The Absolute Best Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat Review You Will Need

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Graco seems to be taking the baby gear world by storm! It's no secret that our infatuation with Graco has intensified over the years. Why wouldn't it? The brand has a lot to offer, considering the price.

Today, we are reviewing one of the most popular models Graco has put out. We are talking about the well-known Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat.

Make yourself a cup of coffee, and let's get started. It's going to be a long ride.

Safety Comes First!

Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat, Glacier


One of the most noticeable and essential features of any car seat is safety. No parent is going to want to invest money in something that does not guarantee security 100%. So, what does Graco have to offer?

The very first thing you're going to notice is the Safe Seat Engineering label. Graco puts them to tell you a simple note. Safety always comes first!

Graco seats have been tested two times the safety standard according to the NHTSA safety standards.

One of the most impeccable features a car seat could have is the good-old side impact protection. In case of accidents, your little one is guaranteed to be protected at all times.

Besides the ability to withhold a crash, the Graco seat is designed from EPS foam layering. So? It has a fancy layering name, big whoop.

Hold right there. This is not just any type of layering you would find in your everyday car seat.

The EPS foam makes the car seat lightweight but both stable. During a car crash, the energy-absorbing EPS foam is there to hold your kids' back (literally). It also means that the foam absorbs any crash impact.

If you live in hotter climates, rest sure, knowing that Contender 65 stands heat pretty nicely. You won't have to worry about buckles breaking or melting due to hot temperatures. If you leave it in a car for a couple of days, your car seat will remain intact. 

What About Installation?

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Now that we have covered safety, it's only fair to move on to the next important feature; and that's installation.

After you carefully follow the instruction manual and video, the installation should not be your primary concern. The LATCH works with the anchor base in every vehicle, and it's easy to handle.

My favorite feature of the installation is leveling. If you are a new parent or struggle with installing a car seat, listen up.

Graco has a leveling indicator on the side, telling you whether you did a good job. For me, it worked wonders when I tried to install the seat rear-facing. Having a helping buddy indicating whether the position is safe enough is a big plus!

When and How Can I Use Graco Contender 65?

graco contender 65 convertible car seat reviews

One of the most significant selling points is the prolonged use of this car seat.

It can be used in two ways: rear-facing and forward-facing installations.

As you know, the rear-facing mode is meant for infants who weigh between 5 to 40 pounds. Besides this mode, you can use the seat once your kid gets a bit older. Forward-facing installation is meant for tho who weigh between 20 to 65 pounds.

If you plan on purchasing the car seat, you will use it for quite some time until it's time to switch to a booster. However, I wish that it had a booster option, but hey, you can't always get everything you can in a car seat. Or can you?

Oh, and listen to this.

When it's time to switch from rear-faced to forward-faced, the whole process is a piece of cake. All you should do is turn the car seat around and change the guide paths to anchor straps. Impressive, right? No more headaches caused by installation.

Behold! The Simply Safe Adjust Harness System

graco contender 65 convertible car seat safety reviews

Another label you will find on the seat is the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System. It means that there is no need for rethreading the straps. Hurray!

Although this feature goes in the pros file for some, it may be a con for others. You have to admit it. As much as no-rethreading seems impressive, it still offers no room for customization.

It may benefit you on the one hand, but think about how uncomfortable it would be for a growing child. As I said, this situation will not be everyone's cup of tea.

Pros of Contender 65

Since this isn't a luxurious type of car seat, don't expect luxurious features. Simple as that. But for those who like to stick to basics, it's worth mentioning that the car seat offers quite the pro list.

  • The convertible car seat comes with a cupholder for all those long trips.
  • The "just-right" infant padding you can easily take out once your kids get bigger.
  • Busy mommas will love the cleanable part of the car seat. The cover on the rear is removable and machine-washer-friendly. When things get messy, take it off.

Cons of Contender 65

Just like every car seat has its pros, the cons can be a deal-breaker for some. Let's discuss them.

  • Installation may be easy, but tightening the Latch's straps can be a nightmare for some. They may not tighten all the way around, and you might need to use a bit of muscle. 
  • It does not recline. The recline option is one of my favorites in the car seat, and sadly this one does not have it. 
  • Lastly, we mentioned the lack of customization. It may not result In the world's comfiest rides for older kids. With this kind of price, you get what you paid for. 

Final Words

Well, what do you think? Is Graco Contender 65 Convertible the right car seat for you? Does it deliver easy installation, safety, and price? Or do you feel like you need to make a compromise?

Either way, you won't make a mistake even if you purchase it as a back-up seat when you leave the baby with their grandparents. Graco offers a fantastic choice for all parents who value basic features and try to stick to the budget.

Avatar of Kathy Warner

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

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