Best Convertible and All-in-One Car Seats of 2020 – Independent Ratings and Expert Reviews

(updated: February 19, 2020)
Baby in the Car

The best convertible car seats provide parents with convenient features that make it easy to drive children around safely. Families today spend a lot of time in the car, whether it’s commuting to work, the grocery, soccer practice or vacations. Since we spend so much time on the go, it’s a no-brainer that a safe, comfortable and easy-to-use seat is a must have item for your kiddo.

Our site lists the best baby car seats on the market today, including infant, convertible, and booster seats. But why choose a convertible seat?

The answer: convenience.

Convertible car seats have several benefits, including:

  • Versatility – Some models can grow with your child from the time they leave the hospital as a newborn to the time they no longer need a child safety seat.
  • Saves money – Though a convertible can cost more than an infant seat or booster seat, it usually costs a lot less than buying multiple seats as your child grows.
  • Can be passed down – Convertibles usually have a long lifespan, sometimes 10 years or more before they expire. So you can invest in a convertible then easily use it for younger siblings, playdates, or any children you babysit.
  • Higher weight limits – Convertible seats usually have a higher rear-facing weight limit than infant seats. Higher weight limits better allow for extended rear-facing (ERF), which the AAP highly recommends.

Jump to Ratings
Convertible Car Seat
Convertible Car Seat Ratings

Rear-facing that converts to a Front-facing position.

Rear-facing position: 0 – 2 years +, up to 4 years of age recommended*
Front-facing position: 2+ years

*The AAP now recommends rear-facing for as long as possible beyond 2 years.

Infant Car Seat
Infant Car Seat Ratings

Rear-facing position only, provides more support for the child’s head, back, and spine.

Age Limit: ~ 2-3 years of age

*The AAP now recommends rear-facing for as long as possible beyond 2 years.

Investigated

Each of the convertible seats listed below received a score of 8.0 (out of 10) or above in our testing. We’ve scoured expert sites, customer reviews, product specs and parent testimonials to break down the facts so you can make an educated decision. Don’t waste precious time and energy jumping from place to place. We did the hard work for you so your time and money is well spent.

Whether you choose an infant or convertible safety seat is up to you and your family’s lifestyle. Only you know what’s best for your child. Browse our reviews to find your best car seat.

When you read through the reviews, pay special attention to the things that matter to you as a parent. There is no one perfect seat. There is only a perfect seat for you. Weigh the pros and cons of each model for yourself, your lifestyle, your vehicle, and your baby.

For example, some parents won’t mind an infant safety seat that is more challenging to install because they’ll keep it in one car 99% of the time. For other parents who need to frequently switch the seat between cars, a lightweight and easy to install/uninstall seat is a must. Parents with small vehicles or multiple children in car seats will want the most compact models they can find. Start the process by thinking about what you are looking for in a car seat. Perhaps even make a list. Then you’ll be ready to start shopping!


Best Seller Seat (2020 Moms’ Picks)

Graco 4ever ​All-in-One​

Graco 4ever ​All-in-One
Check Graco 4ever ​All-in-One price
Price: Average Our rating:
9.8
Our Choice

The Graco 4ever All-in-One has been a trusted, tried and true favorite for many families who love convertible car seats. Though it’s not perfect, it’s the closest we’ve seen among convertible seats that are often lacking in one area or another.

This car seat is meant to last, meaning that it fully transitions from rear facing (4-40 pounds) to forward facing (20-65 pounds) to both high back belt-positioning booster (30-100 pounds) and backless booster seat (40-120 pounds) while retaining its reliability. It has easy-to-use parts, a premium LATCH system, and double cup holders.

The latest versions of this seat come with a wide variety of color options and parents can find it for an affordable price.

Go to ReviewRead Our Full Review of the Graco 4ever All-in-One

Advantages

Simply put, this is one of the top rated car seats on the market today. A steel frame, impact-absorbing padding, 6 recline positions 10 position headrest, a 5-point safety harness, and a 1-second LATCH system have made it a favorite for ease-of-use, comfort, and safety.

Switching between car seat modes is easy, and each mode is truer to size than many other convertibles. It also comes in several colors to suit your particular taste. All Graco car seats meet or exceed the NHTSA’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213 and they are tested with crash forces that are approximately 2 times the federal standard using the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) standards.

The dual cup holders help keep kids happy traveling long distances (just add a drink and some snacks), and the seat pad (comes in 3 parts) is machine washable for those inevitable accidents. The seat is also FAA approved for air travel.

Disadvantages

This is not a small car seat and in some cars the rear-facing and booster positions prove to be a bad fit due to its larger size. You may not be able to fit it in a car with bucket seats, for instance. Legroom for front passengers may be an issue when this car seat is fully reclined for rear-facing.

One common complaint involved a rattling sound from the adjustable headrest. Other smaller issues include straps that can’t be removed for machine washing and some difficulty tightening the safety harness in rear-facing mode.

Compilation of customer opinions

At the end of the day, this is one of the best convertibles on the market. Parents love how simple it is to install and use. The car seat has best in class durability, a proven crash safety record, and grows well with your children. This is truly a forever seat that will become a regular fixture in your car.


Not Quite Enough? Take a Look At These Extended Specialized Editions:

Graco 4Ever DLX All-in-One

Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1

The DLX is very similar in size and design to the original 4Ever. It has the same height and weight ranges. This seat will cost you about $30 - $60 more than the original but come with 3 nice features:

  1. Integrated seat belt lock-off - Makes installation with the vehicle seat belt easier.
  2. RapidRemove cover - The car seat cover can easily be removed for washing in one minute or less without having to remove the harness OR car seat.
  3. Fuss Free harness storage - Rubberized pockets on the side of the car seat hold the harness out of the way so you can get baby in and out easier.

Best Convertible Car Seats of 2020

Convertible Vehicle Seat (Front Facing position)

A convertible car seat is one of the best options for parents because they won’t have to shop for a new seat each time their child outgrows their current seat. That convenience and the overall ease of use are the main reasons why parents choose convertible models. When you see how quickly your baby grows, you will understand why convertible seats are a huge money saver.

A convertible car seat begins as rear-facing and transitions into a forward-facing seat as your child grows. Some convertible models also convert into booster seats. These models take your child from infancy through elementary school and beyond all in a single car seat.

The best baby seats install quickly and easily, are simple to use for every trip, and are light enough to switch from car to car. Extra accessories like cup holders are also a nice bonus, since your child will have changing needs as they grow.

Convertible car seats are heavy. These seats are often bulkier and heavier than infant safety seats, so you might want to consider the weight of each seat. Heavier seats, however, can absorb more bumps from the road and often provide a more comfortable ride for your child.

When browsing our reviews, here are the top 7 things parents should consider before buying a convertible car seat:

  1. Ease of use– including installation, conversion to other modes, and getting your child in and out of the seat
  2. Expiration – 10+ years is ideal
  3. Car compatibility – measure your backseat dimensions and compare to the seat dimensions
  4. Height and weight limits – should allow for extended rear facing (ERF) well past 2 years old
  5. Level indicators – bubble indicators make adjusting the recline a lot easier
  6. LATCH weight limits – higher the better to allow for ERF
  7. Lifestyle – Urban families or frequent travelers need light, easy-to-install seats for cabs and planes

Using these criteria, here are the convertible car seats that stood out from the rest of the crowd.


Our 2020 Ratings of Convertible Car Seats

Graco 4ever ​All-in-One Graco Extend2Fit Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Britax Marathon ClickTight Graco Milestone All-in-One Diono Radian 3RXT All-in-One Evenflo Symphony Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max Chicco NextFit Sport Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Clek Fllo
Graco 4ever ​All-in-One
Price: Average
Our rating:
9.8
Graco Extend2Fit
Price: Low
Our rating:
9.5
Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1
Price: Low
Our rating:
9.4
Britax Marathon ClickTight
Price: High
Our rating:
9.2
Graco Milestone All-in-One
Price: Low
Our rating:
9.1
Diono Radian 3RXT All-in-One
Price: Average
Our rating:
9
Evenflo Symphony
Price: Average
Our rating:
8.7
Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max
Price: High
Our rating:
8.6
Chicco NextFit Sport
Price: Average
Our rating:
8.5
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio
Price: High
Our rating:
8.4
Clek Fllo
Price: High
Our rating:
8.1

Graco Extend2Fit​

Graco Extend2Fit
Check Graco Extend2Fit price
Price: Low Our rating:
9.5

The Graco Extend2Fit is a clear winner for parents that want extended rear-facing past 2 years old. The 50 pound rear-facing weight limit is one of the highest for the Graco line. It's very affordable. It comes with a 4-position leg extension, adding 5” of legroom for your child and converts to a forward-facing harnessed seat for toddlers from 22 - 65 pounds. It does NOT transition to a booster seat.

This seat also has a 10 year lifespan. It comes in 6 different colors ranging from classic blacks and greys to bright pinks and oranges, with some colors only offered in alternate versions.

Go to ReviewRead Our Full Review of the Graco Extend2Fit

Advantages

This is an extremely versatile seat. The compact size provides good legroom for front seat passengers, even in rear-facing mode. The push-on LATCH system is simple and easy to use. Even better, the 10-position headrest allows for a great fit as your child grows. The seat itself has a 6-position recline as well. Included with this seat are Fuss Free Harness Storage Pockets, 2 crotch strap positions, a steel reinforced frame, InRight LATCH system, two cup holders, and a machine washable cover.

The Simply Safe Adjust harness moves the harness and headrest height in one motion; no rethreading of straps is required. It also has a fantastic steel frame that feels sturdy but is still comfortable. As far as safety goes, the performance is excellent, as parents have reported from real-life crash experiences.

Disadvantages

The Extend2Fit is wider than some seats making it a bit bulky. If you need to fit three children in the back seat, this might not be the best choice. Also, the fit is great for toddlers but probably won't be snug enough for preemies or newborns under 7 pounds. The seat cover can be hard to remove and replace for cleaning as well.

Some parents had trouble getting the harness straps tight while others found seat belt installation in rear-facing mode to be quite difficult. There are some rules about weight, recline, and use of some features that differ when using the seat rear-facing vs. forward-facing. These can be confusing at times, so keeping the manual on hand is wise.

Compilation of customer opinions

Overall, customers have been very satisfied with this product and highly recommend it, especially for extended rear-facing. It lacks an easy-to-remove cover, which is really the biggest downside, but the affordable price makes up for that if you're on a budget.


Take a Look At These Extended Specialized Editions:

Graco SlimFit 3-in-1

Graco SlimFit 3-in-1

Unlike the Extend2Fit, the SlimFit is a better choice for a 3-across car seat configuration, thanks to its slim design and rotating cup holders that reduce the width by 10%. While it does not have a leg extension panel, the SlimFit does include a belt-positioning booster mode for kids 30 - 100 pounds.

It will cost you about $20 more than the Extend2Fit. Size ranges are as follows:

  1. Rear-facing: 5 - 40 pounds
  2. Forward-facing: 22 - 65 pounds
  3. Belt-positioning booster mode: 30 - 100 pounds

The SlimFit has 4 recline positions instead of 6. All other features are similar to the Extend2Fit.

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1​

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1
Check Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 price
Price: Low Our rating:
9.4

The Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 focuses heavily on the “growing” and “going” feature. It's good for the family who is always on the move - from the time the baby is born to the time you don’t need a child safety seat anymore.

Grow and Go transitions easily from a rear facing seat (5-40 pounds), forward-facing seat (22-65 pounds), and a high-back belt-positioning booster seat (40-100 pounds). It comes in 9 different color choices making it easy to find an attractive car seat.

Read Detailed ReviewRead Our Detailed Review of the Safety 1st Grow and Go (3-in-1) - Pros, Cons and Final Verdict

Advantages

The Grow and Go is a very budget-friendly car seat. Removable infant padding and a shoulder belt positioner maximize comfort and safety for newborn to booster-ready children. Many parents loved the color options and the no fuss seat cover for easy removal and washing. They also enjoyed the little details, including harness clip holders which makes getting your child in and out easier.

The slim design means that your car will be able to carry more people in the back seat comfortably. Most car seats are safer in the middle of the back seat, and if you have older children back there they won’t be as cramped on either side of this seat. In rear-facing mode it provides more front seat legroom than most other seats on the market. Two built-in cup holders come in handy for toddlers and beyond.

Disadvantages

The amount of padding and the side impact protection far surpasses industry standards but can almost feel a bit too thick, especially for younger children. Some parents didn’t like the side cup holders because they added bulk and were not removable for easy cleaning. The seat and headrest covers are machine washable and dryable on a gentle cycle but unfortunately some parents have reported fabric discoloration after multiple cleanings.

With 3 recline positions and a rethread-only infant harness, getting your child strapped in correctly can pose a challenge. Some parents reported that the seat flopped around and they couldn’t get a proper incline angle to fully support the baby’s head when sleeping. This was likely due to the type of backseat (i.e. bucket seats), so if you have a sports or compact car, this car seat may not work well for you.

Compilation of customer opinions

For new parents, this one may not be the best option. You might be happier starting with an infant seat, then switching to this one. It’s definitely a good option for toddlers and up. One mom even reported that her 18-month-old slept right through a scary 45 mph crash!

Britax Marathon ClickTight​

Britax Marathon ClickTight
Check Britax Marathon ClickTight price
Price: High Our rating:
9.2

The Britax Marathon is one of the best convertible seats that we’ve come across. it's on the pricey side, but with leading safety features and 7 creative color/pattern options (ex: Cowmooflage), many parents think it is a worthwhile investment.

This seat fits children rear-facing from 5 – 40 pounds and forward-facing from 20 – 65 pounds (up to 49" tall). There is no booster mode. Though it's not without a few flaws, the ease of installation and safety record far outweighs the negatives.

Go to ReviewRead Our Full Review of the Britax Marathon ClickTight

Advantages

A steel frame, impact-absorbing tether, and energy absorbing base are all part of Britax’s exclusive SafeCell impact protection. The ARB (anti-rebound)version is top-rated by the NHTSA.

The ClickTight installation system is easy to use, or “idiot proof”’ as one parent noted, so you should have no issues with that. With the smooth, non-skid base, the seat won’t leave marks in your car as easily as some other seats do.

A full range of 7 color/pattern combinations is available, from pink to Azul and polka dots to cow patterns. It also has 14 harness strap positions and 7 recline positions to offer a comfy ride as your child grows.

Disadvantages

The crotch straps may be too short for your child. Several parents reported they were too tight on their child's legs. However, it is an adjustable 2 position crotch buckle, so it could be that they were unaware of how to adjust the crotch position.

Instead of rear-facing top tethers, which are no longer included, Britax recommends an anti-rebound bar and now sells another version that comes with an anti-rebound bar. Or you can buy it separately. While not a necessity, it would be nice if they had included it from the get-go.

Other issues included harness straps that don't adjust to equal tightness, crumbs accumulating in the ClickTight release button, seat padding coming loose and an occasional jammed recline handle. How it fits in various vehicles is widely debated. It will depend on what mode you use and how big your car interior is.

Compilation of customer opinions

Parents generally had positive reviews of this car seat. It's questionable as to which vehicles it may fit in, so you'll want to measure your car interior before purchasing. For a premium priced seat, the easy ClickTight installation and safety features make the ClickTight Marathon well worth your investment.


Take a Look At These Extended Specialized Editions:

Britax Boulevard Convertible

Britax Boulevard ClickTight

The Boulevard has the same dimensions and child size ranges for rear-facing (5 - 40 pounds) and forward-facing (20 - 65 pounds) as its cousin, the Marathon. It does include a couple of added safety features that the Marathon lacks.

While the seats share the same energy-absorbing shell, the Boulevard also includes an energy-absorbing foam headrest. In addition, there is a Click & Safe Snug Indicator to help you better judge when the harness is tightened properly.

The Boulevard will cost parents about $20 more than the Marathon.

Graco Milestone All-in-One​

Graco Milestone All-in-One
Check Graco Milestone All-in-One price
Price: Low Our rating:
9.1

The Graco Milestone All-In-One is a promising car seat that parents are pleased with. This seat comes in a rear-facing mode from 5-40 pounds, a harnessed forward-facing mode with a harness from 20-65 pounds, and a high-back, belt-positioning booster from 30-100 pounds. It comes in 2 colors - Ayla (pink/white) and Gotham (black w/ white trim).

The Simply Safe Adjust Harness allows you to adjust the harness and headrest height at the same time, which makes it easy to secure your child properly.

The seat comes with an adjustable base with two recline positions for rear-facing and two for forward-facing. The frame itself is steel-reinforced with energy absorbing EPS foam. There are premium, push-on lower LATCH connectors and an included cup holder.

Go to ReviewRead Our Review of the Graco Milestone All-in-One

Advantages

Almost all parents who have tried this seat rave about the no-rethread harness which makes it simple adjust the strap positions as your child grows. The LATCH system with push-on connectors also installs easily in many different types of cars - from SUVs to sports cars.

Converting, installing, cleaning, and even using the seat is pretty simple. Most of the adjustments can be done one-handed. For first time parents, this will be a huge benefit. The seat cover is easy to remove and machine washable. Everything else is wipe-clean.

When you don’t need the harness straps while in booster mode, you can store them in the harness storage compartment built into the seat so you won’t lose them. This is a high quality seat that provides good value for the money when compared to other seats.

Disadvantages

Though this seat meets or exceeds all safety standards in the US, it is made in China, so there can be some quality control issues. Some parents noted that food can get caught in the harness tension latch, which could hinder proper tightening. Always check the latch and clean out any loose debris before using it. There is no backless booster mode, which some parents didn’t like.

It doesn’t provide as snug a fit for newborns and preemies as the 4ever. While the one-handed adjustments are great, some inquisitive kids can loosen the straps and the recline/headrest adjustments.

Compilation of customer opinions

Overall, customers really loved this seat, and so did we. If you need to frequently transfer the seat from car to car or you will be using the seat on airplanes or trains, you may want to move onto something else since this seat is rather bulky and heavy.

However, for anyone who just needs a good convertible seat that will grow with their family, this could be the one for you.

Diono Radian 3RXT All-in-One​

Diono Radian 3RXT All-in-One
Check Diono Radian 3RXT All-in-One price
Price: Average Our rating:
9

The Diono Radian 3RXT is a newer model that sports a few differences from the original. It converts between a rear-facing seat from 5 - 45 pounds, a forward-facing seat from 20 - 65 pounds and a belt-positioning booster seat from 50 - 120 pounds.

The RXT is offered in 13 fashionable colors and has a solid 10-year expiration date.

Read Review NowRead our Detailed Review of the Diono Radian 3RXT

Advantages

Like other Diono seats, the narrow profile of the 3RXT allows for a 3-across car seat setup for most mid-sized vehicles. The low profile sides also make getting in and out easy for those independent toddlers. The steel frame and aluminum reinforced sidewalls with extra head support and EPS foam provide good side-impact protection.

The 12-position headrest, infant body support and memory foam help this seat grow comfortably with your child. This seat also supports extended rear-facing with a weight limit of 45 pounds. The premium plush fabric cover is easy to remove and machine washable. Installation is easy with the SuperLATCH system, which has an audible click so you know it’s secure.

Disadvantages

This seat is quite heavy, close to 30 pounds, but that’s thanks to the solid steel frame. It does fold up for easy portability, but due to the weight, it’s not a great seat to transfer frequently from car to car. It’s more of an install it and leave it kind of seat.

As children grow the harness must be rethreaded when adjusting the shoulder strap height, which can be a pain. Due to the height of the seat, rear-facing may limit the front passenger legroom. Also, this seat may be too big to fit newborns correctly, plus it only has one recline angle, so babies’ heads may slump unless you have very flat car seats. Kids may also outgrow forward-facing and booster modes before the size limits.

Compilation of customer opinions

Those with mid to large-sized vehicles appreciated the narrow profile for 3-across configurations. Parents really love that the seat can fold up and be carried like a backpack for easier travel through airports or for compact storage.

Some parents, however, said they needed two people to get it installed tightly enough and had issues with getting the straps tight enough. If you have a mid to large-sized vehicle, don’t need to move the seat often, and don’t have a tight budget, this one is a good option.


Take a Look At These Extended Specialized Editions:

Diono Radian 3R All-in-One

Diono Radian 3R All-in-One

This is a more affordable version that will save you over $100 while still delivering many of the same features. However, the maximum weights are lower for both rear-facing and booster modes.

  • Rear-facing 5 - 40 pounds
  • Forward-facing: 20 - 65 pounds
  • Booster mode: 50 - 100 pounds

Unlike the 3RXT, this seat does not come with an infant support cushion or a cupholder. Those accessoires can be bought separately.

Evenflo Symphony​

Evenflo Symphony
Check Evenflo Symphony price
Price: Average Our rating:
8.7

The Evenflo Symphony is a well constructed, all-in-one convertible car seat with several details that make it a winner for many parents, no matter their lifestyle. Key features include strong side-impact protection, buckle pockets, a 5-position adjustable headrest, and 3 recline positions.

With an easy 60-second installation, it’s great for a busy, on-the-go family. The weight limits are: 5-40 pounds for rear facing, 22-65 pounds for forward-facing, and 40-110 pounds in high-back booster mode. Eight color combinations are available.

Go to ReviewRead Our Full Review of the Evenflo Symphony Elite All-In-One

Advantages

Coming in at just under 25 pounds, this is a fairly heavy seat, but the steel frame provides plenty of sturdiness to keep it steady. The wide weight range helps keep your child secure longer than other seats and allows for extended rear-facing. An Infinite Slide harness system helps provide an accurate fit as your child grows.

The cover is machine washable and dryable (on low heat). The cover itself is durable, with high quality fabric that's very comfortable, especially with the thick padding beneath. Parents of older toddlers and school-age children will appreciate the two expandable cup holders that fit larger sippy cups and big drinks.

Installation is super easy for most parents with the Sure LATCH connectors that are self-ratcheting, so you won't have to tug and pull so hard to get it tight.

Disadvantages

The size of the seat will likely make a 3 car seat configuration impossible. Your front passengers may also lose some leg room while in rear-facing mode. Your child may outgrow the maximum height of the booster mode sooner than the 110 pound weight limit.

While there aren’t a lot of problems with this seat, there have been a few reported issues. Some parents noted a lot of wear and tear on the straps after several months of use. Other parents had difficulty getting their child at the proper recline position in rear-facing mode, so their child’s head fell forward when sleeping. This is likely more the result of the specific vehicle seats and adjusting the installation angle with a pool noodle or towel is recommended in this situation.

Compilation of customer opinions

Parents appreciated that the seat was made in the USA, which often means higher quality. Customer service is also based in the USA. Parents also loved the easy installation. Some of them were concerned with the recline angle in rear-facing mode.

Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max​

Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max
Check Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max price
Price: High Our rating:
8.6

The Maxi Cosi Pria 85 Max is a fantastic seat that fits a wide range of children. In the rear-facing mode, it fits 5-40 pounds and 40 inches or less. In the forward-facing mode it fits 22-85 pounds and 29-52 inches. There is no booster mode.

It’s designed to be safe while providing a super quick in-and-out process for on-the-go families. The seat comes with a 3-position crotch strap, 3 recline settings, a no-rethread harness, an easy to remove cover, and 2 infant positioning inserts. It comes in six fun colors/patterns.

Read Review NowRead our Detailed Review of the Maxi Cosi Pria 85 Max

Advantages

A cup holder, comfy cushions and premium fabric ensure a great ride for those long road trips. Parents will also appreciate the added leg room for front seat passengers. FlexTech construction works well to distribute forces during a crash. With Air Protect side impact protection and thick padding, the Maxi-Cosi Pria meets or exceeds all US safety standards.

One huge advantage it has over other seats is that the seat pad and harness covers snap on and off easily without having to unthread straps or remove the seat. They’re both machine washable and dryer safe. Harness holders keep the straps out of the way so getting your child in and out is easier. The flip-away buckle and ClipQuik chest clip also make getting in and out quicker.

The inclusion of 2 infant inserts is somewhat rare among car seats, but a welcome benefit for parents of preemies. With a number of adjustment settings all over the seat, it’s easy to get the proper fit as your child grows.

Disadvantages

Premium quality means premium price, so this seat may not fit into everyone’s budget. While the seat cover is stylish, the back of the seat isn’t covered at all, so you’ll see all the stickers and model info. Surprisingly, there’s only a line guide for leveling instead of a bubble level.

The wide profile can make adding additional car seats difficult and may prevent it from fitting well in smaller vehicles. Some parents couldn’t get the seat installed tightly enough in their cars and others had a hard time unbuckling the magnetic chest clip.

Compilation of customer opinions

Sometimes you get what you pay for, but for some parents the Maxi-Cosi Pria isn’t that much better than some of the cheaper models. Other parents testify that the quality construction and ease of use make it a worthwhile investment. If you love it maybe keep an eye out for sales and special offers or add this one to your baby registry and ask your family and friends to buy it as a group gift.

Chicco NextFit Sport​

Chicco NextFit Sport
Check Chicco NextFit Sport price
Price: Average Our rating:
8.5

This seat is a fantastic choice for parents who want something that is a high-quality car seat for the years through preschool and early elementary school. Several exclusive safety and installation features like the ReclineSure 9-position leveling system make it both safe and easy to use for busy parents.

For children rear-facing 12-40 pounds and forward-facing 22-65 pounds, the Chicco NextFit Sport is a great convertible seat for parents who prioritize safety. The sturdiness inside gives way to a comfortable outside as well. It’s available in three colors: black, gray and dark blue. There is no booster mode.

Advantages

The biggest advantage to the Chicco NextFit Sport car seat is the steel frame. The steel frame makes the seat very sturdy and provides stability in an accident. It also helps the seat stand up better to some of the abuse that comes with travelling, so if you are going to fly with the seat or take longer road trips then this might be a good option.

The SuperCinch latch tightener makes proper installation a breeze. Nine recline levels, a height-adjustable headrest and automatic harness adjustment makes this a true grow-with-your-child seat.

This child car seat is also quite easy to clean because the seat cover is machine washable. You can even get a manufacturers guide that shows you how to clean certain stains and spills.

Disadvantages

The steel frame does make this a bit heavier (25 pounds) and bigger than your traditional car seat, so it’s better for those who don’t need to switch cars often. It will fit in smaller cars, but it won’t leave much room on either side. There is no booster mode with this seat.

Another sticking point for some parents is that it can’t be installed easily next to another car seat, but this is true with a lot of convertible seats. When rear-facing, it can take a while to install, which was a major issue for some parents who wanted something for cab and air travel. Others noted the seat cover was easier to remove than to replace.

Compilation of customer opinions

Overall, users love the safety features of this seat. For parents who have one car or don’t intend to move it, it’s a great option. Some users complained that it was too big for smaller cars. For parents who have children close in age, they have appreciated the durability so they can use it as younger siblings come along. However, it’s not meant for newborns or preemies with the 12 pound minimum weight. It is on the high end for price, but it can be a good investment for the right family.

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio​

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio
Check Peg Perego Primo Viaggio price
Price: High Our rating:
8.4

The Italian-made Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible is one of the older convertible car seats on the market, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in quality. Peg Perego uses time-tested technology that other car seat manufacturers struggle to find. The design focuses on head, neck and spine stability, which is crucial during a crash.

The generous size ranges are comparable with other seats on the market. It has a rear-facing capacity of 5-45 pounds and a forward-facing capacity of 22-65 pounds. It comes standard with an infant cushion and harness covers and is available in 7 fashionable colors. This seat does not have a booster mode.

Read Review NowRead our Detailed Review of the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio convertible

Advantages

It has a reputation for being a very comfortable car seat for kids to sit in on long rides. The deluxe LATCH straps make this not only safer, but easier to use than other harnesses. This car seat is a good option for hot climates as the buckles and straps are well covered to avoid burning babies sensitive skin.

The conversion process is easier with a simple snap and twist motion. The 7-year expiration date means that it could last through a few children, but not as long as some of the 10-year models. The thing we liked most about it is that it stood up to several real-world crashes and kept each baby completely safe.

Disadvantages

Criticisms vary but are fairly rare with this seat. Besides the higher price tag and shorter expiration date (7 years), some reported their child could easily unbuckle the harness while others had issues with the recline angles and bulk when placed beside other car seats.

The rear-facing belt path is unique and will take a little while to get used to, which also means that installation may take longer. Initially, tightening the harness is difficult because of the padding, though it should get easier with continued use.

Always do your research to make sure the seat will fit in your car or on an airplane seat, and thoroughly inspect all parts before using.

Oddly enough, there are some important spec misprints in the instruction manual (i.e. states 30 lbs as maximum LATCH limit, but it’s actually 40) and other typos from translation. Consult the website and call the company to confirm if you have any questions. It does have a holder for the manual so you can keep it with the seat at all times.

Compilation of customer opinions

Overall, parents enjoy this convertible car seat. They say their children sleep better and that the ride is more comfortable. The typos in the manual annoy them, but they mentioned that there is an updated version on the website. It’s a pricey model, but we think it’s worth the investment if you have the budget for it.

Clek Fllo​

Clek Fllo
Check Clek Fllo price
Price: High Our rating:
8.1

The Clek Fllo Convertible Car Seat is quickly gaining fans for its narrow and compact design and chic look. But what’s most impressive about this car seat is the advanced safety features from top to bottom.

Although there are some bumps when installing, the car seat delivers more pluses than minuses. This is one of the few convertible car seats where the rear-facing position can be used until the child reaches 50 pounds. Rear-facing mode is from 14 - 50 pounds (but can be used with newborns with the “infant-thingy insert”, which is sold separately). Forward-facing mode is 22 - 65 pounds.

With both rear-facing and forward-facing positions, you can install the seat using either the vehicle’s seat belts or LATCH system. It also includes a steel anti-rebound bar to limit rotation of the seat in a collision. There is no booster mode and the Clek Fllo has a 9-year expiration.

Read Review NowRead our Detailed Review of the Clek Fllo

Advantages

The Clek Fllo is one of the best built narrow convertible car seats on the market. Its main attraction is being able to fit three across in most vehicles’ back seats.

Structurally, the car seat incorporates industry-leading safety features, like a steel anti-rebound bar, advanced side impact protection, and a patented energy management system to minimize energy forces from the impact of a crash.

It easily converts from rear-facing to forward-facing and is compact and light enough to move from one vehicle to another. The car seat is also FAA approved for air travel.

The seat’s pad is protected by a stain guard, so dirt and stains can be easily wiped off. Plus, the fabrics are free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants. They also have a recycling program you can take advantage of when your seat expires.

Disadvantages

Depending on vehicle type, fitting the car seat in the rear-facing position may require pulling the front passenger seat up, thus limiting legroom for that passenger. In some vehicles, the car seat may ride high in the back seat when rear-facing.

The release button for the harness strap isn’t in a very accessible spot and the harness itself is rethread style. Some parents report problems with the crotch strap fitting too tightly on their child. However, a longer crotch strap is available to purchase separately.

The biggest disappointment is the lack of a cup holder. It is only available as an add-on accessory purchased separately. Some other accessories are lacking too, including an infant insert that often comes included in other car seats.

Compilation of customer opinions

Overall, the Clek Fllo is absolutely one of the safest and narrowest convertible car seats available to parents. Its versatility allows it to be used 3-across in most vehicles while still delivering top safety features. Plus, it is lightweight enough to move from one vehicle to another or to travel with on an airplane.

Parents appreciate the high quality and durability of the seat itself and the extended rear-facing capability. It is a sophisticated looking car seat built to take your child from baby to toddler.


Let’s touch on some questions about convertible car seats that many parents ask

FAQ

We’ll dive into some more details at the bottom of the page.

  1. What is a convertible car seat? Simply stated, it’s a car seat that converts to several different modes to accommodate a growing child depending on his/her weight and height. Some convertibles are listed as 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 or All-in-one models. They all start in a rear-facing mode for your infant, then convert to a forward-facing harnessed seat for your toddler. Some will also convert to a harnessed or belt-positioning highback booster seat or even a backless booster seat.
  2. What’s the safest convertible car seat? All car seats sold in the US must meet stringent Federal and ASTM safety regulations. Most seats well exceed those standards, so every seat in our rankings will be “safe”, but ONLY if used correctly. A whopping 70% or more of seats aren’t used correctly. So, we strongly feel that the safest seats are those that are the EASIEST to install and use daily.
  3. Do any convertible car seats have bases? The short answer is no. You may be able to find third-party vendors still selling a couple of seats such as the Graco SmartSeat or the Orbit Baby G3, which did have bases, but those have been discontinued. We wouldn’t recommend purchasing these, as the manufacturer may not update you about recalls, have available replacement parts, etc. Convertibles are meant to stay in the car so their base is built into the seat.
  4. When should I switch to a convertible car seat? If you have an infant seat, and your child has outgrown the weight or height limit, it is the perfect time to switch to a convertible to allow for extended rear-facing or if she’s ready for forward-facing.
  5. Can you use a convertible seat for a newborn? You can, though keep in mind that the AAP and several child safety experts recommend a dedicated infant seat for newborns up to 8 pounds or more. Convertible seats tend to be roomier, so they may not offer a snug enough fit for a very small baby or preemie. Otherwise, if your baby isn’t super small, a convertible seat should fit her just fine.

Best Rated Infant (Rear-Facing Only) Car Seats of 2020

Infant Safety Seat (Rear Facing only)

Though a convertible seat can grow with your child longer, many safety experts recommend starting with an infant seat as opposed to a convertible. They’re designed specifically to support newborns and very small babies and tend to have a snugger fit with better-fitting harnesses than some convertibles.

It is so critical to have a quality car seat for your newborn that the hospital will even send a nurse to your car to check the seat and make sure that it is installed properly. Simply put, if there is one thing to “splurge” on, it isn’t a cute outfit or a fancy crib – it’s the car seat.

Ideally, you want to find an infant seat that provides comfort and safety for your child while still fitting into your budget. Choosing the right one isn’t always easy, so we strive to provide updated, easy-to-read, accurate information that can simplify your search.

The best infant car seat reviews present a well-rounded look at all facets of car seats, including what’s great and not so great about them. We study several characteristics of each product to get a thorough review so you can save time and money while still getting the best seat for your baby. For each product listed, we determine our rating and review on questions most parents have while shopping for a quality seat.

  • Which car seats provide the safest ride?
  • Which are the most comfortable (for both baby and parents)?
  • Which are the most user-friendly in terms of installation and daily use?
  • Which have the highest weight and height limits to allow for extended rear-facing?
  • Which provide the most value for the money?

Technology is quickly advancing everywhere, including the safety seat market. Car seats have come a long way in the last few years and can accommodate a wider range of ages and sizes. Keep in mind that the AAP now recommends keeping children rear-facing for as long as possible up to the 4th birthday. So, look for infant seats with higher rear-facing weight limits such as the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35​.

With just the right car seat, it’s easier to enjoy each and every car ride with your baby, from a short grocery run to a long road trip. But would you believe that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg for a great seat?

Take the Chicco KeyFit 30 for instance. It costs less than several designer models and is our highest rated seat. Discover why it’s one of our top 3 highest rated infant seats in our mini and detailed reviews.


Infant Car Seats Rating 2020

Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35 Evenflo SafeMax
Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat
Price: High
Our rating:
9.9
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35
Price: High
Our rating:
9.7
Evenflo SafeMax
Price: Average
Our rating:
9.5

Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat​

Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat
Check Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat price
Price: High Our rating:
9.9
Our Choice

Out of all the car seats on the market today, the Chicco KeyFit 30 is one of the most recommended car seats by neonatal nurses for its safety standards, personalization, and comfort. If you have a child that has special physical needs, consider giving this seat a try. It comes in 5 colors and is designed for infants 4 - 30 pounds.

Read Big ReviewRead Our Detailed Review of the Chicco Keyfit

Advantages

The Chicco KeyFit 30 is one of the only car seats on the market recommended for premature infants. This is because it adjusts to an extremely small size without cutting back on protection or comfort. A spring-loaded leveling foot and two bubble levels ensure you get the right angle so baby’s head won’t slump.

Parents love this seat because it’s easy to install, and the instruction manual provides a lot of support and guidance. Many of the features are smaller, making this a more compact and easy to use seat, especially for petite parents. It’s small profile makes for an easier fit for smaller cars or side-by-side car seats. It’s compatible with all Chicco strollers.

Disadvantages

One of the biggest disadvantages of this car seat is that the fabric, though easy to clean, does not breathe. If you live in a warmer climate and/or you don’t have a strong air conditioning system in your car, you may want to monitor your child for overheating. However, this is a very rare problem.

Compilation of customer opinions

By far, customers love the easy installation and say it’s easier to use than other car seats they’ve tried. They report that it’s comfortable and appreciate the varied fabric color and pattern options. If you are stuck on your search, this one’s a real winner.

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35​

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35
Check Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35 price
Price: High Our rating:
9.7

All Peg Perego seats are known to combine safety, luxury, and beautiful features that you just cannot find in any other car seat. The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio is no exception - this is a superb seat you will love to use. It comes in 12 fashionable colors and is designed for babies 4 - 35 pounds.

Read Detailed ReviewRead Our Detailed Review of the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35

Advantages

The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio is one of the most popular options among families for quite a few reasons. It is certainly worth considering, especially if you are going to be in your car quite a bit.

The anti-rebound bar on the base is a unique feature that will provide extra protection if there is a front or a rear collision. If you drive in traffic that is stop and go, this can help stabilize the baby during sudden stops and starts.

Parents also appreciate that the seat is attractive and has some of the highest rated safety options. Color coded belt paths help ensure proper strap adjustment, and the side impact protection has 6 adjustment levels to protect baby’s head and shoulders, no matter their size.

Disadvantages

Some parents have complained that the seat is uncomfortable to carry when the canopy is fully extended. Several noted that the material is a bit more difficult to clean, so if you plan on feeding your child in the car, this might not be a great option. (But feeding them in the car isn’t recommended anyway!) It may also not leave a lot of legroom for taller front seat passengers.

Compilation of customer opinions

For parents who can afford to spend a little bit more for peace of mind, this car seat has almost always left them satisfied. If you do plan on frequent car trips, the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio is an option you will certainly want to think about.

Evenflo SafeMax​

Evenflo SafeMax
Check Evenflo SafeMax price
Price: Average Our rating:
9.5

Evenflo is well known for innovation and thorough testing when it comes to safety and security for your baby. The Evenflo SafeMax is the product of years of research. It’s the first rollover-tested car seat and is designed for babies 4 - 35 pounds.

Read Detailed ReviewRead Our Review of the Evenflo SafeMax

Advantages

One of the biggest advantages is the anti-rebound bar that offers more support and safety for your child. The lowest harness settings fit smaller babies, but the model also fits babies that tend to be longer and taller (up to 35 pounds) so you can keep them in a rear-facing seat longer. The different settings for height and width make this a perfect fit for almost everyone.

This stylish seat also feels expensive even though it’s not. The canopy is generous for those sunny days. As far as safety, EPS foam lines the entire inside of the carrier, protecting against impact but also against bumps in the road. A SuperCinch tightener and one-pull harness make securing both seat and baby effortless.

Disadvantages

One of the biggest problems with this seat is that the harnesses can be difficult to adjust so you should closely follow the user manual. The handle may also be stiff and difficult to move. For taller parents, the seat needs a bit more room, so you may have to move your front seat forward.

Compilation of customer opinions

Overall, customers rate the Evenflo SafeMax as a safe, reliable option for preemies and beyond. They like that it’s comfortable and holds the baby at a natural angle.

Go to Full Infant Safety Seats Rating


Our Top Rated Infant Travel System

Also called car seat / stroller combos, travel systems allow you to attach the baby’s car seat to the stroller without removing her from the car seat. They’re perfect for long walks through the zoo, a museum, or around the neighborhood.

Several infant seats you’ll see on our site can either be bought alone or as part of a travel system. There are different stroller models depending on your lifestyle, including 3-wheeled, 4-wheeled, jogging and double strollers. Check out our #1 rated travel system below:

Chicco Bravo Trio​

Chicco Bravo Trio
Check Chicco Bravo Trio price
Price: High Our rating:
9.6

The Chicco Bravo Trio is a top rated travel system that has a stroller, one of Chicco’s safest car seats and one base included. It was designed for parents who are always on the go.

For stroller-only use, it has an upper weight limit of 50 pounds, but you’ll need to use the infant seat with the stroller until your child is 6 months old. However, you can remove the stroller seat until you need it to keep from getting it dirty in the meantime.

Go to ResearchDetailed Review of Chicco Bravo Trio - Travel System

Advantages

The large storage basket beneath the seat is accessible from both the front and the back. It also has a large canopy that protects your child from the elements. Setting up the car seat, whether in your car, in the stroller, or as a carrier, is extremely easy.

Parents love that it comes with accessories that are often sold separately with other travel systems. They really appreciate the parent tray for holding cell phones, drinks, etc. while out for a stroll at the zoo or mall.

Finally, the seat is much lighter (9 pounds) than other options in this category, perfect for parents who plan to take their baby shopping or those who have a long walk from car to home. The one-handed fold and carry handle makes transporting the stroller quick and easy, while the height-adjustable handle accommodates short or tall parents.

Disadvantages

The car seat/stroller combo can be a bit difficult to maneuver until you get used to it. You have to use an attachment every time you put the car seat on the stroller, so if you lose it, you won’t be able to use the car seat with the stroller. A tray for toddler drinks and snacks is not included and can be pricey to buy.

Compilation of customer opinions

The Chicco Bravo Trio has some great reviews because of its comfort and versatility. You can move this seat from car to stroller easily, which parents like. For parents who jog, they found it to be one of the easiest to maneuver. For parents who live in cities, this is one of the top choices.


Below are some further considerations and information that can help guide your decision on which car seat will work best for your family.

Types of Car Seats

In the United States, the three main types of car seats available on the market are Infant, Convertible, and Booster. These seats all meet or exceed strict federal safety standards along with additional standards recommended by car manufacturers, hospitals, and parenting groups.


InfantConvertibleBooster

Infant: These seats are designed for infants weighing as little as 4 pounds up to 22-40 pounds, depending on the model. These seats are always used rear-facing, attach to a stationary base and have handles for carrying. The base can be moved from car to car, but the carrier is a huge convenience because it allows you to move your child around without disturbing her.

Convertible: These seats work for toddlers and babies by converting between rear-facing and forward-facing modes. Some 3-in-1 or All-in-One models also convert to belt-positioning highback booster seats or backless booster seats. Their maximum weight limit can reach 65 – 120 pounds, depending on whether they can be used as a booster.

Booster Seats: Children who have outgrown a forward-facing 5-point harness seat should use a booster seat. These seats lift your child up so that the vehicle lap and shoulder belts fit them properly. There are high back and backless varieties of booster seats. A few also have the option of using a harness.

Infant vs Convertible Seat

Infant vs Convertible

It’s just one of many questions you’ll be scratching your head about as a parent. Which one should you choose? At the end of the day, the choice is yours as to which is best for your family and budget. You should note that both types of seats have extremely safe options and both meet federal safety standards, or otherwise they wouldn’t be for sale.

The most important thing is to follow all the proper installation and weight limit guidelines so you’ll know when it’s time to change seats (or convert to a different mode). Keep your user manual handy (preferably in the car) so you can refer to it quickly. Some seats even have special compartments just to store the manual so you’ll always have it on hand, even if you’re traveling in a different vehicle.

Remember that if your child is on the higher or lower end of the growth scale for children his or her age, you have to take that into consideration when you make your purchase. Convertible seats can sometimes be too big for preemies or smaller newborns. Many parents choose to start out with an infant seat and then switch to a convertible for just that reason.

Convertible car seats tend to be more expensive, but they are versatile and can be used for a longer period of time, especially the 3-in-1 models. If you do decide to start with an infant seat, keep a close eye on the height and weight limits, which often top out at around 32 inches and 35 pounds.

Make Sure the Car Seat is Compatible With Your Car

Small Car

Some cars and car seats are not compatible. Before you purchase your car seat consider what car you will use it in and where you will put it. If you have a smaller, sporty car understand that some seats will be virtually impossible to use because of the deep bucket seats. Convertible seats can be notoriously bulky and take up a lot of room. Their width could prevent you from putting two or more car seats beside one another.

The front to back length of a rear-facing seat also can seriously decrease the front seat legroom in some vehicles. If you are a tall parent keep this in mind. Some models are compact and slim to fit perfectly in small cars, but they may not have as much cushioning or accessories. Before buying, always measure your car interior and compare it to the car seat’s dimensions just to be sure it’ll fit.

Some car seats can be installed easily with the seat belt alone while some seats install easier with the LATCH and ISOFIX systems in your car. Check out our notes on installation in each of our detailed reviews to see which installation method works best. If you have a more expensive or luxury car and are worried about marking the interior, you can purchase protectors for your seats so that the upholstery stays clean and undamaged.

NOTE: Never use BOTH the seat belt and LATCH system to install a seat, except in some booster seats. Choose one or the other.

What is LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Сhildren) and ISOFIX?

LATCH System

Today’s baby car seats all come with a standard attachment system that keeps them in place using built-in anchors and tethers in your car. However, most seats can still be used with the vehicle belt alone. Car seat manufacturers usually recommend using one or the other (with the exception of a booster seat). Always read your user manual or consult a local car seat technician to make sure you’re using the correct attachments.

LATCH: For any car made after the year 2001, tethers and anchors have been installed for the LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children). This is somewhat confusing for people used to installing with a seat belt. LATCH essentially makes it easier to install a seat properly and safely without making a mistake. With LATCH you can install your seat in any position in your car, including the middle seat.

Car manufacturers place LATCH anchors in the back seat where they can firmly anchor to the vehicle. With the LATCH system, you use the car’s built-in lower anchors and a top tether or a top strap (or the seat belt in pre-2001 cars). The top tether is a strap located above your backseat and helps secure the seat into the vehicle, making it less likely to move around if you have to make a sudden stop, sharp turn, or when you are in an accident. It also helps to keep the car seat in place on slick upholstery like leather or vinyl seats.

ISOFIX: ISOFIX is basically the same thing as LATCH, but it is called ISOFIX in Europe. The ISOFIX has a bit more rigid connector that provides a steady grip and less sideways sway than LATCH.

How do you know if a seat has been recalled?

Recalled

Car seats have recalls all the time, but before you panic understand that most do not involve anything life-threatening. However, you always want to stay informed about any product recalls that involve baby products. The best way to do that is to fill out that little postage-paid registration card that came in the box with your car seat.

Most people overlook this step and just toss the registration card out with the other packaging, but that’s the only way the manufacturer can contact parents directly about any recalls. Parents should note however that you can even register most seats online now. All you’ll need is the model number, serial number and manufacture date along with your contact info.

You can also refer to the NHTSA’s website for listings of all recent car seat recalls. They update their listings frequently, so you can trust that their info is current. Alternatively, you can add your email address to their national recall notification system and be informed when any recalls are announced.

How do I know if our car seat is correctly installed?

Fire stations, pediatricians, policemen, and certified car seat technicians are trained to know what to look for in a properly installed seat. Take it to one of those experts if you’re unsure and they’ll confirm if your seat is safely installed. If not, they’ll show you how to do it right. You can also watch installation videos on YouTube for a ton of different models or check the manufacturer’s website.

How do I keep my kids from overheating and sweating while riding?

different climate

That depends on a few different factors. If you live in a hot climate or have hot summers, chances are, your baby will sweat, especially if you have to park in the sun.

  • First, look for models that have breathable fabrics (we mention that in several reviews) instead of leathers.
  • Consider adding sunshades to the passenger windows closest to your child to block some of the sun’s heat.
  • Don’t over-dress your baby, even in winter. Coats should always come off before buckling in, or there is a risk that the safety harness won’t work properly.
  • Turn on the car and AC a few minutes before putting your baby in the car seat to alleviate some of the heat in a sunny interior.
  • NEVER leave your baby in the car alone, not even for just a minute. An average of 37 children tragically die each year from being left in a hot car. The interior can heat up to triple digits quickly, even on days when it’s not that hot outside. Consider some of the apps or car seat alarms that will warn you if your child is still in the car.

How and when should I dispose of a car seat?

If your seat has reached the expiration date (around 10 years for most seats), it’s time to toss it. Some stores like Target will have trade-in days where you can bring in your expired seat so they can dispose of it properly. They usually give you a discount for your next upgraded car seat.

If it’s been in a crash, unless it’s only a minor crash, it should always be thrown out. A minor crash, as defined by the NHTSA is one that meets ALL these criteria:

  1. You could still drive the vehicle from the crash site
  2. The door nearest the child safety seat was undamaged
  3. None of the vehicle occupants were injured
  4. Air bags did not deploy
  5. There is no visible damage to the child safety seat

If something on the seat breaks, contact the seller and ask for a refund or exchange. If you are in a car accident let your car insurance know and they can frequently help you pay for the cost of a replacement seat.

A list of most-wanted items in child safety seats

Time and again, parents have quoted these key car seat features as ones that simplify installation and make daily use of the car seats easy. Remember that ease-of-use is VERY important to maximize safety by minimizing incorrect usage.

  • LATCH storage to keep unused buckles out of the way
  • Harness storage (for convertible seats in booster mode)
  • Owner manual storage to keep instructions close at hand
  • Ease of installation with and without the seatbelt
  • One handed tightening of the safety harness, preferably with a strap at the front of the seat
  • Easy buckles for those with arthritis or other hand issues

Features that may be more hype than help

money box

Remember that all car seats sold today must meet or exceed federal safety standards that involve vigorous crash testing. The most expensive car seat and the cheapest car seat both passed the same safety tests. You’ll see a lot of “side impact protection” features on many models that, while not dangerous, have not been part of any industry standardized testing. So, how much they add to the level of safety is debatable. They will NOT hurt your child, but they could hurt your wallet.

Here are a few other features you might see:

  • Multi-layers of foam padding – EPS, EPP, hard, soft
  • Anti-rebound bars
  • Forward-facing crumple zone
  • Energy-absorbing base
  • Extra padded or deep head wings

Again, all of these things are good features and in certain situations can improve the safety. Just understand that there isn’t any industry standard in defining how much they contribute to overall impact protection. When shopping, just keep in mind that a seat with things like anti-rebound bars or a crumple zone might cost another $50 – $100 and might not be much safer than a seat without those features.

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)

Comments

  1. Tanya Madsen says:

    Thanks for the in depth reviews of the best car seats. I have seen mummies mentioned about getting car seat canopy to protect the car seat. Do you think that will be necessary?

  2. Kellina says:

    My husband, myself and my two year old daughter were in a car accident. Our car ended up being total. We were hit as the cops estimate of 50-60mph. Every airbag deployed. My daughter, myself and my husband are all alive and here to tell our story today because of KIA.

    I have your Safety 1st Grow and Go to thank for my daughter. She walked away from the accident in one piece, she did experience some minor injuries from the seatbelts on the car seat and emotionally is still recovering but she is safe, she is home with me. SHE IS ALIVE. I have never been so impressed before. Your car seat saved my daughter’s life!

    Unfortunately, we need to buy a new seat now and as soon as we are able we plan to repurchase this same seat, and I plan to purchase it for future children and highly recommend it to all new moms! Thank you so much for your safety checks, and caring about my daughter.

    1. Kellina says:

      Do you have any advice on what we can do with our old car seat? There was no damage to it however because the crash was significant we hope to be ready to purchase a new seat soon. Do you offer a trade in program or have recommendations on this? Thank you again for everything!

    2. Crystal says:

      About your car seat trade in right now at target you can bring in a car seat to trade in & get 20% to use towards a car seat, car seat base, play yards, high chairs, strollers & other baby stuff but it ends May 4th.

    3. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi Kellina, first of all, we are SO glad to hear that you all are ok after the crash. They can certainly be terrifying. For the seat, however, you will need to get a new one. The only time you should reuse a car seat after a crash is if it’s only a very minor fender bender.

      You have a few options:

      1. Contact your auto insurance company. Many of them will reimburse you for the cost of a new seat. If they give you pushback, show them the car seat user manual which should state that you can’t use it after a crash.
      2. Recycle your seat. Depending on where you live, you might have a local recycling service that can take it. Target stores also host car seat recycling events. Current one is April 22 – May 4, 2019. Also check this site to see about recycling in your state: http://recycleyourcarseat.org/where-do-i-recycle-my-seat/
      3. Throw it away. If you can’t recycle it, cut the straps, tear off the fabric, and disassemble it when you throw it out so that no one will grab it out of a dumpster.

      Best wishes in finding the perfect new seat, and safe driving!

  3. Merlion says:

    I’m really surprised the Nuna Rava isn’t included in the list. We had great experience with it, it was between the Peg Perego Viaggio and the Maxi Cosi Pria 85, all three were comparable in weight, but as far as feedback I had from several mommies, the Rava was the convertible for me. Upgrading from a Cybex Cloud, the Rava included an infant insert that would have worked just as well. Considering the tough shell, the actual fabric material is really soft and cushiony. Also, please please make note of warranties, while I didn’t experience it myself, my cousin recently got in an accident and had a terrible time with getting her car seat replaced by graco. I contacted Nuna recently and they were very reassuring with the requirements for a replacement in the case of an accident.

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi Merlion, thanks for your comment. We haven’t had the pleasure of reviewing the Nuna RAVA yet, but thanks for the recommendation. Also, thanks for the feedback about the warranties. We will make a better effort to find and report warranty details from here on out.

  4. Sarah says:

    The link to the car seat for the Graco All-in-one actually links to the 4-in-one…I know there is a difference…so which is the review for??

  5. Misty says:

    Can any of these fit in my Toyota Corolla or my husband’s Lexus GS?

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Most likely, although some seats will take up more front to back space in the backseat of some cars, so your front seat passengers may lose some legroom, depending on how tall they are or how large your car interior is. Check with the manufacturer to verify if your particular car is compatible with whichever seat you’re considering.

  6. Isabella says:

    For the Britax Advocate ClickTight, some of those were recalled in 2016. Could I be purchasing one of those?

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi Isabella,
      No, none of the seats manufactured prior to the recall can be sold legally. Anything available from a reliable retailer will not be on a recall list. You can always check with the manufacturer or the NHTSA website just to be sure.

  7. Katie says:

    I am trying to find a convertible car seat that swivels/rotates so that you can easily buckle the child in while they’re facing you before clicking them into place. There are tons of brands/models available in Europe and other parts of the world but I can’t find a single one for sale in the USA. Help! I know the rotation itself can’t be “illegal” because there had been one (since recalled for other reasons) available by Orbit until a few years ago.

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi Katie,
      While you may have found a swiveling car seat for sale at one time, they are no longer sold in the US, but only in Europe. It’s unfortunate, but you do have some alternatives so loading and unloading your child isn’t quite as back-breaking.

      One is the Diono Radian R100 All-in-One convertible, which fits children from 5-40 pounds rear-facing, 20-65 pounds forward-facing and 50-100 pounds as a convertible. It’s a slim-fitting seat that fold flat for easy portability and storage. What’s good about this one is the low profile / short sides that make loading and unloading easier so you’re not straining as much or hitting your baby’s head on the ceiling to get her in and out.

      Another is the Safety 1st Omega Elite convertible, which fits children 5-35 pounds rear-facing and 22-50 pounds forward facing. The convenient thing about this one is the rotating arm rests, which makes more room for getting your child in and out. It comes with a cupholder, whereas the Radian does not and is also more affordable.

  8. AGD says:

    I am having a hard time moving past the picture of the baby with the harness chest clip way in the wrong spot-you can’t even see it. It seems that an article about car seats should have a picture of a hold latched in properly. It kind of makes me wonder about list…

  9. Jamie says:

    Thank you for the list BUT very hard to continue reading an article on car seat ratings when the main picture is of a baby with loose straps and buckle not properly placed… just something I noticed!

  10. laura baker says:

    Has any company designed a seat that is easy for grandparents to use? I have some arthritis in my hands and that release button is MURDER. Seems like “they” could come up with something that would require more IQ than a toddler, but easier on my hands.

    1. Judy says:

      In case you haven’t already found it, Amazon carries a Unbuckleme which helps you push the button to release. It was designed by a grandparent to help with the unbuckling. Myself, we are searching for car seats we can install and uninstall easily. We don’t want them in our cars all the time, but we just can’t get the current seats tight on our own and have to ask our kids to tighten the each time we pick up the kids.

  11. Stephanie says:

    I have been on the hunt for the best car seat for my situation. I need a car seat that either has a detachable base (like infant car seat) so I can have multiple bases in cars and just have to switch the seat part or I need an extremely simple car seat to be able to remove daily. Having multiple car seats really isn’t an option in the situation so please don’t offer that suggestion. Also, I am not too concerned on price if it meets my needs. Thanks!

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hello! Thank you for the question. I can advice you Graco Smart Seat. It has a Detachable Base. This car seat starts from 5 pounds as rear-facing for infant, converts to a forward with the child from 20 to 65 pounds and finally transitions to a belt-positioning booster up to 100 pounds.

  12. Eleonora says:

    I think cheap Evenflo Tribute LX is best convertible car seat 2017 for little-used second car or grandmas auto!

  13. Laura (Texas) says:

    Excellent mini-reviews. I choose infant car seat for a second child. With some research, you’ll find various lists of available infant car seats for your little angel. Do not just base your choice on what seems to be everybody’s favorite. Try looking for seats which have additional features to offer for you and for your child.

  14. Mary Zhang says:

    Very informative and great lists. Although, the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 is also nice, I think would be a great addition to this list. Chicco is no doubt a trusted brand by moms, theyve been here for YEARS!

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