Parent-to-Parent Review: Graco Signature Series Smart Seat All-in-One Car Seat

Being a parent and working for Graco definitely has some great advantages. Not only do I get to talk about my kids here on the Graco blog, occasionally I get to try new products.

When I found out the new Signature Series™ Smart Seat™ was being introduced, I quickly asked if they were looking for volunteers to try it out. I was so excited when they told me they would be giving me a seat to test out with Jed! I was even more excited when they told me they would install it for me too. (Little did I know how easy it was going to be to install!)

There are so many things I love about this seat, simply as a parent.

First, this seat has a weight range of 5-100 lbs. You could essentially bring your newborn home from the hospital in this seat and never need to buy another as your child grows, since the expiration date is 10 years. (Yes, car seats do have expiration dates, see here for more details.) It’s definitely a heavy duty seat, but being reinforced with steel tends to do that, and makes it pretty awesome.

Second, the seat has a detachable base feature that can stay in the car. It was very easy to install the base. We all know sometimes getting a toddler seat tight enough is tough while maneuvering in the back seat. Face it, sometimes there is not that much room between your head and the ceiling of the car. From a mom who has hit her head more than once, installing this base was much easier. The base can either be installed using LATCH or the seat belt lock off. It’s your choice.

We tested the Smart Seat out rear-facing in our Honda Pilot and Jed fit quite comfortably, even showing off his I’m so tired this cookie is NOT helping tears. We did have to move the front passenger seat up quite a bit though, not leaving a ton of leg room there.

Another awesome parent-friendly feature is the no re-thread harness, which means you can move the head rest up and down easily to adjust the height you need while the child is in the seat. I think this is a great feature, especially if you occasionally have other children using the car seat that are a different size than your own.

After a few tickles from Mommy, Jed was his usual happy self smiling away in the new seat and ready to go for a test ride. Too bad it was actually bed time. Yes, those are footed pajamas he is wearing. :-)

But rest assured, we will soon be getting some major mileage on the new seat come the weekend!

Are you looking for a new seat for your little one?
The Smart Seat is exclusively available at Babies “R” Us, and you can order yours now.

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16 Responses to “Parent-to-Parent Review: Graco Signature Series Smart Seat All-in-One Car Seat”

  1. Angela February 8, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    I wanted to ask – it doesn’t look like it will fit in a stroller/travel system. Is that true? It looks amazing, but I’ve also seen other posts from folks who said it was heavy. Based on your comment about it being reinforced with steel, did you find it extra heavy by itself?

  2. Libby February 9, 2011 at 3:09 am #

    This looks amazing! It’s definitely on our list of possible car seats – we are need of a new one and need to decide soon. I’m keeping this in mind.

  3. Krystyn February 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    What about the height? My girls are SUPER tall. And, I want to keep my 4 year old in a 5 point as long as possible, but she’s outgrown what we have!

  4. Karen Hartzell February 9, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Hi Angela — Yes, the seat is pretty heavy – both the seat and the base are steel reinforced. Without the base, the seat weighs around 22 lbs, but this wouldn’t be a seat that you would remove from the car to carry your child or use as a travel system.

    This seat would stay in your car and either move from rear-facing to forward-facing, or from car-to-car if you have an extra base. The base allows this seat to easily be installed one time so you don’t have to reinstall it every time you need to change the direction of the seat or move it to another car.

  5. Karen Hartzell February 9, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    Hi Krystyn – the maximum height in a harness forward facing is 50” and the max height for the booster without the base is 57”.

    Hope that helps!

  6. tonya October 3, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    Hi! I was wondering if you guys updated the strap covers at all? I know they have that thick foam and are required for rear facing, also they cannot be used for forward facing. My daughter likes the strap covers but because they are so thick its hard to get the harness tightened enough.
    Also what is the stance on using it more upright for older children? My daughter is going to be 2 in a month but I plan on keeping her rear facing for at least another year being shes only 25lbs now. She is not comfortable being so reclined and strains to pull her neck up to see out the windows. If I put the seat in a more upright position the bubble on the angle indicator is not completely between the lines. Shes so used to being between 35-30 degrees on her current seats ( My Ride and a Britax Roundabout).
    Ive been saving for a few months and hopefully will have enough to purchase the Smart Seat in a month or two for her. Its a big purchase for me and I want to make sure I make the right choice

  7. Amber October 5, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    I was wondering if Graco has had complaints on the length of the LATCH straps? I have a 2010 Outback and it has plenty of room. It fits the SnugRide35 just fine RF with my 6’5″ husband driving. We used the LATCH and didn’t have problems. However, we purchased this over the weekend and we are having a lot of problems. The LATCH strap is too short. It won’t latch in the middle. I called to ask about extenders and I was told it was my car not the seat. I find it hard to believe because like I said I have a Graco seat in the middle using LATCH now. So then I decided to put it behind the passenger seat RF. Now the only person that could sit there would have to be 4ft tall. I absolutely love the seat, but I’m thinking I can’t be the only parent having trouble getting this to fit. The only way to keep the seat is if one parent was riding in the back with her at all times. This sounds way to inconvenient.

  8. laura December 31, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Hi…I have th track signature series 3 in 1 carseat for my son who is a year and a half…we love it but there’s one major problem..sometimes the buckle that is in between the legs gets stuck and it wont unbuckle…several times I have had to squeeze him out of the carseat without unbuckling it at all because it literally would not unbuckle which makes it quite inconvenient…and other times I have to wiggle it an wiggle it and eventually it will unbuckle…so im just wondering if I just have a defected carseat or if there’s some sort of recall on these??

  9. Steve December 31, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    We purchased this seat for our daughter when she turned 12 months.    I like it because it is “the mother of all car seats,” big and steel re-enforced with lots of side impact head protection. Our daughter likes the roominess and built-in cup holder.  My only complaint: Using this seat in the rear-facing position makes the front passenger seat, even in our Chevy Tahoe, almost unusable because of the size.  Also, adding a second tilt level indicator (one for the right side) would be a big improvement.  When we travel as a family my wife sits in the rear seat (next to the car seat).  Being able to tilt-on-the-fly, like when our little one falls to sleep, would be nice.

  10. Kelly Voelker January 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    Hi Steve – Thanks so much for the comment. We appreciate the feedback!

  11. Lupe April 12, 2012 at 11:28 pm #


    I am commenting to piggy back on Laura’s experience regarding the buckle being difficult to unbuckle. It has been giving us problems as well, and I am concerned because I think it is a safety issue. I cant help but think, what if there was an emergency and I had to get my son out of the car, and I couldnt because of the buckle?? Has their been any recalls or other complaints about this? It doesnt seem to be an isolated case??


  12. NateDad July 26, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    Just installed the Smart Seat in our 2011 F150 Crew Cab. I agree with Amber – the Latch belt is way too short. It doesn’t reach in the middle seat, unlike our old Graco SafeRide in the same vehicle. The latch anchors are 25.7″ apart according to the vehicle manual… it looks like the Smart Seat could reach a maximum of maybe 22″.

    As others have said, this is a huge carseat when rear-facing. It didn’t fit in our old 2005 F150 Extended Cab at all. It only fits in our Volvo station wagon if the seat in front of it is most of the way forward, making that seat useless for anyone with legs.

    Luckily, the 2011 F150 Crew Cab has a ridiculously large back seat, bigger than any other I’ve ever seen, so it fits just fine. It has 43.5″ of rear leg room, according to I’d say that if you had less than about 39″, you wouldn’t be able to fit this in your car, rear facing, without moving the seat forward a bunch. Front facing is probably not a problem.

  13. chantil January 8, 2013 at 4:26 am #

    Laura and Lupe,
    I am having same buckle problem. I am calling Graco first thinng tomorrow. Not being able to get my daughter out of the car twice was very scary!


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