Posted on October 24, 2016
Graco 4Ever 4 in 1 Car Seat Review
I received this item at no cost in order to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
In the world of car seats, there are a ton of options out there. You can start with a rear facing only (infant bucket) seat, then you need to purchase a convertible car seat that rear faces and forward faces, next you’ll need a combination seat that forward faces with a 5 point harness and then turns into a high back booster. After that you might even need a backless booster before your child is ready to just use the seat belt. Over the first ten years of your child’s life, you could end up purchasing three or four different types of car seats. That’s not only a lot of seats, but it’s also a big investment. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could start with one car seat and it would actually fit your child properly from birth through boostering? Although there are some seats on the market that claim to be 3 in 1 car seats (rear facing/forward facing/high back booster), they rarely ever fit well or even correctly in every mode. Well, until now. Canada has been waiting forever for the Graco 4Ever seat to arrive within our borders, and it’s FINALLY here! What makes the 4Ever different than other car seats currently on the market? It’s a 4 in 1 seat that actually fits well AND correctly at every stage. That’s right. The Graco 4Ever will fit your child from birth through both high back and backless boostering, and it’s got a 10 year expiry date to boot. Have I got your attention yet? I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about the Graco 4Ever so you can decide for yourself if it’s the right seat for your child!
The Graco 4Ever is a brand new car seat to Canada that just became available this month. As a 4 in 1 car seat, the 4Ever can be used rear facing, forward facing, as a high back booster, and as a backless booster. The 4Ever has a reinforced steel frame and a 10 year expiry date. When your child will move from one stage to the next will depend on a variety of factors including the child’s weight, height, age, and maturity level. The weight, height, and age limits for the 4Ever are as follows:
- 4 – 40 lbs (1.8 – 18 kg)
- 18 – 43″ (46 – 110 cm) or when the top of the child’s head is less than 1″ (2.5 cm) below the headrest adjustment handle (whichever comes first)
- 22 – 65 lbs (10 – 30 kg)
- 27 – 49″ (69 – 125 cm) and top of the child’s ears must be below the top of the headrest
- at least one year old and walking unassisted, but rear facing to the limits of the seat or at least age two
High Back Booster:
- 40 – 100 lbs (18 – 45 kg)
- 40 – 57″ (102 – 145 cm)
- at least 4 years old
- child must not slouch or slide down in the booster seat, if the child will not keep the vehicle belt properly positioned, they should remain forward facing with the five point harness
- 40 – 120 lbs (18 -54 kg)
- 43 – 57″ (110 – 145 cm)
- at least 4 years old
- child must not slouch or slide down in the booster seat, if the child will not keep the vehicle belt properly positioned, they should remain forward facing with the five point harness
The Graco 4Ever 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 4Ever can be installed using the vehicle seat belt OR the UAS (never both at the same time) in rear facing and forward facing modes. When forward facing, the seat must be tethered to one of the vehicle’s top tether anchor points. When installed as a high back booster, it can be secured to the vehicle with the UAS and tether, though this is optional. The 4Ever can be installed at six different recline angles. Recline angles 1 through 3 are for rear facing only. Recline angles 4 and 5 are for forward facing only. Recline angle 6 is for forward facing or booster mode. The recline angle is adjusted with a recline adjustment handle located at the front of the seat. Note that you will adjust the angle before installing the 4Ever in your vehicle.
Along the side of the Graco 4Ever, there is a brief summary of the installation instructions, and reminders for proper harness and seat belt positioning. All information for rear facing is in blue, and all information for forward facing is in orange, and all information for boostering is in green. There is a level indicator for rear facing installation located on the side of the seat (on the English instructions side only). The level indicator has a blue line and a bubble. When the seat is installed at the correct recline for rear facing, the level indicator bubble will be completely above the blue line. If any part of the level indicator bubble is hovering off the line, 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 10 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 4Ever harness height is adjusted with the grey 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 just above the child’s shoulders for forward facing. When adjusting the headrest height for the high back booster, the seat belt guides should be at or just above the child’s shoulders.
The Graco 4Ever includes a body and head support 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. The head support pillow must be used with the body support pillow, but the body support pillow can be used alone. The support pillows are only to be used when the seat is installed rear facing. The 4Ever also comes with harness covers which can be removed if you choose not to use them. There are two cup holders built into the Graco 4Ever. When you receive the 4Ever, the cup holders are not attached, but they must be attached prior to installing the seat. Included in the box is a belt positioning clip for use when the seat is installed as a backless booster.
When the seat is installed rear facing or forward facing, the harness buckles can be stored behind the armrests of the seat. This way, when you are putting your child into the seat, the buckles can be kept out of the way. This prevents the child from sitting on them, and having to shift and lift your child to be able to buckle them in.
For UAS installation when rear facing or when forward facing, the end of the UAS belt can be threaded inwards to make tightening it easier. For rear facing, there is an opening under the armrest where you can slide the UAS strap through without needing to remove the seat cover. This way you can easily tighten the UAS by pulling it up and inwards. For forward facing, there is an opening along the side of the 4Ever where you can slide the UAS strap through without needing to remove the seat cover. Again, you can easily tighten the UAS once the end of the strap is inside the body of the seat.
To convert the Graco 4Ever to a high back booster, you must first store the harness and buckles. Behind the seat cover is a slot for storing the crotch buckle. When you remove the seat cover from the back of the 4Ever, the grey storage compartment for the remaining harness buckles becomes visible. All the harness covers, chest clip, and buckles fit inside this compartment and stay in place when the door to the compartment is closed. The 4Ever has red seat belt guides for the shoulder belt at the base of the headrest and red covered belt guides for the lap belt behind the armrests of the seat.
How It Works:
Over the last few weeks I have installed the Graco 4Ever rear facing, uninstalled it, installed it forward facing, converted it to a high back booster, converted it to a backless booster, and reinstalled it rear facing more times than I could count! If there’s one thing I know about this seat, it’s how to install it in my vehicle. We are driving a 2011 Subaru Forester. How did installation go? Quite well, actually! I’m going to go through the installation and the fit for each stage of the Graco 4Ever just to make it easier to follow how the seat works in each of its four configurations.
I’ll start with the UAS installation. For rear facing, UAS installation was quick and easy. The level indicator on the side of the seat made it easy to see that it was absolutely installed at the correct angle when rear facing. I find the easiest way to install any car seat is to move the front seat of the vehicle forward as much as possible, then climb right into the vehicle and stand behind the car seat. This allows you to press into the car seat with your hips while rocking side to side to ensure a tight installation. I love that the end of the UAS strap can be threaded under the armrest and into the middle of the seat. This allowed me to pull up and inward to tighten the UAS. If I did not thread the UAS strap inward in that way, then I was pulling up and outward which made it incredibly difficult to get it adequately tightened. I love that Graco thought of this and made the UAS strap accessible from the middle of the seat without needing to remove the seat cover.
Seat belt installation was a little more tricky, as the opening for your hand to pass the seat belt through was small. My hands are pretty small, but they still got scratched up while threading the seat belt in place. It was easier if I removed the seat cover to thread the seat belt across, then buckled the seat belt, put the seat cover back in place, and then pressed the 4Ever into position, fully retracted the seat belt (so it would lock), and then removed the slack from the seat belt. I would have loved to be able to do all that without having to replace the seat cover, but the front of the seat cover has to go over the cupholders, so it’s impossible to replace it after the seat is fully installed rear facing. Regardless of which installation method I chose (UAS or seat belt), I was able to get a sufficiently tight install at all the recline levels (where the seat doesn’t move more than 1″ at the belt path). Remember to move the UAS strap up to the forward facing belt path and clip them on their storage point up top before installing with the seat belt.
I installed the seat at all three rear facing recline angles. Because the level indicator is a line, there is actually a decent range of recline permitted at each of the recline angles. At recline angle 1, the seat is as reclined as it can be. This is the installation that will take up the most space front to back in the vehicle. Despite that, I was still able to have the driver’s seat in my normal driving position without it touching the 4Ever behind it. King Dad could still drive comfortably with the 4Ever behind the driver’s seat in position 1, but his seat wasn’t quite as far back is he normally likes it. When installed at recline 2, both King Dad and I can have the driver’s seat at our preferred positions without it touching the 4Ever. Though not as reclined as at position 1, I found recline position 2 to be comfortable for both Petit Prince and The Heir. When installed at recline 3, the 4Ever is as upright as it can be installed for rear facing. It takes up very little room at this position, and I was able to move the driver’s seat as far back as it could go without it touching the 4Ever behind it. This makes position 3 a great angle for those with particularly compact cars or particularly tall drivers. I had only one concern about the three different recline angles, and that is that there is no recommended or required recline level for newborns. Though you can install at a range of reclines at each recline setting due to the level indicator line, there’s nowhere on that level indicator line that indicates the most reclined position is to be used for newborns. For me, it goes without saying that if I was going to use the Graco 4Ever from birth, I would install it in position 1 with the seat as reclined as permitted on the level indicator. Not every parent has much (or any) experience with car seats before their first child arrives, so it seems to me that Graco should indicate how best to install the seat for newborns and babies without proper head control. The difference between an installation at recline position 1 even at its most upright and recline position 3 at its most upright is substantial, and I would expect a newborn to have significant head slumping if placed in the 4Ever when installed in position 3 for rear facing.
What about the leg room when rear facing? This is one of the concerns parents have when they start to consider extended rear facing. It is perfectly safe for a child’s feet to touch the vehicle seat in front of them. It is even perfectly safe for them to walk their feet up and have their legs straight up when rear facing. Leg room is not a safety issue for rear facing. The main concern with limited leg room would be with getting your child in and out of the seat easily. At a certain point, your child will be able to get themselves seated in their car seat by themselves, and will be able to climb out of their car seat by themselves after the caregiver has unbuckled them. If your child is the planking kind, more legroom generally makes it easier to get the child in before they are old enough to climb up themselves. The amount of leg room for rear facing in the Graco 4Ever varies. In recline position 1 (the most reclined), there is the most leg room. In recline position 3, (the most upright), there is the least leg room. The Heir was comfortable in position 3, but had noticeably less leg room than he’s been accustomed to in his other car seat. Recline position 2 offered him more leg room, and a comfortable recline angle for those infrequent car naps. Petit Prince also rides in the Graco 4Ever at recline position 2, but leg room is a non issue for him at this point as his feet don’t even touch the vehicle seat yet.
How does the Graco 4Ever fit at different ages? Petit Prince is currently 15 months, 22-23 lbs, and somewhere around 31″ tall. He rides in recline position 2, though he could also ride at recline position 1. Because of his age, I wouldn’t put him in at recline position 3 as it is quite upright and his head would slump forward when he falls asleep. At his age, head slump isn’t really an issue, but I prefer to avoid it whenever possible. The headrest/harness height is at position 3 of 10, and the crotch buckle is in the outer position. The harness sits below his shoulders, he has well over 1″ between the top of this head and the bottom of the grey headrest adjustment bar, and the crotch buckle is not underneath him at all. I find the harness a bit sticky to tighten when the headrest is in one of the lower positions, as it is for Petit Prince. After tightening as much as I can by just pulling on the harness tightening strap, I check the tightness with the pinch test. If the harness does not pass the pinch test at the shoulders, I pull the harness tight from behind the seat, then pull the harness tightening strap up front. It works great, and is very quick to get him in and snug. I have the harness covers removed for Petit Prince. I’ve done this because I find it difficult to see that the harness is at or below the shoulders and to do the pinch test at Petit Prince’s size. He seems happy and comfortable in the Graco 4Ever despite not being all that happy in car seats generally. He has yet to fall asleep in it, but he’s a master at resisting the car nap so it’s not all that surprising.
The Heir is four years old, 33 lbs, and 40.5″ tall. He fits nicely rear facing in the Graco 4Ever. Like his brother, he also rides in recline position 2. He has ridden in recline position 3, but I find it looks more comfortable with a bit more leg room and bit more recline. Of course, he hasn’t complained about his comfort at recline position 3. If we had a more compact vehicle and needed more leg room for the driver or front passenger, he could absolutely ride at recline position 3. The headrest/harness height is at position 5 of 10, and the crotch buckle is in the outer position. In terms of tightening the harness, it is easy and smooth when the headrest is in position 5. I don’t need to pull it from the back at all as I do when Petit Prince is riding in the seat. I have the harness covers on for The Heir. At his size, I don’t find that they interfere with the pinch test or make it difficult to see that the harness is positioned correctly in relation to his shoulders. I love that at age four, The Heir easily fits rear facing in the Graco 4Ever, and he’s definitely comfortable and happy in this seat. With a 43″ height limit and 40 lb weight limit for rear facing, he should be able to remain rear facing for at least another six months to one year in the 4Ever.
Worth noting here is that the Graco 4Ever’s headrest/harness height adjustment is extremely easy to do. There’s no need to uninstall the seat to make this adjustment (even when forward facing). The 4Ever has a no rethread harness, and the bar at the top of the headrest makes raising and lowering it super easy. It is incredibly smooth, and you don’t have to fight with it or even wiggle at all to get it to move. Make sure to loosen the harness completely before moving the headrest up or down.
Let’s start with forward facing installation. Again, I’ll start with UAS. Forward facing installation with UAS was fairly simple. To start, I had to move the UAS from the rear facing belt path to the forward facing belt path. To do this I had to remove the seat cover, bring both UAS clips into the centre, and slide the UAS strap along a metal bar until it reached the forward facing belt path. Then I pulled the UAS clips out through the forward facing belt path checking that they were sitting flat and not twisted across the back of the 4Ever. When forward facing, the top tether must be used (that applies to UAS and seat belt installations), so I removed it from it’s storage clip at the top of the seat, loosened the strap, and placed it over the headrest so it was hanging into the middle of the seat. This just ensures you don’t end up tightening the UAS (or seat belt) only to find the tether is stuck behind the seat where you can’t access it without undoing the UAS! The UAS install for forward facing was quite straightforward. Clip the UAS onto the lower anchors in the vehicle, press the seat down and back (I like to press it in toward the vehicle seat back with one leg while standing inside the vehicle, and press down with one hand), and then tighten the UAS strap. Just like there’s an easy access to pull the UAS strap into the middle of the seat for a rear facing install, the Graco 4Ever has a similar access point for a forward facing install. The end of the UAS strap threads into the middle of the seat by a small opening on the side of the seat in front of the forward facing belt path. By pulling the UAS strap from inside, I was able to achieve a sufficiently tight install without much trouble. Once the lower UAS was snug, next I attached the top tether and tightened it. In my vehicle, the tether anchor is in the ceiling of the trunk space, but in many other vehicles it’s on the back of the vehicle seat. It’s important to check your vehicle manual to make sure you’re using the correct tether anchor for the position of the car seat, and also to know the rules about the vehicle head rest. In my vehicle, the vehicle head rest much be removed and stored in the trunk when a top tether is in use. If you are able to leave the vehicle headrest in place, the Graco 4Ever’s headrest comes up straight. That means it is less likely to interfere with the vehicle’s headrest when it is installed forward facing. I checked that the seat was not moving more than 1″ in any direction at the belt path, and was able to get a secure install in all three forward facing recline positions using UAS.
Next, I did a forward facing install in all three recline positions using the vehicle seat belt. I found it easiest to do a seat belt install by first snapping down the seat cover in the middle so I could gain easier access to the forward facing belt path. Remember to move the UAS strap down to the rear facing belt path and clip them on their storage point up front. I didn’t find this belt path to be as small or difficult to access as the rear facing belt path. The nice thing about the positioning of the forward facing belt path is that you can unsnap the seat cover and gain full access, completely install the seat, and then close up the seat cover. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a sufficiently tight install with the vehicle seat belt at all three recline levels. At the most upright position, position 6, the seat belt install left the 4Ever much too loose. Basically, the seat would easily lift up at the front when I tightened the harness, and then it would be loose side to side when I checked at the belt path with my non-dominant hand. I uninstalled the seat and switched it to recline position 5. This time the installation was better, but again it wasn’t tight enough to have less than 1″ of movement in every direction at the belt path. I tried again at recline position 4, and was able to get a very tight install with the seat belt in that recline position. Now, if I had not been able to get a tight install with the seat belt in any of the three recline positions, I would have had another option. The Graco 4Ever comes with a locking clip. A locking clip is used every time with seat belts that do not have the auto-lock feature. However, when you can’t get a tight install with an auto-locking seat belt, you can use the locking clip with the seat belt to ensure a proper installation. If you’re not familiar with using a locking clip, you can contact a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) in your area for assistance.
Why couldn’t I just use the UAS to install the seat forward facing if the seat belt wasn’t working well? For now, I could, but my vehicle has a lower UAS weight limit of 65lbs. What that means is that when the weight of the car seat and the child combined is 65lbs or more, the car seat must be installed with the seat belt. Since the Graco 4Ever weighs 27 lbs, I can use the UAS to install the 4Ever in my vehicle until the child in the seat weighs 38 lbs. When not otherwise noted in your vehicle manual, the Graco 4Ever can be installed with UAS until the child weighs 45 lbs.
There are three different recline positions that can be used for forward facing. These positions are marked on the side of 4Ever in orange. Positions 4, 5, and 6 can be used for forward facing. Position 6 is the most upright, and position 4 is the most reclined. Although choosing the recline that your child finds most comfortable is a great way to decide which one to choose, it’s most important to ensure that you can get a proper installation at that recline position. First and foremost, you should choose the recline position that gives you the best install in your particular vehicle with the method of installation you’re going to be using (whether that’s UAS or seat belt). If you get a proper install in all three recline positions, then by all means choose the one that is most comfortable for your child.
At recline position 6, I liked that The Heir’s legs didn’t hang outward. Because it is the most upright, it also meant that The Heir’s legs bent at the knee to hang over the front of the seat. He could almost touch his feet to the vehicle seat under him, something I feel would make the adjustment to forward facing more comfortable for him. At position 4, there is more legroom in the 4Ever, so his legs ended up sticking up a bit more and his knees weren’t bent at the front of the seat. He didn’t find this uncomfortable, but I can definitely see him preferring to cross his legs when forward facing in this position (which is perfectly safe for him to do).
Petit Prince just meets the minimum requirements to forward face in the Graco 4Ever, but he is very new to walking unassisted. It is recommended in the manual that children remain rear facing until the limits of the seat for rear facing are reached or until at least age two. As Petit Prince is not two years old, I won’t be using it forward facing for him at this time.
The Heir still rides rear facing when we’re driving, but for the purpose of giving the Graco 4Ever a thorough trial, I did put him in the seat forward facing at the different recline positions. Just to remind you of his stats, he’s four years old, 33 lbs, and 40.5″ tall. When forward facing, the harness needs to be at or just above the child’s shoulders. To achieve this, The Heir needs the headrest of the 4Ever to be in position 8 of 10. I will be able to continue using UAS to install the 4Ever forward facing until The Heir is 38 lbs, so we have some time to go before I have to switch the install to the seat belt instead. This means (in my vehicle, at least), that I can use any of the three recline angles. Recline position 6 looks most comfortable to me, but The Heir was perfectly comfortable at the more reclined position 4. The harness is easy and smooth to tighten when the 4Ever is installed forward facing. This is important because once installed forward facing, there’s no way to pull the harness tight from the back as is possible with a rear facing install. The harness covers can make it difficult to tell that the harness is coming out at or above the shoulders. When you go to adjust the headrest height the first time, I’d recommend removing these covers first, placing the child in the seat, checking the harness height, and adjusting as necessary. Once you can see that the harness is in the correct position, you can put the harness covers back in place. I did find that the harness dug into The Heir neck a bit with the harness covers off, so they’re something I absolutely want to be using at his age and size.
High Back Booster:
Installing the Graco 4Ever as a high back booster is a breeze! I love that there is somewhere to stow the harness built right into the seat, and that this storage is accessible without having to uninstall the seat completely. You simply remove the lower seat cover, and snap the middle part of the cover off and fold it upwards. Why is that so great? If you do need to switch between forward facing use and booster use on the fly, the switch is quick and easy. This makes it great for secondary caregivers or grandparents that might be transporting different children on different days. When using the Graco 4Ever as a high back booster, you can place it on the vehicle seat, or you can secure it to the vehicle using the lower UAS and the top tether. I would recommend using the UAS and top tether if that’s an option in the vehicle position you’ve chosen for the seat. Why? Because an unoccupied booster seat can be a potential projectile in the event of a collision. If you can remember to always buckle the seat belt over the booster when it’s not in use, great! However, when you’ve secured it to the vehicle using the UAS and the top tether, you don’t have to remember to buckle the seat belt around it when it’s not in use! When the UAS and top tether is being used to secure the Graco 4Ever as a high back booster, the UAS can be used regardless of the child’s weight up to 120 lbs.
The Heir does NOT meet the minimum requirements to use a booster seat yet. However, I’ve gone ahead and placed him in the 4Ever as a high back booster just so I can show you what it looks like. In order to use the Graco 4Ever as a high back booster, the child must be four years old, 40″ tall, AND 40 lbs. The Heir only meets the age and height criteria at this time, and he’s far from being mature enough to sit still in a booster seat. One of the first things he did was pull the shoulder belt forward and tuck his arms under it “for fun”. This is why it’s so important that you wait until your child is mature enough to sit properly in their booster seat at all times. That means no slouching, no leaning (even if they fall asleep), and definitely no playing with the seat belt. Most children will be booster ready around age 6.
In terms of belt fit with the Graco 4Ever, it is awesome! This is one thing that other 3 in 1 seats on the market often cannot do properly. What you want is for the shoulder belt to sit between the edge of the shoulder and the child’s neck. It should not touch the child’s neck, and it must not sit in front of or off the shoulder. The seat belt guides on the 4Ever do an excellent job of keeping the seat belt in an optimal position. This is helped by the adjustable headrest. In order to get the proper belt fit across The Heir’s shoulder, the headrest needs to be in position 6. This places the belt guide just slightly above his shoulder, and it ensures the belt is actually touching his shoulder as it comes across in the correct spot. The lap belt fit is excellent as well. It’s easiest to see this in a top down view, but the lap portion of the belt is sitting low on his hips and not across his stomach. Graco’s 4Ever gets top marks for making a 4 in 1 seat that is actually usable as a booster! Bravo!
In order to use the Graco 4Ever as a backless booster, you will have to take the seat apart. This may sound intimidating, but the manual does an excellent job of walking you through this process. I brought the 4Ever into the house to do this, so I’d have more space to maneuver it around. I won’t go over the details of taking it apart here, but suffice it to say that I was able to do this on my own in just a couple of minutes without incident. I was also able to get it put back together fairly quickly by simply reversing the steps.
Once the 4Ever is assembled as a backless booster, it can be placed in the vehicle. It’s important to remember that you will want to buckle the 4Ever in with the seat belt when not in use.
The Heir is again too small to use the 4Ever as a backless booster. The minimum requirements are at least age four, 43″ tall, AND 40 lbs. The only requirement The Heir meets is the age requirement. He’s not tall enough, not heavy enough, and not mature enough for a backless booster. I have placed him in the 4Ever as a backless booster just to demonstrate how the belt is positioned over the hips, and to show how the belt positioning clip works. The belt positioning clip is required if the seat belt doesn’t make contact with the shoulder and doesn’t sit properly between the edge of the shoulder and the child’s neck. You’ll want to attach the belt positioning clip before you place the 4Ever on the vehicle seat (it attaches at the back of the seat). Once attached, you’ll need the child to be sitting on the backless booster in the vehicle to adjust the height of the belt positioning clip. The belt positioning clip should sit right at the child’s shoulder. When positioned correctly, it does hold the seat belt in place so that it does not rest agains the child’s neck, does not hover in front of the shoulder, and does not sit off the shoulder. The Heir is obviously too small to use the 4Ever as a backless booster as evidenced by the way his legs sit on it. Without the back attached to the booster, he sits further back on the booster leaving his feet sticking straight out. Ideally, you’d want your child’s back to be against the vehicle seat and the child’s knees to bend at the edge of the 4Ever in backless booster mode. It will be quite some time before The Heir is ready both in terms of his height and his weight.
- A 4 in 1 car seat that actually functions safely in all four modes
- High rear facing limits of 43″ or 40 lbs allow for extended rear facing well beyond age two
- Can be used from 4 to 120 lbs
- 10 year expiration
- Reinforced steel frame
- No rethread harness with a smooth harness adjustment
- 10 harness/headrest positions
- Included body and head support pillows ensure proper fit for newborns and small babies
- Harness covers included
- Three possible rear facing recline options allow it to fit even in compact vehicles
- Three possible forward facing recline options
- Colour coded instructions on the seat and in the manual
- UAS strap can be threaded into the middle for easy tightening during installation
- Level indicator on the seat aids with proper installation
- Installation is straightforward and explained well in the manual
- Comes with two cup holders
- Harness can be stored for high back booster use
- Height of belt guides can be adjusted when used as a high back booster
- UAS can be used to secure the seat to the vehicle when used as a high back booster
- Provides good seat belt fit across the lap and shoulder in high back and backless booster modes
- Does not specify a recline angle for newborn use
- Cup holders cannot be removed
- Seat cover material needs to withstand 10 years of use
Overall, I really like the Graco 4Ever car seat. I love that it has a reinforced steel frame. The recline options are wonderful for ensuring not only a comfortable ride for the child, but also excellent fit in various sizes of vehicle. The recline is easy to adjust with the recline adjustment bar at the front of the seat. The harness/headrest height adjustment is really smooth, so you won’t find yourself fighting with it when you need to adjust it up or down. Adjusting the harness after buckling in the child is done with the harness adjustment strap located at the front of the seat. Though it can be a bit sticky when the seat is on the lower headrest positions, by position 5 it is perfectly smooth. At lower headrest positions, it can easily be pulled tight from the back (if it’s installed rear facing), and then the slack pulled out with the harness adjustment strap in front. The included head and body supports ensure proper fit right from 4 lbs. With a ten year expiry, you will actually be able to use all four stages of this seat before it expires, even if you purchase it to use right from birth. I especially love that the Graco 4Ever is made for extended rear facing. As should come as no surprise for anyone who is a regular reader of my blog, I’m all for extended rear facing. The Heir, at age four, rides in a rear facing position, and the 40 lb and 43″ limits of the 4Ever means he’ll be able to remain rear facing for much longer. When forward facing, there are three different recline positions. You’ll want to choose the position that gives you the best install. If all three positions install well in your vehicle, then you can choose a position based on yours and your child’s preference. I do wish that the cup holders were removable. I’m not keen on the kids eating and drinking in their car seats to begin with, so for me the cup holders aren’t really a selling feature. I would have preferred a cup holder that could be removed if it wasn’t needed. The built in level indicator takes the guess work out of a correct rear facing install. You can easily see if you’ve got it positioned correctly, and if not you can see if the adjustments you’re making are correcting the angle. I would like to see Graco update the manual for the 4Ever to indicate which recline position should be used for newborns. It would seem to me that it should be installed at recline position 1, but this is not mentioned anywhere in the manual. Though the ten year expiry is great, I do wonder if the material that the seat covers are made of will last through ten years of use. Children are messy creatures, so you’ll want to be sure to take good care of the seat cover. Clean up spills quickly, vacuum out crumbs regularly, and check the cover for wear.
The Graco 4Ever has ticked off all the boxes for what matters to me in a car seat. I want one that allows for extended rear facing, has a straightforward installation, is comfortable for my child to ride in, and one that has excellent ease of use features like premium UAS, a no rethread harness, and a way to keep buckles out of the way when loading up my child. That the Graco 4Ever has all that AND will take my children through all the stages of car seat use through boostering safely is the icing on the cake. I think Graco has created a seat that could very well be the only seat you ever need to purchase for your child. That in and of itself, is pretty amazing and makes it worth the investment.
The Graco 4Ever retails for $449.99 CAD and is available to purchase from Toys R Us in Canada. It is available in two colours: Studio (as shown here), and Cameron. If you are in the USA and would like to purchase the Graco 4Ever, it is available from Amazon.