If you thought trying to pick where to go out to eat for dinner was difficult, wait until you try to choose a car seat. There are so many options out there and especially for new parents, it can be daunting to find the “best”.
So, you sit and you look through car seat reviews, you watch the YouTube videos, and you even consult with friends.
Still, you have no idea which seat will be like a safety cloud and which one will be more like strapping your baby to a wild pig and hoping for the best. We are here to help you make your decision with simple, easy to understand safety seat audit that focus on the things that are most important.
Thoroughly investigated, our independent expert has prepared reviews of the perfect:
Our expert looked at reviews as well as information directly from the manufacturing company to secure our rating system.
All car seats have been tested for:
Each child will be different, so you may need different styles depending on your needs. You may want to check if there are special requirements for your vehicle – some European cars or smaller sports cars will not work with certain models. You may also want to check the accessories available for each car seat.
The optimal model may not exist, though several models are close enough to warrant high ratings. At the end of the day, you have to select the things that will work for you. Make sure to check for weight limits, dimensions, and ease of mobility as well.
Top 10 Convertible Car Seat Reviews
When you get pregnant and have your baby, you’ll be shocked at the sheer amount of “stuff” that builds up over time. One way to cut back on the amount of stuff is to find pieces that you can easily convert from one stage to the next.
Convertible baby seats are a great way to do that – you won’t have two or three car seats to store and you will only have to make one purchase.
A convertible safety seat is one that will start rear-facing so that your infant is protected, and then it switches to a front-facing position as your child grows and gains more motor control. Usually this will last you through pre-school and into elementary school.
- Many parents will choose a convertible car seat because it is convenient.
- For one, you don’t have to switch your car around and it is likely that your child will use it for a long time, until your child exceeds the height or weight limit.
- Remember that convertible car seats are typically heavier than traditional, so it will be difficult to move the convertible seat from car to car.
All of the current models you can purchase today meet all of the appropriate government standards, but you will have to install them carefully. You might be able to find accessories or additions that will make them safer and more comfortable. Of course, you should also try to buy a new convertible seat, as they can get damaged quite easily.
If a pre-used seat is what works best for you, ensure that do thorough research into what the car seat should look like and any recalls that may have occurred.
When choosing it, you have to look at what you need and the rating. Remember that at the end of the day, the safety of your child is of the utmost importance!
|Britax Boulevard G4.1||Maxi-Cosi Pria 85||Graco Extend2Fit||Britax Marathon ClickTight USA||Graco Milestone All-in-One||Graco My Ride 65||Diono Radian RXT||Graco Contender 65||Evenflo SureRide DLX|
Britax Boulevard G4.1
The Britax Boulevard G4.1 delivers some of the best safety on the road while still giving your child the comfort that he or she wants. It has the highest level of crash protection on the market.
The seat converts from a rear-facing position (for babies 5-40 pounds) to a forward-facing position (for children 19.5-65 pounds).
Simply put, this is one of the best convertible car seats for people living in an area when it gets warm. The fabric is extremely breathable.
It has the highest level of crash protection on the market as well, using extra neck support and energy absorbing foam to really bring the comfort home.
Everything within the seat is really easy to use, and parents won’t have any problem setting it up. If they do, the manual that comes with it is extremely helpful.
The biggest complaint is about the weight of the unit.
Users are absolutely in love with the Britax Boulevard G4.1. They applaud the ease of usage, saying that it isn’t nearly as confusing as some other converted car seats. Many parents also said that the seat itself seemed to be of better quality than other options.
Maxi-Cosi Pria 85
The Maxi-Cosi Pria is a rather ordinary convertible car seat that is much better in the rear-facing realm than it is in forward facing.
It has a weight limit of 40-pounds for the rear facing seat and 85 pounds for the front-facing seat. The seat is 20” wide and weighs 20 pounds.
At 20 pounds, it is on the light side. It has a no-rethread harness with 9 height positions, making it easy to adjust. The deep head wings that have Air Protect make it a great option for long car rides and sleeping.
There is an easy installation process and the low sides make it easy for loading and unloading. Even better, the Maxi-Cosi Pria has been approved for use in an aircraft.
There is no lock off device for seatbelt installation, which makes the seat harder to use in older cars. There is also a lack of energy absorbing foam.
Parents who use this convertible seat appreciate the design of this car seat. Not only is it extremely comfortable for children, it is easier for parents (and eventually children) to use. The seats also don’t take up a lot of space, which makes it great for smaller cars.
The Graco Extend2Fit is a fantastic car seat option for people who have a child that is just bound to be tall.
It is of high quality design and features an extendable tray for longer legs. It fits children that are larger and taller, going up to 50 pounds and well into elementary school.
If you believe your child is going to be on the tall side, this is a fantastic option as it provides 5” of additional leg room – which will make your ride more comfortable as well.
There are also six reclining positions that will allow for more customization as your baby grows. A steel reinforced frame makes it one of the safest options on the market.
Finally, it is compact if you do not use the extension panel, which makes it a great option for smaller cars.
There are cup holders that have to be attached, making it a little bulky side-to-side. When you use the extension (optional), the front-to-back is also quite large.
Most users of the Graco Extend2Fit convertible car seat are quite happy with their purchases. Parents love it because they can small changes as their child grows instead of just major ones every few months or years. In particular, the adjustable harness has been praised by almost all users.
Britax Marathon ClickTight USA
This model is one of the more basic editions of the Britax line, though that doesn’t mean it is any less efficient. It is slightly smaller than the other lines, which means that it might not go the entire distance.
It has a higher weight limit, going all the way up to 65 pounds for forward facing.
The weight limit for the rear facing portion goes up to 40 pounds, higher than many other models. Installing the car seat is easy as well thanks to the new technology – great for first time parents or people who need to move the seat for car around a lot.
It is also easy to adjust the harness. If you are involved in a crash, the pads and impact-absorbing technology will cushion your child.
For older children, the lack of rear-facing leg room could be a problem, especially in taller children. The short buckle straps will make it a bit tight on larger children as well. Finally, the seat angle might be uncomfortable for some newborns in some cars.
Many users appreciate the fact that there are moveable parts within this convertible car seat, even more so than with your typical convertible car seat. The harnesses and pads, in particular, have a lot of fans.
Children who have used the seat also express that it is comfortable, great for people who are going to have longer trips. While this isn’t the strongest showing from the Britax line, it certainly does have a lot of fans.
Graco Milestone All-in-One
The Graco Milestone All-in-One is one of the most adjustable and long lasting convertible car seats around. It goes from a rear-facing weight of 5-40 pounds, a forward-facing weight limit of 65 pounds, and a high-back booster weight limit of 100 pounds.
The seat comes with a single cup holder, a steel reinforced frame, and energy-absorbing foam. The widest seat width is 19” and the tallest booster seating is 18.75”.
The harness is extremely easy to adjust and it goes all the way up to the older children. It is super easy to install in cars of all sizes. The Graco Milestone All-in-One is truly a convertible car seat in that it will last your child the entire time he or she needs to be in a seat. It comes complete with an easy-to-remove cover and a great instruction manual.
The lack of a backless booster mode makes it difficult to transfer from car to car in all modes. It was also produced in China, which means there are some poor-quality parts. Finally, it lacks a lock off device that makes installation with a seatbelt possible.
Parents love that this is truly a car that will move and grow with your child. They also comment that the seat is fairly comfortable for the children of all sizes, no matter how you use it. Still, the back support on the booster is a problem for some children.
Graco My Ride 65
The Graco My Ride 65 is a convertible car seat that measures 26 by 20.5 by 27 inches and weighs in at 15.7 pounds.
It is equipped with energy absorbing foam and a LATCH for a 5-point safety harness. A machine washable cover comes standard as well.
The height and weight limits make this a great convertible car seat – it will truly go the longest distance. It is also fairly lightweight and has a machine washable cover, which makes it easy to move from vehicle to vehicle. Most people are drawn to the Graco My Ride because of the value.
The biggest problem with the Graco My Ride 65 is that it is extremely wide. If you have another seat to put in the back, it will be an extremely tight fit.
The harness has to be rethreaded, which makes it a bit of a pain to work with, especially if you are going to be putting multiple children into the seat. It also has a 6-year expiration date, which is quite short.
While many users found the price a great point as well as the high limits for height and weight limits, there were some problems. Many found that the crotch and harness straps were difficult to work with. The lack of accessories also made many feel like it wasn’t worth the investment.
Diono Radian RXT
The Diono Radian RXT convertible car seat is an extremely reinforced steel core seat with EPS foam and a 5-point harness. It has an adjustable headrest that makes it comfortable in 12-positions. The shoulder straps and crotch strap are also adjustable.
The seat is quite small and will fit into most cars. It works up to 45 pounds for a rear-facing seat and 80 pounds for the front facing seat. Finally, it has a 10-year life expectancy.
The 45-pound rear facing seat is one of the highest on the market. The 5-point harness ensures that the harness stays comfortable no matter how tall or big your child gets. It will also make it easier to get a customized fit.
Adjustable thigh support is great to keep your child comfortable as well. The existence of travel fittings makes everything fit in its place. Finally, the seat is easy to remove and clean as you wish.
The convertible car seat is a bit on the heavy side, which is because of the steal support. Users have reported that the head rest doesn’t stay in place, and some children complained that they were uncomfortable. The booster seat portion of the convertible car seat is also extremely weak compared to others.
While many users had success, a lot of people were turned off by the booster seat. Still, it served its purpose to many, especially those that don’t have to take long distance drives since the comfort was an issue.
Graco Contender 65
The Graco Contender 65 is a convertible car seat that goes the distance – from when your child is first born to when he or she enters grade school.
The seat can keep your child in a rear-facing seat until 40 pounds and then switching to a front-facing car seat up to 65 pounds.
The car seat itself is lighter than many other choices, making it easier for parents who need to move from car to car if need be. It has additional weight capacity and leg room so that your child can stay in a rear-facing seat for a longer amount of time.
Many users have found that the straps and bucks are difficult to use. This seems to get worse over time, so this isn’t an option for people who hope to use it with more than one child.
Most complaints about the seat do have to do with the buckles. Some users have pointed out that you can buy replacements that will at least keep the problem at bay. Still, it is a convertible car seat that was built to last, and many users appreciate that.
Evenflo SureRide DLX
If you want a safe convertible car seat that doesn’t break the bank too much, the Evenflo SureRide DLX could be a great option. It is great for children from birth up until about 5 or 6 years old.
It holds up to 40 pounds in the rear facing seat and 65 in the forward facing seat. It has 6 harness slot positions, 2 crotch strap positions, and is FAA Approved for aircraft usage. The seat is 9.7 pounds and has dimensions of 26.5” x 12.5”.
The biggest advantage of this piece, other than the price, is the fact that it is so light. This makes it a great choice for families that have to transfer the seat from car to car.
The LATCH is easy to install as well, helping with those transitions. The harness and straps have many positions and they are easy to adjust as your child gets bigger.
The latch is sometimes really difficult to move, so you’ll have to watch any wearing problems. There is a large gap between the harness slots that can make the seat less effective when your child is between them – the seat will either be too tight or it won’t provide enough support.
Another issue is that the tall seat has to be at a full recline when you have it in a rear-facing position. Finally, the seat doesn’t last as long as many others do – it has a 6-year expiration.
Many users find this model to be a great option when their child is smaller, but they eventually end up buying something new as their child ages. They like the price and the ease of use, but question the effectiveness of the console.
Infant (Rear-Facing) Car Seat Reviews
Most hospitals won’t let you take your infant home if you don’t have a properly fitted infant car seat. This car seat will be one of the most important purchases that you will make.
Infant safety seats provide the appropriate support and comfort for your child so that the ride can be comfortable and safe. Typically, these seats will have safety mechanisms to protect them in case of an accident from any angle.
Infant seats typically come with a base that stays within your vehicle. The seat itself is a detachable carrier that makes transporting your baby easier – they will often fit into stroller, shopping carts, and even swings.
- They are built to be rear facing – infant car seats should NEVER be placed in a front-facing position.
- Your child should be in the rear-facing position until they are 30 pounds and have some mastery of their motor skills and neck muscles.
Some models will come with accessories and you can even purchase an extra base or two to use in other vehicles.
|Chicco Keyfit 30||Chicco Key Fit 30 Zip||Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40||Britax B-Safe 35||Baby Trend Flex-Loc||Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35||Evenflo Embrace LX||Maxi-Cosi Mico AP|
Chicco Keyfit 30
The Chicco Keyfit 30 is designed with the compact car in mind. It is also great for smaller babies – which can be difficult to find.
It has many security and safety features that will help your child stay safe, no matter what size he or she may be.
The Chicco KeyFit 30 is a great option for premature or smaller babies. It passed the crash tests and side-impact tests with flying colors thanks to the sturdy design and head support.
There is also a lot of support and structure within the seat, using the power of the seatbelt and the steel inside. The seat is airplane certified.
Many parents have expressed their love for how well it fits into their lives – including its use with strollers and other accessories. As an added bonus, the base has a nice storage space as well.
If you live in a warmer environment, this is a very warm car seat. Make sure you use the air conditioning if you have your child with you. There are also some design features that haven’t been well planned and seem to hinder usage. It does have a lower weight limits of 30 pounds, so you’ll have to upgrade sooner.
As this car seat is the seat of choice for NICU nurses, many parents of premies have found success using it. For parents who have needed to use the warranty, they have found that the website offers up excellent support and help, whether that be with a new manual or the one-year warranty.
Chicco Key Fit 30 Zip
The Chico Key Fit 30 Zip is another infant car seat that was designed for the compact car. It is great if you have a smaller child because it goes all the way down to 4 pounds.
It goes into the thirties for the upper weight limit. There are also a lot of safety features that make it a smooth ride for your children.
The Zip works really well with smaller babies. It has a harness that goes smaller and better protection than some other premie car seats.
Since there is a lot of support and structure within the seat, it also transitions easily to strollers and other accessories. For an added surprise, there is a nice storage space underneath.
The material used in this car seat isn’t all that breathable, so if you live in a warmer climate, be sure to check the breathability, especially as your child gets older. Finally, the weight limits is somewhat low, so you’ll have to upgrade sooner.
This is a car seat brand that you can trust, and many parents do – especially parents of premies. They have found success using this seat, especially when they have needed support from the amazing.
Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40
The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40 is an infant car seat that is one of the best you will find. One reason for this is that it comes with a newborn body support insert that can then be removed and used for up to 40 pounds.
It also comes with a head-hugger insert and harness strap covers for a more comfortable ride. Energy absorbing foam and a lock-off base make this a perennial favorite.
The design is genius – as you move the seat into a higher position (as your child grows), the leg room increases, lengthening the time you can use this model. Still, it retains it safety.
There is also a kick base to keep your car clean. This particular seat can work alongside stroller accessories as well. It can even work in a double car seat stroller. Finally, it is FAA approved.
One problem is that the base is rather long, especially if you are extending the leg room. Another is that it lacks the premium LATCH connectors. Finally, it won’t be compatible with many of the older accessories.
Overall, this is a favorite for many parents. They tend to appreciate the creature comforts as well as the safety features. Some complains have been made that the harness straps aren’t removable, so they can’t be washed.
Britax B-Safe 35
Sleek and modern, the Britax B-Safe 35 is a great option for bigger infants. It has a weight limit of 35 pounds, and offers a ton of protection in the case of an accident. It has high sides that will keep your child safe from flying debris. It has 2 crotch strap positions and a deep seat pan for comfort.
They have lauded the extra-large canopy that comes along with this seat. The deluxe push-on style lower connectors add great support and strength.
Another advantage is the removable head pillow, which extends the life on this unit quite a bit. It is also one of the most comfortable handling carriers – the handle is ergonomically designed so that it doesn’t put as much strain on your arm.
The biggest advantage is probably the ease of installation, especially with a seatbelt.
This really isn’t a great fit for premies as it doesn’t get as small. The short LATCH straps make it more difficult to install this in larger vehicles.
Many parents have also complained about the lack of a recline. Finally, the transition from stage to stage for the buckle is quite difficult.
The Britax B-Safe 35 is a nice car seat that people will love for its ease of use – for the most parent. Parents do complain about the thinness of the cover as well as the difficulty of installation.
Baby Trend Flex-Loc
A great option for first time parents, the Baby Trend Flex-Loc makes the installation process a breeze. It has flexible LATCH connectors, a reclining base, and an easy-to-adjust harness. It passes all of the required crash tests and works for children between 5-30 pounds.
The flexible LATCH locks are the biggest advantage to this one, it makes it quite easy to install in vehicles of any size or make. Many parents like the infant car seat because it works with many of the accessories available on the Baby Trend line, including strollers. There are guides throughout the seat to help you figure out what is best for your family.
The handle seems to be a big point of contention amongst users. It is rather stiff, so adjusting the handle proves to be difficult. If you are going to use this as a carrier as well, you might want to try somewhere else.
The weight limits do shorten the life of the car seat – if you have a premie, you might not be able to use it. Finally, the warranty on this one seems to be pretty short, so you will have to figure out if you like it quickly.
For parents who don’t plan on using the carrier, this seat has been successful. The ease of use of the seat portion has received raves from many users. Still, those who use the carrier frequently have found that there are a lot of problems.
Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35
The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 is a rear-facing infant car seat that holds 35 pounds or less. It has 15 height positions and 2 crotch strap positions.
The model is complete with a 6-position base, 10-pound carrier, and energy absorbing EPS foam for comfort and safety. Finally, it has a 7-year lifespan and is FAA approved for aircraft usage.
Extremely easy to use, the Graco SnuRide Click Connect 35 is a great option for people on the go. The handle can be locked into any position while driving, so it fits into many different cars. It has a large canopy to protect your baby from the elements and it is machine washable.
There are definitely some “basic” options within this car seat. The lower LATCH connectors in particular seem to be fairly cheap. The no-rethread harness is a bit difficult to work with at times, and Finally, the support within the seat itself could be better in terms of safety and comfort for your child. Finally, the release buckle is difficult to use.
Many parents of premies and smaller babies have said that they are extremely impressed with the sizing on this one. They are also appreciative of the ease of buying accessories. Still, some parents weren’t impressed with the sizing for larger babies and said that it didn’t last as long as they thought it should.
Evenflo Embrace LX
Offering up all of the features that you need, the Evenflo Embrace LX is a great budget option. It has a reclining base. It meets all crash-test certifications and has ample energy-absorbent foam to protect your baby in case of accident.
The biggest advantage of the Evenflo Embrace LX is the incredibly amount of extra head support your baby will get. If you live in a place that doesn’t have the best roads, this might be a great option for that.
The parts are all machine washable as well, which is great for easy clean-up. Finally, this seat will work with all of the other Evenflo merchandise, including the strollers.
There have been reports that the material used on the seat can be extremely irritating to a baby’s skin. This one also has a few problems with “cheaper” parts.
It isn’t going to be a car seat that will withstand a lot of use and abuse, so it probably isn’t one that you can move from car to car. The canopy has also had some complaints.
Most parents did comment on the reaction with skin that proved to be quite a problem. They also expressed regret that the seat only went up to 35 pounds, which is on the lower scale.
Maxi-Cosi Mico AP
Lightweight and easy to use, this a great starter infant car seat. The carrier only holds up to 22 pounds, so you are going to have to switch out very soon. It meets all of the crash warnings and tests.
The Maxi-Cosi Mico AP works very well with strollers in the same brand. It also is EXTREMELY lightweight for an infant car seat, so the carrier won’t be so much of a burden.
It has a different look and feel than some of the other seats out there, so if you want to be unique, this could be the one for you.
The weight limit really takes away from what this car seat could be. Since it only supports up to 22 pounds, you will have to quickly buy a new car seat. There also seems to be a bit of a problem with the canopy, as it doesn’t like to stay up.
While it does meet all of the federal regulations and needs, parents were very upset with how quickly their children grew out of it.
Parents also had issues with the fact that the fabrics on the seat aren’t machine washable. Still, they loved how light it was and how easy it was to put in and out of the base.
How does National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducts crash-tests, which we analyze while creating car seat reviews
When we look for the safety and effectiveness of a car seat, we tend to focus on how the seat ranks according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Their crash testing is some of the most thorough and effective that we have. Let’s take a look at how they accomplish their testing and what it means for your.
There is a set of standards that each car seat has to reach, or they are deemed “not acceptable.” Most manufacturers know these standards and will build specifically for them. Major retailers won’t even stock the seats if they don’t get the seal of approval from the NHTSA, but some online retailers will sell anything, so be careful.
From that point, they put the cars through vigorous testing that include a crash test, ease of use test, and effectiveness in different situations and vehicles.
National High Safety Crash Test
All tests are done at 30 MPH in a simulated car, as per the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 (FVMSS 213). This is the test that all manufacturers work towards. The speed can sometimes go higher, depending on the make and model of the car seat and how that seat is being marketed. Almost always, the manufacturer will ask for more rigorous testing. Technicians will use the instructions in the manual to complete the tests – even if they don’t think that will give them the best result. Sometimes, they will recommend changes in the literature that comes with the seat.
All tests are done using a standard child-sized dummy that moves like a real baby would. Tester monitor the contact of the dummy’s head with the seat during impact, how much the baby is jostled, whether or not the seat moves, and if they child in question would have been hurt during the impact. They come at the car from different angles and will test the seat in different positions as well. This is why it is important to heed the directions of the user manual.
In modern times, they have had to run several tests given the size of the seat, the softness of the cushion, and the individual mechanisms in the car. Almost all safety seats have to pass each test to be given the seal of approval. The NHSTA will look at how well the car seat fits into each car before making a ruling.
While there are many ways to test and treat a car seat, the NHSTA is the golden standard for a reason.
Our Findings: Baby Car Seats and Beyond
For the most part, we haven’t conducted our own crash test ratings. Instead, we looked at car seats that have already been thoroughly vetted by professionals in all kinds of situations. We have looked over their results in detail, formulating our own idea about what the great car seat is. Here are some of the things we looked for:
Safety: As always, safety was our biggest concern. All of the seats we review have been thoroughly tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and many other agencies as well. You need to know whether or not your child will be safe.
Resilience: Will your car seat last? Depending on the model, your seat will have to last for nearly a decade. We look at how sturdy, versatile, and well make these seats really are – or aren’t, in some cases. Another important factor we check is whether or not the seat itself is easy to clean, as messes will happen. Of course, we also factor in the manufacturer’s standards and whether or not the seat can be used for a long time.
Ease of Use: How easy is this seat to use? Parents are busier than ever so it is important to use to see just how adjustable a seat is, how heavy it is, and whether or not you can install it quickly and without hassle in common cars.
Using those conditions, we have found the best seats on the market today. We are confidence in our choices being safe, durable, easy to use, and a good value for the money. Choosing the right seat for your family is difficult, but we aim to give you realistic overviews of the seats so that you can make the best decision.