Updated on April 4, 2016
Graco Dimensions 65 Convertible Car Seat Review
I received this item at no cost to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
When it comes to car seats, safety is my top priority. What I want in a car seat is one that will allow for extended rear facing (that is, rear facing to age two and beyond), easy installation, and ease of use features that ensure the seat is used correctly every time. I’m not always the one buckling my kids into their car seats, so I need a seat to be straightforward enough that even the grandparents can get it right every time. Built in reminders for proper use when rear and forward facing? Yes please! Premium UAS connectors to make installation and uninstallation a breeze? Definitely. A level indicator so I know the seat is installed at the correct angle? Wouldn’t that be nice? The Graco Dimensions 65 convertible car seat does all of that, and more! I’ve had the opportunity to give the Graco Dimensions 65 a thorough testing with Petit Prince rear facing, and The Heir rear AND forward facing, and I have to say I like it! Spoiler alert: the boys like it too! Let me tell you more about this convertible car seat and share all the details about what makes it a great choice!
The Graco Dimensions 65 convertible car seat is a relatively new seat in Canada. As a convertible car seat, it can be installed in the rear facing position or in the forward facing position depending on your child’s age, weight, and height. The weight and height limits are as follows:
- 5 – 35 lbs (2.2 – 16 kg)
- 18 – 43″ (46 – 100- cm) or when the top of the child’s head is less than 1″ (2.5 cm) below the red handle (whichever comes first)
- 22 – 65 lbs (10 – 30 kg)
- 27 – 49″ (69 – 125cm) or when the top of the child’s ears are no longer below the top of the head rest (whichever comes first)
The Graco Dimensions 65 comes equipped with premium Universal Anchorage System (UAS) connectors. That means that instead of installing the seat using UAS with hook style connectors, the connectors look more like a little stapler and have a red button to release them. The Graco Dimensions 65 can be installed using the vehicle seat belt OR the UAS (never both at the same time). When forward facing, the seat must be tethered to one of the vehicle’s top tether anchor points. On the bottom of the car seat, there’s a recline foot that can be flipped one way for rear facing and the other way for forward facing.
Along the side of the Graco Dimensions 65, there is a brief summary of the installation instructions, and reminders for proper harness positioning. All information for rear facing is in blue, and all information for forward facing is in orange. The level indicator is also located on the side of the seat (on the English instructions side only). The level indicator has a light blue circle and a dark blue zone around the circle. When the seat is installed at the correct recline for a newborn (0+ months), the level indicator ball will be completely in the light blue circle. When the seat is installed at the recline appropriate for 3 months and up, the level indicator ball will be in the dark blue zone and may be partially over the light blue circle. If any part of the level indicator ball is hovering over the red, the seat is not at an acceptable level of recline and you must adjust the install.
There are two available positions for the crotch buckle. The correct position of the buckle for your child is the one that is closest to his/her body without being underneath them.
There are 8 positions for the harness height and the harness is no rethread. Instead of having to remove and rethread the harness to adjust the height as your child grows, the Graco Dimensions 65 harness height is adjusted with the red handle at the top of the seat’s head wings. When adjusting the harness height for your child, the harness straps must be at or just below the child’s shoulders for rear facing and at or above the child’s shoulders for forward facing.
The Graco Dimensions 65 includes a body and head pillow that can be used with newborns or smaller babies. These support pillows must be used if the child’s shoulders are below the lowest harness slot. It also comes with harness covers which can be removed if you choose not to use them. Included in the box is a cup holder that can be attached to either side of the car seat, or left off entirely.
How it works:
I used the Graco Dimensions 65 with both Petit Prince and The Heir. As The Heir was still within the rear facing limits of the seat, I was able to use it both rear facing and forward facing with him. After having the chance to use the Graco Dimensions 65 with an infant and a preschooler, I have a LOT to say about it! I’ll start with how it worked for Petit Prince and then I’ll move on to how it worked for The Heir.
I started using the Graco Dimensions 65 with Petit Prince when he was about 7.5 months old. According to his 6 month check up, he was 27.5″ and 17lbs 3oz. He’s now 9 months old, 28.5″ and 19lbs 2oz. He’s rear facing, so that’s how I first installed the seat. I fully expected that he would need to use the body and head support pillows (or even just the body support pillow), but it turns out he didn’t need either of those. As the crotch buckle must be positioned so that it is not underneath the child, I had to move it to the outer position. This was simple to do and straightforward. The user manual has excellent illustrations and instructions to complete this process. Petit Prince is not a skinny or lean baby by any means, plus with a cloth diapered bum his hip section is pretty thick. For harness height, the straps were just below his shoulders when the harness was set in the second lowest position. I found that the harness covers made it difficult for me to see if the harness was at or below Petit Prince’s shoulders, so I opted to remove them.
The trickiest thing I found with the Graco Dimensions 65 is tightening the harness enough. The harness adjustment strap is in front (by the child’s feet), which is where I like it to be for ease of adjustment. When I pulled up on this strap to tighten the harness, I couldn’t get it tight enough to pass the “pinch test”. To make it easier to tighten the harness I did two things. First, I pulled all the slack out of the harness across Petit Prince’s hips after securing the crotch buckle. This way the slack in the harness is above the crotch buckle. Then I would pull the harness straps tight from behind the car seat. Then I could pull the harness adjustment strap and get the harness as tight as it needed to be. Then I secured the chest clip. It was a bit tricky at first, but once I got the hang of it, it wasn’t too much extra effort. The harness should become easier to adjust from the harness adjustment strap alone with repeated use.
In terms of comfort, Petit Prince had no complaints about this seat. He looked happy and content while riding in the Graco Dimensions 65, and had no trouble falling asleep in it. When I would give him a toy to play with, the high sides of the seat helped contain the toy if he dropped it. I loved that he could drop his toy and grab it again himself without it falling out of the seat where it would be out of his reach (which usually results in him expressing his displeasure quite loudly).
How about The Heir? I started out with The Heir rear facing in the Graco Dimensions 65 as that is how he was riding in his other convertible car seat and I intend to keep him rear facing until he reaches the limits of whichever car seat he’s in. The Heir is 3 years and 8 months old, 39″ tall, and 30 lbs. He is still well within the seat’s rear facing limits of 43″ and 35lbs. The harness is just below The Heir’s shoulders in the fourth lowest position (that’s the 4th of 8 harness positions), so that leaves him with four more harness height positions to go. I imagine he will hit the standing height limit of 43″ before he’d outgrow the 8th harness height, but based on his percentiles he’ll hit 35lbs and 43″ at around age 5. For The Heir, the crotch buckle is positioned in the outer position. As The Heir is quite a bit bigger than his brother, I did not find that the harness covers affected my ability to see where the harness was positioned on his shoulders. For that reason, I put them back on when The Heir is in this seat.
I still found the harness a bit stiff to adjust with The Heir, though not as challenging as it was with Petit Prince. In discussing this with a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST), she suggested I fully tighten and loosen the harness 20 times with no one in the seat to help with the stiffness. So that’s what I did. I buckled the crotch buckle only, and proceeded to fully tighten and fully loosen the harness using the harness adjustment strap. I did this about 20 times in a row, and the next time I put The Heir into the seat, I could easily tighten the harness to pass the pinch test using only the harness adjustment strap (no more pulling the harness tight from behind the seat).
The nice thing about putting a preschooler in a car seat is that he can just tell you if he’s comfortable (the other nice thing about it is that I can bribe him with Mini Eggs to get him to pose for pictures)! What was The Heir’s verdict? He liked it. He was perfectly comfortable in the Graco Dimensions 65, and I even caught him sleeping in it a few times on longer car rides. Because I know many of you are wondering about The Heir’s legs when rear facing in this seat, I wanted to address that very topic. Is it safe for a child to have their legs scrunched up or up the back of the vehicle seat in a rear facing car seat in an accident? Absolutely. It’s all about physics, and in a collision everything in the vehicle continues to move in the direction the vehicle was moving at the time of impact. That means a child’s legs in a rear facing car seat will move in towards the child’s body, not out towards the vehicle seat back. Has The Heir complained about his legs being uncomfortable in the Graco Dimensions 65? Not at all. Trust me when I say that if he was uncomfortable, I’d never hear the end of it. In terms of overall leg room, though completely NOT a safety issue at all, the Graco Dimensions 65 is not the most leg room I’ve seen in a convertible car seat. This is only an issue if your child has really long legs and likes to plank when you try to get them in their car seat. Then again, if your child is a planker, getting them into any car seat in any position is going to be a challenge.
The high sides of the Graco Dimensions 65 made it a little more challenging for The Heir to climb in and out of the seat by himself. So those high sides are great for toy containment for little ones, but a bit of a challenge for older kids that are ready to climb up themselves. Once The Heir got used to it, he had no trouble getting in and out on his own.
How about forward facing? Although The Heir doesn’t ride forward facing when we’re driving yet, I did take the opportunity to install the Graco Dimensions 65 forward facing and put The Heir into it so I could see what the fit was like. Overall, I was quite happy with it. The Heir thought it was pretty cool to face the “wrong way”, and had no complaints about his comfort in the forward facing position. When forward facing, the no rethread harness is a great feature because there’s no need to uninstall the seat to adjust the harness as your child grows. Just use the red harness adjustment handle to slide the headrest/harness up and you’re done.
I loved how easy it was to adjust the harness height on the Graco Dimensions 65. The red harness adjustment handle is smooth as butter. It is so easy to adjust the harness/headrest up or down without any struggle. It’s awesome. Since both my kids are still rear facing, I could conceivably put either child in the Graco Dimensions 65 at any time. Being able to quickly and easily adjust the harness height as needed is a great feature. It would be ideal as a seat used by a grandparent that would be transporting different grandkids at different times! Just adjust the smooth red handle to accommodate each child as needed.
Let’s talk installation! First of all, you want to read the car seat user manual cover to cover before you get started on installation. You’ll also want to read the pertinent sections of your vehicle’s owner’s manual before installing the seat as well. This applies to all car seats, so make yourself a cup of tea, and hunker down and get reading! The great thing about the Graco Dimensions 65 manual is that it is colour coded: blue for rear facing installation, and orange for forward facing installation. This also corresponds to the information labels on the sides of the seat itself. This makes it really easy to see what’s relevant for rear facing installations and what’s relevant for forward facing installations.
I installed the Graco Dimension 65 rear facing using the UAS, rear facing using the seat belt, forward facing using the UAS and top tether, and forward facing using the seat belt and top tether. Yes, I did all these installations on my own. The verdict? Very straightforward, clear instructions, and a tight installation is possible with just one person. For a rear facing installation, you flip the recline foot under the seat into position for rear facing use, and proceed with either the UAS or seat belt installation. You’ll want to check that the level indicator is in the right place for the age of your child, and then press on the seat with your hand while tightening the UAS strap or seat belt (remember to “lock” the seat belt). I found that I couldn’t get the seat tight enough at the belt path by pushing with my hand and pulling the UAS or seat belt (you want less than 1″ of movement side to side at the belt path), so on the advice of a CPST I stood behind the car seat and pressed into it with my hips while tightening the UAS strap or seat belt. Once the seat is installed and has less than 1″ of movement side to side at the belt path, double check that the level indicator is appropriate for the age of your child. I was able to get the Graco Dimensions 65 installed at both the newborn (0+ months) recline and the 3+ months recline without the use of a rolled up towel or pool noodle at the seat bight.
For the forward facing installation, it was much the same. I flipped the recline foot into the forward facing position, and moved the UAS strap to the forward facing position (the instructions for this are in the manual and it’s very straightforward). I found standing in front of the seat and pushing into it with my legs/thighs while tightening the UAS straps or seat belt gave me a tight install. Once the UAS or seat belt was secured and the seat had less than 1″ of movement side to side at the belt path, I attached the top tether to the tether anchor in my vehicle (in my vehicle it’s in the ceiling of the trunk, but in most other vehicles it’s on the back of the vehicle seat, check your vehicle manual to ensure you’re using the correct tether anchor).
Overall, I find UAS installation to be easier, but the seat belt installation wasn’t particularly challenging with the Graco Dimensions 65. I found the belt paths for forward and rear facing to be spacious enough that it wasn’t difficult to properly route the seat belt through. If you’re unsure of your installation or you would like some assistance with installing your car seat, you can contact a CPST in your area (in Canada you can find a CPST here: CPSAC Find a Tech, in the USA you can find a CPST here: Safe Kids Find a Tech)
- Rear faces to 43″ and 35lbs allowing for extended rear facing
- Forward faces from 27″, 22lbs, and walking unassisted, and up to to 49″ and 65lbs
- No rethread harness
- Proper harness positioning labels on the seat
- Chest clip design shows where it should be positioned on the child
- Clear level indicator
- Range of recline when rear facing means it can take up less room front to back than other convertible seats leaving more leg room up front
- Colour coded installation instructions on the seat & in the manual
- Premium UAS connectors
- Recline foot flips easily for rear or forward facing installation
- Head & Body pillows for newborns and small infants
- Harness covers included
- Comes with a cup holder that is removable
- Harness adjustment is stiff out of the box
- High sides make it more difficult for toddlers to climb in and out of the seat independently
- Leg room may be limited for older/taller children when rear facing (though this is NOT a safety concern at all)
- 35 lb weight limit for rear facing is on the low end
Overall, the Graco Dimensions 65 is an excellent convertible car seat. It will allow most children to remain rear facing at least to age two, and will allow many children to continue rear facing beyond age two. A great option if extended rear facing is your goal! This seat is fairly compact front to back when rear facing thanks to the more upright recline option for babies 3 months and up. For forward facing, the seat is comfortable, easy to install, and with top harness slots at around 18.5″, should keep most children in a 5 point harness until they are truly booster ready (around age 6). The Graco Dimensions 65 is packed with great ease of use features like premium UAS connectors, a no rethread harness, an easy to read level indicator, and colour coded instruction labels right on the seat. Those features make it easier to install correctly and use correctly each and every time.
The Graco Dimensions 65 is sold at Babies R Us in Canada, and you can find one RIGHT HERE. You’ll also find the Graco Dimensions 65 at Amazon.ca, Sears, and independent baby gear retailers. If you’d like more information about the Graco Dimensions 65 convertible car seat or other Graco products, you can check out Graco Canada’s website HERE. You can follow Graco Canada on social media by checking out their Facebook page HERE.