A car seat is amongst the most important safety products that you will buy for your child, hands down. In addition to that, when the right model has been bought, it will essentially grow with the child, making it one of the most long-lasting products.
A well-designed and well-made car seat can last literally from the first drive home from the hospital until the day they no longer need a car seat at all. Given that a child typically needs a special seat until they are around 10 years old or so, it really makes sense to invest in a convertible car seat.
With so many manufacturers and models on the market, you want to know you’re buying the best for your child, which is why we have produced this useful guide to the best convertible car seats that are available today.
Table of Contents
- Reviews of Top 10 Convertible Child Seat
- 1. Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Convertible Car Seat
- 2. Britaz Click Tight Convertible Car Seat
- 3. Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
- 4. Safety 1st Grow and Go Convertible Car Seat
- 5. Evenflo Tribute Convertible Car Seat
- 6. Disney Mouseketeer Minnie Convertible Car Seat
- 7. Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat
- 8. Diono Radian All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
- 9. Britax Emblem Convertible Car Seat
- 10. Graco Slim Fit Convertible Car Seat
- Features to Look for When Shopping for a Convertible Car Seat
- Other People’s Opinions about Child Convertible Car Seats
- Our Top Pick of Convertible Child Seat
Reviews of Top 10 Convertible Child Seat
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The first product we checked is this chair from Maxo-Cosi. The manufacturer has really gone out of their way to make an extremely functional product.
The stand out feature that impressed us is the fact that most of the materials used in this product are machine washable. Most of the padding is held in place with simple snap locks, making it easy to remove. Since this chair will most of the time be covered with discarded Cheerios and smeared with yogurt, that is a very handy feature to have.
Protection-wise, the chair boasts patented side impact protection, including an advanced cushioning system that protects the child’s head. We also found that the harness and headrest were easy to adjust to achieve a safe fit.
Weighing in at around 23 pounds and with a price tag well over $200, this is one of the bigger seats in terms of both weight and price. Nonetheless, you will get a very high-quality and well-designed seat.
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The next chair we looked at is the Click Tight model from Britaz, and we were very impressed that it lived up to its name!
Click Tight refers to the installation system, which is one of the most straightforward that we tested. You simply need to open the front of the chair, pass the safety buckle through and click it–simple, straightforward and effective.
This is also a very safe chair. It boasts a foam-lined shell for side impact protection that both shields the child and absorbs energy from the impact. The chair has a steel frame for extra rigidity as well as staged release stitches that stagger the forward momentum during a crash.
All that protective gear gives the product a net weight of approximately 25 pounds, which means that this is one of the heaviest chairs we tried and tested. The price tag is also high, being well over $200. As compared with the Maxi-Cosi above, there are enough positives about this thoughtful design to warrant that premium price tag.
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We were quite impressed with the number of features that can be found on this chair. This was a pleasant surprise since, price-wise, it is very much in the bottom half of mid-range.
The element that most impressed us is the fact that its weight limit is 50 pounds when used in a rear-facing configuration and 65 pounds at forward-facing setup. Honestly, those limits are higher than some convertible car seat models and brands.
Another impressive feature is the inclusion of a five-inch extension panel that can provide extra space in the chair for a growing child whilst remaining in the rear-facing configuration. The rear-facing configuration is the safest way to transport a child, especially a baby or a toddler. We’ll go into more details about it below,
In addition, the headrest and the harness can be adjusted quickly and easily without readjusting the straps. This is made possible by the integrated Simply Safe Adjust Harness System. Since children grow in a blink of an eye, the adjustable features of this product can save you from the cost and hassles of buying a new car seat each and every time.
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The first thing we noticed with this model is how light it is! Tipping the scales at barely over 18 pounds, this is one of the lightest chairs on this list of the best convertible car seats. It also comes with a price tag of only a little over a hundred bucks. So, if you’re looking for a chair that is easy to maneuver and won’t break the bank, this, in our opinion, is one of the top choices.
What also impressed us is that it is designed in a way that the child will not outgrow it immediately. This is made possible because it has a rear-facing mode suited for children up to 40 pounds. The chair then converts into a forward-facing configuration to hold a child weighing up to 65 pounds. It then disassembles further into a belt secured booster seat for a child weighing up to 100 pounds.
The chair also comes with side impact protection and removable, machine-washable and dryer-safe padding. The harness is easy to use and includes built-in locks to keep the straps out of the way as you position the child into the chair. The harness, together with the headrest are also very easy to adjust, making it possible to secure the passenger in a safe and comfortable position in a few seconds or so.
With a long lifespan, attractive price tag, and good quality and design, this chair, in our opinion, gives great value for your money.
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This model from Evenflo is marketed as a compact chair model, and the first thing we noticed is that it is extremely light. Weighing in at about 12 pounds, it is the second lightest car seat on the list.
We could also see that this is an extremely basic car seat, which means that it is missing a lot of the premium features you would expect to see on higher-end models. That also means that the price is lower as compared to other models. This chair being the second cheapest model on the list, boasts a price tag that is well under 100 dollars.
The chair’s five-point harness is relatively easy to use, and the side impact protection system is rated to meet or exceed all federal safety standards. It should be noted though that the minimalist headrest means this chair would not provide the same level of protection to the head and neck, especially for younger children.
Rear and forward-facing weights are capped at a maximum of 40 pounds. That’s about average for rear facing, but very poor when the chair is converted to forward facing, and it means that your child is going to outgrow this chair pretty quickly. Still, the price is very tempting, so if you really need a low budget model, this could be a winner.
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Another low-priced and low-weight option, this Minnie Mouse branded chair ties with the Evenflo model as the second lightest car seat on the list. Coming with a price tag barely over 50 dollars, it is the lowest priced chair.
In addition to the low weight and price, it has a few other common things with the Evenflo product we discussed above. For one thing, it sadly shares one of the main failings of that model, namely the very low maximum user weight of just 40 pounds in both rear and forward-facing configurations. Again, that’s very disappointing as it means your child will probably outgrow the seat in just a few years.
However, this product made it on our list because it has an excellent side impact protection, a couple of useful cup holders, and a very attractive and colorful Disney design. That can be more of an advantage than you may assume since it makes the chair something that children would want to sit in. Getting them in and out of chairs can be the hardest thing, so any help in that area is very welcome!
Broadly speaking, although this seat provides a good level of overall protection, we find this nice, light, and easy-to-use product to be lacking with a number of useful features and design points that we can find on premium-priced models
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When we got our hands on this model, it was easy to tell that this is a premium model. That is actually a good thing since with the price tag this model comes with, you want to know that you’re getting quality straight out of the box.
Yes, say hello to the most expensive chair on the list. It brings a price tag of around 350 bucks, meaning that you can buy about five of the previously mentioned Disney chair for the same price of one of this model.
Does that math stack up though? Well, it only does if the chair is bringing enough features to justify that price tag—and boy does it deliver!
The chair comes with no less than nine recline positions, making it easy to find a comfortable position in nearly any vehicle type. It boasts a “RideRight” air bubble display to easily and accurately indicate the correct pitch the chair should be set to, and it works in both forward and rear facing configurations.
It has a very good weight range, including a removable positioner that makes the chair suitable for newborns weighing up to 11 pounds. At a rear-facing mode, the weight limit is 40 pounds and finally, a hefty 65-pound limit on the forward-facing configuration.
Both the headrest and harness are very easy to adjust and are also very well padded making it both comfortable for the child and easy for you to adjust the settings. Also, a steel-reinforced frame and energy absorbing foam are installed to provide an excellent level of protection.
Now, it is certainly not cheap, but if you can work this purchase into your budget, it really is a superb quality chair.
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The Diono Radian is a very good chair with a number of really useful features, though the first thing we noticed was the weight. Clocking in at less than 30 pounds, this one is amongst the heaviest models on the list. It does, however, fold up flat when not in use.
The straps can be used to put this on your back so that you can carry it as a backpack, which is a pretty unique and very useful feature, but given the item’s weight, you may not want to carry it around on your back for too long!
Part of that weight is due to the high level of protection this chair comes with. The full steel frame, for example, provides a superb level of protection but is also pretty heavy. The side impact protection is excellent as is the headrest, which boasts no less than 12 positions to ensure that a comfortable and safe fit is easy to achieve.
It comes with three distinct configurations: a rear-facing mode (45 pounds max weight), forward-facing (65 pounds max) and, finally, a booster variant with a maximum user weight of 125 pounds. This means that it really has a long lifespan, which given the very high price, this is a worthy investment.
Excellent features, easy to use and superb protection levels, it’s just unfortunate that it is a little too heavy and pricey to tick all the boxes.
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The final product we looked at was the Emblem model from Britax USA, and it had a number of features that we found impressive.
First and foremost was just how easy it was to install it into the car. It is supplied with built-in latch connectors that fit into place at the push of a button. Also, it’s possible to remove the cover without removing the harness, which makes it really easy to clean.
With a steel frame, two layers of side impact protection, and an impact-absorbing base, this chair provides a very high level of protection for the body. However, the headrest is not as enclosed to the sides as some other models, which means that it may not provide the highest level of protection to the head and neck, particularly in younger children.
Nevertheless, the harness is a quick-adjust model with ten positions, and the headrest does move very easily, so working out a comfortable position for your child is pretty easy.
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We were happy to see that this Graco car seat did indeed live up to it’s billing as a slim fit car seat. After all, some of the models on this list are a little on the bulky side. In fact, a few of them look almost more like miniature tanks than car seats! That can be an issue if you’re trying to squeeze a chair into a smaller car, or if this is not your first child and you’re trying to fit a second chair into the car.
This car seat also comes with side cup holders that can be removed to provide extra room. The harness system is easy to use and includes an internal storage area for additional strapping when the harness is set for younger children. It has rear-facing and forward-facing modes that have pretty generous weight limits, which are 40 and 65 pounds respectively.
We found the padding to be very soft to the touch and is very easy to remove. The side impact protection is very good, and when tested, it met the US Standard FMVSS 213. Additionally, the steel reinforced frame is both nice and rigid and will also provide a high level of protection in the event of an accident.
Features to Look for When Shopping for a Convertible Car Seat
There are a number of features and design points to look for when you are choosing the best convertible car seat for your child. Naturally, the more you go for, the higher the total price would be, so do bear this in mind when perusing the options.
● Removable Padding
We joked above about how these chairs will be covered in Cheerios and yogurt most of the time. The best jokes do have an element of truth, and any parent will be able to confirm that our joke definitely had a kernel of truth at its core on this occasion.
Let’s face it: kids are messy. The very design of these chairs can make them hard to clean. With a lot of surface areas as well as numerous folds and little nooks and crannies, all of which are magnets for dirt, food stain, and all kinds of gross stuff. Pads that are easily removed (and machine washable) are, therefore, a very useful feature to keep an eye out for.
Just as with any product, if you truly want the premium features, then you need to splash out on a premium price tag. On the other hand, you do need to weigh up which features you truly want and need.
There could be some features that if you can do without them, it could help to keep a few bucks in your pocket. Conversely, this may not be a product you necessarily want to skimp on. It does, after all, provide a very important service, namely protecting your kid as you’re driving. They can also be a really good, long-term investment providing years of service.
● Rear-Facing Weight
The safest position to put a child in a moving car is rear facing. That way, in the event of front-end collision (the most likely kind of accident), the chair will protect your child by cushioning them away from the force of the impact. This is especially important for younger children. The younger they are, the less formed their bodies are, so their head accounts for a higher percentage of their body mass.
A rear-facing seat will cushion the head and neck, providing extra protection during a sudden stop. Most convertible chairs are rated to be used by a child up to 40 pounds of weight, after that, they have to be turned the other way. Some chairs go higher up to a safe user weight of 50 pounds.
Car seats aren’t small, and they have a weight range. The lightest on our list weighed in at about 12 pounds, whilst the heaviest weighed in at over 30 pounds.
If you’re simply going to install the chair and leave it in place, then the weight may not be such an issue. If, in case, you know that you will need to remove it from the vehicle frequently, bear the product weight in mind when you’re making your purchase. Trust us, 30 pounds is a lot of weight to keep toting in and out of the car.
A good way to offset the initial price point of these products is to look at them as long-term investments and go for a chair with a long lifespan. So, after you have gone through the list above, there is no doubt that you have seen that there can be quite a difference in the maximum permitted weight.
Generally, the more affordable the chair, the lower the weight, and the two budget models we have discussed have a max user weight of just 40 pounds. So, whilst the initial price is low, the lifespan is short, and you will end up paying out for a chair with a higher weight rating later on.
With that said, we recommend that you spend a little more money now and pick up a chair rated for up to 65 pounds (and in rare instances even up to 100 or 125 pounds), providing a far longer, useful lifespan.
● New or Used Model
You can pick up a used seat on certain online auction house websites and real-life garage sales, and you can frankly make a real saving on these products. We would, however, strongly suggest you resist the urge to save a few bucks here.
The problem with buying a used seat is you have no way of knowing if it has been involved in an accident in the past. It doesn’t need a full collision for it to have a lower quality. If the driver made an emergency stop from 50 or even 40 miles per hour, that momentum could cause damage to the stitching, padding, and straps of the seat.
Definitely, you can only trust a brand new seat to provide all the protection it should, making a used seat a gamble that’s simply not worth taking.
Other People’s Opinions about Child Convertible Car Seats
Of course, while we have spent a lot of time researching these chairs to find you the best models on the market right now, we know that it can be beneficial to know what others
have to say. So, we put the word around for some real-life moms and dads (and a few grandmas and grandpops) to give us their take on any of the products in the list.
Unfortunately, we simply couldn’t find enough real-life testers who had used all the products on the list. However, we did ask their opinions and, predictably, they were extremely helpful.
● Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Convertible Car Seat
When it came to product number one on this list, we were pleased to discover that we were justified in our belief that it is one of the safest seats on the list. We even heard a story about it being involved in a serious collision, from which a mom and her child walked away safe and sound.
● Britaz Click Tight Convertible Car Seat
Whilst this car seat boasted of its easy to install feature, in reality, that may be a bit of hollow boast with some parents noting they struggled to get a correct fit, and it took a bit of practice to get the chair in and out of the vehicle.
● Safety 1st Grow and Go Convertible Car Seat
A number of parents agreed with our viewpoint on the Safety 1st Grow and Go Convertible Car Seat, which is product number four on the list above. The general consensus here was that it is a sturdy seat that is also extremely comfortable for children.
Nothing highlighted more than the fact that a mom related that her child slept straight through an accident whilst in the chair! It was also widely praised for its machine washable materials and relatively low price point.
● Evenflo Tribute Convertible Car Seat
One of the cheapest models on the list, the Evenflo Tribute Convertible Car Seat, is actually quite popular with parents. In particular, its low weight and easy maneuverability were highly praised. Also whilst the low price meant the chair had far less padding on the straps and in the internal cushions, many parents pointed out that it didn’t seem to affect their children at all. They all seemed very comfortable in the chair for prolonged periods. That makes this look even more appealing.
● Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat
Parents were in general in agreement that the Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat (product number 7) is a very high-quality chair that provides an excellent level of protection. Some were a little worried that the overall size of the chair would make it hard to maneuver in and out of the car, which may be something to bear in mind.
● Graco Slim Fit Convertible Car Seat
The parents also agreed with us that this chair is an excellent choice for smaller cars, whilst also being very happy with the easy installation process. If you’re looking for a chair with excellent protection but a bit easier to maneuver in and out of the car then, this could be a better option than the one from Chicco.
Our Top Pick of Convertible Child Seat
We’re often reluctant to name the most expensive product as the best. It just seems to be cheating a little, as more often than not, the most expensive is often the one that boasts the most features and some of which are simply not necessary.
That being said, in this instance, we have no hesitation in proclaiming the Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat as the best model on the list. It simply boasts so many useful features, is extremely well designed and above all, provides a superb level of protection.
For a high-quality but cheaper priced chair (and it is roughly about half the price of the Chicco), our recommendation would be the Safety 1st Grow and Go Convertible Car Seat. Again, this is a very well designed chair that boasts a number of useful features and will provide a high level of protection.
What really impressed us most is its extremely long lifespan. From a rear-facing weight up to 40 pounds to the final booster seat configuration with a max weight of 100 pounds, this chair could be with your child for 10 years or perhaps even more, literally providing a seating solution until they are big enough to sit in a regular car seat unaided. That is just superb good value!