The Graco Contender 65 and Graco Slimfit's main differences are very obvious which makes the Slimfit standout. Read on.

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ideal use


Graco Contender 65
Graco Slimfit
Rear-Facing Weight:
5 to 40 pounds
Rear-Facing Height Limit:
1inch below the adjuster button on headrest when fully extended
The top of the child’s head is at least 1 inch below the top of the head restraint
Forward-Facing Weight:
20 to 65 pounds
22 to 65 pounds
Forward-Facing Height Limit:
Up to 49 inches
27 to 49 inches
High Back Booster Height Limit:
30 to 100 pounds
High Back Booster Weight Limit:
38 to 57 inches

Graco Slimfit and Graco Contender 65 have the same specification for the rear-facing and forward-facing modes. What parent reviewers say about them regarding how they accommodate children passengers are rather similar. 

For instance, their rear-facing minimum weight is 5 pounds, but you can read from many evaluations that the lowest harness settings of either seat could not provide a secure fit for such smaller newborn babies.

Thus, the deciding factor for parents in choosing which is better would be the presence of a high back booster in Slimfit. With this feature, it is possible for the Slimfit car seat to last until the child will no longer need a safety restraint system when riding a car or vehicle; thus, will be a more practical option than Contender 65.

Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat (Black Carbon), 1893287
Price: $118.99
(As of: 2023/01/23 4:28 am - Details
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
You save: $51.00 (30%)
1 new from $118.990 used
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will it fit in my car?


Graco Contender 65
Graco Slimfit
20.75 inches
19.88 inches
26 inches
25.5 inches
27 inches
16.25 inches

Saving Space/3-Across:

At first glance on the dimensions of the two seats, it can be said that neither seat will allow you to save space in a vehicle for other passengers or for installing other car seats in the vehicle such as for a 3-across set-up. However, if you would watch videos or read reviews, you would learn that the Slimfit has a unique feature referred to by some parents as collapsible cup holders.  

The Graco Slimfit has cup holders that can be swivelled in place so the cup holders could be folded in half to provide an extra inch of space.  With this, parents can come up with different combinations of rear-facing and forward-facing car seats along with the Slimfit to achieve a 3-across installation when necessary. 

Basic combinations to install the Slimfit in the 3-across setting are:

  1. Forward-facing Slimfit on the left and right side + rear-facing Slimfit in the center
  2. Graco Slimfit on the left and right side + an infant car seat in the center
  3. Slimfit on left or right + 2 other narrow car seats (like the Diono Radian 3RXT).

Fit In Vehicles:

The Graco Contender 65 fits great in a Toyota Corolla. It also worked well with a nice, tight fit in a Dodge Durango. A parent’s child sat comfortably on a Contender 65 that was installed in a Honda Accord. Another parent shared that she had installed it using LATCH behind the driver's seat of her 2010 Toyota Rav4. 

An Amazon customer shared that they took the Graco Contender 65 with them on Hawaiian Airlines on 3 separate flights and they had no problem strapping the child restraint on the airplane seat.

At least two reviewers on Amazon noted that they could fit the Graco Slimfit 3-across in cars like Ford Escape and Ford Edge when they used the “slimming cup holder” feature. 

Compared to a Graco 4Ever DLX, a mother who drives a 2014 Mazda CX-5 said that Slimfit seemed to offer more space when installed in the center seat. Some parents shared they found the Slimfit to be a perfect fit in cars like the 2014 Chevy Cruze, Mercedes ML350 SUV, and 2014 Dodge Durango R/T.  In addition, another reviewer shared that they carried the Slimfit when they traveled across the country by plane and they could install this forward-facing and rear-facing on the seat (armrest down) of the American Airlines plane.

Graco SlimFit 3 in 1 Convertible Car Seat | Infant to Toddler Car Seat, Saves Space in your Back Seat, Darcie
Price: $219.97
(As of: 2023/05/23 5:24 am - Details
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
1 new from $219.970 used
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Graco Contender 65
Graco Slimfit
Do I need to use a pool noodle/rolled towel?
Yes, stated in the manual
No, although manual mentions you can use rolled towels only if needed
Easy To Install Rear-Facing by LATCH?
Easy To Install Rear-Facing By Seatbelt?
Easy To Install Forward-Facing?
Easy To Uninstall?
Recline Position
Lower Anchor Weight Limit:
45 pounds

Pool Noodle/Rolled Towel:

Both allow the use of rolled towels when propping up each child restraint with the required recline angle.  However, this is only when the aftermarket products prove to be necessary for specific cars that have sloped seats.

A pool noodle was placed under the Contender 65 when it was mounted in a Chevy Impala rear-facing and Boeing 737 plane seat, but no pool noodle or rolled towel was required when the same child restraint was installed in 2013 Ford Escape and 2012 Kia Soul.

While a rolled towel was necessary to install the Slimfit on the sloped and recessed seat of a 2016 Volkswagen GTI, it was not needed when the same car seat was installed in a Toyota 4Runner.


Graco Contender 65 is not that easy to mount in cars, especially via LATCH. One reason could be because its LATCH connector is the j-hook style connector that some parents find somewhat troublesome to use.

A consensus for Graco Slimfit is that it is easy to install. Its push-on LATCH connector is much appreciated. Its rear-facing belt path can be easily accessed. If the shoulder belt or the LATCH strap needs to be pulled, pull a tab and you could already achieve good leverage to do this.  


Slimfit offers more recline positions than the Contender 65. There are 2 positions for rear-facing and 2 for forward-facing.  Both car seats have a ball in the bubble indicator for checking if the seat is at the correct level.

Lower Anchor Weight Limit:

We should keep the same weight limit in mind with either Graco Slimfit or Contender 65. Change the installation method to the vehicle seatbelt once the child passenger is over 45 pounds in weight.

Good Convertible Car Seats Of 2023

Consider narrowing down your options by focusing on those made with EPP or EPS foam for impact management. Both materials meet government safety regulations, but EPP foam is more elastic and less brittle than EPS foam, making it better at withstanding multiple impacts and regaining its shape.

Keep in mind that any seat involved in an accident should be replaced, regardless of the foam type.

Good Convertible Car Seats With EPP Foam:

Good Convertible Car Seats With EPS Foam:



Graco Contender 65
Graco Slimfit
Country Of Origin:
Steel-Reinforced Frame:
Five-Point Harness?
Side Impact Tested:
Approved For Airplane Use:
Easy To Buckle And Unbuckle?

Steel-Reinforced Frame:

If you think you would feel more at ease, knowing your child sits on a more sturdy child restraint system, know that the Slimfit has a steel frame construction.

Safety Testimonials:

Despite the non-steel frame construction of Graco Contender 65, I find it inspiring just how more parents expressed their gratitude towards this product for it safeguarded their children during real-life accidents. There are more available reviews for this product where you could read more in-depth statements from parents about the life-threatening experiences they had.

One parent shared that while on a freeway, they had a 60 mph passenger side-impact accident, but she was thankful that her child did not get harmed. A father shared that the rear bumper of their truck was clipped and although knocked off the road and hit 2 trees, there was not even a scratch on her daughter who was then harnessed on her Contender 65.

In another review, a mother shared that they had a horrible accident when a semi-truck cut her off on a freeway. This caused her car to spin and afterward flip over. Although hanging upside down, her son remained unscratched and secured on his Contender 65 that was still intact on the vehicle seat.

Sure enough, several parents have also shared that the Graco Slimfit has protected their children during unfortunate times on the road.

the seat


Graco Contender 65
Graco Slimfit
Is The Material Breathable?
Seat Weight:
15.2 pounds
19.5 pounds
Machine Washable Cover?
No-Rethread Harness?
Comes With An Infant Body Support?
Easy To Remove Cover?
7 Years
10 years
Comes With A Cup Holder?
Yes, 1
Yes, 2
Shoulder Harness Has Pads?
# Of Crotch Strap Positions:

Seat Weight:

Contender 65 is lighter than the Graco Slimfit because it has no steel frame. Despite the additional weight of Slimfit, there were parents who shared that they have carried it when they traveled by air and it was mounted well on airplane seats, just like the Contender 65. 


Graco Slimfit has 10 years expiration while Graco Contender 65 has 7 years only. This is proportionate to the designed usage of the car seats. Remember that Contender 65 only has rear-facing and forward-facing modes, which could last until the child is 6 years old. 

Slimfit has a high back booster capacity and therefore needs to last longer so this feature can be used for over 6 years and until the child can use the vehicle seatbelt alone. Thus, Slimfit can offer more value for the money.

The Slimfit has an IIHS Best Bet Booster rating for its booster mode. This rating means that it can provide a good belt fit in most cars for children passengers 4 to 8 years of age.


There is an approximately USD 40 price difference between the Graco Contender 65 and Graco Slimfit. The Contender is cheaper.

Graco Contender 65 offers a good option of car seat for those looking for:

  • an affordable extra car seat
  • a lighter to carry travel car seat
  • a child passenger safety product that has been known for its efficiency in safeguarding children in real-life accidents 

Graco Slimfit wins over the Graco Contender 65 for this side-by-side comparison because of: 

  • an additional high back booster mode
  • slimming, collapsible cup holders that will allow a 3-across installation
  • ease of installation in all modes
  • more recline positions
  • steel frame construction
  • a 5-point harness system that is easier to buckle and unbuckle
  • easier to remove the seat cover
  • longer expiration date
  • extra cup holder
  • presence of shoulder harness pads
  • additional crotch strap position


Do You Need More Help To Decide Between

The Graco Contender 65 Or Graco Slimfit?

See My Graco Contender 65 Review

Read My Graco Slimfit Review


What do you think? 

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments section below!





the graco contender 65 or

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  1. Hey, I am searching about Graco Contender 65 car seat for my child and found your article. I read many reviews about the Graco Contender 65 but the best thing I found is here on your article. Thank you… Parveen

  2. If you were to ask me to choose between the Graco Contender 65 or the Graco Slimfit, I would pick the Slimfit but then as a man, wife’s input is vital but I doubt if she’ll see it differently.

    1. Hi Benny,

      I think it’ll depend on how often your wife needs it, or where she’ll be using it. The Graco Contender is an affordable back-up and lightweight, good for air travel car seat. Maybe that’s when you can utilize the Contender. 🙂

      Kind Regards,


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