Graco Sequel Review

(Last Updated On: October 13, 2017)
Graco Sequel and cute model

Graco Sequel and cute model

Graco has a lot to offer when it comes to convertible car seats.  The new Sequel offers the compactness of the much-loved, long-lasting Extend2Fit at a lower price point with a few key differences: a 40 pound rear facing weight limit compared to the Extend2Fit’s 50 pound limit and no extending tray.

Let’s take a closer look at everything the Sequel has to offer!

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • Rear facing weight range: 4-40 pounds
  • Rear facing height range: can be used until the top of the child’s head is 1 inch below the fully extended adjuster handle or when the child is 49 inches tall
  • Forward facing weight range: 22-65 pounds
  • Forward facing height range: under 49 inches tall
  • Seated Height: 27 inches tall
  • Lowest harness position: 7 inches with insert
  • Highest harness position: 17.5 inches
  • Two position crotch buckle – 4 inch and 6 inch from the back of the seat
  • Expiration: 10 years
  • Lower anchor weight limit: 45 pounds

Features

  • Standard lower anchor connectors
  • Six recline positions
  • Ten position headrest
  • No rethread harness
  • Two cupholders

Measurements

  • Weight: 17.5 pounds
  • Width at cupholders: 19.5 inches
  • Shell height: 30 inches tall with headrest fully extended, to the top of the adjustment handle

Recline Positions

  • Rear facing mode: positions 1, 2, and 3
  • Forward facing mode: positions 4, 5, and 6

Out of the Box

The Sequel arrives set up for rear facing with the infant insert in and lower anchors in the rear facing belt path.

The cupholders do not come attached but they are required for use.

Thankfully the manual is very clear about this important first step.  The registration card and manuals were attached to the harness.

Installation

Rear Facing

Graco Sequel

Graco Sequel

Rear facing installation is pretty easy for this seat, not unlike our findings with the very similar Extend2Fit.  With 3 recline positions available I did not need a noodle or towel to achieve a proper newborn angle in either car – though it may be necessary in vehicles with more slanted seats.

In my 2010 Subaru Outback, the lower anchors are easily accessed so the lower anchor install was a snap. The Sequel does not have premium lower anchor connectors so some caregivers may find the seat belt install the easier option.

The lower anchors in my 2012 Prius are buried in a very tight seat bight so I chose to install the Sequel using the vehicle seat belt in that car.  The Sequel’s belt path is rather narrow, so while I didn’t have trouble threading the belt with my small hands, other caregivers may experience some frustration.

Recline Positions and Recline Indicator

The Sequel has six recline positions.

  • Positions 1, 2, and 3 are for rear facing. For infants less than 3 months old, the ball must be in the light blue portion of the recline indicator. For children who are over 3 months old, the ball can be anywhere in the light or dark blue.
  • Positions 4, 5, and 6 are for forward facing. Forward facing, there are no weight or other restrictions on the recline positions. Some vehicles may have too much overhang using position 4 because the Sequel’s base must sit as flat as possible on the vehicle seat.

To adjust the recline angle, pull the handle located on the base. I found it very easy to switch between recline positions.  With a lower anchor install, I didn’t even need to fully uninstall the seat, I just loosened the webbing and changed positions before tightening the lower anchor webbing again.

Crotch Buckle

There are two positions for the crotch buckle.  Either position can be used rear facing. When the seat is installed forward facing, the outer position must be used.  Switching the buckle position cannot be done while the seat is installed (I tried) so that is something to keep in mind if using the Sequel for multiple children.

Note About Crotch Buckle Position and Vehicle Seat Belt

Graco Sequel outer crotch buckle position and lower anchor webbing

Graco Sequel outer crotch buckle position and lower anchor webbing

When the crotch buckle is in the outer position, thread the vehicle seat belt or lower anchor webbing behind the crotch buckle.

Graco Sequel inner crotch buckle position and lower anchor webbing

Graco Sequel inner crotch buckle position and lower anchor webbing

When the crotch buckle is in the inner postion, thread the vehicle seat belt or lower anchor webbing in front of the crotch buckle when in the inner position.

 

Compared to Other Graco Convertible Car Seats

Contender

Graco Contender installed rear facing

Graco Contender installed rear facing

I was able to compare the Sequel’s footprint to the Graco Milestone, Contender, and Extend2Fit.  I was not surprised at all to find that the Sequel was more compact than the Contender.  At the newborn recline angle with the headrest down it took up 1 inch less front to back space.  When installed at a more upright angle with the headrest fully extended, the Sequel was over 6 inches more compact front to back than the Contender! This significant difference is mostly due to how the headrest extends straight up compared to angled out.

Milestone

Graco Milestone Rear Facing

Graco Milestone Rear Facing

I was a bit surprised at how it was significantly more compact than the Milestone.  Once again at the newborn setting the difference in front to back space was minimal — maybe an inch.  But at the most upright recline angle with the headrest extended the Sequel was 3.5 inches more compact front to back than the Milestone.

Extend2Fit

Graco Extend2Fit rear facing

Graco Extend2Fit rear facing

The Sequel is not nearly as compact as the Extend2Fit when installed rear facing. The Sequel’s dark blue recline range on the recline indicator is smaller than the Extend2Fit’s. Families hoping to install the Sequel rear facing in a tiny subcompact car should opt for the Extend2Fit instead.

Forward Facing

Installing the Sequel forward facing was also straightforward.  The lower anchors can be used until the child weighs 45 pounds. To move the lower anchor strap to the forward belt path the cover must be partly removed however it is not too difficult.  The strap on the child’s left must be pulled completely to the other side then it slides up along the frame before threading back.  The design makes it nearly impossible to twist or thread improperly though, which helps prevent misuse.

Graco Sequel forward facing recline

Graco Sequel forward facing recline

Installing on the most upright setting fit both of my test vehicles best, and it still was more reclined than the very straight-backed Milestone.  On setting 4 it was very reclined. I was still able to achieve a solid installation without much overhang.  Our 4 year old model found the seat a bit awkward on that recline setting. Children who require deeper recline but are over the rear facing weight and height limits may find the most reclined forward facing setting comfortable.

Graco Sequel padding gap

Graco Sequel padding gap

The forward facing belt path is much easier to access and use than the rear facing belt path. I did notice that the shoulder belt scrunches a bit at the outer corner of the belt path. When the headrest is fully raised, that leaves very little padding in that spot (there’s a slot in the fabric for slipping around the hip straps in the lower settings) which kids might find that uncomfortable.  When installing with the belt the manual reminds caregivers to store the lower anchor connectors but does not require they be moved to the rear facing belt path.

The top tether stores along the side of the seat in a clearly marked position. I had no issues connecting the top tether in either vehicle.

Fit to Child

Rear Facing

Infant Insert

The insert is plush and easy to insert or remove.  It cannot be used forward facing. The insert is only required when the child does not reach the lowest harness setting rear facing.  There is no weight limit for use — this is nice for those of us with larger newborns.

Newborn

Graco Sequel newborn fit

Graco Sequel newborn fit

This tiny model is 5 weeks old, weighs 9 pounds, and is 22 inches long. He’s on the  larger size for a newborn, and the Sequel fits him easily.  I used the infant insert for extra support, but even without the insert he could use the 2nd headrest setting.  With or without the insert he used the inner crotch buckle setting as his body was just inside of the slot.

Because the lowest harness setting with insert is 7 inches, we wouldn’t suggest the Sequel for preemies or smaller newborns.
At the lower headrest settings I found the harness a bit difficult to tighten at times. However, I was able to reach around and pull the harness from the back to tighten as needed.

Two Year Old

Graco Sequel 2 year old fit

Graco Sequel 2 year old fit

At 23 pounds and 35 inches tall, this little cutie is on the tall side for her age yet she’s very lean. The Sequel is a great option for her since it’s unlikely she’ll reach that 40 pound weight limit anytime soon!

When using the insert I needed to move the crotch buckle to the outer position as Graco specifies to not have the child’s body over the slot.  Without the insert she could use the inner slot.

Forward Facing

Four Years Old

Graco Sequel 4 year old fit

Graco Sequel 4 year old fit

Our forward facing model is 4 years old, weighs 40 pounds, and is 42 inches tall.

Graco Sequel room to grow

Graco Sequel room to grow

In forward facing mode, he has lots of room to grow – I measured about 3 inches before he would hit the top harness slot.  He’s nowhere near ready for a booster now and the Sequel should easily last until he is ready to make the switch.

Harness and Headrest Adjustment

Graco Sequel harness adjuster

Graco Sequel harness adjuster

The straps were not particularly prone to twisting and the headrest adjusted easily between positions.  At the lower harness settings, I did find it a bit harder to tighten the harness but that may ease up as the seat gets more use.  The harness adjuster is located under a flap and recessed a bit.  This location may prevent smaller Houdinis from reaching the harness to loosen it, however, it may easily collect crumbs or other debris so keeping it clean could be difficult.

Graco Sequel harness fully extended

Graco Sequel harness fully extended

When the headrest is fully lowered, a portion of the back panel sits under the child.  As it raises, there is a point where it lies partly under the child and partly on the back however it is not very structured so it did not cause any fit issues for our toddler.  The same headrest position on the Milestone causes the flap to push the child forward a bit which can cause an awkward fit for brief periods as the child grows.

Manual

I found the manual very easy to follow.  It includes overview pages directing caregivers to specific information as well as short checklists at the end of each installation method.  In several places, it mentions the AAP recommendation to rear face till at least 2 years old. While we applaud these reminders, we’d love to see Graco adopt a 2 year minimum to use the seat forward facing.

Air Travel

While the Sequel is wider than the standard airplane seat, it should fit easily on an airplane seat with the armrest raised.  At the more upright angle it should fit rear facing on many planes but not all.  Forward facing airplane use could be a bigger challenge since the flared cupholder adds extra width to the seat. We’d suggest raising the armest next to the seat before installing it on a plane. At a bulky 16.5 pounds, it’s on the heavier side for a travel seat so the Sequel wouldn’t be our first choice for travel.

Side Overhang

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.

Important Information: Where to Find

Graco Sequel FAA approval and date of manufacture labels

Graco Sequel FAA approval and date of manufacture labels

FAA Approval label:  The sticker is on the back of the seat on the left raised rib on the outer shell of the seat.

Date of Manufacture label: The Sequel expires 10 years after the date of manufacture.  The manufacture date is stamped on the back of the seat close to the sticker that includes the model and manufacture date.

Graco Sequel manual storage

Graco Sequel manual storage

Manual Storage: There is a clearly labeled storage pocket on the back of the base.

Manufacturer Contact Information: The sticker is located on the back of the seat opposite the sticker containing the FAA approval label.

Pros

  • More compact than many of Graco’s previous convertible car seats
  • Six position recline
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Great value for the price

Cons

  • Required cupholders prevent it from being a great option for 3 car seats across
  • Cannot be installed as upright as the Extend2Fit
  • Does not have the extending leg panel that the Extend2Fit has

Overall Thoughts

Graco Sequel

Graco Sequel

Coming in at a budget-friendly $160 MSRP, the Sequel has a lot to offer for a convertible car seat. It features the low sides and compact base that we know and love from the Extend2Fit, has a high top harness slot for long-lasting forward facing use, and installs without much of a struggle.

Our friends at Graco are offering a Sequel for one of our lucky readers! Enter below for your chance to win, read our terms and conditions before you enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway