Graco 4Ever Car Seat Review (Classic & DLX): How Does It Compare?

The Graco 4Ever all-in-one is the most popular convertible car seat at the moment, and for good reason.

It is the only 4-stage car seat which you can use from the day your baby is born until age 9!  In addition the car seat is safe and comfortable, and very easy to install.

Click here to see today’s best price from Amazon on the Graco 4Ever

Let’s look at the specs, pros, and cons of this 4-in-1 seat, how to use it, and how to decide if this versatile convertible car seat is right for you.

What is the Graco 4Ever?

The 4Ever 4-in-1 convertible car seat is a 4-stage seat which functions as a rear-facing infant car seat, a forward-facing car seat for toddlers, a high-backed (or belt-positioning) booster, and a backless booster.

How much does it weigh, and how wide is it?

It is 21.5″ wide and weighs 22.75 lbs.

What about the DLX?

The Graco 4Ever DLX is very similar to the classic model. The main difference is that the DLX has an extra layer of safety. With the Graco® ProtectPlus Engineered™, it helps to protect your little one in frontal, side, rear and rollover crashes. You can compare the two models here (read Amazon’s list of the regular 4Ever features. Then click on the DLX tab to compare.)

Graco 4Ever
Graco 4Ever

Graco 4Ever DLX
Graco 4Ever DLX

How does it compare to other car seats?

Let’s compare this convertible car seat to others in the market:

Graco 4Ever vs Chicco NextFit

The Chicco NextFit is also one of the most popular car seats on the market, and for good reason: It has nine recline positions, an easy seatbelt-tightening system, and easy fabric removal. Plus, this convertible car seat was rated one of the best in crash protection.

However, the NextFit can only be used as a car seat, not as a booster, and its lower weight limit is 5 lbs, not 4 lbs. Also, the NextFit can only be used for 8 years of use, while the Graco is good for ten.

Meanwhile, both car seats allow for easy rear and forward-facing harness adjustment, and have a recline indicator and an easy LATCH system – all important safety features. They also both have cup holders and machine-washable fabric . Those may not be safety features, but they definitely add points for convenience. Also, both car seats have a place to store their LATCH tethers when not in use.

Compare the 4Ever all in one car seat and Chicco NextFit on Amazon

 

Graco 4Ever vs Graco SlimFit

Graco’s SlimFit is a 3-in-one convertible car seat, but with a slight advantage over some of the company’s other combination seats: it’s slimmer. While the 4Ever is 21.5″ wide, the SlimFit is 19.88″, making it much more likely to fit into smaller cars or a back row crammed with three safety seats.

Though the SlimFit does rear-face, forward-face, and turn into a high-back booster, its height and weight limits are inferior, with the SlimFit’s minimum weight at 5 lbs and its maximum at 100 lbs. Both car seats can accommodate children who are up to 57″ tall. Both have cup holders.

Compare the 4Ever and Slimfit on Amazon

Graco 4Ever vs Britax Advocate ClickTight and Britax Marathon ClickTight

Both of Britax’s ClickTights have an advantage over the 4Ever 4-in-1 convertible car seat: the ClickTight easy installation system, which pretty much beats every other system on the market.

The Graco does have an easy LATCH installation system, but it doesn’t have a parallel system for parents who want (or need) to use their car’s seatbelt.

That said, Britax’s car seats are just that – car seats. They aren’t boosters, and weren’t meant to be boosters. Both of Britax’s seats have a maximum height limit of 49″, compared to the 4Ever’s 57″. It’s pretty much the difference between buying a booster when your child is 6-8 years old, and buying no booster at all when your child outgrows the car seat around age 10.

Another point – the Marathon and Advocate ClickTight seats have a smaller crotch strap, which may make buckling larger children difficult. Also, if you need cupholders you’ll have to buy them separately.

All three seats are good for ten years.

Compare the Advocate, Marathon, and Graco 4Ever all-in-one car seat on Amazon

 

Graco 4Ever vs Diono Radian RXT

Like the 4Ever, the Diono Radian RXT is a convertible car seat intended for use from birth to booster. Also both are high-quality car seats intended for children up to 120 lbs and 57″. They both have cup holders.

The differences between them are minimal yet significant: The Graco offers easy LATCH installation, while the Radian RXT has a higher forward-facing weight limit (80 lbs instead of 65 lbs). Though the Radian RXT doesn’t turn into a backless booster, both offer the same maximum height and weight limits – 57 inches and 120 lbs.

The Diono convertible car seat has a higher rear-facing weight limit (45 lbs instead of 40 lbs), though, and that’s important, because it keeps kids in the safest position for longer. That said, the Graco can fit babies from 4 lbs, while the Radian RXT can only fit babies who weigh 5 lbs or more. And it’s lowest harness position is at 6″, while the Radian RXT’s is 9″ – a big difference when you’re talking about little babies.

Another major difference is the seat’s width – 17″ for the Diono Radian RXT, but 21.5″ for the Graco. This doesn’t matter to every parent, but it will make a significant difference for those who need to squish 3 safety seats into the back row.

Also, the Radian RXT folds flat and can be carried as a backpack.

Compare the Radian RXT and the 4Ever all-in-one car seat on Amazon

 

Graco 4Ever vs Evenflo Symphony vs Evenflo Symphony DLX

The Symphony and Symphony DLX are “all-in-one” car seats from Evenflo. Both of them can be used as rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and high-back (belt-positioning) booster seats. Of the three, only the 4Ever car seat can be used as a backless booster.

When it comes to height and weight limits, Graco takes the cake again with their 4 lbs minimum weight – the Symphony seats have a 5 lbs minimum weight. However, the rear-facing and forward-facing maximum weights are the same for all three seats, at 40 lbs and 65 lbs respectively. The maximum height for all three seats is 57″.

The Symphony’s maximum weight in booster mode is 110 lbs – 10 lbs less than the 4Ever’s maximum weight.

While this isn’t a bad convertible car seat, there’s no sign of an easy installation system or no-thread harness.

Compare the Evenflo Symphony and the 4Ever all-in-one car seat on Amazon

 

Graco 4Ever vs Evenflo SafeMax

Like Evenflo’s Symphony seats, the SafeMax is an “all-in-one” car seat which can be used rear-facing, forward-facing, or as a belt-positioning booster. And like the 4Ever, this convertible car seat has a maximum weight limit of 120 lbs when used in belt-positioning booster mode.

However, like the Symphony seats, the Evenflo SafeMax shows no sign of any easy installation or harness adjustment systems.

Graco 4Ever vs Graco Extend2Fit

Like the 4Ever, Graco’s Extend2Fit can be used for infants who weigh 4 lbs or more. Better, though, the Extend2Fit lets children rear-face until they reach 50 lbs. However, the Extend2Fit’s maximum weight limit is 100 lbs – far less than the 4Ever’s 120 lbs. Both seats have easy LATCH installation systems. They also both have cup holders.

The Extend2Fit has several niceties that I like, such as an extendable panel which provides extra leg room, but it lacks one important feature: The car seat can’t be used as a belt-positioning booster. It’s just a convertible rear- to forward-facing car seat.

That said, there is a Graco 4Ever Extend2Fit convertible car seat, which gives you the benefits of both worlds: extra leg room, extended rear-facing (up to 50 lbs), and the options of both high-back and backless boosters. Even better? It a width of just 19 inches!

Compare the 4Ever all-in-one car seat and Extend2Fit on Amazon

 

Graco 4Ever vs Graco Nautilus

The Graco Nautilus is an excellent 3-in-1, but it’s not rear-facing car seat. The convertible car seat – which is similar in many ways to the 4Ever – can be used as a forward-facing car seat, high-back self-positioning booster, and backless booster.

Though Nautilus can be used for children who weigh between 20-100 lbs, it’s important to remember that the only reason you would place a 20 lbs child in a forward-facing seat is if s/he is too tall for all the rear-facing seats. Given that the Graco 4Ever has a height limit of 57″ and a 10-position headrest which can be extended, there’s no real reason to choose the Nautilus over it.

Note: When rear-facing, the top of a child’s head should always be at least one inch (2.5 cm) below the top of the seat. In this case, Graco says explicitly that the top of the child’s head should be at least 1″ below the adjustment handle.

Graco 4Ever vs Maxi-Cosi Pria

Really, there’s no comparison between the 4-in-1 4Ever and Maxi-Cosi’s Pria seats. Why? Simply put, Maxi-Cosi’s Pria 70 and Pria 85 seats never even pretended to be all-in-one, and are not appropriate for newborns.

To use the Prias (both the 70 and 85) from birth, you’ll need a special infant insert (with the Pria 85, you may need to fork out extra money), At the other end of the spectrum, children outgrow the Pria seats when they hit 52″, instead of Graco’s 57″.

Also, the 4Ever’s lowest harness position is at 6″, while the Pria 85’s is at 9″. The Pria 70’s goes as low as 5″ – but only if you use their insert.

All three seats offer easy rear and forward-facing harness height adjustment and are good for ten years of use. However, the Prias do not offer any kind of easy-installation system.

Both Prias have higher forward-facing weight limits (all three have a rear-facing weight limit of 40 lbs), but the Prias are convertible car seats in the sense that they can be used as a rear-facing car seat and a forward-facing car seat. Neither Pria is meant to be used as a booster seat.

Compare the Maxi Cosi Pria 85 and the 4Ever all-in-one car seat on Amazon

 

More Convertible Car Seat Comparisons

Graco Milestone

Similar to the 4Ever, the Graco Milestone can be used for ten years and has a maximum height of 57″. However, the Milestone can only be used for babies weighing at least five pounds, and its maximum weight limit in booster mode is 100 lbs.

The reason? The Milestone converts from a rear-facing infant car seat to forward-facing car seat, and then to high-back booster. It does *not* convert to a backless booster: even the 4Ever’s maximum weight limit for use in high-back booster mode is 100 lbs. (As a backless booster it can be used for children up to 120 lbs.)

Care for the two seats is similar, as is the ease of headrest and harness adjustment and LATCH installation.

Diono Radian R120

The Diono Radian R120’s specifications are similar to the RXT’s: 5 lbs minimum (the 4Ever can fit babies from 4 lbs), rear-facing up to 45 lbs (as compared to the Graco’s 40 lbs), and forward-facing up to 80 lbs (compared to 65 lbs).

While we’re not absolutely sure that the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 is a better choice than the Radian RXT, it’s pretty clear that it beats the Diono Radian R120 hands down.

First of all, the Radian R120 is only good as a harness car seat for 8 years (it can be used as a booster for 10), while the Graco is good for ten years, no questions asked.

Also, the Radian R120’s lowest harness slot is at 10.5″ – four inches higher than the Graco and an inch and a half higher than the Radian RXT. What this means is that even though this convertible car seat *should* fit babies who are at least five pounds, you may well find that your baby is too small to fit the harness. The rear-facing harness should be at or below the child’s shoulders, and these harness slots may not allow that until your baby is older.

That said, the Diono Radian R120 is still taller and slimmer, and like the Radian RXT, the Radian 120 folds and can be carried as a backpack.

Graco Contender 65

Like the Extend2Fit, Graco’s Contender 65 is a convertible car seat, not an all-in-one seat. Used rear-facing, it accommodates babies between 5-40 lbs (the 4Ever can be used from 4 lbs), and forward-facing children who weigh between 20-65 lbs.

One major difference is that the Contender 65 can be used until a child reaches a height of 49″, while the Graco 4Ever can be used until a child hits 57″.

Also, this car seat needs to be tossed after 7 years of use (instead of 10).

RECARO Car Seats

RECARO offers various car seats, some better quality than others. For instance, RECARO’s Performance RIDE’s straps may loosen when the car seat is used in a forward-facing position, impairing the seat’s ability to fully protect your child.

On the other hand, RECARO’s ProRIDe has a harness indicator to let you know when the straps may be in danger of twisting.

Neither convertible car seat has an easy LATCH installation system like the Graco, and neither is intended for use as a booster: both are convertible car seats which can be installed rear-facing or forward-facing and have a maximum weight limit of 65 lbs.

Graco Size4Me

Graco’s Size4Me is a convertible car seat which allows babies weighing between 4-40 lbs to rear-face, while those weighing between 20-65 lbs can forward-face. Unlike the 4Ever, this car seat cannot be used as a booster.

Like the other Graco models mentioned in this review, the Size4Me offers the company’s easy latch installation.

It’s worth noting that for some reason the Size4Me seats don’t come up first in Google searches, and clicking on a link which *should* lead to the seat’s page on their site gives an error message. This is doubly weird because there are two Size4Me seats. However, the car seat IS still available on Amazon.

Graco 4Ever with Safety Surround

Graco 4Ever With Safety Surround
Graco 4Ever With Safety Surround

Graco’s Safety Surround technology protects a child’s head and meets both Graco’s side impact testing and Europe’s Draft. While some of Graco’s products still use the Safety Surround technology, they have removed the 4Ever with Safety Surround page from their site.

On Amazon, the product can be purchased from a single seller, and a quick look at retail sites hints that this product may soon be obsolete. Should you buy it while it’s still out there? Maybe, but I wouldn’t.

The reason? Companies usually remove products either because they are faulty, or because they’ve been replaced with something better. I say, go for the better: The previous version of the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 convertible car seat was not that great. Today’s version is much better – and probably incorporates the Safety Surround technology, together with additional safety features.

Is it easy to clean?

The car seat cushion is machine washable, and the buckle can be cleaned with a damp cloth. Other metal and plastic parts  can be washed with mild soap and cool water. Be sure not to immerse the harness straps, though – they’re spot-clean only.

What colors and patterns can I get?

The car seat comes in several modern patterns, perfect for either gender. Some of the more popular colors are Kylie (light gray and white car seat with pink accents), Nova (blue-gray with medium gray accents), and Cameron (light gray with medium and dark gray accents). Other colors include the black- and white-striped Studio, light gray and black Matrix, bright pink and black Azalea, red and light gray Cougar, and teal and light gray Basin.

Where can I buy it?

It can be purchased at a local Toys R Us or Target store, as well as on Amazon.

Have there been any recalls?

Though Graco has recalled car seats in the past over difficult-to-open car seat buckles, the 4Ever was not part of any recall. There have been no warnings issued about this car seat, and there was never a need to offer replacement parts.

When does it expire?

The Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 convertible car seat expires after ten years – by which time your little one will probably be able to use your vehicle’s seatbelt.

How easy is it to transport?

Remember that this is a convertible car seat, not an infant car seat. This means that it’s not (yet, at least) compatible with any strollers that we know of.

Since the car seat is not meant to be taken in and out of the car, it does not have a base. This car seat does have a handle, but it’s not a carrying handle – it’s an easy-adjust handle, used to raise or lower the 10-position headrest and harness straps.

How do you install it?

The convertible car seat can be installed in four different ways: rear-facing, forward-facing, as a high-back belt-positioning booster, and as a backless booster.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find too many videos showing seatbelt installation. Graco, however, provides a link to the seat’s online manual, where you can view the company’s written instructions on how to install and adjust the seat.

You can view the video I did find here – but bear in mind that I don’t know the credentials of the mom who made it.

This car seat can be used as a rear-facing infant car seat for babies between 4 and 40 lbs (1.8-18.1 kg), and whose heads are at least one inch below the seat’s handle. Forward-facing, it can be used for babies and children who weigh between 22 and 65 lbs (10-29.5 kg) and who are between 29-49 inches (73.6-124.6 cm) in height.

The car seat also comes with an infant insert which lowers the lowest rear-facing harness setting to 6″ (though one site said 7″) for tiny infants.

It’s important to note that even though this car seat can technically fit a 4 pound (1.8 kg) preemie, the harness straps may not fit every preeemie properly.

Also, keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible – even if they are over 22 lbs (10 kg). The reason: Children who rear-face are five times safer in a side-impact crash than their forward-facing counterparts.

When used as a high-back belt-positioning booster, it can fit children who weigh between 30-100 lbs (13.6-45.5 kg) and are between 38-57 inches (96.52-144.78 cm) in height. Backless, the booster has a higher weight limit – 120 lbs (54.54 kg). The height limits, though, are pretty similar: 40-57″ (101.6-144.78cm).

In other words, when your child hits 57 inches, they’ve grown out of this booster. Chances are, by the time they get there, they’ll be at the right weight to use a regular seatbelt.

Okay, so how do you install the car seat using the LATCH system?

To install the seat rear-facing using the LATCH system, watch this video:

Here’s how to install the car seat forward-facing or as a high-backed belt-positioning booster:

Want to use it as a backless booster? Here’s how:

This is just a really cool video that shows – clearly, not squished in a car – how it actually works.

What safety features does it have?

The Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 convertible car seat boasts an “easy LATCH system.” It doesn’t take one second like the company claims it does, but it does make proper installation easier. Installing the car seat only requires lifting the 10-position headrest and unfastening the fabric. Also, the car seat has an easy system for storing the harness and LATCH tethers when not in use.

It also features an angle indicator and a color-coded installation system: The car seat should recline into the orange when used as a forward-facing car seat, into the blue when used as a rear-facing infant car seat, and into the green when used as a belt-positioning booster. There’s also has a slot which makes tightening the LATCH belts easier.

One of the nice things about this car seat is its no-rethread harness. It has a handle at the top, allowing you to extend the 10-position headrest – and automatically adjusting the harness along with it.

What I really liked about the high-back belt-positioning booster mode is that the car seat features a slot for threading the seatbelt’s harness. Lots of boosters don’t have this feature, but it’s important: Children can be seriously injured in a crash if the seatbelt is touching their necks instead of sitting in the middle of their shoulders, where it should be.

What else do you need to know?

It’s important to note that there are two versions of the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 convertible car seat: the previous version, and the current version. One of the differences between the two is that the previous version was only good for seven years, and the current version is good for ten.

There are several other differences as well, but the bottom line is: Not all the information you see online is up-to-date and referring to the model sold in 2020 (which is what we’re referring to here).

The bottom line

The Graco 4Ever all-in-one convertible car seat is a good, solid car seat and booster which can truly claim to be the only safety seat a child will ever need, and that’s why it ranks high up in our list of the top 5 convertible car seats!

And while it doesn’t boast the highest rear-facing weight limit, 40 lbs isn’t bad at all.

If your children are long and lanky, the above-average height limit will let you continue rear-facing past your child’s second birthday. And if you’re looking for a sturdy convertible car seat which will last your child through his safety seat years, this is the one for you.

Click here to see today’s best price from Amazon on the Graco 4Ever all-in-one convertible car seat

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