Graco is on a roll with the introduction of the Tranzitions to their impressive and growing lineup of seats across all stages. See a video tour here.
The Tranzitions, currently a Babies R Us exclusive for $239.99 in an eye-catching green and black fashion called Spring, is a forward-facing only harnessed seat that converts to a high back booster and then a backless booster. True to its name it transitions — ahem, tranZitions – through these stages with ease. This seat is appropriate for kids who are ready to forward-face (best practice, and our opinion, means at least two years old, ideally older).
Forward facing in harness mode:
For children who are 22-65lbs (10-30kg) AND 27-49″ (69-125cm) tall AND able to sit upright unassisted AND are at least one year old AND have the harness coming from at or just above the shoulders.
High back or backless booster mode (with lap/shoulder belt of course):
For children who are 40-100lbs (18-45kg) AND 43-57″ (110-145cm) tall AND at least four years old (best practice, and in our opinion, means more like 5 or 6 because maturity matters).
- Lowest harness height with body pillow: 11″
- Highest harness height without body pillow: 18″
- Two crotch buckle positions: 5.5″ with body pillow, 7.5″ without body pillow
- Width at widest point: 19″ with cup holders / 17.5″ without cup holders / 18″ at arm rests
- Width at back bottom edge: 14.5″
- Seat weight: 12.5 lbs
- Expires 7 years from date of manufacture
- No-rethread harness (adjust harness height without undoing the harness or uninstalling the seat through eight head rest positions)
- Install with UAS to a child weight of 45lbs
- May use UAS in booster mode to secure seat
- Smooth harness adjuster
- Harness pads for comfort at neck
- Machine washable cover
- Fast and easy conversion from harness mode to booster mode
- Two cup holders – but use is optional, so shave 1.5″ off the width by not using them
- Easy access storage for unused UAS connectors
- Ships semi-assembled but sets up easily in seconds
Fit to Vehicle:
The Tranzitions is slim, lightweight, easy to move around, and installed well in most places we tested it. Installation with UAS was quick and easy, and although the UAS connectors are the basic hook-style ones, the UAS adjuster is super smooth and tightening and loosening is a breeze.
Tip: pull up the interior fabric panel to expose the belt path so you can get more leverage and a better angle when tightening. Works for UAS or seat belt!
There will naturally be a bit of a gap behind the lower back area of the Tranzitions – minimize it as much as possible, and in harness mode ensure there is 20% or less of overhang off the front edge of the vehicle seat (no overhang in booster mode). If in doubt contact Graco for feedback.
Also make sure that any forward-leaning vehicle head restraints are not forcing the Tranzitions head rest forward. If it’s possible to remove the vehicle head rest (check your vehicle manual to see if it’s required to stay put for use with car seats) then as with many car seats, the fit will be better. Make sure to always use the tether strap and hook, no exceptions.
A sampling of the vehicles we tested:
2012 Honda Odyssey captain’s seat, Tranzitions head rest all the way up. Forward-leaning Odyssey head rest may be an issue at mid-height but fits like a glove at full Tranzitions height, and also at lower head rest positions. Difficulty level: with UAS = easy, with seat belt = medium.
2012 Ford F-150 Super Cab (extended cab with half doors). NO overhang – woot! – and narrow enough to install beautifully on the ’40’ side and still leave room for the ’60’ side to fold. Tranzitions is a very good option for extended cab trucks, or vehicles with shallow back seats, particularly if the vehicle head rest is permitted to be removed. The slim tether adjuster mechanism fed through the tether routing loop no problem (for those unfamiliar with truck tethering…just smile and nod). Difficulty level: with UAS = easy, with seat belt = easy.
2012 Ford Focus hatchback titanium trim level with leather. This Focus permits the removal of the vehicle head restraint when installing a car seat and this results in a much better fit to vehicle. This fit tip is true for most forward facing seats – check your vehicle manual to see if this is an option if you are having trouble. Difficulty level: with UAS = easy, with seat belt = medium (due to the fixed and forward-leaning buckle stalks).
2011 Dodge Grand Caravan in the 3rd row centre and also a 2nd row captain’s seat (those are the locations with a tether anchors and so the only places this seat can be used when in harness mode). Similar belt scrunching happening as with the Focus above, but doable. Difficulty level: UAS = easy, seat belt = hard.
Fit to Child
We are so thrilled to report that the Tranzitions fits reliably and comfortably in all modes. Although the minimum use for harness mode is 22lbs, 27″, sitting upright, and one year old, we don’t encourage use of it with children that small. Keep them rear facing as long as possible in one of many seats that can do it with ease. For those who are 2+ however, the ease of use features of the Tranzitions — harness pads, two crotch buckle positions, optional body pillow — will make for a happy ride. Our kid testers found it comfortable, including during a 2 hour drive, despite minimal padding in the bum area. There are no restrictions for weight, harness position, or crotch buckle position, so the removable machine washable body pillow is much appreciated.
We really liked the fit on our smallest tester all the way up to our biggest — and so did they.
Age 2.5, 32lbs, 35.5″ tall
Age 4.75, 53lbs, 44″ tall, 2nd from the top harness height
Age 6, 52lbs, 48″ tall, using the top harness position with about 1″ of torso height still to grow.
Booster mode — both high back and backless — had similarly excellent fit. Our experienced booster riders also reported that the Tranzitions was easy to buckle as well, an important part of proper and consistent booster use. Belt fit was reliable, and in the vehicles we tested the shoulder belt retracted smoothly when our testers leaned forward and then leaned back. Remember boostered kids have freedom of movement in their seat belt, just like we do, and if they readjust their position it’s really important that the shoulder belt stays snug as they do it. No overhang of the vehicle seat is permitted in booster mode.
These 6-8.5 year old (50-65lbs, 48″-56″ tall) testers are showing off the excellent belt fit at the shoulder and lap.
And our older, bigger testers model the backless booster:
Important to note: with the back on the Tranzitions the child sits further forward in the seat, ideal for smaller kids or those with shorter legs. With the back off and using as a backless booster kids should scoot their bums back…meaning the seat pan is now longer. If the child’s legs are too short to bend naturally at the edge of the Tranzitions we recommend putting the back on so they can sit comfortably, and avoid slouching. We all know what happens when we sit on a couch that’s really deep…we slouch and slide around to get comfortable, which is not okay when in a booster seat because it usually means the belt fit is no longer ideal.
Below is the same child in highback booster mode and backless booster mode. Her legs aren’t long enough to use the backless mode comfortably, but at six years old and as a beginner booster rider we’d recommend she ride in highback mode for a good while yet anyway.
This change in fit really emphasizes how well this seat grows with your child!
Conversion to booster mode, and back again, was so slick. Graco has designed some clever features into this process, such as the ease with which the crotch buckle can be removed (no broken nails or cursing!), and the nifty storage location for the splitter plate (the bit that the harness attaches to at the back). One booster tester found she could feel the splitter plate under her bum while in backless mode, but couldn’t in high back mode; the other two testers didn’t notice it at all. Make sure to store all of the bits needed for harness mode in a safe place.
UAS can be used when in high back booster mode, a nice convenience feature, but if you do not have lower anchors in the spot you’re using the seat, or if you’re using it in backless mode, then teach your child to buckle it when empty so it doesn’t become a projectile for you.
Graco’s Tranzitions is great value for the price, and is slim, lightweight, and actually works well in all three modes! Often seats that boast multiple modes tend to excel at one but are a bit lacklustre in others, but not this seat! It’s certainly easiest to install with lower anchors (UAS), and they can be used to a child weight of 45lbs. We recommend test-fitting with a seat belt installation as well, because not all kids are booster ready right at that weight. We’re pleased to add the Tranzitions to our list of favourite seats, and are excited to see what Graco has next in store for us!
Want to check it out for yourself? Thanks to Graco Baby Canada one lucky reader will win a Tranzitions! To enter use the Rafflecopter widget below, and make sure to leave a blog post comment here answering this question: What feature of the seat most appeals to you – what catches your attention, or what will be most useful for your child and your car? Comments don’t show up until we approve them but that’s okay – tell the widget “I commented” and let us take care of the rest!
Thanks to Graco Baby Canada for providing the seat used in this review but as usual, all opinions are our own.
Jen Shapka is a mom of two, teacher-by-training, Child Passenger Safety Technician-Instructor Trainer, military spouse, and small business owner. A co-founder of Vancouver Island Car Seat Techs, she now resides in Ontario.