The Most Recent 2018 Graco Atlas 65 Booster Car Seat Review

Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat

The Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1 harness booster car seat, model number 1946242, is a combination forward-facing car seat with a built-in 5-point harness system plus a high back booster seat. This means the seat will grow with your child, from toddler (22 to 65 pounds, 27 to 49 inches) to youth (30 to 100 pounds, 38 to 57 inches).

It’s a well-built, versatile car seat that easily transfers from one vehicle to another and is FAA approved for airplanes. It also can be used for RV and bus travel. Kids even love it for the deep cup holders on each side.

The Graco Atlas 65 Is Perfectly Sized for Various Vehicle Types

A car seat that is sized to fit the back seat of different types of vehicles is always on the minds of parents. Also important for families with multiple car seats in use is whether it will fit with the other seat models.

According to Graco, the dimensions of the Graco Atlas 65 booster car seat are:

  • Height: 25 inches
  • Outside Width: 19 inches
  • Depth: 22 inches
  • Weight: 18 pounds

At this size, the seat uses only the amount of space for one seat. Parents have found the seat easily fits into two-door cars because it’s not as bulky as convertible car seats. It also fits well in vehicles with not a lot of legroom in the back seat.

The Atlas 65 booster car seat also accommodates vehicles with jump seats (seats that fold up when not in use). However, it is critical to get a tight fit when installing it.

Graco states the car seat has been tested for fit in compact, midsize, full-size, SUVs and vans from different vehicle manufacturers.

In terms of fitting the Atlas in the back seat with other car seats, it’s best to measure the available space first. With so many different types and styles of car seats, the company cannot guarantee the fit with other car seats and booster seats.

However, since this booster car seat can be used with either the vehicle’s seat belts or LATCH system, you will find this versatility provides more options when fitting more than one car seat in the back seat.

Atlas 65 Lives Up to Its Name in Strength and Durability

Atlas 65 steel-reinforced frame

In Greek mythology, Atlas is a sign of strength and endurance – after all, the Titan had to hold up the sky for all of eternity!

The Graco Atlas 65 car seat is engineered to hold up to your child, from toddler to youth. It has a steel-reinforced frame, giving it the strength and durability to hold up in a crash.

It passed both the crash test and side impact test, with grades meeting or exceeding U.S. standards. The headrest of the booster car seat is made with energy absorbing foam for solid impact energy management. As such, it absorbed peak crash forces two times the car seat standard. This type of performance is essential for preventing a child’s head from suffering a devastating injury in a crash.

The Graco Atlas 65 has received a “Best Bet” booster evaluation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Graco’s Atlas 65 Car Seat Works With a LATCH System or Vehicle’s Seat Belts

One benefit of the Atlas 65 is that the car seat can be installed using either the vehicle’s seat belt system or LATCH system.

Whichever installation mode is chosen, the top tether always should be used.

Another benefit is that the 5-point harness fits children up to 65 pounds, longer than most forward-facing car seats. The extended time is in accordance with American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines to keep children in a harness restraint for as long as possible.

However, with the Atlas, you must stop using the lower anchors with the 5-point harness when the child reaches 45 pounds.

Although not required, the LATCH system can be used when the car seat transitions to a booster seat. In some vehicles, however, the lower anchors might hinder the positioning and buckling of the vehicle’s seat belt.

Installing the Graco Atlas 65 Car Seat Poses Some Challenges

Correctly installing a car seat is critical for ensuring the safety of your child in the event of an accident. With the Graco Atlas 65, there are some pluses and minuses when it comes to ease of installation.

First, the pluses:

Except for putting in the cup holders, there’s absolutely no assembly required with this car seat. It’s all one piece.

When installing the car seat, installation is much easier with the LATCH system.

The LATCH hooks and tether strap are neatly stored in the seat, so it’s just a matter of:

  1. Unhooking the tether;
  2. Extending the LATCH strap by pressing the button;
  3. Attaching the strap to the vehicle’s LATCH bars;
  4. Tightening the strap.

Then, do the same to attach the tether hook.

The seat’s cover has a front slit to pull the tail end of the LATCH strap parallel to itself. This makes it very easy to properly tighten.

Switching the Atlas from a front-facing car seat to a booster seat is also a quick install since the base of the car seat remains the same. Simply tuck the harness into the nifty harness storage compartment. This bonus feature means there’s no need to remove it entirely. The compartment is located behind the seat pad and is a good place to store the installation manual, too.

The only other thing to do to complete the installation to a booster is removing the crotch buckle. This also comes out with ease.

If installing the car seat using the vehicle’s seat belt system, the Atlas 65 nicely stores away the LATCH strap. Along the back of the car seat are plastic rings for attaching the LATCH hooks.

The ingenious booster seat’s open-loop belt guides help you correctly position your vehicle’s seat belt. With the well-marked belt path, it’s easy to see how to thread the belt through to the other side of the seat.

Now, for the minuses:

It’s tricky getting the cup holders to lock into place. It takes a couple of tries to align and attach the front of the cup holder with the shell of the car seat and then lower and rotate the back of the holder until it locks in place.

Also, getting the car seat tight enough using the vehicle’s seat belts can be troublesome. Some parents had to put their knee on the seat of the car seat to hold it down while tugging really hard on the seat belt to get it properly tightened. Others had to put the car seat in recline mode to get a tight install.

Another miss is the style of the car seat’s latch system. It attaches with a hook style system, which is harder to maneuver than a click system.

Lastly, uninstalling the car seat to use in another vehicle takes a few minutes longer than seats using a latch and belt system. While there is an easy push button to loosen the lower anchor and tether straps, the single belt system takes a bit more time to ensure it is tight enough.

Locking, Unlocking, Adjusting the Harness System Is a Breeze

For the restraint, the Graco Atlas 65 car seat is equipped with the company’s patented Simply Safe Adjust™ harness system. It bills itself as being ultra-easy to use because the shoulder straps can be adjusted without rethreading the harness. The front center portion of the harness assembly includes an adjuster for tightening the harness.

A big plus with this car seat is the 10 height positions the harness has to accommodate children’s varying heights as they grow. Adjusting the harness height is a quick maneuver. Just squeeze the height adjuster lever at the top of the headrest and move it to the desired placement.

Another valuable feature is the ability to adjust the crotch buckle. It has two positions, one 4-1/2 inches and the other 6-1/2 inches from the back of the seat. Parents will find this feature allows the child to grow without feeling discomfort from the buckle.

It’s Quick and Easy to Adjust the Atlas Car Seat as Your Child Grows

Adjust the Atlas Car Seat

When designing the Atlas 65, Graco did a good job incorporating features that ensure the car seat easily adjusts as the toddler grows to a youth.

The car seat’s features that make adjustments easy are:

  • A height adjuster lever;
  • Harness adjuster lever under the seat pad;
  • Harness adjustment strap with covers;
  • LATCH adjuster;
  • Shoulder belt guide.

Besides the 10 height positions of the harness, the headrest is adjustable to five positions. In addition to keeping the child’s head safe in a crash, it helps to keep it upright while napping in the seat.

The car seat also has a recline feature with two positions. Both positions, ranging from two to four inches from a 90 degree angle, allow a child to sleep comfortably without head droop. There’s a recline lever handily located in the front of the seat to set and release the recline position.

To adjust the straps, there’s no need to turn the car seat upside down. Strap adjustment is as simple as lifting the headrest to accommodate the child’s height and the straps automatically adjust to the new height.

Since this booster car seat is designed to grow with your child, it should be noted that its expiration date is seven years. Be sure to check the date of manufacture on the outer side of the seat. You don’t want the seat to expire before your child is at the height and weight to sit belted in the vehicle’s seat.

Lightweight and Hassle-Free Traveling With the Graco Atlas 65

Traveling With the Graco Atlas

This Graco booster car seat model is lightweight and not bulky, so it’s easy to carry around in airports, train stations, bus stations, or for using in rental cars, taxis, or other vehicles.

The Atlas 65 is FAA approved only when used with the 5-point harness system. In other words, it cannot be used on an airplane in its booster seat mode.

There’s a sticker on the car seat and a notation in the installation manual stating the car seat is certified for aircraft and motor vehicle usage.

However, you should check with your airline to be sure the car seat will fit its seats. On airplanes, the car seat should be used only on forward-facing airline seats.

On buses, trains and other vehicles, if they have seat belts, use the car seat according to the instructions for vehicle seat belt installation. If the vehicle has tether anchor points and a latch anchor point, follow the installation instructions for the LATCH system.

The booster car seat is also suitable for RV travel. As long as it is being used with the 5-point harness system, it can be used with the lap belt and top tether.

This and That About the Graco Atlas 65 Booster Car Seat

  • The two cup holders aren’t just for holding drinks. Since they’re a generous three inches deep, they can hold food, small toys, crayons and other items.
  • The seat’s components are easy to clean. The seat pad, harness covers and buckle cover are all machine washable. The harness straps and buckle can be cleaned with a damp cloth. And the metal and plastic parts can be cleaned with cool water and mild soap.

PROS and CONS:

pros
  • Affordability
  • Easy to assemble
  • Installs using either vehicle’s seat belt system or LATCH system
  • Durable to last
  • Cup holders on each side
  • Seat pad, harness cover and buckle cover are machine washable
  • Last car seat you’ll have to buy
  • Easy to follow installation manual
cons
  • Lightly padded seat
  • Some difficulty getting a tight install
  • Hook style latch system
  • Approved for use in U.S. only
  • Booster is not backless
  • Seat belt installation a bit challenging
  • No seat belt lock off

Conclusion

Graco Atlas 65

With the Graco Atlas 65 booster car seat, you’re getting two car seats in one. It’s a money-saver because once your child outgrows a forward-facing car seat, you don’t have to go out and buy a booster. You simply convert the Graco Atlas 65 to a booster seat.

The Atlas 65 combination seat is built to last and perform in the event of a crash. Yet, it’s also built for the child’s everyday comfort, with a padded seat, a comfortable headrest and a cup holder on each side.

It’s affordable and has some great functional and time-saving features. It truly is the last booster car seat you will have to buy.

Check Graco Atlas 65 Price