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If you’re going to take your child with you anywhere you are going to need a car seat (unless you’ve picked up a car seat stroller). There are plenty of car seats on the market from a number of great brands, but one brand you can always trust is Graco.
Graco has two three-in-one car seats on the market that compete with each other in the same price range. Today we’ll take a look at both of them in detail and determine which manages to come out ahead in the race.
The Graco Grace Slimfit is a new release than the Graco Milestone (having launched around the end of 2016) and it is tempting to default to the newer model. Upon close inspection, it’s actually very easy to find almost no differences between them at all.
This is why we’re going to look deeper and try to find out every last thing we can to give you the edge in your decision-making process. A lot of what we find will have less to do with technical specifications (both are great) and more to do with specific observations from parents like you.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Do They Look Like on Paper?
- 2 The Main Differences Between the Graco Slimfit and the Graco Milestone
- 3 So How Do They Compare?
- 4 Graco Slimfit
- 5 Graco Milestone
- 6 Final Thoughts
What Do They Look Like on Paper?
We can get the facts from the manufacturer out of the way right up front so we can compare more easily. Both the Slimfit and the Milestone are three-in-one car seats designed to evolve from a rear-facing seat to a front-facing seat and, finally, to a booster seat. All told, these will support children from 5 pounds up through 100 pounds.
- Three-in-one design. They both begin as a rear-facing seat (5-40 lbs.) than a front-facing seat (22-65 lbs.) and finally a seat belt positioning booster (30-100 lbs.)
- The Simply Safe Adjust harness system allows you to adjust the harness and headrest together.
- 4-position recline in both forward and rear-facing mode for maximum child comfort.
- InRight LATCH system for an easy attachment that should only take a second.
- Both have been tested for side impact, managing retention of your child with just the built-in 5-point harness system. This is in addition to meeting all applicable US safety standards.
- Both include a washable seat cover that can be easily removed without messing with the harness.
- A steel-reinforced frame provides excellent strength and durability in either model.
- When you move one of the seats to booster mode, they have an integrated harness storing compartment for all the extra harnesses you don’t need anymore.
- Extra plush comfort inserts are removable for both models.
- Both are built with energy-absorbing foam to efficiently manage the energy of an impact.
The Main Differences Between the Graco Slimfit and the Graco Milestone
- The Milestone has a single removable cupholder for your child’s drink, whereas Slimfit has two cupholders for even more kiddy drinking capacity on long car trips, and while they aren’t removable they do rotate away to slim the seat down.
- Parents say the Slimfit features a more breathable material, as one would expect from a newer model.
- The straps on the Slimfit are a little more difficult to maneuver, though this can be a boon if you have a restless child.
So How Do They Compare?
This is where we get into the meat of the issue. You’ve no doubt made note of the fact that the list of similarities is far longer than the list of differences.
If you just look at both entries on an online store page, it can be hard to tell the difference aside from the cupholders. The differences may seem very small, but without a difference in the price point, you wanna make sure you know every little detail on which car seat will get you the most value for your money.
The Graco Slimfit is the newer model that is more likely to attract your attention. It seems fitting that we break this one down first. We’ve looked into car seats plenty before, so you can take a refresher if you need to before we get into details.
The Slimfit is a sleek, beautiful model that will do more than just be a car seat for your kid. The Slimfit can be the only seat your child needs until they’re ready to sit on their own.
The Graco Slimfit features three modes of operation: rear-facing, front-facing, and belt-positioning booster. Within those first two modes, you’ll find your child held snugly and securely by a 5-point harness system that’s easy to adjust, but not so easy that your kid can easily get out of it. The LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) makes installing the car seat a breeze and is designed to keep the seat securely in place for as long as you need it.
The Slimfit also comes loaded with plush padding to keep your child comfortable. If they start to outgrow it a little you can always remove it, and they will still be protected by the energy-absorbing foam and steel-reinforced frame. The seat was designed with the US standard FMVSS 213 in mind, so don’t worry about safety. The Slimfit meets and exceeds all safety regulations.
Of course, you want to hear about the cupholders; they seem to be a huge selling point of the car seat. The Graco Slimfit has two cup holders, one on either side of the child seat, that rotate away when they aren’t needed. This gives you that much more room in the car (an estimated 10% saving on space).
Having two cupholders may seem like overkill, but aside from pleasing to the eye symmetry, you can also double load a child for a long trip in the car. Even if you have to take rest stops you won’t have to refill any cups.
- Dual rotating cupholders for space-saving and drinking convenience
- Extra breathable mesh fabric to keep baby comfortable on warm days
- Space-saving design giving you back up to 10% of your seat space
- Save space in your car (even more, if you rotate the cupholders)
- Newer, sleeker model for those with an eye towards trendiness
- More cupholders mean more drinks!
- Restraints are a little more difficult to adjust and remove to guarantee your child stays where they belong
- While similar in price, it can sometimes cost a little more with seemingly little in return depending on your perspective
- Despite its name, it is technically wider than the Milestone, though it can save space in other dimensions
- Some find its LATCH system a little harder to install.
The Graco® SlimFit® 3-in-1 Car Seat grows with your child, from rear-facing harness (5-40 lb) to forward-facing harness (22-65 lb) to highback booster (40-100 lb). It saves space in your back seat, while giving your child plenty of room to grow.
What are Parents Saying?
The Graco Slimfit has an average review rating of 4.8 stars on Amazon and Graco’s own website. There’s no questioning that people consider it to be excellent. The Slimfit is loaded with patented systems and sleek designs that make a versatile crowd-pleaser.
Parents praise everything from the convenience of the two cup holders to how much the savings on space really did make a difference. Here’s what a few pleased parents had to say in particular:
“It’s a tight fit! But we were able to fit 3 car seats across in my Ford Escape! We had the Graco 4ever and Graco Nautilus before these and they were too wide to be able to have the infant seat next to them. We switched them out for 2 slimfits and now the infant seat fits perfectly! Def. recommend this seat for small cars!” -Kindle Customer (5 Stars, Amazon)
“I’ve been wanting to get a second GOOD car seat for my husband’s vehicle for a while. When I saw the drop in price, I ran out to the local stores to “test” the SlimFit out. I looked at the SlimFit and the Milestone, both were on sale (Walmart) for the same price and are basically the same seat.
My primary car seat is a 2014 Graco 4Ever which I absolutely adore. It has tons of features and both the SlimFit and Milestone are comparable. Ultimately my daughter and I chose the SlimFit because of the two (collapsible) cup holders…” -T. Saldana (5 Stars, Amazon)
You can see how much real parents enjoy this space-saving seat and complements other seats in the Graco line perfectly. You can’t go wrong with this choice, and you have more than my word to depend on.
You’ve heard plenty about the Slimfit and they were all great things, but don’t make a decision without seeing what the slightly older (but still sold new) Milestone can offer. The Milestone (read my full review here!) has all the same features as the Slimfit on paper except for the rotating dual cupholders. We’ll run the seat down, in brief, to compare and make note of the small differences.
The Milestone cuts a fairly sleek figure on its own, though it does have fewer accents and color options. All three modes are still here, rear-facing, front-facing, and belt-positioning booster. This doesn’t change at all between models, which is good because it is probably the most important feature.
The padding here is also removable and just as comfortable for the most part. A small nitpick would be to say that the fabric on the Milestone is not quite as breathable as that on the Slimfit, according to some parent reviews. However, no material differences are mentioned in Graco product descriptions.
The restraints on the Milestone have all the same safety ratings (and, again, on paper the same design) as those on the Slimfit. If you can work one harness you can work the other. It is worth noting, however, that the Milestone is said by some to have easier restraints to adjust and an easier release button to press.
The difference on this is hard to measure, but some parents believe a dedicated child could adjust their own harness while wearing it, or even unclasp their own restraint. Again, Graco doesn’t specify a difference between models so feel free to take this with a grain of salt.
The LATCH system that the Slimfit uses is also present here. It seems fairly standard and dependable, the Graco website even has a page explaining the system as a general topic. The LATCH on the Milestone, therefore, attaches and operates the same way the system on the Slimfit does.
The Milestone’s system is said to have a little less resistance when tightening the belts and attaching it, but this benefit is admittedly very minor.
The Milestone does have a cupholder, but unlike the Slimfit’s cup holder it does not rotate. There is also only one, but it is removable and can attach to either the right or left armrest for those of you with left-handed children. It’s honestly the most noticeable difference between the two car seats, and the importance of this distinction will depend entirely on your needs as a parent.
Removable cup holder that can be fitted to either the right or left armrest
- If you shop around, it is very possible to find this car seat for a little cheaper as it is considered an older model than the Slimfit
- Easier LATCH installation
- Slightly lighter than the Slimfit
- Easier to loosen restraints could be a worry for some parents
- Only has one cupholder which, while removable, doesn’t save much space in the removing
- Less breathable fabric
The Graco Milestone stands out as an exceptional value for the money. It lasts just as long as the "4Ever" car seats, but is considerably less expensive for the same core function. In fact, it's one of our recommend VALUE picks for best in class safety and longevity.
What are Parents Saying?
The Graco Milestone has a standing score of 4.8 on Graco’s own website and 4.7 on Amazon, but keep in mind that it’s been on the market longer to accumulate a bad review here and there.
It was a well-known favorite before the Slimfit was released and has dimmed only because the Slimfit is intended as a direct upgrade. You can still find parents talking it up in reviews for how sturdy it is or for how easy it is to install. Here are a few interesting comments from parents out there:
“We got this for our son at 6 months and I was nervous moving him to a bigger car seat. This car seat took away all my worries with all its features. The steel frame is sturdy and definitely a selling point. This car seat is easy to use and protects my son’s whole body. The lap belt fits perfectly about the thighs, and adjusting the head portion is the best. It’s easy to adjust the height as your child grows.
One of the best features is the straps that attach to your vehicle! There is a push button that allows you to loosen the belt with ease and allows you to clip on the hooks. I cannot say enough good things about this car seat!” -Mama01 (5 Stars, Graco Website)
“I researched tons of car seats before finally deciding on either the Graco Milestone or the Graco 4ever. I decided to go with the Milestone simply because of the price difference. If I was unsatisfied I would just return. I was NOT unsatisfied. This car seat is amazing and comfortable. My baby is 8 months old and she even loves it. It’s high quality, safe, and easy to install. It took me all of 2 minutes to install with the latch system and it was ready to go.”-MarTorr (5 Stars, Amazon)
It is not hard to tell why this seat was so popular for so long and still is to this day. All the important features are there (and even some extra frills) just the same and they continue to satisfy.
As much as you may try to differentiate the two models, the Graco Slimfit and the Graco Milestone are very similar car seats. This can be good and bad depending on which car seat you want to look at things from the perspective of.
The Milestone has a nearly direct upgrade competing within a similar price range. The Slimfit has to leverage a few small upgrades to justify being worth upgrading from the Milestone or paying a higher price for depending on retailers.
If you shop around diligently you have a good chance of finding the Milestone being offered for a little less than the Slimfit, even if it is just one particular color scheme or style. If the money is all that matters to you there is no reason not to snap up a Milestone on sale. Unless you really need to save space for a few car seats in your backseat or want that extra cup holder there’s no reason not to.
Assuming you don’t care about the price difference that much or that you have multiple children it can be very hard not to go for the Slimfit.
Extra cup holders can never be a bad thing, and either or both can rotate away if you don’t need them. The real selling point for you will be space. Do you have multiple children that need a car seat? It’s very possible to fit three car seats in your backseat, even in a small car, if one or two of them are the Slimfit.
Bottom line is unless you need to save a few dollars I can only encourage you to pick up a Graco Slimfit. It is sleek, stylish, and it will save space in your car even if you notice it immediately. When the time comes that you’re in crunch time and need to use every last inch of backseat space, you’ll be thankful you invested in the Slimfit.