Graco Contender Slim Convertible Car Seat Review: A Great Car Narrow Convertible Car Seat

graco contender slim convertible car seat review

The Graco Contender Slim Convertible car seat will always and forever hold a special place in my heart.

This was the first ‘big boy’ car seat I bought. This was the first car seat I bought after I realized my little baby boy wasn’t so little anymore and was ready to upgrade to a car seat to carry him into toddlerhood. This was one purchase I wasn’t expecting to make me cry so much, but boy, oh boy, did I cry.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t looking into purchasing this car seat originally. I actually had my eyes on another car seat from Nuna. I knew the time was getting close for my son to upgrade, but I thought I had some time before it became unsafe for him in his infant car seat. Or, so I thought (first-time mom mistake).

One day, I woke up, and I saw that my son had officially outgrown his bucket car seat. He had gone through a growth spurt overnight; I knew I had to rush to the closest store to get him a different car seat.

Thankfully, Target was having a sale on car seats, and this was the only convertible car seat they had in stock. Now, months into using this car seat, I’m so glad I grabbed this convertible car seat from the shelves!

Bottom Line Up Front:

This is a great convertible car seat for the price. This is a 2-in-1 convertible car seat, so you’re still going to have to purchase a highback and/or backless booster seat when your little one is old enough.

graco contender slim convertible car seat

Graco Contender Slim Convertible at a Quick Glance

  • 20 x 21.25 x 24.75 inches
  • 15.2-pound weight
  • Safe for 5–40 pounds rear-facing, 22-65 pounds for forward-facing
  • FAA approved
  • When rear-facing, the top of your baby’s head should come at least one inch below the handle.
  • When forward-facing, height is safe up to 49 inches.
  • InRight LATCH system
  • Eight different headrest positions
  • Two recline positions for rear-facing
  • Removable cup holder
  • Uses European Reaer-Impact Crash Pulse for rear-impact performance testing
  • Exceeds restraint criteria for front crashes with the US FMVSS 213 requirements
  • Passeed Graco RollSafe testing

All about the Graco Contender Slim Convertible

The Graco Contender Slim Convertible car seat is safe for rear-facing and forward-facing.

I purchased this car seat to have a car seat that would grow with our family for a couple of years, considering this car seat has a nine-year expiration date, and my husband and I are planning to have another baby. As long as we don’t get into a car accident, I can use this car seat for our second baby in a few years.

This car seat is safe for rear-facing as long as your baby weighs at least 5 pounds and no more than 40 pounds. Once your little one is old enough to begin forward-facing, this car seat is safe to use for forward-facing with babes weighing between 22 pounds and to 65-pounds.

A lot of parents go with this car seat because of how much space it saves in your backseat. Let me tell you; it’s a huge game changer for space!

Of course, the affordability of this car seat is always great too. I was able to score this car set for under $200 while it was on sale. It’s nice to know I’m not going to have to shell out money for a couple of years for a new car seat.

On this car seat, you’ll find a 5-point harness system and an adjustable headrest. I LOVE the headrest; every time my son grows a little bit, all I have to do is click on the handle (located on top of the headrest), and I pull it up.

It extends the height of the car seat and leaves me with no rethreading to worry about.

graco contender slim seat

Why I Love the Graco Contender Slim Convertible

I love how easy it is to pop this car seat in and out of cars. Whenever I go out with my parents or whenever my husband wants to switch cars, we can easily pop this car seat into another car.

We use the InRigid LATCH system to make it easy for us to safely install this car seat into another vehicle.

Another thing I really love about this car seat is how much legroom this car seat has provided. My son is pretty tall (he started wearing size 18-month clothes at nine months), so I was looking for a car seat that was going to keep him rear-facing for as long as possible. I don’t think his height is going to be an issue with this car seat.

The no rethreading is amazing. I can’t tell you how much of a lifesaver the adjustable headrest is, especially when you’re in a pinch.

However, I love all of the tests Graco put this car seat through to ensure it was safe. The side-impact protection has me feeling less worried while I’m out on the road with my son, knowing he’s protected.

I’m extra anxious about car accidents because my son has a severe bleeding disorder, so even minor car accidents can pose a higher risk of serious danger to my toddler.

That’s why I’m so passionate about car seat safety; I want to make sure my son is completely protected if there is anything that happens to us while we’re out on the road.

All of the testing Graco put their Slim Convertible through makes me feel confident in knowing that my son’s torso, neck, and head are all going to be okay if we ever are in a car accident.

Due to my son’s bleeding disorder, he has to get weekly infusions at home. I use this car seat to keep him contained so he doesn’t fight as much against the infusions.

This car seat is plush and comfortable, so he isn’t in any pain after sitting in this car seat for a little while. I’ve ever had my son fight to try to get out of this car seat (while he’s getting the infusion), and he’s slammed his head against the headrest.

I don’t keep him as tightly secured in the harness as I would when we’re in the car; with my son slamming his head against the headrest, it would normally result in a bruise.

The foam inside of this car seat is EPS energy-absorbing foam, helping to keep your little one safe in case of a car accident. The plush padding featured on this headrest kept my son safe and with no bruising.

What I Don’t Like about the Graco Contender Convertible

graco contender slim convertible car seat to buy

Out of all of the things I would have beef with, it’s the cup holder. I hate the cup holder that comes with the Graco Contender Slim convertible car seat. I wish it was installed into the car seat, but I understand why Graco didn’t install this car seat.

I know having the cup holder installed into the car seat would make it wider and risk not fitting into smaller vehicles.

But the removable cup holder gets weaponized by my son when he’s throwing a tantrum. Just as understanding the basics of car seat safety, projectiles are a safety hazard when you’re driving (or in an accident).

So, for now, I’m keeping this cup holder off of the car seat. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, so it would be nice if Graco made a more secure attachment (toddler proofing would be nice) for placing it on the car seat.

And while I know this complaint is normal for more convertible car seats, I wish the cover was easier to remove.

It takes me so long to remove the cover and put it back on. I hate having to take it off, as I always get worried I’m not going to put it back on the right (which would mess with the safety of this car seat with my son in it).

Other Alternatives to Consider

  • Britax One4Life ClickTight All-in-one Car Seat
  • Graco SlimFit3 LX 3-in-1 Car Seat
  • Evenflo Gold Revolve36- Rotational All-in-one Convertible Car Seat
  • Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
  • Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
safety 1st grow and go 3-in-1 convertible car seat 
Safety 1st grow and go 3-in-1 convertible car seat

Graco Contender Slim Convertible Car Seat Review: FAQs

Question: Is the Graco Contender Slim Convertible car seat FAA approved for use on airplanes?

Answer: Yes, that’s another reason why I love the Graco Contender Slim! It’s FAA approved for use on an airplane for both the forward-facing position and the rear-facing position.

Question: Is the Graco Contender Slim Convertible Car Seat easy to install?

Answer: Yes, the Graco Contender Slim Convertible is super easy to install. I love the InRight LATCH system because it makes it super easy to move in and out of cars. Sometimes, we move the car seat inside our house if our son falls asleep on a car ride. It’s super easy to put in (and take out) the car.

Question: Does the Graco Contender Slim Convertible Car Seat come with a cup holder?

Answer: Yes, the Graco Contender Slim Convertible car seat comes with a removable cup holder that can be attached to either side of the car seat. However, I’m not a huge fan of this cup holder because of how easily removable it is.

Question: Is the Graco Contender Slim right for you and your babe?

Answer: I don’t think you can go wrong with the Graco Contender Slim Convertible car seat, even if you aren’t in the market for a slim car seat. I love the affordability of this car seat, but I also really love how easy it is to install and adjust as your little one is growing!

The rigorous testing this car seat went through before getting released on the market is comforting, but I find even more peace in how well this car seat performed in the testing results.

Overall, I think this is a great car seat, and I would highly recommend it for anyone looking to save space in their backseat or looking for a convertible car seat that’s easy to use!