Type: Convertible seat.
Limits: 5-40 lbs. rear facing; 20-65 lbs. forward facing.
NHTSA ease of use: Four out of five stars (rear-facing). Three out of five stars (forward-facing).
Pros: Affordable 65 lbs. seat with side impact protection. Ranked a “Best Buy” by Consumer Reports.
Cons: Readers report this seat can be difficult to install with LATCH.
Comments: Based on the Size4Me platform, the Graco Contender 65 is a lower-priced version of that model. What’s missing? Gone is the fancy sliding recline feature, replaced by a simple three-position bar recline. There’s also a single LATCH strap instead of two in the Size4Me. Other than that, you basically get the same seat as the Size4Me (aka the Fit4Me).
Consumer Reports rated the Contender as a best buy and “better” for crash protection. The seat ranked 8th out of 32 car seats reviewed, which is impressive.
On the downside, we see more than one reader complaint about the difficulty in installing this seat with LATCH. This dragged down our overall rating for this seat.
The Contender convertibles retails for $130-$140—that’s roughly $20 less than the Size4Me / Fit4Me seats. We’ll give the Contender the same rating as their parent seats, the Size4Me and Fit4Me. Rating: C