Graco Adds Dimension With New Convertible: Dimensions 65 Review

20150912_092706_resizedSeeing a new car seat come into the Canadian market is always exciting. Many of us can’t wait to get our hands on something new and see if it lives up to our (high) expectations or falls short. Sometimes we cringe when we see something that isn’t user friendly, has limited height and weight limits or is just too BIG to be useful in many of today’s smaller cars.

One seat we are excited to finally see in the flesh is Graco’s Dimensions 65. We had heard rumours that this seat was coming for some time and we are excited to see it added to the Graco lineup. Graco has many tried and true favourites: the Snugride Click Connect line, Nautilus & Argos combination (harness to booster) seats, as well as the TurboBooster and Affix belt positioning boosters. Until now the only convertible option we had from Graco was the MyRide 65. The MyRide is often recommended for small cars since it is relatively compact front-to-back, but it is also quite wide and not the longest lasting seat overall. This new convertible model takes all the things we love about the MyRide and makes them longer lasting and user friendly!

Graco Dimensions 65 Specs:

  • Rear-Facing:
    5lbs/2.2kg to 35lbs/16kg
    18″/46cm to 43″/109cm, with at least 1″ between top of child’s head and red adjuster handle
  • Forward-Facing:
    22lbs/10kg to 65lbs/30kg
    27″/69cm to 49″/125cm
    Must be at least 1 year old (Best practice is a min. of 2 years or the top limits of RF)
    Must be able to walk unassisted
  • Expires 7 years from date of manufacture
  • $310 at Babies R Us, Amazon.ca, Sears

General Features – video tour here

No-rethread Harness
One of the standout features for this seat is the no-rethread harness. It is designed so that you don’t have to pull the harness loose before adjusting the head rest up. The harness could be at the newborn setting, and you just pull the handle at the top and slide it up without any resistance. Click here for a demo to properly appreciate this feature! The no-rethread is fantastic for anyone that has different age/size children that ride in their vehicle. Grandparents, social workers, day care providers, car poolers or just someone with several kids that may use different seats depending on who is riding in the vehicle at the time.

Smooth Harness Adjustment
The harness tightens and loosens easily and smoothly. There is no struggling or tugging when tightening this harness.

Blue for rear-facing instructions, orange for forward-facing. Simple and clear!

Blue for rear-facing instructions, orange for forward-facing. Simple and clear!

Quick Direction Change
The ability to change this seat from rear-facing mode to forward-facing mode is simple and quick. This is
another great feature for the list of people that benefit from the no-rethread harness. The colour coded stickers are easy to read and understand. The recline foot easily flips from back to front, under the seat, and if using a seat belt install, that’s it except for stowing or connecting your top tether hook as required. If using the lower anchor hooks the strap slides along a bar on the right side of the seat and thread through the appropriate belt path. This seat is relatively lightweight so easy to move from vehicle to vehicle and will make a nice travel seat.

Detachable cup holders
I have a love/hate relationship with many cup holders. This one is easy to attach, can be used on either side of the seat and is at the perfect location for both rear and forward accessibility. It easily removes when that space is needed to install another car seat or have a person seated next to it. I ran it through my dishwasher when one of my kids put an unfinished ice cream cone in it, and it came out great. I think the most shocking thing is that I have a kid that doesn’t finish their ice cream!

Easy To Read Manual
The manual is easy to read, well organized and has lots of great visual instructions. Always read the manual before using a child restraint. This is a life saving device! It was designed and tested to be used as indicated in the manual!

Fit to Child

Rear Facing (5-35lbs and 18-43″)20150912_092820_resized
Originally the rear-facing height limit on these seats was 36″/91cm, but Graco has since amended the height limit to 43″, which is fantastic news! Some early models in store may still have the old limits, so contact Graco for new stickers and manual with the updated info. Most kids will be able to use this seat rear facing well past their 2nd birthday, much longer if they are tall and slim.

There are other seats on the market for kids who are heavier than average for continued rear-facing to 40-50lbs. The average boy (50th percentile) reaches 35lbs around age 3.75 and 43″ around age 5 while the average girl is 4 when she hits 35lbs and just over 5 when she is 43″. (Click the links to see Canadian WHO growth charts to see where your child falls). Even those long-torsoed kiddos will be able to rear face a good long while in the Dimensions as the shell+head rest is plenty tall.

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At age two, 36″ tall, and ~28lbs this kiddo has oodles of space still rear-facing.

The minimum child size for this seat is 2.2kg/5lbs and 46cm/18″. There are two crotch buckle positions. Newborn fit can vary, and the difference can be in torso length. Although a newborn may be within the lower limits of the seat, if the harness is above the child’s shoulders, they are too small for the seat. The Dimensions fit our small newborn doll quite nicely. The head pad is optional, but the body pad must be used until the baby’s torso is tall enough to fit the seat without it.

Rear-facing there is ample leg room, even for kids at the top end of the height/weight limits!

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Forward Facing (22-65lbs and 27-49″)

The first thing I did when I received this seat was extend the harness to its full height. And I was very impressed! The harness height is around 18.5″, rivaling a short list of convertible seats with tall harnesses on the market. This is also around the height of some combination (child/booster) seat harnesses, so this seat could be used until booster readiness for most kids. In addition to being tall, the harness also has a lot of length to it so even a heavier child would be able to have ample harness space. My oldest turns 7 next week, and is 48″ tall and well under the max weight limit, so has 1″ of standing height left before outgrowing this seat. She sits comfortably with harness room to grow. It is possible she outgrows this seat in standing height before her shoulders are above the top harness slot. This is interesting because she has outgrown several other harnessed seats with 49″ limits due to her shoulders being above the top harness slot, as well as a seat that claims a 57″ standing height limit. Always a good reminder that kids fit seats differently and it’s so important to try them in it rather than simply relying on listed numbers.

Pictured left to right: Age 7.5 and still harness height left; age 5 and she reports that it is quite comfortable; age 2 and usually rides rear facing but happily obliges her auntie with her “camera smile” for this forward-facing photo.

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The seat’s shape naturally makes it reclined when forward-facing. My second child turned 5 last week. He loves it and looks like he’s lounging in his favorite recliner when using it. Prior to the Dimensions arriving I’ve had several other harnessed convertibles and combination seats installed in our van, and he would oblige me with a single courtesy ride in them and then return to his primary, preferred seat. Not this time! I’ve had a hard time convincing him that other kids need to test it out. He has had to move back to his other seat a couple of times when we were carpooling and the other child was outgrown his abandoned seat, but fit in the Dimensions. Another 5 year old tester easily fell asleep in it on a long drive and was able to comfortably keep her head back. There was no forward flop and she reported that she liked it for sleeping (yet denied that she’d fallen asleep at all – do your kids do this!). 

Fit to Vehicle20150910_184049_resized

Rear Facing:

The rear-facing install has been great in many different styles of vehicles. One of the great things about the shape of the seat is that it creates a space ideal for using in vehicles with odd shaped seat bights, raised seat bights or with plastic hinges. One vehicle that often has compatibility issues is the Dodge Journey’s centre seat. The large plastic hinges often interfere with proper installs of some seats, but the Dimensions works around this and installs nicely.

Both belt paths are quite high and seat belt installs work well with many different styles of seat belt buckles, including those with long buckle stalks that can interfere with a good installation. The rear-facing belt path has a nice wide opening and is easy to route the belt through. You can also access the belt path by moving the cover out of the way to get better leverage when tightening the seat belt or lower anchors.

The natural slope of the seat will work well behind vehicle seats with forward leaning head restraints. It is also a good bet for a centre install, leaving ample room for front seat occupants even at a newborn recline. Most vehicles prohibit use of lower anchors in the centre so unless you have a dedicated set of centre lower anchors you must use the seat belt.

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2012 Honda Civic – a great bet for tall drivers with the seats all the way back!

Rear-facing the seat fits very compactly front to back and works well in small vehicles. This seat is also very narrow, especially at the base and child’s foot area and has worked really well in several 3-across situations I’ve tried it in, both rear- and forward-facing. It is an ideal choice next to booster seats due to its relatively high shell, and narrow base, leaving room not only for boosters to fit beside it but for young hands to reach down and buckle.

2012 VW Golf Wagon - Dimensions, Contender, Diono Radian RTX. 20150912_104630_resized

 

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We were easily able to install the Dimensions in several vehicles at the newborn recline level without any added rolled towels to increase the angle, but doing so is an option if necessary. The recline indicator on this seat is a roller ball that can be anywhere in the blue range for 3+ months, and within the light blue range for 0+ months (newborns). Make sure to park on level ground when installing, and recline as much as allowed for newborns to protect their airway.

 

 

 

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2012 F-150 extended cab – Dimensions installs easily in the centre with lots of leg room for driver and passenger.

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2003 Honda Civic (with an upright MyRide in the background).

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2013 Ford Focus sedan at a newborn recline, with lots of leg room remaining.

 

Forward Facing:

One issue I can see is in vehicles with fixed head restraints, forward leaning head restraints and head restraints that may not be removed when installed forward-facing (always check your vehicle manual to know whether the head restraint may be removed when installing a seat). Since the Dimensions has a natural recline the headrest moves up and back, not simply straight up. When extended past the shell of the seat the headrest of the child’s seat may be impeded by the vehicle’s head restraint. See photos below for a comparison with and without head restraint in place.

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The naturally reclined shape when forward-facing is a great comfort feature for kids with low muscle tone, for kids who are forward-facing earlier than we’d recommend, or for those who sleep a lot in the car and are otherwise inclined to flop their head forward. Those who like to sit more upright will not enjoy the recline.

The forward facing belt path is closed, which makes it a great option for air travel since the aircraft seat belt buckle won’t be running behind the cover along the child’s back they way it does in many other seats. It weighs 16lbs, so not overly heavy. The narrowness of the seat’s base should also fit well in an airline seat.

 

 

Overall Impressions:

Pros:

  • Narrow base and slim shell will fit 3-across in many vehicles
  • No-rethread harness adjusts up and down without loosening the harness with the same butter-smooth harness adjuster we have come to know and love on the Graco Argos
  • All parts attached except infant insert – nothing to store or lose track of
  • Quick and easy switch from rear- to forward-facing
  • Range of install angles for rear-facing
  • IMMI buckle and non-twisty harness
  • UAS connector system is simple to change from rear- to forward-facing
  • Detachable cup holder works on either side of seat
  • Easy to read manual and seat stickers are clear, and are colour coded rear- and forward-facing
  • Rear/forward-facing flip foot is easy to use and is clearly labeled
  • TALL harness! Top Harness height ~18.5″ from bum to shoulder
  • LOW harness! Adjusts small enough, ~7.75″, to fit the average newborn well
  • Small tether strap adjuster fits easily through truck tether loops and other small spaces
  • Shape when rear-facing makes a good fit for vehicles with plastic hinges and awkward seat bights
  • Naturally reclined when forward-facing (may be a “con” for you depending on your preference!); this may be a great seat for kids with low muscle tone

Cons:

  • Lower (35lb) rear-facing weight limit
  • Naturally reclined when forward-facing (may be a “pro” for you depending on your preference!); kids who prefer to sit more upright will not enjoy this positioning
  • Not compatible forward-facing with fixed and/or forward leaning vehicle head restraints
  • Little choice in fabric colours – I’d love to see some teal, green, orange, purple, pink…

Thank you to Graco Baby Canada for providing the seat used in this review; all opinions are our own!

Are you in the Edmonton AB, Langley BC, London or Burlington ON areas Graco and Walmart are offering free car seat clinics no matter what brand of seat you have! Space is limited so register for your appointment time now!

Graco Clinics

4 comments to Graco Adds Dimension With New Convertible: Dimensions 65 Review

  • Devon

    NOOOO!!!! WHY 35lbs Gah. Otherwise it looks great. Hopefully Graco will change that at some point. Oh, and you missed a “Pro” — the seat has a unique name that’s a real word and is SPELLED PROPERLY! That in itself is an accomplishment for Graco these days 😉

  • BC

    Thank you for posting this helpful review! Especially the height/length limit for rear-facing. Was wondering what it was and could not find it on the Babies R Us or Graco Canada websites. I did not realize this was a super brand new model. It’s on sale at the moment where we are (in Winnipeg, $70 off) so we’re thinking it’s time to upgrade our 9-month-old’s bucket seat/infant carrier as she’s outgrowing the belt straps! 🙂

  • Julie

    Hi, what is the difference between Graco Dimensions 65 and Graco Contender 65

    • jshapka

      The Contender has basic hook-style UAS connectors, no harness pads, a single piece infant insert, and different fabric compared to the Dimensions. Fit to car will be the same, limits are the same, and unless you’re using this with a small baby (and need the inserts) fit to child will also be the same.