Graco Atlas 65 Harness Booster Review – Best Budget Combination Car Seat

Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1 Harness Booster Seat

Graco Atlas 65

Overall Rating
4.2/5
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Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1 Harness Booster – Combines Harness and Booster into One

The Graco Atlas 65 lets protection guide the ride with a car seat that is reliable, efficient, and a joy to use. The Atlas 65 nails its assignment as a budget car seat by delivering on every plane that we’d expect from a $139 purchase. Combining a harness booster with a high back booster, lightweight body, long lifespan of use, high weight and height limits, and two cup holders, the Atlas 65 lets kids travel in the car seat comfortably and safely. But most importantly, this harness booster sports a unisex design that is appealing for both girls and boys. Overall, its performance, advanced features, and value for money aid its status as one of our favorite budget buys.

Graco Atlas 65 Harness Booster - Best Budget Combination Booster s

1. Who Is It Best For?

Will the Graco Atlas 65 be a good option for your child and your family?

The title of this car seat might suggest it’s crafted for big kids as a booster, but in reality, the Graco Atlas  65 is suited for toddlers and preschoolers as small as two or three years old.

Its minimum weight requirement is as low as 22-pound, allowing boys or girls infants around 18 months – if they grow at the average speed based on the WHO recommendations, to ride safely in the car seat. 

But if you’re living in any US state that requires a child to face the back until 2 years old, it’s better to use Graco Atlas 65 after your kid is at least 24 months or older. 

The top limits are up to 100-pound in weight and 57-inch in height, making it suitable for most big kids between 8-10 years old.

That’s enough for your kid to get out of a car seat while obeying the car seat laws in most states of the US.

The specs on offer are finely tuned for casual rides in any situation. Plus, portability plays a big role in the Atlas 65’s lure as it has a relatively lightweight body for taking to the aircraft for air travel among the harnessed boosters.

If you are searching for a budget car seat that combines 5-point harness protection and belt-positioning booster with practicality, you can’t get much better than the Graco Atlas 65.

Pros and Cons

Pros

Cons

2. Value for Money

Is the price tag worth it?

One of the Atlas 65’s key selling points is its long-lasting protection which is provided by the combination of a 5-point harness and belt-positioning booster at a budget price under $150.

With many harnessed boosters sold at a more expensive price with similar features, the Atlas 65 still has a competitive price tag with durability that can’t be matched. 

Two-stage aside, the Atlas 65 hits every other mark that you expect from its class. With a design that promotes safety, security, and easy maintenance, the Graco Atlas 65 offers great protection for a low price.

If we consider all of the sub $150 harness boosters that we’ve tested, the Atlas 65 stands out as one of the best. It outperforms the other models where build quality is concerned.

Plus, no other booster with a 5-point harness comes close to Graco’s convenience – it even beats models that are three times its price and boast top-of-the-line advanced features.

Overall, the Atlas 65 has a well-rounded profile of performance and as a result, it delivers exceptional value for money.

3. Alternatives

What other car seats should you consider?

Chicco MyFit Harness Booster

Chicco MyFit

Why is it better than the Graco Atlas 65?
Why its worse than the Graco Extend2Fit?
KidsEmbrace 2-in-1 Harness Booster

KidsEmbrace

Why is it better than the Graco Atlast 65?
Why its worse than the Graco Extend2Fit?

4. Design

Dimension and Width

The Graco Atlas 65 sports a huge body dimensioning at 22 inches in width plus 18 inches in depth plus 25 inches in height. 

The 22-inch width might take up a bit more than one back seat. From this point, it’s better to place this car seat on either side next to the door, avoiding it influencing the backseat to sit another passenger. 

The 18-inch depth is more friendly than other car seats with a deep depth that will affect the drivers or front passengers.

Luckily, the Atlas 65 is only allowed to be installed facing forward and takes up less space from the front row.

As a combination booster, its default height – up to 25-inches is even longer than some all-in-one car seats.

It conforms to the impression that people may have for a booster, which is designed for big kids as old as 7 or 8 years old.

Portability

The Graco Atlas 65 weighs up to 18 pounds, relatively lightweight compared to Chicco MyFit and those all-in-one models like Graco 4Ever DLX and Britax One4Life. 

This weight can be carried by most moms, but it’s not that portable to switch and install it between different vehicles. That’s why the Atlas 65 gets a score of 7.5 for its portability

It’s not as convenient as infant car seats for easy switches between different automobiles when your baby still needs to ride facing the rear in the car seat, especially for small infants less than one-year-old

It’s not even as portable as the Diona Radian 3R, which is a bit heavier but foldable for easy carrying. 

The Graco Atlas 65 is not foldable. So you’ll receive a large packing box. The car seat is 99% assembled before shipping, and you only need to attach a few small accessories, like cup holders

Actually, there are few foldable car seats on the market. Besides the Diono Radian 3R mentioned above, another one is the Doona infant car seat, which comes with four wheels for being a stroller.

Two Cup Holders

Every Graco car seat has at least one cup holder, which is an essential accessory to hold your kid’s drinks or snacks in the car.

Graco Atlas 65 has two cup holders on both sides. This may add to its width, but you’ll find it worthwhile.

Cup holders are very convenient for both kids and parents. They are ideal for snacks and juice, or even toys, to add joy during a boring car trip.

Unlike the square cupholders on Extend2Fit, the Atlas65 comes with two large circular cup holders on both sides. 

They are big enough to hold most water bottles for kids and adults. This is a huge improvement from square cup holders. Parents sit back aside and the kids can put their drinks in the cup holders as well.

They can be easily and tightly attached to the car seat on both sides, within your kid’s touch.

5. Crash Tests and Safety Ratings

The Atlas 65 does not feature Graco’s exclusive ProtectPlus like Extend2Fit and 4Ever DLX, As a result, it gets a safety rating of 6 on average.

But this does not mean it’s not safe. This child restraint meets or exceeds all applicable requirements of Federal motor vehicle safety standard 213 for use in motor vehicles

That’s the very basic and necessary crash test all car seats on the US market should pass through. 

Solid frame and energy-absorbing foam help reduce the shocks in case of any crashes. 

When used in the 5-point harness mode, the Graco Atlas 65 also features side-impact protection. This test must be done for all the car seats with a 5-point harness.

That’s why the child safety seat laws ask the parents to ride toddlers and babies in a 5-point harness for as long as possible.

6. Performance

Weight and Height Limits

From its name, the Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1 harness booster is a for older toddlers, not for newborns and small infants younger than 1 years old.

The minimum weight limit is as low as 22 pounds for forward-facing. However, small toddlers at this weight are commonly required to face the rear until they are 1 or 2 years of age or older.

The 5-point harness can allow a kid to stay in the Graco Atlas 65 until they grow to 65 pounds or 49-inch at most, whatsoever the height or weight limit comes first. That typically happens around their preschool ages between 5 or 6 years old.

Switching the Atlas 65 to the booster mode, it allows a big kid to ride until they outgrow the top 100-pound weight limit or 57-inch height limit. 

This combination of weight and height limits lasts long enough for your child to get out of a car seat, commonly happening around your child’s 8 or 10 years of age.

You should always keep in mind that a booster requires a minimum age of 4 years old, which is in accordance with the car seat regulations across the US states.

Age Range/Longevity

Graco Atlas 65 is a budget harness booster. Clearly, it was designed to last for a long time so that your child can ride in this car seat from toddler to tween. It lacks the first car seat stage – rear-facing.

But the longevity performance is still as good as other boosters and all-in-one car seats. The Atlas 65 is capable of riding a child to 8-9 years old, thanks to its 100-pound top weight limit and 57-inch top height limit in booster mode. 

That means this car seat will last long enough until your child is ready to get out of the car seats in all US states by the lawstypically 8 years of age.

To match its weight/height and age range, the Atlas 65 was manufactured with a long lifespan of 7 years. That’s not as long as other all-in-one car seats with 10 years of usage time, not even as Chicco MyFit’s 8 years of lifespan. But it’s also great to go through your child’s time in the car seat. 

As soon as the car seat comes close to its expiration, you should not insist on using it any more.

Stage

From its description, you can easily know that the Graco Atlas 65 is a booster seat with a 5-point harness. This means the car seat supports only two car seat stages – forward-facing and booster, no rear-facing available. 

These two stages are for toddlers and big kids. That’s why you’ll find the Atlas 65 has a minimum weight requirement of 22 pounds. Most toddlers at 2 years old can fit well in this car seat, but it’s recommended to use it for big toddlers at 3 years old.

Based on the suggestions from NHTSA, small toddlers are better to travel in a rear-facing car seat until they’re 2 years old. From this point, the Atlas 65 is a good option as a successory for rear-facing car seats.

Airplane

Is a Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1 harness booster allowed on planes?

Yes. This Graco Atlas 65 is approved for use in aircraft in the 5-point mode.

It’s NOT allowed to be used in booster mode on the plane. Because the seats on planes do not have the shoulder belt, which is needed for installing the booster seats.

Commonly, a car seat can be installed in both rear- and forward-facing. But Atlas 65 is only used to face forward, no rear-facing mode. As a result, only the 5-point harness mode is okay for air travel on the planes. 

It’s STRONGLY recommended to call the airline to make sure this car seat can be installed on their planes before onboarding.

Lifespan

How long is a Graco Atlas 65 harness booster good for

Up to 7 years of time from its manufacturer date. 

The Graco Atlas 65 harness booster has a lifespan of 7 years. That’s not the longest of the car seats – 10 years. But it’s still friendly to grow with your child from toddler to tween.  

However, you may not use the Atlas 65 for 7 years, starting from the date it was manufactured – You can find the sticker on the back of the car seat, not the day you purchase the car seat.

However, that should be long enough to ride your child until they are large enough to use the seat belt.

8-year-old is the most common age requirement in most state car seat laws that no need to travel in a car seat.

If your child grows slower than their peers, a cheaper backless car seat is also a good option if the car seat is expired.

7. Installation

Which Installation Method Should I Use?

This car seat can be installed in your vehicle using either the vehicle seat belt or the LATCH system.

Both ways are equally safe to ride your child as long as you install it properly following the Graco Atlast user manual. It’s NOT allowed to use both methods at the same time.

It can be installed in only forward-facing positioned. 

5-point forward-facing Installation

Intall Graco Atlas 65 with LATCH

1. Remove LATCH hooks and Tether Strap from Storage Locations

Unhook tether and lay it in the seat

2. Place Car Seat Forward-Facing in Back Seat of the Vehicle

Place forward-facing in the vehicle seat. The bottom of the seat should sit as flat as possible on the vehicle seat.

3. Choose One of the Two Recline Positions

To recline, flex the recline lip out and lift up on the seat. For an upright position, flex the recline lip out and push down on the seat.

4. Extend the LATCH Strap.

For easier installation, extend the LATCH strap to its maximum length by pressing the grey button and pull out on the strap.

5. Attach LATCH Hooks to Vehicle’s Lower LATCH Bars.

The LATCH strap should not be twisted.

6. Tighten the LATCH Strap

Press down firmly in the centre of the car seat while tightening the LATCH strap.

7. Attach Tether Strap

Extend the tether by pressing the grey button and pulling out on the strap and attaching it.

Consult the vehicle’s owner manual for a specific location.

8. Tighten Tether Strap

Remove all the slack.

9. Test For Tightness

Grab the sides of the seat where the lower anchor strap is and slide the car seat sideto-side and front-to-back. If the seat moves less than 1” (2.5 cm), it is tight enough.

Install Graco Atlas 65 with vehicle seat belt

1. Store LATCH Strap

Attach LATCH hooks to the plastic rings as shown.

2. Unhook Tether Strap From Storage Location and Lay it in the Seat

3. Place Car Seat Forward-Facing in Back Seat of the Vehicle

Place forward-facing in the vehicle seat. The bottom of the seat should sit as flat as possible on the vehicle seat.

4. Choose One of the Two Recline Positions

To recline, flex the recline lip out and lift up on the seat. For an upright position, flex the recline lip out and push down on the seat.

5. Route the Vehicle Seat Belt

Thread vehicle seat belt through the forward-facing belt path (marked with an orange label) and out the other side. Buckle it. The seat belt should lie as flat as possible and not be twisted. 

6. Lock the Vehicle Seat Belt

In most vehicles today, slowly pull the shoulder belt all the way out and then let it

go back in. You will hear a clicking sound. Slowly pull out on the belt and it should be locked. If not, review your car’s owner manual and section 7-D.

7. Tighten the Vehicle Seat Belt

Press down firmly in the center of the car seat. Pull on the shoulder belt to tighten while feeding the slack back in the retractor.

8. Attach Tether Hook

Extend the top tether by pressing the grey button and pulling out on the strap and attach. Consult vehicle’s owner manual for specific

location.

9. Tighten Tether

Remove all the slack.

10. Test For Tightness

Grab the sides of the seat where the vehicle seat belt is and slide the car seat side-to-side and front-to-back. If the seat moves less than 1” (2.5 cm), it is tight enough.

Checklist to make sure everything correct

  • Car Seat Does Not Move More than 1” (2.5 cm) at the Belt Path
  • Harness Straps at or Just Above the Child’s Shoulders.
  • Chest Clip Even With Armpits
  • Cannot Pinch Harness Straps at the Shoulder

Install Graco Atlas 65 as a Highback Booster

1. Store The Harness System

A. Remove Harness Covers

To remove, undo the fastening strips and remove.

B. Loosen the shoulder straps as much as possible.

C. Raise the headrest to the highest position.

D. Unbuckle the chest clip and the buckle strap E.

F. Remove the Buckle Strap

From the bottom of the car seat, rotating the metal retainer to the side in order to push it through the slot is easier.

G. Lift the headrest pad flap up out of the way.

H. Unsnap Seat Pad

Undo the 4 snaps.

I. Pull Bottom Seat Pad Back To Expose the Plastic Shell

J. Open the Harness Storage Door

K. Place Harness, Chest Clip, Buckle Tongues and Buckle Inside Storage Compartment and Close the Door

L. Replace Seat Pad

Move the headrest back to its proper position for your child.

2. Unhook Tether

From Storage location and Lay it in the Seat

3. Place Car Seat Forward-Facing in Back Seat of the Vehicle

Place forward-facing in the vehicle seat. The bottom of the seat should sit as flat as possible on the vehicle seat.

4. Choose One of the Two Recline Positions

To recline, flex the recline lip out and lift up on the seat. For an upright position, flex the recline lip out and push down on the seat.


Skip to Step 10 if you use seat belt for installation

5. Extend the LATCH Strap.

For easier installation, extend the LATCH strap to its maximum length by pressing the grey button and pull out on the strap.

6. Attach LATCH Hooks to Vehicle’s Lower Anchor Bars.

Lower Anchor strap should not be twisted.

7. Tighten the LATCH Strap

Remove all the slack from the LATCH strap.

8. Attach The Tether

Extend the tether by pressing the grey button and pulling out on the strap and attaching it.

Consult the vehicle’s owner manual for a specific location.

9. Tighten Tether

Remove all the slack.

10. Thread the Vehicle Seat Shoulder Belt Through Seat Belt Guide on the Headrest

8. Comfort

Headrest and Harness

The Graco Atlas 65 has a 10-position headrest that is the same as other Graco car seats. It also features Graco no-rethread Simple Safe Adjust (SSA) harness system, which allows parents to adjust the height of harness and headrest in one motion at the same time.

Headrest is generally made of breathable fabrics to keep your child comfortable in the car seat. More than that, the padding inside offers two layers of side impact protection to provide additional protection for your child in case of any crashes.

Even though it’s a common feature in all the car seats on the market – different car seat brands may have different sayings, it helps a lot, especially if the car seat has more than 10-position headrest, like Britax One4Life.

It seems that the Graco has a default setting on headrest positions. The 10-position headrest can be found on all Graco all-in-one and convertible car seats. 

That’s a great feature to grow with your child.

Reclines

Reclines are commonly used to adjust your kid in a perfect position for the greatest comfort. It’s a pity that the Graco Atlas 65 only features 2 reclines, two less than SlimFit3 LX

This is because the car seat is only for facing forward and most toddlers, preschoolers, or tweens would sit comfortably by adjusting their own sit posture. 

Most parents do not mind the reclines much and they still think the Atlas 65 is a good harnessed booster for their kids. 

How to find a proper fit recline angle?

The base recline handle is under the seat pad and is used for adjusting the recline position for perfect fit of growing children. You can easily adjust it by pulling out on the handle to adjust to one of the two positions.

It should be easier to adjust, as there are only two reclines.

9. Specifications

Brand

 

Brand

Graco

Type

 

Suitable for

toddlers, and preschoolers

Positions

Forward-facing

Design

 

Portability (1-10)

7. Bulky and a bit heavy

Weight (lb.)

18

Weight limits (lb.)

22-65 for 5-point harness, 40-100 for highback booster

Height limit (inch)

29-49” for forward-facing, 38-57” for booster

Dimension

19.5 x 19 x 29.5″ (D x W x H)

Cup holder

Two on both sides

Performance

 

Age Range

1-10 years old

Stage

2nd, 3rd

Longevity

1-10 years old

Installation

LATCH and seat belt

Headrest Positions

10

Recline Positions

2

Airplane

Yes

Lifespan

7 Years

Extra Features

Warranty

The Graco Atlas 65 does not specify its warranty on the user manual. Its warranty is in accordance with the limited warranty of all the Graco products. Typically, the warranty is at least 12 months for the major parts, but the manufacturer does not make this clear.

Manual

It’s important to follow instructions in the user manual to install and use the Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1 harness booster. 

It’s usually included in the package, but you can always find the online user manual on its official website, or download the PDF here

If you prefer to check the installation by following videos, you may subscribe to Graco’s official channel.

There are plenty of YouTube videos uploaded by parents and you can search for any type of solution, because the Graco Atlas 65 is really a popular model.