 years
- Lower anchor weight limit: 45 pounds
- Infant pad and head pad for added comfort
- Premium push-on latch connectors
- Six recline positions
- Two position crotch buckle – 4.5″ and 6.5″ from the back of the seat
- Ten position headrest
- No re-thread harness
- Two cup holders
- Four position foot extender
- Buckle pockets to store the crotch buckle tongues when the seat is not in use.
- Weight: 18.5 pounds
- Width at cupholders: 20″
- Shell height: 30″ tall with headrest fully extended, to the top of the adjustment handle
The Extend2Fit has 6 recline positions and a few rules around their use.
- Rear facing mode: use recline positions 1-4
- Forward facing mode: use position 4 for children who weigh less than 40 pounds
- Forward facing mode: use positions 5 or 6 for children who weigh over 40 pounds
- Like many other Graco convertible car seats, the Extend2Fit has a ball recline indicator
- The Extend2Fit can be installed at a very reclined angle for newborns under 3 months old. Once a baby is 3 months old or older, the Extend2Fit can be installed very upright with a compact footprint in the car
The foot extender sets the Extend2Fit apart from every other convertible car seat on the market. As the child grows taller, the panel can be extended to help them feel more comfortable. While legroom is not a safety concern — children are much more bendy than adults.The panel can only be adjusted when the seat is uninstalled. It moves in and out with a squeeze.
The adjustable headrest has 10 positions, it’s easy to move from between them. Since the Extend2Fit uses a no-rethread harness, adjusting the headrest also adjusts the harness height. The lowest harness position is 7″ (with the infant insert in place), while the highest position is 17.5 inches.
A lower anchor rear facing installation with this seat is pretty easy. I found it necessary in my car to pull the cover aside to finish tightening the strap (pulling the strap back into the belt path).That was an extra step, but not a difficult one. With the four recline positions available, I was able to have the seat at a newborn recline and upright for an older child without any assistance of a rolled towel or a pool noodle.Note: The lower anchors can be used to 45 pounds with this seat, so it’s possible a caregiver must change to the seatbelt installation before the child turns forward facing.
The beltpath for seatbelt installation is smaller than typical of convertibles, so it took a little more work than expected to thread the seatbelt, but the install itself was otherwise easy. The belt path is high enough in my vehicle, and with the extender out, it’s far enough from the vehicle seat back, that I was able to get a good grip on the seatbelt by the buckle and very easily get the slack out.If you have lap and shoulder belts that do not lock before a crash (a car made before September 1 1996, or you’re installing in an international car with the seatbelt) you will need to get a locking clip from Graco. Like Dorel and Evenflo, Graco has stopped sending a locking clip automatically with their seats. Most cars with seat belts that do not lock before a crash have aged off of the road, so they’re not as necessary.
The fit front to back for this seat is remarkable for the size child it fits. For a newborn, my 5’11” husband would have been able to fit in front of it, though not quite as far back as he could have liked. The same was true with the extender fully out and the seat upright for an older child. With the extender not out at all, and still fully upright, there was more than enough room for my husband in the front seat. The range for this seat from newborn to older child is quite generous.
The seat sports six reclined positions. We’ll break down the requirements for each position.
Recline positions 1-4 can be used in rear facing mode. Children who are less than 3 months old require that the Extend2Fit be installed at an angle in the light blue range on the recline indicator. For children who are over three months old, any of the blue range on the recline indicator and any rear facing recline are permitted.
Recline positions 4-6 are for forward facing use. Children who weigh between 22-40 pounds require that seat must be in recline position four. Children who weigh over 40 pounds must use recline position five or six in forward facing mode.
I installed the seat with the lower anchors simply to see how switching the lower anchor strap would work and to asses the level of difficulty for the install. I found it easier to install the Extend2Fit forward facing than rear facing. With a 45 pound weight limit for the lower anchors, many parents will not use the seat forward facing while the lower anchors are still usable.However, some children may be old enough to safely forward face before they reach 45 pounds, so they may make use of the anchors. To switch the anchors, the manual says to pull the cover aside and slide the lower anchor strap along to the forward facing belt path. I found it a little cumbersome to work around the harness. It might be easier to simply use the lower anchors rear facing, but when switching to forward facing, just use the seat belt. The forward facing belt path is more open than the rear facing one, so seat belt installation is easier in the forward facing position. In addition, if the headrest is moved up to its highest position, it’s easy to get hands under the cover to feed the seat belt through the open belt path.
The top tether is stored along to the side in a clearly marked position. There was no issue getting it unhooked and over my backseat toward the top tether anchor.
Fit to Child
For the fit to child, I used four dolls and my six year old. I used a small non standard doll who stands in for my preemie, a Huggable Images family of newborn, three year old, and six year old, and then my own six year old who can give feedback on comfort.
This doll is very small and soft, but it does a good job of showing that the Extend2Fit will not fit a very small child, even with the insert. A four pound preemie or small newborn coming home will likely need a different car seat until this one fits. It may be only a month or two, but most babies on the smaller end of the charts will have a difficult time at birth.
This model is a Huggable Images newborn doll who weighs 7 pounds and is 17 inches tall.
My newborn doll fit very well in this seat. The straps were nicely below his shoulders, and I was able to tighten the harness easily so that it passed the pinch test. With the insert in, fit was good, and he just fit without the insert. I’d be wary to recommend using it without the insert for newborns, however, as they will often slouch a little as the ride goes on, and so his shoulders may end up under the bottom harness height.
Three Year Old Doll
The three year old doll is 38 inches tall but has no weight listed. The but the average 38 inch tall child weighs about 30 pounds. This model fit quite comfortably rear facing, and would have had very nice leg room with the extender out fully.The harness was easy to adjust between my dolls. The three year old doll meets the minimum height and weight limits to forward face, and at three years old would not be unsafe forward facing with a top tether, but she also is well within the rear facing limits of the seat and can rear face much longer.
4 Years Old
This model is 4.5 years old, weighs 36 pounds, and is 41 inches tall. The Extend2Fit is easy to adjust, offers him plenty of leg and growing room, is comfortable to sleep in. The recline options make for a very compact installation when needed — it fits nicely rear facing in my tiny car. He’s got plenty of room to grow.
Huggable Images Six Year Old
At 45 pounds, and 48 inches tall, this six year old doll is very close to the size of my daughter Laine.
I put the doll in the Extend2Fit in seat both rear and forward facing modes. At just one inch from the forward facing height limit (there is no overall height limit given rear facing), she had room to grow.If she was a real child, she could have grown the last five pounds rear facing. Having the option to rear face to six years old is not necessary for every child, but for families without top tethers in their vehicles, or for children with low tone or other medical issues where rear facing even beyond four is beneficial, the sheer longevity of this seat in the rear facing mode is amazing. It really can get many kids from birth to booster completely rear facing.
Six Years Old
This model is 6 years old, weighs 45 pounds, and is 46 inches tall. She’s almost at the top end of the height and weight limits for the seat but she’s got one click of headrest left to grow. At her age, she’s able to ride forward facing safely but we’re thrilled to see a reasonably priced option that could last this long!
Laine the Child
My six year old daughter, Laine also demonstrated the fit of the seat. Even though she is over the weight limit for rear facing, I put her in to show that children very likely WILL get to the full 50 pounds rear facing in this seat. Even tall children, like the six year old doll, have allowed us to see that this seat is tall enough to last rear facing.When in the car with the extender fully out, Laine was quite comfortable and enjoyed the seat quite a lot. She asked to go for a ride in it, though I had to turn her down because she’s over the weight limit. She was quite disappointed. She had quite a lot of leg room available to her, looking for all the world as if she was in the world’s most comfortable recliner.
With the extender completely tucked in, she was still comfortable, and able to cross her legs, but she definitely preferred having more room. Of course, that is one of the benefits of this seat over the other 50 pound rear facing seats on the market.The manual specifies that the panel must be extended when the seat is used with children who weigh over 40 pounds, however Graco has clarified to us that the panel doesn’t need to be out. We’d like to see this information presented in the manual.
Six Years Old
We’ve seen how long-lasting the Extend2Fit can be for children who ride rear facing, but how does it fit forward facing? Here we see our 6 year old model from above, the seat is installed forward facing on recline 4. She weighs 45 pounds, and is 46 inches tall. She’s got about a half inch of harness height left in the seat.
When going from rear facing with the headrest in position eight, the six year old needed the headrest in the top (10th) position forward facing. This limited growing room forward facing. For the very tall lightweight kids, it may be possible to outgrow this seat forward facing first (though not much longer after that rear facing).Forward facing, the six year old doll did not have much growing room. Likely less than a year by shoulder height, and by overall height she would have had probably three to six months before she hit 49″. However, the doll is six years old, an age where most kids are booster ready.I would also care to note that 48 inches tall is the average seven year old girl, not six. The six year old doll is tall for her age, and still had room to grow. Her height is equal to that of the 90% girl. At this age, the boys are the same percentile with 48 inches being the 90% boy at six years old.
The harness, buckle strap and chest clip are all standard-issue Graco hardware. Buckling in all of the dolls and my daughter was very easy, as expected. The straps did not easily twist, even moving them around as much as I did for all of these sizes. The headrest adjusted easily through all ten positions, though the flap that lifts as the headrest goes up did get caught under the cover every time I moved it back down. This was quite annoying for me, but most caregivers will not be adjusting the headrest 20+ times a day, so I don’t see it being a large problem at all.
The inserts that came with the seat are thick and easy to use at the head and under the bum. They both do a good job of supporting a child. The insert under the bum must be removed forward facing, but the insert behind the head can stay in through the life of the seat. If you have a child who appreciates more head support, or a forward facing child with low tone, these may be very beneficial.
The seat has strap covers which are unique to my knowledge in that they have grip on the insides of them, possibly to keep them from sliding down the harness. They can be used rear facing, but they must be removed forward facing. In many pictures in this review, they were removed to show strap height and position.There are two buckle strap positions. Either can be used rear facing, but forward facing the outer position must be used. Even for my six year old daughter and doll, when rear facing the inner slot was a very nice fit. Forward facing the outer position also worked well for them. Tip: when changing the buckle position, recline the seat AND pull out the extender fully to access the buckle strap. It’ll make life much easier.
The manual states that the extender panel must be in position 2-4 for a child over 40 pounds. That simply means not tucked all the way in. When CSFTL, Inc. asked Graco if this is absolutely required, since the seat is far more compact without it, they stated that it’s not misuse to keep the extender tucked away. However, if space is of an issue, and a parent is not comfortable disregarding the manual (rightfully so, we’re hoping an official statement comes out that revises the manual), a caregiver can always use extender position two, which is barely extended.There are two cupholders with this seat, and both are required to be assembled when the seat is bought. They click in with ease provided they are in the correct direction. They simply won’t fit another way, so it’s not hard to do.
The Extend2Fit includes the Fuss Free pockets for buckle storage when the seat is not in use. That means you don’t need to dig around by your child’s hips searching for the buckle tong every time you get them in or out.
When this car seat is installed on the plus one or jump seat of a minivan, Graco has confirmed up to 20% of the base can overhang the edge of the vehicle seat while in harness mode. In booster mode the entire base must be in contact with the vehicle seat.
Important Information: Where to Find
FAA Approval: Like other Graco seats, the aircraft approval statement is on the back of the seat, on the left raised rib. This seat is aircraft approved rear and forward facing. At about 20″ wide, it should fit easily with the armrests up. Rear facing without the extender out it should fit in nearly any aircraft seat. Forward facing it should also be a fairly easy fit.
Expiration: The manual states 10 years from the date on the sticker, and the seat is also stamped as such on the back, within sight of the sticker. It’s unlikely this seat will get a single child to ten years old, but at under $200 for such a fantastically long lasting seat rear facing, and a very nice forward facing seat, multiple children can get use out of it.
Manual: There is a manual storage pocket at the lower back of the seat. It’s clearly marked.
Manufacturer information: On the back on the inside of the right rib, opposite the aircraft approval statement is the sticker with the model number, and date of manufacture.
- Three position extension panel the provides 5″ of extra leg room
- Six position recline
- Steel reinforced frame
- Very compact front to back when the extension panel is not in use
- Cupholders must be attached
- Very bulky front to back when the extension panel is used
Graco has really done something amazing with this seat. An easy to install, compact, tall, 50 pound rear facing seat for under $200. It really puts it into the area of an astonishing seat for a moderate price. Dual cupholders, always a fan favorite, the easy to adjust harness, the Fuss Free pockets, and the rather revolutionary extender have really made this a spectacular seat.
The Graco Extend2Fit is available right now at Amazon!