Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Graco Size 4 Me 70 Review

After 7 years and two kids of sharing one vehicle, our family recently purchased a new (to us) van. Cue the Hallelujah Chorus! I could go on and on how much I love this thing and how it has changed my life - no, I am not being over-dramatic. ;) But since this post is about a brand spanking new car seat and not our new van, I'll try to practice some restraint. With the purchase of this van I initially planned to switch out car seats as needed because really, how often was I going to have to do this? Turns out, we did it A LOT that first week. After wrestling with two car seats 7 or 8 times over the course of several days I admitted defeat. Luckily I was able to score a screaming deal on another Britax Frontier for the BP so now we have one in the van and one in the car. I was stumped though over what to get for the LP. Currently she rides in BP's old Radian. A lot of people have a love/hate relationship with their Radians (now called Diono). For the most part I really loved mine but it had some quirks that made it hard to live with at times.

I initially planned to purchase something cheap for the vehicle that would be ridden in the least. But since rear facing for as long as possible is a top priority for our family I had real trouble finding something that would suit my needs in the "cheap" range. Then I stumbled upon the Graco Size 4 Me - there's that Hallelujah Chorus again! Honestly, I'm impressed by this seat.  So here's what you want to know:

The follwing stats were found HERE at Car-seat.org. They have a fabulous section on their forum that gives the measurments for pretty much every car seat on the market. It's a great tool if you're wanting to compare some seats.

Rider Stats:

Rear-Facing Weight Range: 5-40lbs

Rear-Facing Height Range: Head must be 1" below red harness adjuster handle at the top of the seat

Forward-Facing Weight Range: 20-70lbs

Forward-Facing Height Range: Less than 50", harness height at or just above shoulders, ears below top of head support.

Seat Stats:

Width: 18.5" across the back / 15" at the base (Radian is 17")

Internal Seat Height: 27.5" (compare to Radian which is 25")

Internal Seat Depth: 11.5"

Lowest Harness Height: 7"

Highest Harness Height: 17.5"

The Unboxing:
 

The unboxing of this seat is really basic. The hardest part will be figuring out where you put the box cutter to get into the thing! You pull it out, open the plastic bag, remove tags and you're good to go. 

The Seat:

The Cover: Meh. I don't hate it but I don't love it either. Now the husband is another story, he loves it but then I've been making him drive around with bright pink seats for years now. He's glad to finally see something a little more subtle in the back seat. Overall it's ok (and it does match my Onyx Frontier) but it would be great if Graco could come up with something a bit more fun or hip. Purple anyone? The fabric has a microfiber-y feel, not really sure what it is. It's soft and so far has held up to regular wear and I do let my kids eat and drink in the car. I've yet to wash it but the manual claims it is machine washable! Whooo! After wrestling over and over with the Radian to first get the cover off and then hand wash it and wait 10 days (ok, not really) for it to dry this is an answered prayer!

Harness: I LOVE, LOVE the harness adjuster. See that little red piece at the top of the seat? To adjust the harness you lift and pull up. It's super easy. I've had other seats where you had to re thread the harness, no fun. This is awesome.

I did find the harness a bit hard to tighten rear facing but this is something I am used to with the Radians. I did find that if I pulled on the back of the harness and then tightened at the front it was easier to get the harness tight enough. I also don't loosen and tighten the harness with each use. I usually leave it set as is and tighten as needed.

I do not love the buckle. If you have arthritis or are thinking of getting this seat for someone who has limited use of their hands you may want to choose another seat. The buckle is a pain in the behind to do. You have to have the prongs lined up just so, hold your tongue just right and whisper 3 not so nice words backwards in order to get it buckled. It can be a pain. The positive is that your Houdini kid has no chance of getting this thing unbuckled. Also, a few times I thought I had it and then found it wasn't in when I double checked it. But, I am getting used to it. It doesn't take me near as long to do and isn't quite as difficult as when I first got the seat, it's just something to keep in mind.

User Tip: When putting a smaller baby in the seat, loop the harness over the infant cushions first to keep them out of the way while you place baby in the seat. This way you're not digging around under the baby for the harness.

Install: This seat installed very easily in both my Corolla and my MPV minivan. It did not fit as well outboard on the Corolla. The way the vehicle seat and car seat is made meant that the I was not able to extend the seat as high as I could in the van. But saying that, I cannot see how I would ever need to have the seat that high rear-facing. Its waaaay more height than even my tall 4 year old needs. Also, I do have the seat fairly far back (one click less than all the way) so if you are shorter this might not be an issue. It did install beautifully in the center where the front seats did not interfere with it. In the captains chairs my van it was a dream to install. Took half a second and the front passenger seat was all the way back.

Here it is installed in my Corolla. See how the headrests of the front seat hit the top where you adjust the height of the seat? So it's use is limited outboard in the Corolla.

And here is the Size 4 Me installed in my Mazda MPV. The passenger seat on the van is pushed all the way back and at my regular recline. In the second picture the car seat is at it's full height. How about that!?!

I love how Graco have separate, well labeled LATCH straps for forward and rear facing install. This means no more having to reroute the LATCH straps when it's time to turn your preschooler. I haven't seen this before and thought it was a great idea. The tether strap also has it's own place to hook onto when not in use. I really like how there are no extra straps and pieces dangling from this seat. This makes it one very tidy and compact passage.

Use: Aside from the few quirks I mentioned I think this seat is easy to install and use on a day to day basis. Nearly every seat I have owned has had a few things that bugged me but I was able to live with and this seat is no exception. However, I feel that the pros far outweigh the cons. One thing worth considering is that if you are shorter and own a van you many have difficultly loading and unloading your baby/toddler in this seat when it is rear facing. My mother in law is shorter than myself and struggled with it when it was installed in my van. The sides are much higher than the Radians and she had a hard time seeing what she was doing. Of course this would not be an issue in a sedan.

The seat has 3 recline positions. You must use the first position for rear-facing. Position 2 has is more recline and Position 3 is more upright. The recline mechanism was a little counter intuitive but I figured it out. I cannot imagine it is possible to recline the seat while installed.

Correct recline is achieved when the little metal ball in the pic below is completely within the green zone which it is not in the picture below because it is installed on my floor ;)


Overall, I think Graco did a great job with the Size 4 Me. As far as I am aware it is currently the tallest rear-facing seat on the market (though it does not have the highest weight limit for rear facing). Now that the AAP is recommending that children be kept rear-facing until they are AT LEAST 2 years of age I can see this becoming a great option to achieve this and the price is very reasonable for what you get. Thought it remains to be seen I think the Radian/Dionos will be more user friendly when it comes to rear-facing an older child. The low profile of the Radians really help in this regard. The Size 4 Me has higher sides so there is probably less leg room. Just another aspect of this seat to consider. Another problem you may encounter with this seat is if you have fixed headrests on your vehicle you may have trouble extending the height of the seat while forward facing. I always advise that you try any potential seat in YOUR vehicle rear and forward facing before purchase or order from a website with a very good return policy. Some seats just do not fit every vehicle so if possible always try before you buy.

Here are a few pictures of kids in the seat to give you a better idea of 'kid-fit'. This is my 4 year old who is 36lbs and 45" tall. Here is how she would fit it normally while forward-facing.
Here is the seat extended to it's highest position:
Seriously, I think I could ride in this seat! It's a really tall seat and as far as I am aware this is one of the (if not the) tallest convertible currently available on the market. It is super tall!

And here is some pictures of LP riding rearfacing. She is 31.5" and 23lbs at 16 months old. (Please note the chest clip is a tad low in the first pic. I just threw her in quickly to snap a photo! Also, I have removed the infant head padding. She keeps laying on it and really doesn't need it anyway!)


Right now the best deal I can find is buying this seat at BuyBuyBaby and using a 20% off coupon with it. You can get their coupons either by mail or by text. If you don't have a BuyBuyBaby you may be able to order from a Bed Bath and Beyond and they can ship it to your house. This will be a great seat to keep an eye out for a deal on as Graco products are rarely excluded from coupons or discounts in online or BM stores.

As always, if I find any additional quirks, or issue arise with continued use of the Size 4 Me I will update. If you have any specific questions that I haven't answered or want to see a better picture of a particular install or part of the seat let me know and I'll do my best to help you out.

Safe travels and happy Child Passenger Safety Week!
-C

As always, I paid for this item with my own moolah so I can say whatever I want about it! ;)

Please note: If the pictures are too small and you want to see more detail, click on them to enlarge. C

 

23 comments:

  1. They have it at ToysRus and BabiesRus now but it's called the My Size 70. And you can use a coupon on it! There is a printable one on the website right now for $30 off and they have two really nice cover options

    ReplyDelete
  2. I heard that recently too! I wonder if that will get confusing with the two names for the same product. Thanks for the tip on the coupon!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for posting this! I'm going crazy trying to find a carseat for my daughter and I really like this one.. I cannot seem to find the model, but the MY Size 70 seems to be close??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Becca! I understand the going crazy, there are just so many choices! The My Size 70 is the same seat, Graco just renamed it for some retailers, who knows why?? I.hope you like it. It does have some quirks like I mentioned above but they're not too bad once you get used to them :)

      Delete
  4. Thank you so much for this post, VERY helpful! I went to Babies R Us today and checked this seat out, but I didn't realize until reading your post that you can only use one recline setting when rear facing. I was sold on this seat until I read that. My little guy is 6 months, but he's starting to want to be upright more....so now I'm not so sure if this will be comfortable for him :-/. BUT, I really like the seat. Arg! We have a sedan, so I've found that most seats are one of two things: practical size wise yet cheaply made OR way too big yet comfortable and more duarable. I think this is the perfect 'happy medium.' Again, this is the most helpful review I've found on the seat, and I've read a ton of them. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awwww, thanks! I'm so glad you found it useful! Take your wee man and try him out in the seat. In my opinion it is more upright than an infant seat so he might like it. Happy car seat hunting!

      Delete
  5. Hey there!
    This posting is incredible! I do however have just one question! My one and only 9 month old princess is a little over 22lbs and at her 6mth check she was 2'2" and she's grown a bit since then! We drive a Lincoln MKZ sedan. Do you think this seat will fit rear facing and still leave a little leg room for the front passenger?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there! Thank you for your comment. Probably the best thing to do would be to go and try it in your vehicle and see how it fits. I'm not sure how an MKZ is like but like I showed in my pics, in my corolla it didn't fit so well outboard because of the headrest however it is fine in the middle with both seats pushed all the way back. My baby is now 19 months and 24lbs and it will fit her for a long time so this might be a great option for you. Let me know if I can help with anything else. :)

      Delete
  6. Hi there! Do you need to buy anything else for this seat? Does the base come with it? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi! The seat comes with everything you need. Its the kind of seat you leave in your vehicle so no seperate base needed. Hope that helps :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for all the info! I'm purchasing a new seat and friend told me about this one. Thanks again for the info, you answered all my questions. : )
    avon-linda.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the great review! My husband and I just got this seat this weekend and installed it in our Honda Fit. It actually fits really well and my baby girl seems very comfy in it. My question is how to adjust the harness tightness when she is rear facing. It was quite difficult. You mention above to pull on the back of the harness and then tighten it in the front. Can you explain that a little more? Do I pull on the harness on the back of the seat itself first? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a Honda fit and I was wondering about some things. So, it only reclines in the rear facing?

      Delete
  10. Hi! We have this carseat for our 21 month old and love it! We are flying next month, and was wondering if anyone has used it on a plane? Everything that I have read says that it is FAA approved (haven't looked for the sticker on the actual carseat yet though), but I just wanted to see if anyone had any difficult experiences with flight attendants not letting you use it! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous, any updates? How did your flight go with this seat?

      Delete
  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I was wondering if you can remove the car seat from the base.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry! I just now saw this! No, you cannot remove the seat from the base.

      Delete
  13. Hi. Can you adjust the height of the seat when it is rear-facing as well? My son is super tall -- He is 18 mos. old and weighs 27 lbs and is 34.5 inches. I want to get a seat that will fit him for as long as possible rear-facing and also then forward facing. I guess this one doesn't turn into a booster, but could hold a child that is old enough to be in a booster (according to height and weight). Am I right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He is a tall boy! And Yes you can. Just make sure the back of the car seat isn't touching the back of the seat it front of it when you raise the height of the seat. This seat does not turn into a booster but yes, it will hold an older child. My tall 5.5 year old fits in there with room to grow. Hope that helps.

      Delete
  14. Also, I am confused about the renaming. I cant find it anywhere. I see the "my size 65" is that the same thing? When I was looking at specs it was different (size and weight)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You might find it under "My Size 70" Graco has changed it's name a couple of times for some unknown reason. You might be looking at the MyRide 65 and getting the two confused. Graco recently had a recall on the buckles (they are very stiff and hard to undo.) and it's possible that they are not in stock in the store until the replacement parts arrive. Hope that helps! - C

      Delete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

Leave me a message after the beep....BEEEP!