The Best Convertible Car Seats

The Best Convertible Car Seats

Are you shopping for convertible car seats? See which ones are best and how to decide what is right for your family with our guide.

Convertible car seats are designed to grow with your child. They can be used in forward-facing or in rear-facing positions depending on the weight and height of your child, according to the seat manufacturer’s manual. So, if you have a little one that’s outgrown an infant car seat, a convertible car seat is your next step.

These car seats can accommodate children rear-facing weighing 5 to 45 pounds. Then they can then be turned forward-facing from age 2 through toddler years and beyond (20 to 70 pounds). A convertible car seat is a necessary follow-up to an infant seat to keep a child rear-facing until the minimum recommended age of 2. You should keep your child in the rear-facing position as long as possible.

convertible car seat

What is the safest convertible car seat?

Here are the safest convertible car seats on the market, according to Wirecutter, a New York Times review site.

Graco 4ever DLX 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Created to grow with your child, the Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Infant to Toddler Car Seat can be adjusted for use as a rear-facing, forward-facing, high-back booster, and a backless booster. This car seat supports children from 4 lbs to kids weighing up to 120 lbs. Additional features include a machine washable RapidRemove seat cover, the one-step LATCH system for easier and proper installation, and six recline positions and ten headrest positions. Stand-out features include an easily adjustable 10 position harness system and built-in protection for the front, rear, side, and rollover accidents. Check this seat out here.

Britax Marathon ClickTight

The Britax Marathon ClickTight was voted the safest car seat of 2019 by Wirecutter. “The Britax Marathon ClickTight convertible car seat performed better than any other seat in side-impact crash-testing earns excellent safety scores in government front-impact tests, and is significantly less frustrating to install than any other convertible car seat we’ve ever used.” The Britax ClickTight installation system uses your car’s seat belt rather than the sometimes-difficult-to-locate LATCH system. You can use it rear-facing for children up to 40 pounds. The only disadvantage, no built-in cupholder.

Graco Extend2Fit

The Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat was voted runner up by Wirecutter. “This is a solid seat and is likewise very safe, but it’s not as easy to install as (the Britax Clicktight) our pick.” The Graco Extend2Fit is tougher to install. It performed second to the top pick Britax in crash testing and is slightly lighter (22 pounds to Britax’s 28.4 pounds), which makes it a little easier to move. It can also hold heavier children (50 pounds vs. 40 for the Britax), is cheaper, and has not one, but two built-in cup holders. Get this seat here.

convertible car seat

What is the best convertible car seat?

Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat

The Britax Marathon ClickTight car seat comes loaded with essential safety features including their ClickTight technology. Instead of having to thread the seat belt behind the seat, you hinge the inside base of the seat up and pull the seat belt strap across, insert it into the buckle and hinge the base down to click in place. Also included is the Safe Cell capability (an integrated system of safety components that work together to protect your child well beyond the federal safety standards). This consists of components including an impact-absorbing base, tether and harness, an impact-stabilizing steel frame, and various levels of side impact protection. 

The Britax Marathon easily transforms from rear-facing to forward-facing positions, allowing the car seat to adjust accordingly as your child grows from being a toddler to the time when they outgrow the child seat. The extra safety features really set The Britax Marathon ClickTight apart from others on the market. It is easy to clean, install, and adjust to make sure your little one rides in ultimate safety and comfort. Read more about this seat here.

little girl in rear-facing car seat
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Best All-In-One Car Seats

Did you know that certain convertible car seats are actually all-in-one seats? Yep. These seats can go from convertible to infant rear-facing all the way to a big kid booster, and every step in between. Long story short, it’s the only car seat you will need for your kiddo. Here are some of the best all-in-one seats you can buy.

3 kids buckled in convertible car seats

Diono Radian

This slim fit convertible car seat is designed and engineered to keep your child rear-facing even longer up to 50 lb (approx. 4 years old). This seat has 4 ways to travel safely from birth to booster. The Radian adapts as your child grows to offer a custom adjustable fit from birth to 120 lbs. With the Diono Radian slim fit convertible design, it’s easy to fit 3 across in most vehicles without compromising comfort. Buy this seat here.

car used used 4 ways

Graco 4ever

The Graco 4Ever All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat gives you 10 years with one car seat. It transitions from a rear-facing infant car seat (4–40 lb) to a forward-facing 5-point harness seat (22–65 lb). Then it goes to a high-back belt-positioning booster (40–100 lb) and then to a backless belt-positioning booster (40–120 lb). For a proper fit, the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System and 10-position headrest let you adjust the harness and headrest together, with no rethreading. The 6-position recline keeps your child comfortable, while the LATCH system makes installation easy with the one-second InRight system. Buy this here.

2 children in car seats

Britax One4Life

The Britax One4life takes your child from birth to big kid with Britax safety and ClickTight installation. It easily converts from a rear-facing infant car seat to a forward-facing 5-point harness, to a high back belt-positioning booster seat. Britax One4life convertible to booster car seat grows with your child from 5 to 120 pounds & up to 63 inches tall. This seat offers full-body protection with 2 layers of side impact protection surrounding the head, neck & torso. As your baby grows, adjust the 15-position headrest & harness in seconds to create the perfect fit. When it is time for booster mode, simply tuck the harness into the built-in storage compartment. Get this seat here.

convertible car seat

Safety 1st Grow and Go

The Grow and Go Car Seat will give your child a safer and more comfortable ride. From newborns to growing toddlers, the Grow and Go can be used in the rear-facing position from 5-40 pounds. It includes two comfortable grow-with-baby pillows to give the baby a snug fit and is easily removable as the baby outgrows them. In forward-facing mode, the Grow and Go keeps your child protected in a harness up to 65 pounds. The seat can then be turned into a booster for up to 100 pounds. The QuickFit Harness offers additional convenience by letting you adjust the height of both the headrest and harness in one easy step, making it simple to give your growing child the best fit. Buy this here.

2 kids in convertible car seats

Maxi-Cosi Pria

The Maxi-Cosi Pria 3-in-1 seat gives you comfort in knowing your child has a safe and cozy car seat, from birth to 10 years. Children can ride rear-facing, forward-facing, and in booster mode. The Out-of-the-Way spring assist harness system in the Pria keeps straps propped up, and easy to find for faster buckling. With the ClipQuik one-hand, magnetic chest clip, buckling in and out is struggle-free. You’ll embrace how easy it is to get your child in and out of this seat. Buy one of these 3-in-1 car seats here.

Best Convertible Car Seats

You might want to consider a convertible car seat instead of an all-in-one. A convertible car seat can be use rear-facing, forward-facing, and then as a booster for your toddler or preschooler (depending on height and weight limits).

convertible car seat

Britax Marathon ClickTight

The Britax Marathon ClickTight convertible car seat has a patented ClickTight installation system. It also features a layer of side impact protection, and safe cell impact protection for peace of mind while you are on the go with your child. Featuring: 7 recline positions for premium comfort, easy-adjust 14 position harness, and simple seat height adjustment with just the push of a button. Get this seat here.

toddler in a rear facing car seat

Nuna RAVA

This sleek and stylish seat is easy to install, easy to use, and sports thick but firm padding with soft fabric for an excellent seating configuration that makes longer trips a pleasant experience. Features an all-steel frame and reinforced belt path for superior protection, six-position recline (1 recline position rear-facing and 5 recline positions forward-facing)with; no-rethread 5 point harness and no-rethread two position crotch strap. Buy one of these convertible car seats here.

baby in a rear-facing car seat

Chicco Nextfit Zip

The Chicco NextFit Zip accommodates infants and growing toddlers in a rear-facing position then transition smoothly to a forward-facing position for older children. A removable newborn positioner provides a proper fit from 5-11 pounds, and a nine-position headrest and padded, no-rethread harness comfortably accommodate growth from 5-65 pounds. A SuperCinch force-multiplying tightener and LockSure belt-tightening system make it easy to achieve a tight fit with LATCH or with the vehicle seat belt. The NextFit Zip also transitions smoothly from vehicle to vehicle and between modes thanks to premium LATCH connectors with click-on attachment and push-button release, plus a built-in slide path to re-position the LATCH strap for forward-facing mode. Get the Chicco Nextfit Zip here.

3 kids in convertible car seats

Clek Fllo

The Clek Fllo is one of the safest narrow car seats available, supporting extended rear-facing use. Engineered to protect, it is built with advanced safety features, including a steel anti-rebound bar that provides 1-2 inches of extra legroom for the rear-facing child as they grow. Featuring Clek’s patented EACT energy management system, and advanced side-impact protection, with deep side wings, energy-absorbing foam layers, and an adjustable structural headrest. Plus, at less than 17 inches wide, Fllo’s narrow design makes it easy to ride 3-across. Get this seat here.

car seat with base

Cybex Sirona S

The NEW CYBEX Sirona S is the first Convertible Car Seat in the U.S. to feature an innovative 360° rotatable seat with a load leg. That makes switching between rear-facing and forward-facing positions quick and easy. The Sirona S load leg stabilizes the seat and can significantly reduce crash forces. These features, combined with an EasyLock bar for quick, simple, and secure installation, offer advanced safety protection for children. This car seat features a 12-position recline adjustment even while the seat is in use and a height-adjustable headrest with a no-rethread harness. Rear-facing from 4 lbs. to 50 lbs. Forward-facing from 22 lbs. to 65 lbs. *Sirona S is compatible with most vehicles 2008 or newer with an OBD II port. For some electric vehicles, contact CYBEX as an additional adapter may be needed. Buy it here.

Is it safe to put a carseat in a convertible car?

Though no convertible car can match the family-friendliness of a minivan or midsize SUV, it is possible for a child to ride safely in a convertible vehicle. Before you slather on the sunscreen and drop the top, be sure to adhere to some simple safety guidelines: 

  • Children under the age of 12 years old are never recommended to ride in the front seat.
  • Children should always be seated in an appropriate child restraint that is installed properly.
  • If a car seat or booster can not be installed properly in the back seat, it is unsafe for them to ride in the vehicle.
child in car

How do I choose a convertible car seat?

When choosing a convertible car seat for your child, look for features that make sense for your family and lifestyle. Here is a list of things to consider when shopping for a convertible car seat:

Easy Installation

Look for convertible car seats with easy installation reviews. Most vehicles support the LATCH system, which can sometimes be difficult to operate, depending on the car. Select brands have exclusive installation systems, such as the Britax ClickTight system, that rely on a car’s seat belt for quick, easy installation. The best car seat for your family is the one that every adult that drives your kids can install and use correctly every time. The most expensive car seat on the market that grandma can’t figure out how to use when she picks the kids up from daycare will do you no good. Keep looking until you find a model that everyone can use the right way.

Safety Features

Convertible seats with steel-reinforced frames provide extra security. Five-point harnesses keep the child safe in the seat. Some convertible car seats also include extra layers of protection on the sides and anti-rebound bars to stabilize and reduce impact.

Comfort

Look for a convertible car seat that offers extra comfort for your child, such as extra cushioning. A comfortable harness also makes a big difference. Cup holders are not necessary but do come in handy quite often.

Fits in your Vehicle

In general, convertible car seats are larger than infant car seats, so they need more space. Make sure you have the space available for the convertible car seat to fit comfortably into the backseat. Make sure to consider the depth of the car seat, not just the width; if you have tall adults in the front, this can be a problem when your kids are still rear-facing.

Fabric

The fabric of a car seat can determine how comfortable your child is while riding in it. Choose one with breathable fabric so that air continues circulating through the car seat helping with climate control and overall comfort. Also, choose one that can be detached easily and tossed in the washing machine for quick cleanup.

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Is Maxi Cosi better than Britax?

In a side by side comparison, Maxi Cosi car seats are preferred over Britax. However, Maxi Cosi isn’t without its cons. 

Maxi Cosi has a steel reinforced frame, EPS energy-absorbing foam, Air Protect and a 5-point harness. What’s good about the Maxi Cosi is that you get a lot of mileage out of it. The extended weight range keeps children safely harnessed longer: 5 to 40 pounds rear facing and 22 to 85 pounds forward facing. Plus it has a built in cup holder which is missing from Britax. There is one very big con with the Maxi Cosi car seats: they are not that easy to install. Of course it can be done, but it is nowhere near as easy as Britax’s Clicktight installation, which is done in a matter of seconds. 

man buckling baby in car seat

Is it better to get an infant car seat or convertible?

Infant seats and convertible seats are both great options and there is no right or wrong answer about which one is best. The right answer is the one that is best for you and your family.

Most infant car seats are a part of a travel system, which means that you can easily unlatch the seat and place it in a stroller. Transitioning the car seat to and from the car is easy. Another advantage to infant seats is that if the baby will be riding in multiple vehicles, you can buy several car seat bases, and the seat can be easily transferred from car to car. As parents know, moving actual car seats from car to car can be a pain; thankfully, infant car seats simplify the process.

Typically, infant seats feature a canopy to block the sun from the baby’s eyes. This is a feature that convertible car seats don’t offer.

The biggest reason to choose a convertible car seat is cost. A convertible car seat grows with your child, so you will not need to buy another car seat. Adaptability is, of course, a perk, and converting the seat to the next stage as your child gets bigger and older is simple and convenient. 

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When should I buy a convertible car seat?

Child safety should always be the primary goal when purchasing a car seat. Once your child has exceeded the highest height or weight for their infant car seat, it is time for a convertible car seat. Many rear-facing infant seats have weight limits of 30 pounds or more, but most don’t have matching height limits. So don’t be surprised if your child outgrows the infant seat before he or she reaches the weight limit. Convertible car seats can be rear-facing or forward-facing. Based on recent recommendations and test results, if your child has reached his or her first birthday and still fits in a rear-facing infant seat, the safest move is to switch to a rear-facing convertible. 

Do you need 2 convertible car seats?

Two car seats for one child is not necessary but is recommended. Obviously, with twins, you will need two convertible car seats at a minimum. If you and your partner drive separate vehicles, you may assume you need a car seat for each vehicle. But if your schedules and coordination allow it, you could instead buy one car seat that can be moved between cars as needed. If you go this route, look for a seat that’s easy to install and uninstall, and relatively lightweight, so it’s easy to make the switch.

Oftentimes, though, parents do find that switching car seats from one vehicle to another can be a pain. If it’s a cost situation, consider purchasing one “cheaper” (remember all car seats are tested the same for safety) car seat to be used in the vehicle that the child rides in the least. 

Do what is best for you. If you can afford it and the convenience of two car seats will make your life easier, then buy two. If two car seats seem excessive and you are making one car seat work, continue what is working. Just remember to make sure the car seat is installed correctly each and every time. 

Don’t rush the car seat process, even if the savings are tempting. Other than moving from a rear-facing infant seat to a rear-facing convertible seat, other transitions may be less safe for a child; a forward-facing seat is less safe than a rear-facing seat, and a booster is less safe than a forward-facing harnessed seat. Always put your child’s safety first and your sanity second. 

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