Nothing is more important than your children’s safety, especially on the road. It is essential to invest in a car seat that meets current safety regulations to help protect your little ones in the event of an accident.
Since it can get expensive to purchase multiple styles of car seats that match each phase of your child’s growth, why not opt for a convertible car seat? These handy devices are designed to grow with your child, making them the most convenient option for the modern family.
While it may feel overwhelming to navigate through all of the options, our guide will simplify the shopping process for you.
Learn more about the features you should pay attention to when searching for one and see what our experts have to say about the best convertible car seat models currently on the market.
Top 15 Convertible Car Seats Comparison
Important Terms and Features
Before diving into reviews of the best convertible car seat brands and models, it is important to become familiar with the various features we will be discussing.
In this section, we will take you through some of the most important terms and features you need to understand as you are shopping for one.
Car Seat Modes
In this guide, we spend a fair amount of time talking about car seat modes. It is important to have a good understanding of these settings before you purchase and install any car seat.
- Rear-Facing Mode – Newborns and infants absolutely must ride in a car seat that is set up to face the rear of your vehicle’s back seat. By facing towards the rear, your small children are taken out of the “line of fire.” The frame of the car seat will serve as a protective shield in the case of an accident or impact.
Many experts feel that the longer your child can remain in rear-facing mode, the better. In fact, Sweden is famous for having a low incidence of child mortality due to car accidents – and many people believe that these stats are directly linked to guidelines that keep kids facing toward the rear until the age of 4.
In the United States, most car seats function in rear-facing mode until children reach a deemed weight of 35-40 pounds (which is about the equivalent of 2 years of age).
- Front-Facing Mode – Once your children reach a weight and/or height limit as indicated by current safety regulations (and based on your personal opinion about the rear-facing vs. forward-facing modes), the car seat should be rotated to face the windshield.
The beauty of convertible car seats is that they can easily switch from rear-facing mode to front-facing mode, so you don’t have to invest in two different products that your children will quickly outgrow.
- Booster Mode – While all convertible car seats can be flipped between rear and front-facing formats, not all of them also convert into booster seats. Whether you want to purchase a car seat that also functions as a booster is a personal choice.
If you want to invest time and money into purchasing one single product that will keep your child safe from birth until they are ready to sit in a car like an adult, definitely keep your eyes peeled for a convertible car seat that works as a booster. Just make sure that it also supports newborns – more on that below.
All of the products in this table pass federal safety regulations, but some come with design features or add-ons that really up the ante. Below are some of the most popular perks that appear in high-quality convertible car seats.
- Reinforced Frames – Certain car seats add extra protection to their bases by adding an interior steel lining. Steel reinforced frames are better equipped to stand up to the force of sudden impacts, therefore adding to their overall durability and safety.
- EPS / EPP Foam – Some car seat frames are packed on the inside with energy-abso rbing materials such as EPS (Styrofoam) and EPP (expanded polypropylene). These materials, which are also found in products such as bicycle helmets and car bumpers, respectively, provide an extra layer of protection by absorbing shocks caused by sudden impacts.
- Newborn Inserts – If you plan to place your newborn in a car seat, it’s imperative that you research whether your car seat provides appropriate support for tiny tots. As we point out in the reviews below, some models require the purchase of additional inserts to ensure your infant is appropriately swaddled for the first few months.
Ease of Use
If you have a busy schedule or are juggling multiple children at once, perhaps one of the most important points you should evaluate before purchasing a car seat is simply how easy it is to utilize on a daily basis.
Here are a few points to consider before you buy:
- Installation – When it comes to setting up a car seat in your vehicle, not all models are created alike. Some are a total breeze to install, whereas others are more complicated. If you aren’t comfortable decoding an owners’ manual – or if you plan to take your seat in and out of the car quite often – make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the seat’s level of user-friendliness as you read reviews.
- Harness Straps and Storage – If you find that you are always in a rush to get from place to place, every second counts when it comes to getting your kids in and out of the car.
Many car seat models come with helpful features like adjustable harness straps, which you can customize at the touch of a button to accommodate your child as they grow. More basic models won’t have this feature – instead, you will need to completely re-thread the harness to adjust its fit.
In addition, if your kids are particularly squirmy, a feature as simple as a storage compartment for loose harness straps can make a huge difference. Once you unbuckle the harness, simply pop the ends into the harness holder and pop your kids out of the car seat. No more getting tied up in loose straps!
- Crotch Straps – Another great feature to think about is an adjustable crotch strap. This feature allows you to adjust the hip area up and out as your children grow taller and gain weight. They won’t feel pinched or constrained by a harness that is too tight.
- Ease of Transport – If you plan to tote your car seat around while your kids nap, or if you foresee taking it with you on the plane when you go on vacation, definitely evaluate how portable it is. Some models have an attached handle, so you can easily carry it by your side (so long as it is also lightweight).
Others collapse down so you can carry them like a backpack – a lifesaver for getting through the airport.
Another important thing to think about is the comfort of your children. Whether you plan to drive for short periods of time or longer ones, you don’t want your little ones to feel constricted or unsupported. Below are three design elements that can really make a difference to your kids on a daily basis.
- Roomy Frame – If you plan to use your car seat for a number of years, it’s important to keep in mind how much your kids are going to grow. Certain car seat models really stand out from the pack because they are designed to provide additional space in terms of height, weight, or both.
If you want to ensure your kids have as much room as possible, look for models with high weight thresholds. Just remember that roomier models will take up more space in your vehicle and will likely be heavier.
- Built-In Cup Polders – Plenty of models, both affordable and top of the line alike, come with cup holders built into the car seat. You can pop in a sippy cup and let your kids quench their thirst whenever they like. You’ll be able to focus on the road, and your kids will have an endless source of entertainment while you’re driving.
- Padding – When you travel long distances, extra padding really makes a difference in terms of keeping your kids comfortable in their car seats. If you plan to have the kids in the car for extended periods, look for padded inserts lining the interior of the frame.
Some car seats even come with padded headrests, which are pretty much the next best thing to a pillow. Your kids will be much more likely to sleep while you’re on the road, which will help you keep your focus on the traffic around you.
The best thing about convertible car seats is that they last for years. That said, some models naturally last longer than others do thanks to the way they are designed. Make sure to think about the following points before you finalize your purchase.
- Lifespan – One of the easiest ways to tell how much use you’ll be able to get out of your car seat is to check its lifespan. Models that include a booster mode will likely last at least 8-10 years, while others that don’t convert into a booster may have a slightly shorter lifespan.
If you have multiple children and want to reuse your car seat again and again, make sure to look for a brand and model with a longer lifespan.
- Removable Seat Covers – An easy way to keep your car seat looking like new – and therefore more likely to last for years on end – is to wash the seat covers. These days, many models come with removable covers that can be cleaned in the washing machine. However, not all of them are compatible with a dryer – so be sure to read the care instructions before trying.
Another thing to be aware of is that some of the more basic models can only be spot cleaned – which means that stains can become a lot more permanent.
15 Best Convertible Car Seat Reviews
1. Graco 4ever Convertible Car Seat – Best Graco Convertible Car Seat
We think that the Graco 4ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat is one of the best convertible car seats on the market these days. It comes with an array of design features that really set it apart from the pack, and you will be able to use it for years on end.
This car seat is designed to grow with your child. It can be set up as a rear-facing seat to protect your children from birth until they reach 40 pounds. In fact, one of the key benefits of this model is its height when facing backward – which can accommodate kids that are tall but still weigh less than the maximum limit.
Once your child has outgrown the rear-facing weight limit, the 4ever model can be turned to face forward. It features a built-in harness that keeps squirmy kids secure and sound for as long as possible – up to 65 pounds.
This particular car seat also functions as a booster. Once your children are tall enough that they no longer require a forward facing seat, you can convert it to a booster with a high back for extra support. This mode will take your children through years of safe riding until they reach nearly 5 feet in height or 100 pounds.
If your kids find the high back on the booster uncomfortable, you can also remove it so they remain protected by the booster, but have the freedom to settle back against the upholstery or leather lining of your car. They can continue to sit in the booster in backless form until they reach 120 pounds, at which point they can ride in your car just like an adult passenger.
Adding to the flexibility of this model are its adjustable headrest and base. The headrest can assume 10 different positions, which you can alter as your child grows and takes up more and more room in the seat. The base of the car seat also has 6 different recline settings – 3 for the rear-facing mode, and 3 more for the front-facing mode.
Another boast-worthy feature of the 4ever model from Graco is its exceptional safety record. The car seat has a frame that is reinforced with steel and lined with EPS foam that absorbs energy from sudden impacts.
2. Britax Marathon G4.1 Convertible Car Seat – Best Britax Convertible Car Seat
Another fantastic, reliable convertible car seat we recommend that you consider is the Marathon G4.1 model from Britax. This car seat has an array of positive features that make it a great buy for parents who want to get their money’s worth.
The Marathon G4.1 functions in both rear-facing and forward-facing capacities. The first is designed to protect babies from 5 – 40 pounds, at which point the seat should be rotated to face forward. This front-facing model accommodates children aged one and up who weigh 20 – 65 pounds.
The Britax Marathon has a great safety record thanks to a few different features. First, it has a harness that can be buckled in 5 different points, which functions to keep your children snug in both rear and front-facing modes. It also comes with lock-off clips that increase the security of buckling the car seat with a seatbelt.
Since your children will be able to ride in this car seat until they are well past their toddler years, the seat covers are likely to take a beating. Luckily, this model boasts stain-resistant, removable seat covers that you can keep looking like new. They also come in a wide array of hues and patterned designs. You can even purchase several and switch them up while you do laundry.
One word of caution to parents who drive smaller vehicles – make sure to measure the dimensions of your back seat before purchasing the Marathon G4.1. We found that is quite large and can take up a good bit of space, so you want to ensure it will fit in your car without too much trouble.
Another Graco product worthy of your consideration is the Milestone All-in-One convertible car seat. We think this is a great choice for parents who truly want to find one car seat that will fit their kids from birth all the way through 8 years of age and beyond.
When your children are infants, you can install the Milestone in rear-facing mode. It works with a traditional seat belt, as well as with the LATCH system present in recently manufactured vehicles.
You can keep your children in rear-facing mode until they reach 40 pounds in weight. The top of their head must remain at least 1 inch below the adjustable handle at the top of the seat, to ensure adequate clearance in the case of a sudden impact.
We found that it is quite easy to rotate the seat into the forward-facing mode. Your kids can remain in this position until they grow to 65 pounds (or 49 inches), at which point you can easily convert the seat to a booster with a high back. The booster can be used until your kids clear 100 pounds in weight or grow taller than 57 inches.
In addition to the flexibility of converting this seat among the three modes described above, the Milestone comes with an array of adjustable features that add to its appeal. We enjoyed testing out the adjustable base, which has two separate recline settings when in rear-facing mode, and two other ones when in forward-facing mode.
The seat also features a headrest that can be adjusted to 10 different positions, so your kids will feel comfortable for the entire ride. It also comes with a built-in cup holder for them to help themselves to their beverage rather than whining that they’re thirsty!
Last but not least, the Milestone is an ultra-secure design. The frame is reinforced with steel to provide as much safety as possible. The interior features EPS foam to absorb as much as possible while cradling your children. It also features fantastic LATCH connectors for extra-solid tethering to your back seat.
4. Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat – Best Convertible Car Seat for Small Car
The Graco Extend2Fit convertible car seat is a saving grace for anyone seeking a flexible car seat that will suit their infants and toddlers during their biggest growth spurts.
The key to this car seat lies in its built-in extendability. Thanks to its thoughtful design, it allows parents to keep their kids in the rear-facing position for as long as possible – until they reach 50 pounds! That is a full 10 pounds more than the majority of rear-facing car seats.
We really think this is a huge advantage, given that the safest position for children to ride in is facing backward. Thanks to the Extend2Fit design, most children will remain in the rear-facing position until they are at least 2 years old.
How does the Extend2Fit work? It features adjustable headrests and customizable tilt options. It also has up to 5 extra inches of legroom, allowing your child to grow significantly before reaching the maximum clearance.
From birth through toddlerhood and beyond, your children will ride in comfort, thanks to the thoughtful padding that comes along with the Graco Extend2Fit. It comes with inserts designed to cradle infant-sized heads and torsos, along with shoulder pads for growing toddlers.
In addition to being marvelously flexible, we found that this model is a breeze to work with on a daily basis. How so? Well, once unbuckled, the harness straps and buckles tuck into a super-handy storage compartment. While this might not sound like much, anyone trying to maneuver a squirming child in a hurry will appreciate the simplicity of avoiding unwanted tangles.
Additionally, the built-in harness is extremely easy to adjust as your child grows. Unlike many other models, you don’t have to rethread the entire thing to expand it.
Another important point – this model is quite compact; this makes it a great choice for parents with smaller vehicles or who simply don’t want their car seat to take up what feels like the entire backseat.
If you are on a budget and are looking for a high-quality car seat that lives up to the safety requirements that more expensive models are held to, we definitely suggest you consider the Britax Roundabout G4.1.
While this car seat can be considered entry-level (it is the most basic model that Britax offers), it’s certainly child-friendly and secure. In fact, it comes with a multi-year lifespan, just like other Britax products.
It also offers an array of features that make it a really great deal for the price. It has a steel reinforced frame, an energy-absorbing base, and protection against side impacts – all of which are essential for protecting your children in the case of an accident.
The car seat comes with v-shaped tether straps, which securely fasten it to the back seat of your car and prevent it from rotating. The straps are stitched to release in increments in the case of a sudden impact, preventing the seat from lurching around if an accident happens.
It has 3 recline options for your growing children. While more expensive options may have more settings, the 3 options that are on offer are suitable for different stages of child development.
What’s missing from the Roundabout G4.1 compared to other more expensive models? If you want to adjust the harness, you will have to rethread it – which is something we find pretty cumbersome. It also lacks the ClickTight installation system found in more expensive Britax car seats.
Another point that we urge you to consider is the fact that this car seat has lower maximum weight limits than some of the other designs in this guide. The seat needs to be switched from rear-facing mode to front-facing mode when your child reaches 40 pounds, and the forward facing limit is 55 pounds, or 46 inches tall.
The Roundabout G4.1 also has less side impact padding than top-of-the-line seats, but on the plus side, the overall silhouette is narrower and more lightweight; we found it was a lot easier to maneuver in and out of a vehicle than other models.
Another totally solid contender for parents seeking an affordable option is the Graco Contender 65 convertible car seat. This particular model from Graco has a lifespan of 7 years and an array of great features that we feel makes it an easy product to purchase.
We find that this seat really shines when it comes to its overall use. It is a cinch to install in the backseat of your car, and it is also easy to work with on a daily basis. Thanks to its design features, you will be able to get your children settled in without any fuss at all before you hit the road.
Why is it so easy to install? This model features a rounded underside, which means that it will nestle smoothly on top of your seats. You won’t have to worry about a sharp corner poking into your upholstery as you wrestle to secure the straps.
We also think it’s super easy to work with daily thanks to its easy-to-buckle harnesses. You can even adjust the crotch strap on the fly to ensure your kids are secure, but not squashed. The Contender 65 also comes with a built-in cup holder so your children can quench their thirst whenever they want.
Another key benefit of this model is its removable, machine washable seat cover. While you’ll be able to keep the seat cover looking pretty much brand new, just keep in mind that the harness cannot be detached. You will have to spot clean it with water and detergent when (not if!) your children spill beverages or snacks all over it.
Another great thing about the Contender 65 is that its design provides your children with plenty of room to grow, so it will last from infancy and beyond. One of its key features is its headrest, which can be adjusted to 8 different settings as your child grows taller and requires a different angle to nestle against.
We highly recommend the Diono Radian RXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat as an easy choice for anybody seeking a combined car seat and booster that will take their children through all phases of growth.
Perhaps the key advantage of this particular model is that it is designed to remain in rear-facing mode until your children exceed 45 pounds. While there are other models in this guide that have a higher maximum weight threshold, 45 pounds is still significant. When your kids are growing, every pound in rear-facing mode counts – you want to wait as long as possible before turning the car seat to face forward.
This car seat has other features that make it a safe option for your kids. Its base is reinforced with a steel frame that provides maximum protection in the case of an accident. The headrest is also reinforced with aluminum to ensure your kids stay as secure as possible in the event of an impact.
Also, this model is crafted with extra-deep sidewalls; this ensures an extra degree of protection in the event of – you guessed it – any side impact to the car or even to the seat itself.
Another unique feature of the Diona Radian RXT car seat is that it can be securely tethered to your back seat in both rear and front-facing modes. By comparison, most car seats are only tethered when they face forwards; this means that you get an extra-secure installation when the car seat faces towards your back seat for the first few years.
Another point to consider is that this car seat is quite narrow, and therefore it’s a great option for people with smaller cars or who need to fit multiple car seats in one vehicle. We find that its slim silhouette also makes it pretty easy to install, as it is less challenging to reach across it to buckle it into place.
Finally, if you are looking for a portable car seat, the Diono Radian RXT really racks up points. This particular model collapses down so you can wear it as a backpack – a total life saver if you are going on vacation and need to transport it on an airplane before strapping it into your rental car.
If you are seeking a product that performs well both in the car seat and booster modes, we’re confident you will love the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 car seat. This product has a ton of great features that make it long lasting, easy to use, and therefore appealing to all kinds of families.
Most important, we found it relatively easy to install in lots of different vehicles. The car seat is color-coded, so all you need to do is follow the blue markings when setting it up in rear-facing mode. When you switch over to front-facing mode, the red markings will take you through everything you need to do.
This car seat is also super easy to adjust. For example, the crotch straps can be adjusted to 3 graduated settings, so you can switch from one to the other as your child grows. We think this design feature is really helpful for kids who go through rapid growth spurts and need wiggle room as they start to fill out.
Also, its built-in harness can be adjusted to 5 different heights without requiring rethreading. The car seat also has harness holders to keep unruly straps tucked away as you move your children in and out of the car.
We can’t rave enough about how easy it is to keep this car seat clean. The seat cover is removable, so you can toss it into the washing machine whenever it gets stained. It is even safe to put it in the dryer, which is rare among seat covers and a huge time saver for busy parents.
In addition to being convenient, this car seat is replete with safety features. It has wings on either side of the headrest to ensure your children’s heads are fully protected.
In terms of weight thresholds, this car seat can face backward until your children reach 40 pounds or 40 inches in height. While the seat is in rear-facing mode, you can adjust the recline position to 3 different angles, depending on their size.
Once your children exceed the weight or height limit for rear-facing mode, they can then remain in the forward-facing format until they reach 65 pounds or 50 inches in height.
Once you convert to booster mode, your children can ride in style and comfort until they exceed 100 pounds or are taller than 52 inches. Even if your kids grow quickly and reach these thresholds early, they should remain in the booster until the age of 4.
If you are looking for an excellent bang for your buck, you must check out the My Ride 65 convertible car seat from Graco. While its features are fairly basic compared to much more expensive models, this car seat is functional and will last for years.
This car seat is great for growing kids because it has an elongated shell along with several different slots for the built-in harness – the top one being 17 inches high. It allows your children tons of room to grow taller and taller without growing out of the car seat, which can be a problem for other models with a less generous vertical capacity.
The weight limits are also fairly generous – the car seat can be installed rear-facing until your children’s weight exceeds 40 pounds. They can remain in the seat in front-facing mode until they are 65 pounds. In fact, many kids use out of this seat until they are in first grade.
Although this model is relatively basic, we appreciate that it comes with detailed, helpful installation and safety features. The car seat is lined with EPS foam to protect your precious cargo in case of an accident. It also has color-coded LATCH straps for ease of installation in both rear and front-facing modes.
This car seat is great for growing kids, but it also comes with an insert to ensure that newborns and tiny infants are safe and sound while your car is in motion. As your infants grow, you can adjust the angle of the rear-facing car seat by tweaking foldable flaps in the base of the shell.
Owners of small vehicles must keep in mind that this car seat is quite wide. In fact, the broadest point, which spans the built-in cup holders, stretches across 22 inches, nearly 2 feet! Because of the width of this car seat, we found it challenging to fit more than one in a standard size car – so if you have a big family, you should probably consider models with smaller frames.
The Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible car seat is another affordable choice for parents on a budget. It has enough security features to meet safety standards and give you peace of mind, but you save money by passing on other design elements that would increase the retail price.
To start, this model functions in rear-facing mode from 5 pounds – 35 pounds. We didn’t love the fact that this car seat doesn’t recline much, nor does it come with an insert designed for brand new babies. To ensure their safety and comfort, it is best to wait until your children have passed the newborn stage before debuting this car seat.
This car seat also has a front-facing mode, but you can only keep your child facing forward until they reach the 40-pound weight limit. As a result, you will end up getting less use out of this model than other car seats that can be used until your kids grow to about 65 pounds.
Even though it has a reduced window of use compared to many more expensive models, we found plenty of features that make it a decent choice when on a budget. It has a removable seat cover that we were able to wipe down and also run through a washing machine. It also comes with a cup holder that will keep your little one entertained during car rides.
The car seat comes with adjustable harness straps, but take note that you will need to remove them and rethread them as needed. We felt that this complicates matters quite a bit, especially if you’re juggling an unruly child, so if convenience is a priority for you, it may be best to look for a model with an easy-to-adjust harness.
Also keep in mind that this car seat doesn’t have plush padding, so there is a chance your children may grow uncomfortable over the course of long car rides.It is important to consider this if you’re thinking about using this seat on a daily basis – you don’t want your kids to feel like their rear end, back, and limbs are unsupported. It can be a safety hazard if they end up being vocal about their discomfort while you’re trying to focus on the road.
Another great option from Evenflo is the Symphony Elite All-In-One Convertible Car Seat. This seat is well rounded and is designed to last longer than the Tribute – it works in rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster modes, and it will last until your kids grow to 100 pounds.
We found that this car seat really stands out from the pack in rear-facing mode, as it has plenty of legroom to accommodate your little ones as they grow from infancy into toddlerhood. Your babies can remain facing backward – away from the line of fire – until they reach 40 pounds. They can sit facing forward in the car seat until they reach 65 pounds.
The Symphony Elite model also functions as a booster, and the great thing about it is that it operates in LATCH mode, unlike other booster models. The booster seat is pretty high, which means your children can ride in it until they have grown to 110 pounds and are ready to sit as adults do. Just keep in mind that younger ones may need help buckling their seat belts over the high booster seat.
This model is pretty easy to set up in all types of cars. It comes with LATCH connectors that make setup secure and foolproof. As your kids grow, it’s also fairly simple to make small adjustments to accommodate them – we were able to easily adjust the harness straps at the hip area, as well as raise and lower the headrest with a simple push of a button.
This Evenflo car seat is also quite safe. It boasts its very own e3 Side Impact Protection feature that is proven to reduce the effect of lateral impacts by up to 50%. It also comes with multiple recline settings, unlike the more bare-bones Tribute model.
One thing to keep in mind before you buy is that this car seat is pretty wide. If you have multiple children riding in car seats or drive a vehicle with a narrow frame, this car seat might be too bulky for your needs.
The Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 convertible car seat is a really great choice for any parent who wants their children to remain in a car seat (as opposed to a booster) for as long as possible.
In addition to having a fantastic lifespan, this car seat comes with a number of other great features that we feel make it a really solid choice.
To begin with, it works really well in rear-facing mode. Its thoughtful design features low sides that made it a breeze for us to settle in a small infant. It also has a pretty compact silhouette when it’s installed in rear-facing mode, making it an ideal choice for people who have small vehicles.
Once your kids outgrow the initial rear-facing mode, you will truly see what sets this product apart from so many other car seats on the market these days. As implied by its name, this model has an ultra-generous weight limit of 85 pounds for its forward facing mode.
The great features don’t stop there. This car seat comes with a range of other thoughtful design details that make it a great buy. The base can be installed quickly, and the harness easily adjusts to 9 different height settings as your child grows bigger and bigger. It also contains harness holders so you can stash the ends away while you maneuver your kids in and out of the car.
We found it to be particularly useful for longer car rides, thanks to its comfortable padded seat cover, which can be removed periodically and thrown into both the washing machine and the dryer to keep it looking like new. The car seat also has a deep-set headrest with Air Protect padding to keep your kids safe and to help them nap while you’re on the move.
While it doesn’t have any major cons, keep in mind that there is no built-in lock-off device to help securely install the car seat with traditional seatbelts. It also doesn’t have the EPS padding that does come in some other high-end models. Also make sure that you don’t use this car seat without a TinyFit insert for newborn babies.
The Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 convertible car seat is similar to the above model in terms of its thoughtful design details, generous weight limits, and great safety record. We think it’s definitely worth your consideration if you are interested in a car seat that will last your kids for at least 4 years before they graduate to booster seats.
As with the Pria 85 model, this car seat really shines in front facing mode. Its roomy height and width make it a great fit for kids who grow quickly and want a comfortable ride.
We found that this model is also incredibly easy to adjust on the fly as your kids mature and develop. It comes with a whopping 12 different harness settings, and we were able to make quick adjustments to try out an array of different positions. The crotch strap can also be adjusted to 3 different sizes, so your kids won’t feel pinched or constricted as they approach the weight limit in forward-facing mode.
If you plan to use this car seat for newborns, you will need to purchase a Tiny-Fit add-on to ensure a snug enough fit in this roomy frame. Make sure to follow the instruction manual carefully, or better yet, bring it to an expert, as installing the Tiny-Fit insert can be pretty tricky.
Like the Pria 85 car seat, this model is quite plush. Its secret weapon is padded head wings that will encourage your child to sleep while the car is in motion! The padding also provides an extra layer of protection in the case of a side impact.
If you plan to juggle your car seat between multiple vehicles or bring it on a plane as you travel, keep in mind we found this model to be pretty heavy. You may want to consider a more lightweight option, or even purchase one as a backup, rather than lugging this one around with you.
In contrast to the Maxi-Cosi models described above, the Safety 1st Guide 65 convertible car seat is a reliable choice for anybody seeking a lightweight car seat that is easy to carry. Just make sure to read our tips below to understand how to install it properly.
This model has a rear-facing mode that will protect your children from the line of fire for about 2 years, or until they reach the 40-pound weight limit. While the rear-facing mode is generous in terms of its weight limit, we found it can be a bit tricky to get it set up at first. Depending on the structure of your backseat, you may want to use a pool noodle or a rolled up towel to set the car seat at the correct angle.
Once it is installed, this car seat has some great features. It is LATCH equipped, and it also has a 5-point harness that we were able to adjust in a short amount of time – no rethreading required.
This car seat also has body pillows that can be adjusted – and even removed – to ensure your kids have a perfect, snug fit even as they grow. It also comes with a detachable cup holder, so your children can quench their thirst while you are on the move.
One thing to consider before you finalize your purchase is whether you would like to use this car seat when your children are small infants. If so, you may want to look into getting a padded insert to support them fully, as the harness can come up a little short in securing tiny babies.
Another budget option from Evenflo is the SureRide DLX convertible car seat. As with other models in the Evenflo range, this one has a variety of pros and cons that come along with its competitive price point. Read on to learn more about the car seat and determine if it would work for your family’s needs.
To begin with, it has standard weight limits that will allow your children to sit in the rear-facing position until they reach 40 pounds, and then in the forward-facing position until they grow to 65 pounds. You should be able to get several years of continuous use out of this car seat.
It also has a really generous height range, which allows your kids to continue sitting comfortably even as they grow taller and taller. The adjustable harness can buckle into 6 different positions, extending further as your kids grow up.
The car seat also comes with a removable cover, which is great for keeping it looking clean even after your kids spill all over it. The drawback to it is that we found the padding to be rather flimsy. Your kids may feel a bit uncomfortable if they are riding in it for extended periods of time.
It is lightweight, which would initially seem like a lifesaver for parents who want to swap the seat between cars or take it on trips. However, it’s on the bulky side compared to other models we tested, and unfortunately, it also lacks a handle that would make it truly portable.
Another point to consider is that we think this car seat can be a bit complicated to install. That said, it may not be the best option for newborn babies when the likelihood of removing it to tote the baby around would be higher. If you do plan to keep it installed in your back seat without moving it around much, then the trickiness of installation is a much more minor consideration.
Getting Ready to Buy
Ultimately, your final decision will depend entirely on your preferences, the needs of your family, and your budget. As demonstrated by the products reviewed in this guide, the best convertible car seat models actually come in a range of price points – the main difference is the number of bells and whistles that are included in each model.
Once you determine what features are most important to you, make your purchase with confidence. All of the products in this guide live up to current safety regulations. You can rest assured that regardless of the model you end up purchasing, your child will be safe and secure – which is of primary importance above all else. Happy shopping!