graco contender 65 review from experts (2022)

In Graco Contender 65 review, we will explain all its features and ease of use so that you can make a wise decision for your baby. So, in recent years, the Graco Contender 65 and its clone, the Graco Admiral 65, have proven that they are a solid, easy-to-use, budget-friendly option. Parents looking for a next-step car seat after their baby outgrows their infant seat should consider these convertibles. 

The Contender and Admiral are excellent rear-facing car seats; they convert into a forward-facing car seat that can take most kids to booster age and have an integrated cup holder.

 Because of its lower price point, the Contender is nice enough to be the leading car seat yet inexpensive enough to be a backup or spare seat for a second vehicle. In addition to the Contender/Admiral, one of our favorite airplane seats is the Admiral.

Graco contender 65

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Graco contender 65
Adjust the child in the car seat

Contender 65 Overview:

  • A harness that does not require re-threading and has eight positions
  • Two positions for crotch straps/buckles
  • Flip-foot recline in a color-coded way eliminates guesswork when reclining a car seat
  • Aircraft approved by the FAA
  • Before the seat expires, it has a lifespan of 7 years

There is only one difference between the Admiral and the Contender, and that is it carries Graco’s ProtectPlus EngineeredTM stamp on its rear and rollover crash tests, which are not required by FMVSS 213.


Can install it with either the vehicle seat belt or the lower LATCH strap. With a metal bar attached to the left side of the car seat, the LATCH strap will never get tangled with the harness straps. I prefer the seat belt to the LATCH adjustment since it is stiff. Whether installing the Contender using the seat belt or LATCH strap, always use the top rope.

An orange and blue sticker on the bottom of the seat lets you recline the Contender. The blue stickers must line up with the rear-facing foot. Use pool noodles or a tightly rolled towel to get the ball in the rear-facing zone if you need more recline. Match the orange stickers together and flip the foot backward for forward-facing. It’s that simple!

The weight limits for forward-facing LATCH: 45 lbs.

Installation of a center LATCH with a non-standard spacing:

If the vehicle manufacturer allows it, Graco allows LATCH installation in the center seating position if the anchor bars are at least 11″ apart.

Seat belts that inflate

In some Ford Motor Company vehicles, can install inflatable seat belts with the Contender. The Contender is incompatible with other types of inflatable seat belts.


A car seat’s safety is one of its most noticeable and essential features. Parents will not invest their money in something that does not guarantee 100% security. So what are the advantages of Graco?

Safe Seat Engineering’s label is the first thing you’ll notice. Graco uses it to convey a simple message. Always put the safety of your family first!

NHTSA safety standards require Graco seats to be twice as safe as standard.

The good-old side impact protection is one of the essential features a car seat can have. It is guaranteed that your child will be protected at all times in the event of an accident.

Graco seats feature EPS foam layering in addition to being able to withstand a crash. So? The layering has an exciting name, big whoop.

Please hold on. You won’t find the kind of layering you would find on a regular car seat here.

Lightweight yet stable, the car seat is made of EPS foam. EPS foam will protect your kids from injury in a car crash by absorbing energy. It will also absorb any impact.

It’s a good idea to have Contender 65 if you live in a hotter climate. Hot temperatures won’t cause buckles to break or melt. Your car seat will remain intact if you leave it in a car for a few days.

 A good fit for your child

Children weighing between 5-65 pounds can use the Contender. A tight fit might be an issue for children under 65 pounds. Romeo, my doll, is about the size of an 8-9 lb. It didn’t fit a newborn, so it might not provide a 5-pounder. According to the instruction manual, the height of the harness should not exceed the shoulders of the child when the child is rear-facing.

With just the right amount of padding, it allows larger children to fit in the seat comfortably without squeezing them in such a way that they won’t fit later. Until booster age, or until elementary school, the Contender should do big kids.

Sam, our most miniature model, is 11 months old and weighs a hair under 19 pounds. Our oldest, Ava, is almost 6 and 46 lbs. The harness on Ava’s seat has been adjusted to have one more slot to adjust in height.

Ease of Use

There is little difficulty in removing the cover. You can wash it in a washing machine and air-dry it.

Because the harness is non-removable, I cannot replace it. You’re stuck if your kid yucks it up. It can be cleaned using a washcloth and mild soap (Dawn, Dreft) as you would any harness. The harness should be thoroughly dried after rinsing off the soap with a wet washcloth. If the harness still smells, place it in full sun for a while.

Guidelines for FAA approval, lifespan, and crashes

Because the Contender is relatively lightweight for dragging through airports and FAA-approved, it makes an excellent seat for flying. For forward-facing, it has a “closed” belt path, which means that there is hard plastic behind the child’s back so that they won’t feel the buckle when it’s installed. Must use contenders on the plane; putting them under the plane in the cargo area is pointless.

Graco wants you to replace the Contender/Admiral after any crash after it has lasted seven years.

Harnesses that adjust and safely

Simply Safe Adjust Harness System is another label you will see on the seat.

 It means the straps do not need to be re-threaded. Excellent!

While some may consider this feature a plus, others may view it as a con. Regardless, you have to admit that it exists. Despite its impressive appearance, no-rethreading still leaves little room for customization.

While it may benefit you in the long run, think about how uncomfortable it would be for a growing child. I realize this is not for everyone.

Expiration and Warranty Information

After seven years from the date of manufacture, it is recommended that this car seat is no longer used. If you look on the side or under the car seat, you can quickly locate the manufacture date. The manufacturer’s information is conveniently located on Graco seats.

A limited warranty is included with all Graco products. You will receive a replacement product, but you will not receive a refund.

If you experience an issue with your car seat, you should contact the manufacturer for assistance. These manufacturers, especially Graco, are more than likely to provide you with answers or the correct replacement parts.

The limited warranty will apply to the Grace Contender 65 after one year from the date of purchase. Please keep in mind that a receipt will be required as proof of purchase.


  • A harness that does not require re-threading and has eight positions
  • Harness that is easy to use
  • The crotch strap has two positions
  • The flip-foot of the reclining car seat is color-coded
  • It’s lightweight
  • Suitable for air travel: FAA-approved
  • The lifespan of 7 years before expiration


  • The harness cannot be removed or replaced as it is non-removable.
  • Made in China (although, to be fair, this is the case for most car seats).

Frequently Asked Questions

How safe is the Graco Contender 65?

Because of its forward-facing installation, latch system, EPS foam, easy installation, and most importantly, its absolute safety guarantee, the Contender 65 has a 3/5 safety rating.

How long is a Graco Contender 65 Good For?

Seven years
Seven years after the date of manufacture, stop using this child restraint and throw it away.

Does the Graco Contender 65 have a steel frame?

Plastic and dense foam make up the Graco Contender 65, making it easier to clean and lighter than a steel-framed car seat. In addition, it has undergone extensive crash testing, and it is made with Graco quality, so it is safe and dependable.

Does the Graco Contender 65 recline?

You can recline the seat by flipping to recline foot at the bottom of the Contender 65 car seat. For rear-facing use, convert to recline foot forward.

How much does the Graco extend to fit weight?

Here’s the description. Riding rear-facing longer is safe! From rear-facing to forward-facing (65-265 lbs) with the Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat, your child can grow with it.


In the Graco contender 65 reviews, we tried to cover all aspects of this car seat. Graco puts a lot of emphasis on the safety and durability of its products. They’ve been in the business for over a century! The Contender 65 car seat complies with their promise of safety and durability.

You can rest assured that your child is safe while riding in this vehicle due to its side-impact testing and EPS energy-absorbing foam. It’s also extremely comfortable for them! Have you wanted to try this?