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Expert Test: The Best Convertible Car Seats of 2015

Image source: Katie Loeb
Image source: Katie Loeb

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Much like my review of the best infant car seats, this year’s convertible and combination seats have set the bar so much higher than I had anticipated. They are increasingly easy to use, have higher height and weight limits, and are integrating new, cool technology to keep kids safe in the car.

Also, as with the infant seats, I will list specific safety information with the caveat that all of the benefits of these safety features are unproven by independent tests. I willingly put my child(ren) in each of these seats without hesitation. When used correctly, each and every one of these seats is safe.

The seats reviewed in this piece were provided to me by the manufacturers to test, however, none of the companies had any say in how the article was written or what was said about theirs or any other seat. The opinions expressed are mine and my husband’s and my kids.

So, these are the best convertible and combination seats of 2015.

1. Best All Around Convertible: Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 5-65

Image source: Amazon
Image source: Amazon
  • Height/Weight Limits: Rear facing 5-45 pounds, head less than 1 inch from top of headrest on 7th click; Forward facing 22-65 pounds, less than 49 inches.
  • Vehicle Fit: Compact front to back when installed at the allowed 35 degree angle rear facing, somewhat less compact at 45 degrees, but it still fits easily behind the driver’s seat in a compact car.
  • Child Fit: This is the cushiest of all cushy seats, with a removable seat pad, a crotch buckle pad, super plush fabric, soft strap covers and plenty of room in the seat and in terms of leg room for rear facing. My 3 year, 3 month old still has 1 clicks to go before outgrowing it rear facing and he is average height and torso length.

Safety Features:

  • Side impact protection headwings
  • EPS energy absorbing foam throughout the shell and the headwings
  • Shock Absorbing Foam Element (SAFE) that crumples upon impact to reduce stress on the child’s spine.
  • Steel back plate that reduces bending of the seat in a crash.
  • Top tether when rear facing reduces rebound of the seat into the vehicle seat in a crash.
  • Higher than average rear facing weight limit.

Installation:

Pretty standard installation- no seatbelt lockoffs, so the belt must be locked and tightened. The lower anchors are push button releases.

Drawbacks:

The high cost, no seat belt lock offs, the manual can be kind of confusing.

Overall Impression:

This seat is pure luxury, but it’s also easy to use, well made and extremely comfortable. The harness adjustment is like butter, it has enhanced safety features for rear and forward facing. This seat is just right. It’s everything you want in a convertible, the materials are highest quality and it’s easy to use. We now have one in each of our cars and I would buy 2 more if I could.

Available now on Amazon, $336.59

2. Runner Up Best All Around Convertible: Clek Foonf

Image source: Clek Inc
Image source: Clek Inc
  • Height/Weight Limits: Rear facing 14-50 pounds, 25-43 inches; Forward facing 20-65 pounds, 30-49 inches
  • Vehicle Fit: Relatively compact front to back and very compact side to side- allows a 3 across fit.
  • Child Fit: This seat that cannot be used until an infant can sit unassisted and their shoulders reach the bottom slots (unless used with the Infant Thingy, which is sold separately), but once the child is big enough, the fit is great. The headrest can be adjusted as needed, the crotch strap can be a bit short, but not remarkably so. Nice open seating even for a narrow seat.

Safety Features:

  • Steel anti-rebond bar, which prevents rebound into the vehicle seat in a crash.
  • Adjustable headrest with deep headwings lined with energy absorbing EPP foam and connected with steel rods.
  • Steel and magnesium substructure.
  • High rear facing weight limit
  • Rigid latch connectors for forward facing that can be used with the seatbelt make installation extremely easy.
  • Rigid-Latch Energy Absorbing Crumple Technology (REACT) is meant to reduce forces transmitted onto the child in forward facing mode.

Installation:

In rear facing mode, the seat requires some assembly as the anti-rebound bar is required and the rear facing base must be added. It’s not impossible, but it takes some time and focus. There are seatbelt lockoffs, though they are not required. In rear facing there are standard push button latch connecters. When forward facing, there are rigid lower anchor connectors, which make the installation about as easy as is humanly possible. Also, the Foonf is one of the only seats that allows both the latch and seatbelt to be used in forward facing mode if the vehicle allows it.

Drawbacks:

Cost, it is very, very heavy and really tall, so it’s not ideal for all cars/people. The anti-rebound bar can be tough to install at times, but once you learn how, it’s pretty quick. The seat requires manual rethreading of the harness as the child grows.

Overall Impression:

The Foonf has called itself the mother of all car seats and it really is. They have embedded all kinds of fantastic safety features into a super long lasting rear facing seat. The fabric is green certified and easy to clean, it can be installed in 3 across situations and it’s comfortable and gorgeous. If it was just a little less expensive, it would probably be my top pick. It’s what we use in my husband’s car and it’s by far my husband’s favorite seat.

Available now on Amazon, $469.99

3. Second Runner Up All Around Best Convertible: Nextfit Zip

Image source: Toys R Us
Image source: Toys R Us
  • Height/Weight Limits: Rear facing 5-40 pounds and head less than 1 inch from the fully extended head rest; Forward facing 22-65 pounds and less than 50 inches.
  • Vehicle Fit: This is one of the more compact seats front to back, especially when installed more upright, but is still compact when installed at full recline. I love that I can adjust the incline and make it more reclined when the trip will be long or timed with a nap.
  • Child Fit: Both my kids fit well in this seat and the padding is amazing. All the issues with the strap covers on the original Nextfit have been more than solved on the Zip.

Safety Features:

  • Steel frame
  • Easy to read level bubbles show the seat is properly reclined rear and forward facing.
  • Large headwings that are lined with EPS foam and high sides for ideal side impact protection.
  • Dual width chest clip fits all sizes well for best strap placement

Installation:

As easy as any convertible out there. The seatbelt lock offs are a breeze to use, the force coupling latch is absolutely awesome and the 9 recline options allow you to make the seat fit your car no matter what the slope of the seat might be. I can’t say enough about the installation for this seat.

Drawbacks:

Cost, the sides are pretty high which makes loading bigger kids into it a bit more challenging, it’s pretty big side to side. Though I did not experience this with the one I used, I have heard that in rear facing the harness tightening strap can be stiff initially. There is no anti-rebound element.

Overall Impression:

I loved this seat. I loved it more than I loved the original Nextfit and I didn’t even know if that was possible. My son was extremely comfortable- the added comfort padding and new softer strap covers are great without being overly warm or bulky. And the installation, much like the original Nextfit, is incredibly easy. As an added bonus, the cover literally zips off, no crazy acrobatics needed to remove the cover for washing. There’s almost nothing I would change about this seat.

Available now on Amazon, $349.99

4. Best Budget Convertible: Safety 1st Guide 65 Sport

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Image source: Walmart
  • Height/Weight Limits: Rear facing 5-40 pounds, 19-40 inches; Forward facing 22-65 pounds, 29-52 inches
  • Vehicle Fit: Very compact in all directions, in all modes. It fits nicely in virtually all cars, though if you have steeply sloped seats, you may need a rolled towel or pool noodle to get the right angle.
  • Child Fit: It fit my toddler very well, good head support and plenty of padding. My infant, despite being 12 pounds at the time, was too short and his shoulders didn’t reach the bottom harness slot.

Safety Features:

  • Side impact protection in shell and headrest.

Installation:

Pretty standard seatbelt installation requiring you to lock the seat belt. Lower anchors are older hook style. There are stickers showing the allowed angles when rear facing.

Drawbacks:

No anti-rebound component, no strap covers, old style latch hooks, and the harness has to be manually rerouted as your child grows. Though it has a 5 pound minimum weight, the lowest strap height is much too tall for most newborns.

Overall Impression:

This is a reasonably priced, low frills seat. Honestly, there’s something great about low frills seats- fewer things to break or malfunction. This seat just works. It’s reliable, lightweight and great for travel, plus it’s compact enough to fit in small cars or some 3 across situations.

Available now on Amazon, $102.76

5. Best Extended Rear Facing Convertible: Clek Fllo

Image source: Clek Inc
Image source: Clek Inc
  • Height/Weight Limits: Rear facing 14-50 pounds, 25-43 inches and able to sit independently; Forward facing 22-65 pounds, 30-49 inches
  • Vehicle Fit: Fairly large front to back, much more compact without the anti-rebound bar, very compact side-to-side- can be used in a 3 across situation without difficulty. The seat sits high in the car, so it could be an issue in some small cars.
  • Child Fit: This seat cannot be used on an infant until they are able to sit independently and until their shoulders are at the lowest harness slot (unless used with the Infant Thingy), but once they are big enough, the fit is overall great. The crotch buckle has two lengths and for being so narrow, the seating area isn’t small.

Safety Features:

  • Steel anti-rebound bar to prevent rebound into the vehicle seat in a crash.
  • Adjustable headrest with deep headwings lined with EPP foam, connected with steel rods.
  • Energy absorbing foam layers in the shell.
  • Energy Absorbing Crumple Technology (EACT) that is meant to reduce forces transmitted onto the child in forward facing mode.
  • High rear facing weight limit.

Installation:

There is some assembly required in that you have to install the anti-rebound bar, which I’m thrilled to report is WAY easier on the Fllo than on the Foonf. There are seatbelt lock offs under the seat cushion (only one is required and you can choose which one to use) though they are not required. The latch connectors are push button for easy release.

Drawbacks:

Cost, the harness has to be manually rethreaded as the child grows. The seat is heavy, so it’s not ideal for travel or repeated installations. Also, it requires a bit of assembly before it can be installed.

Overall Impression:

This is a great new seat from Clek. It takes everything that’s great about the Foonf, but makes it less expensive and more user friendly. The fabric can easily be wiped down and is green certified, the headrest is easily adjusted, the strap covers aren’t terribly bulky. There are really very few things I would change about this seat, if anything. The Fllo is one of the convertibles we’ll be using for our infant when he’s out of his infant seat.

Available now on Amazon, $349.99

6. Runner Up Best Extended Rear Facing Convertible: Diono Rainier

Image source: Diono
Image source: Diono
  • Height/Weight Limits: Rear facing 5-50 pounds, 44 inches or less, head 1.5 inches from the top of the shell; Forward facing 20-90 pounds, 57 inches or less; High back booster 50-100 pounds, 40 inches and taller and child’s shoulders at or above 4th harness slot
  • Vehicle Fit: The seat is very tall, but narrow enough to be in a 3 across. With the angle adjuster, it can be pretty compact front to back, too. I couldn’t see over the top of it in my car, so it might not be ideal for smaller vehicles
  • Child Fit: This seat can be used from birth with pretty good fit. The headwings can’t be used until the harness is on the 3rd slot, which isn’t until a child is pretty tall (my 36 inch toddler was barely tall enough). The booster fit is unfortunately pretty poor because the belt guides are not adjustable, so the booster only provides good fit for a small window of time. If you consider this a convertible, the overall fit is fantastic. If it’s an all-in-one, then it’s not great because of the booster.

Safety Features:

  • Booster can be latched into the vehicle.
  • Headrest is aluminum reinforced with EPS foam around head and body.
  • Rear facing tethering is allowed, which prevents rebounding into the vehicle seat in a crash.
  • Steel frame.
  • Safestop energy-absorbing harness helps protect the head and neck for forward facing.
  • High rear and forward facing weight and height limits.

Installation:

This is why this is the runner up. From box to installed this took me almost 30 minutes and I’m a very fast car seat installer. You have to unfold it, attach the rear facing boot, adjust the harness and headwings, top tether, etc. I found the seatbelt install to be easier to get secure than latch, but neither was impossible. There aren’t any seatbelt lock offs, so you’ll need to lock your seatbelt and tighten it if you’re going to install it that way.

Drawbacks:

Cost, poor booster fit, may need additional piece (angle adjuster) to get it to fit in smaller cars in rear facing mode. It has a semi-complicated assembly/install and bulky strap covers.

Overall Impression:

The Rainier is a great long lasting seat. It’s unlike most other convertibles with it’s tall construction, but once installed, it’s easy to use and adjust. My toddler was very comfortable and loved the low sides that let him climb in and rest his legs over the sides when rear facing. The fabric options (houndstooth!) are also some of my favorites.

Available now on Amazon, $265.99

7. Best Extended Harnessing Convertible: Maxi Cosi Pria 85

Image source: Amazon
Image source: Amazon
  • Height/Weight Limits: Rear facing 14-40 pounds, 40 inches; Forward facing 22-85 pounds, 29-52 inches
  • Vehicle Fit: Very compact front to back and pretty reasonable side to side. It fit easily behind my driver’s seat in my compact car in rear facing mode.
  • Child Fit: This seat is extremely well padded and the attention to the child’s comfort is obvious. It fit my toddler very well and despite it’s compact design, it provided ample leg room. It cannot be used from birth, but otherwise the fit is great.

Safety Features:

  • Air Protect Advanced air cushion system protects the head in a side impact collision.
  • FlexTech system for multi-directional energy management.
  • Strap covers with grip material are provided for forward facing without a top tether.

Installation:

Standard seatbelt install requiring the belt to be locked (no lock offs), though there are belt guides in the rear facing belt path. Latch is equally straightforward with push button release.

Drawbacks:

The forward facing height and weight limits are somewhat inflated (most kids will outgrow the seat before reaching either the top height or weight), the harness tightening strap was VERY difficult to tighten in rear facing mode.

Overall Impression:

This is a super cozy, compact seat that will keep kids comfortably harnessed for a long time. It is easy to clean the cover without having to remove the harness and it’s machine washable. My son was very comfortable and it gave me plenty of room for my seat, even in rear facing mode.

Available now on Amazon, $299.99

8. Best Safety Feature Convertible: Recaro Performance RIDE

Image source: recaro
Image source: recaro
  • Height/Weight Limits: Rear facing: 5-40 pounds, less than 22.5 inches seated height; Forward facing: 20-65 pounds, less than 49 inches standing height
  • Vehicle Fit: This seat is very tall- I had a tough time getting behind it to install it rear facing, but it is compact front to back and relatively compact side to side.
  • Child Fit: The seat is very comfortable in terms of harness and padding, however, the rear facing leg room is probably the worst I’ve seen. It’s not unsafe, but it’s not going to be very comfortable for extended rear facing.

Safety Features:

  • Racing-Inspired Side Impact Protection, tested to international side impact standards and designed to protect the 5 vulnerable parts of a child’s body in a crash (head, neck, face, torso, pelvis)
  • Twist-resistant HERO technology prevents the harness from becoming twisted
  • Temperature balancing fabrics prevent overheating
  • Protective and comfortable PUR foam in headwings

Installation:

Straight forward seat belt installation without lock offs, though I had some trouble in my small car getting behind the seat in rear facing mode to get it tight enough. Lower anchors are push button releases and are easily adjusted.

Drawbacks:

Cost, the rear facing leg room is really a bummer here because it’s otherwise such a comfortable seat. The height is also a bit of an issue in smaller cars and the cup holder does not work when rear facing.

Overall Impression:

This is such a well thought out and carefully crafted seat. It has wonderful safety technology and design to make the ride as cool and comfortable (besides the leg room) as possible. If your child is particularly short legged or enjoys sitting in a cross legged position, I wouldn’t hesitate to get this seat.

Available now on Amazon, $180

9. Best Installation Convertible: Britax Boulevard CT

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  • Height/Weight Limits: Rear facing 5-40 pounds, seated height 7.6-18.65 inches; Forward Facing 20-65 pounds, seated height less than 18.65, standing height 49 inches
  • Vehicle Fit: Very compact when rear facing at maximum upright angle, even compact when fully reclined. Relatively compact side to side as well.
  • Child Fit: Soft strap covers above the HUGs pads, which can be kind of awkward at first. The Click & Safe harness indicator is great at making sure the harness is tight enough, but it only works if you remove slack from the hips first.

Safety Features:

  • SafeCell Impact Absorbing Base
  • SafeCell Impact Stabilizing steel frame
  • SafeCell Impact Absorbing tether and harness.
  • Allows the top tether to be used when rear facing to reduce rebound into the vehicle seat.
  • Easy to read bubble level indicator to make sure the angle is correct at all times.
  • ClickTight helps get a perfect install easily.

Installation:

This is it. This is the easiest seatbelt installation in the history of car seats. You just open the ClickTight compartment, thread the belt through, buckle, remove excess slack (no tugging, just make sure that it’s laying flat) and close the ClickTight. That’s it. It ends up being a rock solid install (always check for movement anyway). I couldn’t believe how easy it was and I’ve installed a lot of seats. Latch is actually more difficult than the seatbelt for the first time ever.

Drawbacks:

Cost, lousy rear facing leg room, the HUGs pads are pretty bulky.

Overall Impression:

I cannot overstate the simplicity of the installation This is the ideal seat if you need to install a seat in multiple cars and want to reduce the time and effort involved. It fits in very compact vehicles and lasts a very long time rear and forward facing, unlike the previous Boulevard models.

Note:

The Britax Boulevard with Clicktight is currently undergoing a recall (along with the Marathon and Advocate Clicktight models) for all seats manufactured between 8/1/14 and 7/29/15. There have been reports of the harness release button getting stuck in such a way that the harness does not lock and the harness may loosen during use. No injuries have been reported as a result of this issue and Britax is sending out a very simple fix kit that consumers can use to make sure that the harness release button moves freely. I have chosen to continue to include this seat in the review because this is still a great seat and the fix is very simple. Recalls show that car seat companies are constantly reassessing their seats for safety, which is a good thing. For more information, contact Britax at 1-877-427-4829.

Available now on Amazon, $237.99

10. Best Travel System Convertible: Orbit G3 Toddler Seat

Image source: Amazon
Image source: Amazon
  • Height/Weight Limits: Rear facing 15-35 pounds, up to 49 inches; Forward facing 25-65 pounds, up to 49 inches.
  • Vehicle Fit: Relatively compact front to back, but pretty bulky side to side. It doesn’t work in 3 across, due to the rotational component for loading and unloading, but that option is still really cool and worth the space loss. I didn’t have to reach in and across or help my son climb over, I just swiveled the seat and he was able to climb in, I buckled him easily and then swiveled him back to rear facing.
  • Child Fit: The seat fit my toddler very well and he really liked how tall it sat. It does have a lower than average rear facing weight limit at 35 pounds. Nearly all other convertibles go to at least 40 pounds, so this is a bummer for such an otherwise cool seat.

Safety Features:

  • Brominated Flame Retardant free fabric
  • Side Impact Braces give wide base for side stability
  • Headwings are lined with multiple EPP foam zones.

Installation:

With the base, it’s a very easy install. It has a belt tensioning component that tightens the base without tugging/pulling. Without the base there’s some assembly required for the leg pieces and then it’s a pretty standard installation.

Drawbacks:

Cost, especially for the low rear facing weight limit, heavy.

Overall Impression:

This is the seat for those who want to use their infant seat for forever. Like rear facing only seats, this toddler seat can go into the Orbit stroller and clicks quickly into different cars with bases. It also has different flame retardants and the materials are green certified for those who are concerned about chemicals.

Available now on Amazon, $379

11. Best 3 Across Convertible: Diono Radian RXT

Image source: Amazon
Image source: Amazon
  • Height/Weight Limits: Rear facing 5-45 pounds, less than 44 inches; Forward facing 20-80 pounds, less than 57 inches; High back booster 50-120 pounds, less than 57 inches.
  • Vehicle Fit: Very compact side-to-side and allows 3 across easily. It can be kind of large front to back when installed in rear facing mode and may require an angle adjuster.
  • Child Fit: This seat can be used from birth with pretty good fit. The headwings can’t be used until the harness is on the 3rd slot, which isn’t until a child is pretty tall (my 36 inch toddler was barely tall enough). The booster fit, however, is pretty poor. The belt guides are not adjustable, so the booster only provides good fit for a small window of time. If you consider this a convertible, the overall fit is great. If it’s an all-in-one, then it’s not so great because of the booster.

Safety Features:

  • Full steel frame with aluminum reinforced sides
  • Energy absorbing EPS foam lining.
  • Safestop energy-absorbing harness for forward facing.
  • High weight and height limits.

Installation:

Much like the Rainier, assembly is required. You have to unfold the seat, install the rear facing boot, adjust straps and the top tether. It’s a pretty straightforward install otherwise- no lockoffs so the seatbelt has to be locked.

Drawbacks:

Poor booster fit, tall for smaller vehicles, may need angle adjuster to make it fit in compact vehicles, bulky strap covers, cup holder does not stay in place ever, harness has to be manually rethreaded as the child grows.

Overall Impression:

The Radian RXT is a wonderful, compact, long lasting seat. It allows extended rear facing, can fit 3 seats across and will last from birth to booster age for almost all kids. The low sides allow easy loading and unloading and more legroom for rear facing. Great seat overall.

Available now on Amazon, $269.05

12. Best Convertible for Big Kids: Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air +

Image source: Amazon
Image source: Amazon
  • Height/Weight Limits: Rear facing 5-40 pounds and 19-40 inches; Forward facing 22-65 pounds and 29-49 inches. Newer versions allow rear facing to 50(!) pounds!
  • Price: $134.42
  • Vehicle Fit: I love a lot of things about this seat, but the vehicle fit is not one of them. In rear facing, especially for a child under 22 pounds, it’s enormous. I could not drive my car with it installed behind the driver’s seat and I’m only 5’4”. It’s not terribly small side to side, either.
  • Child Fit: My son fit beautifully in this seat and he was extremely comfortable over all. It’s really, really well padded throughout the entire body. It will fit very small and big kids well, which is really where it excels. A big kid would be very comfortable in this seat.

Safety Features:

  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Air Protect cushion system in the headwings
  • GCell HX foam throughout the shell, which provide full body side impact protection.

Installation:

Standard seatbelt installation requires the seatbelt to be locked (no seatbelt lock offs), and the lower anchors have the easy push button releases. It’s a no frills, standard install.

Drawbacks:

As I mentioned earlier, the size is a major issue for me, there are no strap covers or seat belt lock offs.

Overall Impression:

This is a pretty great no frills seat and it was one that I wanted to sit in because it is so plush and well padded. It has multiple recline options, a no rethread harness and full body side impact protection. It is great for bigger, bulkier kids as it’s pretty wide internally, but it is a poor fit in smaller cars. And now that it has a 50 pound rear facing limit, it allows big kids to rear face without breaking the bank.

Available now on Amazon, $153.99

13. Best All in One Seat: Graco 4Ever

Image source: Toys R Us
Image source: Toys R Us
  • Height/Weight Limits: Rear facing 4-40 pounds; Forward facing 20-65 pounds and 49 inches; High back booster 30-100 pounds and 38-57 inches; Backless booster 40-120 pounds and 40-57 inches.
  • Vehicle Fit: The 4Ever is extremely compact front to back in rear facing mode and relatively compact side-to-side. It fit well even in my very compact car in all modes.
  • Child Fit: I put my infant, toddler, 5 year old cousin and 8 year old cousin in this seat and all of them had excellent fits in their size appropriate mode. All were comfortable without complaints. The backless booster part of the seat can be a little tall for some kids, so they may need an additional, lower profile booster down the road.

Safety Features:

  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Energy absorbing foam in the headwings
  • Easy to read bubble indicator shows that the seat is properly reclined in rear facing mode
  • Comes with inserts to help improve fit for smaller kids.

Installation:

Standard seatbelt installation without lockoffs requiring you to lock the belt for rear/forward facing and basic push button release lower anchor adjusters.

Drawbacks:

My bubble in the level indicator expanded, making it kind of difficult to read. There are multiple reclines, but even the most reclined option was still kind of upright (though this might have been partially because of my somewhat defective bubble). The padding, though plush and very comfortable, is a little warm.

Overall Impression:

I adore this seat. Truly. It has a 10 year expiration, multiple reclines, an extremely tall rear facing height limit and low sides which make loading/unloading an absolute breeze. Though it bills itself as the last seat you’ll ever need, there’s a possibility you might someday need another backless booster, but it will get you through almost every stage of car seat and will do so while keeping your child comfortable and without eating up too much space in the car. It’s easy to use, easy to adjust and fits well in small spaces. It’s a fantastic seat and I imagine that we’re going to see a lot of seats in the future that try to live up to the bar that Graco set here.

Available now on Amazon, $249.88

14. Runner Up Best All in One: Safety 1st Grow n Go

Image source: Toys R Us
Image source: Toys R Us
  • Height/Weight Limits: Rear facing 5-40 pounds, 40” or less; Forward facing 22-65 pounds, up to 52” at least 2 years of age; Booster 40-100 pounds
  • Vehicle Fit: This seat is very compact front to back and side to side. It fit easily behind the driver’s seat in rear facing mode in my compact car.
  • Child Fit: The seat is fairly well padded, with nice strap covers and good body pillows for smaller babies. The booster mode fit was good on my average sized 5 year old model.

Safety Features:

  • IIHS “Best Bet” booster fit rating
  • Baby body pillows provide good fit to smaller babies.
  • Quick-Fit Harness System allows you to adjust the harness and headrest without reinstalling.

Installation:

Very straightforward seatbelt installation without lockoffs. Older hook style lower anchor connectors.

Drawbacks:

Slightly less padding than some other seats, older style lower anchor connectors, no anti-rebound properties

Overall Impression:

This is a great, long lasting, no frills seat. It’s easy to install, easy to adjust the height of the harness and has nice touches like strap covers and infant inserts without breaking the bank. This seat fits a wide variety of sizes of kids without eating up too much space in the vehicle.

Available now on Amazon, $149.99

15. Best All Around Combination Seat: Harmony Defender

Image source: walmart
Image source: walmart
  • Height/Weight Limits: Forward facing harness 22-65 pounds; Highback booster 30-110 pounds; Backless booster 30-110 pounds
  • Vehicle Fit: The Defender is very narrow, especially at the base, which makes it ideal for 3 across situations. Fantastic fit in every car I’ve seen it in.
  • Child Fit: My niece was the primary tester for this seat and she loves it. It’s not frilly, but it’s comfortable, easy to adjust and buckle.

Safety Features:

  • 360 degree full body impact protection
  • Deep headrest, backrest and seat base help contain the child in a crash.
  • V shape of the seat makes secure installation easier.
  • EPE energy-absorbing foam in headrest, backrest and base reduce crash forces imparted upon the child.

Installation:

Relatively easy and straightforward installation. If installing without the top tether, there cannot be any overhang of the seat past the vehicle seat edge. There is a recline adjustment knob that helps get a tight installation in a wide variety of vehicles.

Drawbacks:

Cannot use latch in booster mode, the crotch strap is pretty short, which can be uncomfortable for bigger thighed kids.

Overall Impression:

I love this seat. It’s extremely thoughtfully and well made, has extremely high harness height, especially for the unbelievably reasonable price tag. It provides good belt fit in both booster modes and fits well in virtually every vehicle.

Available now on Amazon, $120.90

16. Runner Up Best Combination Seat: Recaro Performance SPORT

Image source: Recaro
Image source: Recaro
  • Height/Weight Limits: Forward facing: 20-65 pounds, 27-49 inches; High back booster: 30-120 pounds, 37-59 inches
  • Vehicle Fit: This seat has low profile sides and is relatively compact side-to-side and front to back.
  • Child Fit: Booster fit is just okay on smaller kids, but is very good on larger kids. The harness height is tall and will allow harnessing for virtually all kids until they are booster ready. The harness adjuster is like butter and the padding looks so comfortable I was kind of sad I couldn’t fit in it.

Safety Features:

  • Metal reinforced deep side wings for full body side impact protection (tested to international standards)
  • Energy absorbing EPS foam
  • Twist-resistant buckle
  • HERO technology prevents the straps from rotating/makes twists obvious
  • CoolMesh air ventilation prevents overheating
  • Latch allowed in booster mode regardless of weight

Installation:

The belt installation on this seat is different than other seats on the market, but it’s very easy to do. The latch installation was even easier. The seat must be installed with the top tether when using a lap belt only and the top tether must be discontinued at 53 pounds.

Drawbacks:

Cost, top tether must be discontinued at 53 pounds, no seatbelt lock offs.

Overall Impression:

This is a great combination seat. It is spectacularly well padded with memory foam, has vented areas to prevent the rider from getting overheated and a nice tall harness. The HERO system prevents the harness from twisting and the race car style safety features make this seat feel solid and safe. The fabric colors are gorgeous and the installation is straightforward. An all around solid combination seat option.

Available now on Amazon, $180

Now that you’ve got the scoop on the best convertible car seats on the market, test your Car Seat Safety IQ and see if you can spot the potential safety problems in these photos:

Click here to see the answer key with detailed explanations for each question.

Article Posted 2 years Ago

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