The Graco 4Ever and TrioGrow Snuglock are two very safe, yet very different car seats. Both of the Graco car seats I’m going to be looking at within this review are multi-stage seats. This means that in either case, you’ll be buying a single seat that will take your child from infancy all the way until the age of 9, where they can sit comfortably without boosters. I’m going to be looking at the 3 stage Graco TrioGrow Snuglock seat first, and then I’ll move onto the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 afterward.
Both have very different installation methods. One (the 4Ever) has a fairly traditional installation that I’ve seen many times in the seats I’ve reviewed over the years. However, the Snuglock features an extra belt clipping system within the seat. Both seats are really good as you’ll see, and I’ll spend some time at the end of the review discussing which seat of these is the right fit for your family.
How long does my child need to be in a car seat for?
Typically, your child must be in a car seat from birth until around the age of 9, or whenever they’ve reached a height of 4’9″. Other conditions may apply, and it’s best that you check with a Child Passenger Safety specialist for more expertise on the right time to move your seats over from rear facing to forward facing and when to remove the 5 point harnesses. There are some recommendations in the owner’s manuals, but your local specialists can provide location specific relevant advice if you need it.
In addition, if you need help with safe installation of these seats, you can also reach out to your local specialists, who can put you in touch with local resources. Remember that with any seat installation, you should always test for tightness and ensure that the seat doesn’t move more than 1 inch in any direction. Let’s take a look at both seats.
Graco TrioGrow Snuglock car seat review
As mentioned above, the Graco TrioGrow Snuglock car seat seats your child from infancy all the way until they no longer need any sort of booster. The TrioGrow adapts with your child’s growth through the following stages:
Rear-Facing (Infant) – 5-40lb
Forward-Facing Harness – 22-65lb
Highback Booster – 40-100lb
The term “Snuglock” for this seat speaks to the installation technology. Graco says that this seat takes around a minute to install using either main method (using the lap and shoulder seatbelt or through the Universal Anchor Tethers.) The Snuglock technology makes the install a little bit more involved than some seats are nowadays, but it’s all in the name of safety.
Once you have adjusted the seat to whichever of the 6 seating positions you’d like (which are labeled on the seat base,) you’ll have to pull the cushions off the seat to expose the Snuglock mechanism. If you watched my previous review of the Evenflo Revolve 360, the Snuglock mechanism acts similarly to the belt pathing anchors on that seat, with a twisting arm to lock in a different spot for rear or forward facing. If your seat will be rear facing, you’ll end up twisting it off its base to lock down the belt paths at the bottom of the seat. If your seat will be forward facing, you lock it back facing upward. If it sounds confusing, don’t worry. It is clearly marked by labels on the seat and I’ll show you how to use it in the video.
Another really helpful thing about installation on this seat is that there’s a very clearly indicated ball level indicator on the side of the seat which will help guide you to a proper, level installation. If the ball sits in the proper coloured zone, you’ll know the seat is well leveled and ready for your child to sit.
One feature that I really like about this seat is the removable Anti-Rebound Bar. You don’t see these with all adjustable car seats and I’ve always personally been a fan. An Anti-Rebound Bar is a feature that you use when the seat is rear facing, and in the event of an accident, it minimizes the seat’s movement. Here’s a quick demo of how the Anti-Rebound Bar works courtesy of Graco’s YouTube channel.
The only caveat to having a seat with an anti-rebound bar, however, is whether or not it hinders your ability to fit the seat properly. With an anti-rebound bar on your Graco TrioGrow seat, the manufacturer recommends that at least 80% of the base be comfortably on your car seat. While it’s a helpful feature, it may be a pass if your car seat isn’t deep enough to accommodate this need.
Some last features with this seat are the harness storage, where you can simply tuck away the 5 point harness when your child no longer needs it, cup holders and the simple height adjustment feature a simple adjustable headrest. The seat has 10 different available headright height positions and 6 recline positions to accommodate each stage of your child’s growth. The Graco TrioGrow Snuglock seat has a 10 year seat life.
Graco 4Ever car seat review
The Graco 4Ever Car Seat is another multi-use, convertible car seat. Much like the TrioGrow, it also has a 10 year seat life and is designed to be the only seat your child needs from infancy till they can sit comfortably on the regular seats. It’s a far different design than the TrioGrow, however. That said, here are the different configurations for the 4Ever Convertible Car Seat:
Rear-Facing (Infant) – 4-40lb
Forward-Facing Harness – 22-65lb
Highback Booster – 40-120lb
One of the features that immediately sets this seat apart from the TrioGrow is the different weight limits. This seat has perhaps the lowest lower weight limit I’ve ever seen, capable of seating a child as light as 4lb. In addition, it has perhaps the highest upper weight limit I’ve ever seen at 120lb. Most seats I’ve reviewed over time have an upper weight limit of between 110-120lb.
While the TrioGrow features that anti-rebound bar I mentioned earlier, the 4Ever does not. The 4Ever has different safety features, like increased side impact safety and a different design. The 4Ever seat has the more traditional design of a seat that I got used to as a parent, with cushions and pieces you begin to strip away as your child gets older.
The 4Ever is more of a traditional installation through belt pathing / Universal Anchor Tethers, which means that there aren’t any belt path locking systems inside the seat to worry about. The 4Ever also comes with Graco’s InRight UAS technology, which is basically a push button install into the tethering mounts. I really don’t like the old style metal tether clips, so this is always a bonus to me. It also has a sliding base with 6 different reclining positions and also features harness storage, cup holders and a liquid level to help guide you with rear facing installation.
Like the TrioGrow, the headrest and harness are on Graco’s Simply Safe adjustable track which grows upward as your child does and it works without having to adjust and rethread the harness. Having gone through the pain of having to re-thread harnesses on my daughter’s car seat repeatedly, I would have paid extra for this feature had it existed on the seats we were looking at!
I do like the make-up and composition of this seat a little better than the TrioGrow. It isn’t just the body and shell shape. The recline button is a little larger and easier to maneuver and I admit, while I don’t have anything against the Snuglock system, I do like the simpler installation method of the 4Ever. I REALLY like the InRight UAS system over simpler metal tethers, however, there are TrioGrow models out there that come with it too. The model I had for review just didn’t have them.
What if I have more than one child?
One of the trickier things about buying car seats for your children is if you have more than one young child in need of a seat and whether what you buy will fit in the back seat. This isn’t something I had to worry about personally with one, but I imagine it must be troublesome to find the right seats to fit into your vehicle if you have 2 or 3 young children in need of car seats. There’s only so much room in the back seat of the car, right? If you’re looking at the pictures of the seats, you may have noticed that the TrioGrow looks a little thinner than the 4Ever and that’s only partially true. It doesn’t make a difference in the end. With the cup holders attached, both seats are approximately 19 inches wide. In case you’re curious what it’s like without the cup holders, the TrioGrow is about 17.5 inches from side to side, while the 4Ever is about 18.5 inches. Installation without the cup holder attachments is not recommended, however, so consider size essentially the same between both seats.
Are both of these seats travel approved?
If you’re going to be traveling a fair bit with these seats, both are airplane approved. The TrioGrow is a little bit (approximately 3lb) lighter, so if weight matters, that might be one thing to consider as you lug the seat from place to place. The TrioGrow is around 21.5lb, while the 4Ever is about 24.5lb.
At the end of the day, both seats come with a wealth of safety features that make either seat a good choice. While the TrioGrow is a bit more budget conscious and comes with the Anti-Rebound Bar, the 4Ever seat has tons of safety features and has greater lower and upper weight limits. Between both seats, I’d say that you should get whichever seat makes you feel most comfortable for your child’s safety, especially when it comes to their different installation methods. They’re both good seats in my opinion. Both the Graco 4Ever and Graco TrioGrow Snuglock seats are available now online through BestBuy.ca.