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A familiar brand in the parenting world, Graco has produced a sturdy car seat that feels like a reliable addition to any family car for many years to come.
A group 0+/1/2 car seat, it is suitable from birth to 25kg (approximately 7 years). It can be rear-facing up to 18kg and used as a group 2 seat for older kids, so with an RRP of £100, it is a very affordable option for a versatile seat.
As a new mum, I’m looking for a car seat that puts safety first, is quick and easy to assemble and use, and is good value for money – Enhance delivers on all three elements of my wishlist.
Rachel lives in Cardiff and is mum to 6-month-old Alys. She tested the Graco Enhance car seat on a long car ride up to North Wales, as well as daily short journeys to baby classes and local shops.
What were your first impressions?
The car seat comes out of the box already assembled and all you need to do is adjust it to fit your child, which I thought was ideal. My initial thought was how hefty a unit it looked, especially in comparison to a lightweight car seat I have used previously (as part of a travel system). It looked sturdy and high quality, but I wondered how it would fit my (fairly large) car. Its dimensions are 55.4cm x 49.3cm x 62.2cm.
How easy is it to install the Graco Enhance?
It took around 25 minutes to set up the Graco Enhance, partly because there are some fiddly bits (such as removing the body support insert when fitting the seat in the car), and partly because I’m a new parent, these gadgets are still very new to me, and safety is paramount (we triple checked it). I don’t find picture diagram instructions particularly helpful, especially when they are not accompanied by words, so we played a demo video (available on the Graco website). The colour-coded installation paths on the back of the car seat were helpful.
The seat has universal seat belt installation rather than Isofix and this, combined with very little room to manoeuvre due to its size, meant it wasn’t easy for postpartum backs like mine to bend over and fit it. Luckily, once fitted the car seat can stay in the car and it is simply a case of easily placing and clipping baby into it.
How well does the Enhance fit in your car?
Once fully reclined, as advised for rearward facing, there is very little room in the back of the car, so I think it would be tricky to install it in a small vehicle.
A front passenger would struggle for leg room if using the car seat in rear facing position. We have a larger estate vehicle, but for long journeys with lots of luggage (and two dogs), it was still a squeeze. The sheer size of the Enhance is expected for a car seat that lasts around 7 years, but for a 6-month-old baby it felt big.
How does the Graco Enhance compare to other car seats you have seen?
There are many group 0/1/2 car seats on the market that grow with baby, and the Enhance is very similar in price, size and function to the likes of the popular Joie Stages. Once you start looking for Isofix bases and a rotating function to allow easier strapping in of your child, the price tag rises markedly. For example, the Britax Römer Dualfix i-Size, which only lasts to 18kg, costs more than £400.
There are also group 0/1/2/3 seats that are suitable for children up to age 12 but I feel that a car seat that offers too much can spread itself too thinly, and the Enhance is just right.
What are the main safety features of the Graco Enhance?
The Enhance offers superior side-impact protection with powerful head protection. On first appearance, it looks well made, well-cushioned and safe. Our little girl felt really secure in the car seat.
Anxiety as a first-time parent is often high, especially when it comes to safety, and the Enhance seat features steel reinforcement throughout the body of the frame for enhanced resilience and durability. These are both hugely important when you are a new parent.
Some parent might miss the sense of safety that Isofix connection offers, but if you make sure you follow the installation guides to the letter, then seatbelt installation is just as safe.
Is the Graco Enhance rear-facing?
Yes, the Enhance offers extended rearward facing functionality, which is a fantastic safety feature in itself, as facing rearward for longer is very much recommended,
The Enhance can keep your child rearward facing up to 18kg. My little girl is currently 6.6kg so she has a way to go, but looking at the space available (and considering she is already a tall baby), I’m not sure she will comfortably last the duration.
The seat easily transitions from rearward facing infant car seat (birth to 18kg) to a forward facing 5-point harness car seat (9-25kg) or up to around 7 years of age.
How easy is it to install your child in the seat?
I have no problem installing my daughter in the seat, but other parents online have remarked that they find it a bit cumbersome, especially in rear-facing mode. As the seat is installed with the seatbelt, and the belt sits diagonally across the back in rear installation, you have to almost lift your child over the seatbelt to strap them in. This might get a bit annoying to some, with one parent on Amazon citing it as the seat’s main drawback.
Does the Enhance have a rotation function?
Anything that helps us parents make life easier, especially spending less time bending over and hurting our backs, is very welcome, so I was disappointed to find that the seat did not rotate.
This is a feature I would have used a lot, but we leave the car seat in the car and simply pop baby in and out with ease so it has not proved a huge problem. And as mentioned above, the rotating feature usually comes at a much bigger price.
How comfortable is the Graco Enhance?
It is obvious that comfort was a priority for the design of this car seat. With luxurious and plentiful padding, I felt reassured that my baby would be able to ride for longer journeys. While she is not able to communicate with me yet, I felt like she looked comfortable and there was very little fidgeting – even on the long rides. Comfort is where the Enhance really comes into its own.
How does the Enhance adapt to a growing child – how easy is it to swap between group stages?
While convenient, I am often sceptical about baby products that offer so much through such varying stages, ages and needs. However, the Enhance is cleverly designed to suit each stage perfectly. It is also smartly designed to make adjusting between stages easy. For example, it has various sections to ‘store away’ buckles and straps that are no longer needed as your child grows, a bit like Mary Poppins’ handbag.
These large seats that are suitable for a 7-year-old can often feel like they ‘swamp’ the newborn who is just a few kilos. But the Enhance comes with a removable newborn insert for body support up to 9kg, which makes the seat feel very snug for smaller babies. And while my daughter does look tiny in such a large seat, I know it will ‘grow with her.’
The versatility of the Enhance is clearly a hit with parents, as shoppers on Amazon all remark on it being such a good all-round product, giving it an average of 4.5 stars out of 5 in their reviews.
Are the straps easy to use?
Sometimes it feels like you need a degree in baby equipment just to work out how to secure and adjust straps on them. This wasn’t the case with the Enhance, thankfully. Once fitted, they felt secure with comfortable shoulder harness support. The great thing about the straps is that they adjust with the height of the headrest, with no need for re-threading, so it’s easy to adapt the straps as your child grows.
Does the Enhance feel robust and durable?
The Enhance definitely feels robust. It is made to a high quality and will last my girl through the years.
Does it recline?
The Enhance care seat offers four recline settings – the furthest recline setting being for the rear-facing function, and three for forward-facing to offer choice and comfort. It took my daughter a little getting used to being reclined so far back, as she is at the 6-month stage of sitting up and wanting to pull her head forward at every opportunity.
Once the journey started and she relaxed, she lay back in the chair and fell fast asleep. She can’t use her words yet, but I feel this was an excellent endorsement for the recline feature and overall comfort of the seat.
Is the car seat easy to clean?
Now that my girl is weaning, and generally making more of a mess, it was pleasing to find that the insert for the seat can be fully removed and is washable. This is a huge pro for the Enhance seat.
How do you find the car seat to carry around?
If you are looking for a car seat that is compatible with a travel system or need it to be taken in and out of the vehicle often, this isn’t a convenient option. Weighing 8.95kg, it is much heavier than the infant-only carriers, and you can’t use it to carry your child around.
However, it is also much lighter than models in the same group that are weighed down by heavy Isofix bases (which can way 15kg or more), so it is much handier than those if you want to take it abroad with you to use in hire cars.
Does the Grace Enhance have a sun hood?
The seat does not include a sun hood, and I did find this to be lacking when driving on particularly sunny days, especially with my daughter being so young.
What’s in the box and can you get any accessories for the Enhance?
The box contains the car seat, newborn insert and instructions, and there are no accessories specific to the Enhance that you can buy.
Who is the Graco Enhance most suitable for?
The best audience for this car seat would be an owner of a spacious car who doesn’t need to swap the seat between cars a lot – and is looking for a good value and safe car seat that lasts many years.
Where can I buy the Graco Enhance?
Without Isofix or rotation, and being a large and heavy seat, the Enhance doesn’t tick all the boxes for ease of use, but it does provide superior comfort and is a safe model that is great value for money.
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Dimensions & Weight
|Child age (approx)||Birth to 4 years|
|Child weight||Up to 25kg|
|Car seat installation||Seat belt|
|Side crash protection||Yes|