The Graco TrioGrow SnugLock multimode car seat is a fan favourite for our readers in the United States, so we were very excited when Graco announced that it would be coming to Canada with an added anti-rebound bar. We were luckily able to get our hands on a couple of the first production models, and are excited to share our thoughts with you!
CSFTL Quick Stats
- Rear facing weight range: 5-40 pounds
- Rear facing height range: 18-43 inches tall
- Forward facing weight range: 22-65 pounds
- Forward facing height range: 27-49 inches tall
- High-back booster weight range: 40-100 pounds
- High-back booster height range: 43-57 inches tall
- High back booster age minimum: 4 years (CSFTL advocates that children be at least 5 years old before riding in a booster seat)
- Lowest harness position: 7 inches with body pillow (8 inches without body pillow)
- Highest harness position: 17.5 inches
- Highest booster guide position: 18.5 inches
- Expiration: 10 years
- LUAS weight limit: 45 pounds
- UAS is permitted in high back booster mode
- Harness stores on the seat in high back booster mode
- No rethread harness
- Anti rebound bar
- Colour coded belt paths, labels, and instructions
- Two crotch buckle slots: 4 and 6 inches from the back of the seat pan
- Width at widest point (cup holders): 19 inches
- Shell height: 29.5 inches
- Seat pan: 11.5 inches deep
- Base width at widest point: 14.75 inches
- Narrowest part of the seating area: 11 inches at the back
- Seat pan interior: 12.5 inches across at widest part, with 12 inches of interior hip room
- Front to back space: 25.5 inches (this is measured on a flat surface with the headrest on the lowest setting, this measurement will change as the child grows and the seat is installed more upright. This measurement also varies when the seat is installed.)
- Weight: 19.1 pounds with anti-rebound bar installed (18.4 pounds without)
Attaching the Cupholders
The first step in the Quick Guide of the manual is “Install Cup Holders”. The cupholders are required at all times (they “must be installed” per the manual) so we are happy to see that this is mentioned early on in the manual.
To install the cupholders, find the letter on the bottom of the cup holder (marked R for Right and L for Left), slide the hook on the cupholder into the slot on the seat, then rotate the bottom of the cup holder down until you hear a click.
Ta da! Once you hear that click, the cupholders are installed!
Attaching the Anti-Rebound bar (rear facing)
We’re going to assume that most families who buy a Graco TrioGrow SnugLock seat intend to first use it rear facing, so we’ll get started by describing how to install the anti-rebound bar. This bar is required when using the seat rear facing.
To attach the anti-rebound bar:
Insert the ends of the anti-rebound bar into the holes on the front of the seat until the bar clicks in place (ensure that the seat pad fabric is not covering up and/or blocking the holes before attempting to attach the anti-rebound bar).
Note: the anti-rebound bar must be removed when using the TrioGrow SnugLock forward facing or in booster mode. To remove the anti-rebound bar: push the buttons on both sides of the TrioGrow SnugLock at the same time (the bar will pop off easily).
Warning: the anti-rebound bar is spring loaded, so do not place your face close to the bar when removing it!
Top Tether Storage
When using the TrioGrow SnugLock rear facing, the top tether stores on the upper right hand side of the seat. Ensure it is firmly attached before installing and using the seat rear facing.
Body Support, Head Support, and Harness Covers
The TrioGrow SnugLock comes with a Body Support, Head Support, and Harness Covers as extra padding.
Body Support: For rear facing mode only. MUST be used if baby’s shoulders are below the lowest harness position, but is optional for larger babies and children rear facing. Never allow body support to bunch or fold behind/under the child
Note: The body support must be removed once the child weighs 20 pounds. This warning is not in the manual but it is on the body support’s label. We have confirmed with Graco that the body support has a 20 pound limit and they have assured us that this will be included in future versions of the manual.
Head Support: For rear facing mode only. May not be used without the body support. Always optional.
Harness Covers: Always optional unless they interfere with the placement of the chest clip (then they must be removed until the child is bigger and there is no longer any interference).
Recline Angle Indicator – rear facing only
There are no restrictions on which of the first three recline positions must be used in rear facing mode. The recline angle indicator on the side of the seat has a ball that must be entirely in the blue range (and light blue range for a child under 3 months old). When installing rear facing, this seat can use any of the three rear facing recline positions as long as the ball in the recline indicator stays fully within the blue range. If the seat is not reclined enough for the tiniest of passengers when it’s in the most reclined position (recline 1), Graco allows the use of a rolled towel or pool noodle to help with a more reclined installation.
Graco introduced us to their SnugLock technology with the Snugride SnugLock rear facing only seat and the Nautilus SnugLock forward facing only combination seat. What makes the TrioGrow SnugLock different from those seats is that it is an arm that rotates between the rear and forward facing belt paths. We’ll get into the installation process in more detail later in this review.
Note: The SnugLock lockoff cannot be used with inflatable seat belts.
The TrioGrow SnugLock has 6 different recline positions. Recline positions 1, 2, and 3 are for rear facing use, recline positions 4, 5, and 6 are for forward facing use, and recline position 6 is for booster use only.
To adjust the recline position, pull on the red handle at the front base of the seat and slide the TrioGrow SnugLock along the base until the red arrow is pointing at the correct number position.
Rear facing: the recline must be set to position 1, 2 or 3 and the ball recline indicator must be entirely in the blue range. The base must be flat on the vehicle seat unless a rolled towel/pool noodle is being used on position 1 to recline the seat further.
Forward facing: the recline must be set to position 4, 5 or 6 and the base must be flat on the vehicle seat.
Booster mode: the recline must be set to position 6 and the base must be flat on the vehicle seat.
Graco has confirmed up to 20% of the TrioGrow’s base can hang over the edge of the vehicle seat when it is installed in harness mode. In booster mode, the entire base must be in contact with the vehicle seat.
Installation — Rear Facing
To install the TrioGrow SnugLock rear facing with lower anchors (LUAS):
Position the seat on recline 1, 2, or 3, and ensure the LUAS strap is routed through the rear facing (blue) belt path. Extend the LUAS strap by pressing the grey button on the adjuster and pulling on the strap. Loosen the harness and raise the headrest to the highest position, and undo the snaps to unsnap the seat pad. Pull the bottom seat pad out to exposed the plastic shell and lift the headrest pad out of the way.
Ensure the SnugLock lockoff is rotated to the correct belt path, and route the LUAS strap under the SnugLock arm. Attach the lower anchor connectors to the vehicle’s lower anchors. Tighten the LUAS strap by pulling on the tail (press down firmly on the TrioGrow SnugLock), and close the SnugLock lockoff until you hear a click.
Check that there is less than 1 inch of movement at the belt path, and that the the recline indicator is within the correct range for the child’s age (if it is not, the seat will need to be uninstalled and the recline angle adjusted).
Vehicle Seat Belt
To install the TrioGrow SnugLock rear facing with vehicle seat belt:
Position the seat on recline 1, 2, or 3, and ensure the LUAS is routed through the forward facing (orange) belt path and stored on the side of the seat. Loosen the harness and raise the headrest to the highest position, and undo the snaps to unsnap the seat pad. Pull the bottom seat pad out to exposed the plastic shell and lift the headrest pad out of the way. Ensure the SnugLock lockoff is rotated to the correct belt path, and route the vehicle lap/shoulder belt through the rear facing (blue) belt path and under the SnugLock arm. Buckle the seat belt and remove the slash from the seat belt by pulling on the shoulder belt. Close the SnugLock lockoff until you hear a click
Check that there is less than 1 inch of movement at the belt path, and that the recline indicator is within the correct range for the child’s age (if it is not, the seat will need to be uninstalled and the recline angle adjusted)
Note: the rear facing belt path of the Canadian TrioGrow SnugLock is narrower than we’re used to seeing. The male buckle of the vehicle seat belt WILL fit through the opening, but you may need to rotate it sideways to make it fit. While this isn’t a safety concern, it IS a bit of an annoyance, so we wanted to make sure that we mentioned it.
Note: The SnugLock lockoff cannot be used with inflatable seat belts. If your vehicle has Ford inflatable seat belts, you will follow the airplane installation instructions (which bypass the SnugLock lockoff).
Rear Facing Recline Positions
The TrioGrow SnugLock can be installed rear facing using recline positions 1, 2, or 3. Here’s a quick summary of how large the seat is when installed in those positions.
Recline position 1 would typically be used for the tiniest of passengers. This position takes up the most front to back space but also reclines the seat so that those tiny passengers have clear airways as they travel. If this recline position does not recline the seat enough for a newborn (per the ball indicator), a rolled towel or pool noodle may be used to recline the seat further.
Recline position 2 is slightly more upright and takes up a little less front to back space.
Recline position 3 is the most upright of the rear facing recline positions.
Front to Back Space: Compared to a Graco 4ever
The Graco 4ever is a favourite multi-mode seat in Canada and the fairly compact rear facing footprint is a major selling point. Since the TrioGrow SnugLock is also a multi-mode seat from Graco, we wanted to compare the two seats rear facing in this 2007 Honda Odyssey.
Here we see the Graco 4Ever on recline setting 3 (most upright) with the bubble at the most upright angle permitted. The front passenger seat is pushed all the way back and the 4ever fits nicely.
The Graco TrioGrow SnugLock is installed in the same seating position in this van and the front passenger is also all the way back. We found that both of these seats have a very similar front to back footprint in this van – which is great!
Fit to Child
Our newborn Huggable Images doll is 7 pounds and 17 inches long. The doll kindly agreed (without any fuss) to help us test out the TrioGrow SnugLock. We were impressed that even with the body pillow removed, the harness was positioned below the doll’s shoulders, and the harness was easily able to be tightened to pass the pinch test. We also removed the head padding and the harness covers to show the doll’s fit. Our doll is one inch too short to use the TrioGrow (which has an 18 inch height minimum), but since we don’t have access to a real newborn due to the pandemic and our doll will unfortunately never grow to meet that minimum, we’re using it give an idea of how the TrioGrow SnugLock will fit a real newborn who does meet the height minimum.
While these dolls mimic real-life infants, they don’t squirm or protest or give us any grief when we’re using them in our seats, so the fit on a real-life infant may be a bit different. Because we are writing this review during a pandemic, we don’t have any newborn babies available to test out this seat. When and if we do, we will be sure to get their thoughts!
8 Months Old
This model is 8 months old, she weighs 22 pounds and is 29 inches tall. She was quite comfortable with it installed upright, and enjoyed the more L shape of the seat. She has plenty of room to grow and use this seat rear facing for many more years.
Three Years Old
This model is nearing her 3rd birthday. She weighs 25 pounds and is 34.5 inches tall. She has plenty of leg room (though we know that is not a safety concern), and thought the seat was very comfortable. Her mom was happy with the seats low stance, it made loading and unloading a bigger rear facing child easy. The low sides also appealed to this model as she could reach her nearby toys easily.
Four Years Old
This model is just shy of her fifth birthday and is 42 inches tall and weighs 38 pounds. She doesn’t usually ride rear facing, but since she fits the TrioGrow SnugLock’s rear facing limits, she has agreed to humour us for this review.
With the headrest in the 2nd from the top position and the seat installed on recline 3 (so she can sit upright), she finds the TrioGrow SnugLock a comfortable option and agreed that she would be willing to “ride backwards” in it (which is high praise from this one!). We really like that the seat can realistically accommodate children to the full rear facing limits of 40 pounds or 43 inches, and it’s a toss up which of those limits this model will hit first.
Installation: Forward Facing
The first step with a forward facing installation is to ensure that the anti-rebound bar has been removed (again, push the buttons on the side of the TrioGrow SnugLock), and that the top tether has been removed from the storage location.
The TrioGrow SnugLock may be installed forward facing on reclines 4, 5, or 6. Choose whichever recline provides you with the best installation for your vehicle and child (a gap at the back of the seat is allowed as long as the base of the TrioGrow SnugLock is flat on the vehicle seat and the seat moves less than 1” at the belt path once installed).
Lower Anchors (LUAS)
Moving the Lower Anchors to the Forward Facing Belt Path
The lower anchors are attached to the TrioGrow SnugLock by a metal bar down the inner right side of the seat. To move the lower anchors between the forward facing and rear facing belt paths:
Extend the headrest all the way to the top, and undo the snaps attaching the seat pad to the seat. Pull the bottom seat pad back to expose the plastic shell and lift the headrest pad out of the way. Pull the LUAS connectors out of the belt path and slide the webbing along the bar to the correct belt path (front of the seat for rear facing and back of the seat for forward facing). Route the lower anchor connectors through the correct belt path, ensuring no twists, and replace the seat pad.
Note: When rear facing, the LUAS webbing must pass between the two crotch buckle slots (in front of the inner slot and behind the outer slot).
Installing with Lower Anchors (LUAS)
Do not use this method for a child weighing 45 pounds or more.
To install the TrioGrow SnugLock forward facing with lower anchors (LUAS):
Position the seat on recline 4, 5, or 6, and ensure the LUAS strap is routed through the forward facing (orange) belt path. Extend the LUAS strap by pressing the grey button on the adjuster and pulling on the strap. Loosen the harness and raise the headrest to the highest position and undo the snaps to unsnap the seat pad. Pull the bottom seat pad out to exposed the plastic shell and lift the headrest pad out of the way. Ensure the SnugLock lockoff is rotated to the correct belt path, and route the LUAS strap under the SnugLock arm. Attach the lower anchor connectors to the vehicle’s lower anchors, and tighten the LUAS strap by pulling on the tail (press down firmly on the TrioGrow SnugLock). Close the SnugLock lockoff until you hear a click.
Check that there is less than 1 inch of movement at the belt path, and attach the top tether to the vehicle’s tether anchor and remove the slack.
Vehicle Seat Belt
To install the TrioGrow SnugLock forward facing with vehicle seat belt:
Position the seat on recline 4, 5, or 6, and ensure the LUAS is routed through the rear facing (blue) belt path and stored. Loosen the harness and raise the headrest to the highest position and undo the snaps to unsnap the seat pad. Pull the bottom seat pad out to exposed the plastic shell and lift the headrest pad out of the way. Ensure the SnugLock lockoff is rotated to the correct belt path. Route the vehicle lap/shoulder belt through the forward facing (orange) belt path and under the SnugLock arm and buckle the seat belt. Remove the slack from the seat belt by pulling on the shoulder belt and close the SnugLock lockoff until you hear a click.
Check that there is less than 1 inch of movement at the belt path, and attach the top tether to the vehicle’s tether anchor and remove the slack from the top tether anchor’s webbing.
Note: The SnugLock lockoff cannot be used with inflatable seat belts. If your vehicle has Ford inflatable seat belts, you will follow the airplane installation instructions which bypass the SnugLock lockoff).
The top tether is an important safety feature and in Canada it is so important that it is legally required to be used with all forward facing harnessed seats. Always use it with a forward facing installation!
The TrioGrow SnugLock manual clearly states that the top tether is required for all forward facing installations. We’ve mentioned it in the installation instructions but it is such an important safety feature that we are mentioning it again.
Fit to Child
4 Years Old
Our 4 year old model remains 38 pounds and 42 inches tall. She is using the TrioGrow SnugLock in the highest harness position and has about 1.5 inches of torso growth before she will outgrow the seat forward facing because the harness is no longer at or above her shoulders.
This model carries her height in her torso (she is just moving to size 6 shirts) and with a child’s average torso growth being around 1-1.5 inches per year, it’s reasonable to think that the TrioGrow SnugLock would harness her until around her 6th birthday. For most children, the 17.5 inch top harness position will be enough to harness them until they are ready for a booster seat, but for tall children or children who have especially long torsos, this may not be the ideal seat for them.
High Back Booster Mode
Converting to Booster Mode
To convert the TrioGrow SnugLock to booster mode:
Position the seat on recline 6. If not installing with LUAS, ensure the LUAS is routed through the rear facing (blue) belt path and stored. Loosen the harness and raise the headrest to the highest position, and undo the snaps to unsnap the seat pad. Pull the bottom seat pad out to expose the plastic shell, and lift the headrest pad out of the way. Remove the crotch buckle by rotating the bottom metal retainer clip to the side and pushing it up through the plastic shell.
Open the harness storage door in the inner back shell of the seat and place the harness, chest clip, buckle tongues and crotch buckle inside storage compartment.
Close the door, replace the seat pad and adjust the headrest to the correct position for the child using the seat (red shoulder belt guide just above their shoulder).
7 Years Old
This model is 7 year old, 52 inches tall and weighs 56 pounds (and yes, she is dressed the same as her younger sister above. Sometimes they get along!). She is right at the torso height limit of the TrioGrow SnugLock as the shoulder belt guide is JUST above her shoulder. The lap belt position is low on her thighs, touching her hips, and the shoulder belt is centered on her shoulder – which is exactly what we are looking for in a booster fit.
While the TrioGrow SnugLock’s booster mode isn’t especially long-lasting, it does provide our model with an excellent seat belt fit.
Important Information: Where to Find
Manual Storage and National Safety Mark: The TrioGrow SnugLock manual tucks neatly into the back of the seat’s base for easy storage and access when needed. The National Safety Mark is located on the lower left side of the back of the seat (the NSM is the sticker required to use the TrioGrow SnugLock on a plane)
Date of Manufacture label: is located on the back of the seat’s shell on the left hand side.
Canada’s selection of multi-mode seats that perform well in all 3 modes is very slim. If a more compact option is needed, the options are even slimmer (the only available option up until this point was the Graco 4ever).
The Graco TrioGrow SnugLock not only provides 3 modes that work well, it also includes a recline range that allows for a fairly compact installation when needed, and Graco’s awesome SnugLock technology to help ensure an easy and proper installation every time. While this seat may not be the best option for very tall or long torso’ed littles, most children will be able to use this seat from birth until ready for a backless booster – which is exactly what we are looking for in a multi-mode seat.
We are more than happy to welcome the Graco TrioGrow SnugLock as a solid multi-mode contender (see what we did there?) in the Canadian market.
Want to win a Graco TrioGrow SnugRide? Our friends at Graco Canada are giving one away to a lucky reader. Good luck!