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Best Convertible Car Seats- Reviews and Buying Guide

Best Convertible Car Seats- Reviews and Buying Guide

How to Choose the Best Convertible Car Seats (+which are safest)

Choosing the best car seat for your baby or toddler is a big decision. This is even more true when shopping for a convertible car seat, as you’ll want your new infant car seat to last for many years to come.

Factors to consider when choosing a convertible car seat include safety, price, size, weight, comfort and ease of installation. Which of these is most important to you will depend on your own circumstances such as your budget, the size of your car and how often you’ll be taking the seat out.

All of the car seats featured in this review of the best convertible car seats are suitable for newborn babies, infants and toddlers in a rear-facing position, as well as older children in a forward-facing position.

This post contains affiliate links. Please see the disclosure at the bottom of the page.

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Our Top Picks

Safest convertible car seat: Chicco NextFit Zip Max 

Best budget convertible car seat: Evenflo Tribute LX

Best convertible car seat for small cars: Graco SlimFit 3 in 1

Most comfortable convertible car seat: Britax Marathon ClickTight

Easiest convertible car seat to install: Britax Boulevard ClickTight Anti-Rebound Bar

Best lightweight convertible car seat: Cosco Scenera Next

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What is a convertible car seat?

A convertible car seat is one which converts from a rear-facing to a forward-facing position.

Young babies must face backwards in a car, but for older children it’s generally more practical for them to face forwards. The main advantage of a convertible car seat is that it adjusts to suit your child as they grow.

What are the rules on forward and rear facing?

The laws on car seats depend on where you live and where you’re driving. It’s important to familiarize yourself with your home-state regulations as well as those of the states that you plan to visit.

Although the state laws are good to use as a guide, many parents choose to go beyond those requirements when choosing a car seat. Many states only require that infants stay in a rear-facing car seat until they’re 12 months old and weigh 20 pounds. However, crash test research and real-world data tells us that toddlers are five times safer if they stay rear facing until at least two years old.

This video helps to explain why rear-facing is the safest option:


Why choose a convertible car seat instead of a regular one?

A rear-facing only infant car seat will usually only last until your baby is 12 to 15 months old.

Convertible car seats last much longer than this and depending on the seat you choose they could last up to twelve years. 

Choosing a car seat that will grow with your child will not only save you money, but it will also benefit the environment as old car seats are notoriously hard to recycle.

How do I choose a convertible car seat?

When choosing a car seat for your child, you’ll want to look for features that match your lifestyle. Think about the size of your car, how often the car seat will be used, whether you’ll be putting it in and out of the car a lot and what your budget is.

It’s a good idea to choose the best convertible car seat that you can afford. After all, as long as you don’t have an accident you’ll be using it for many years to come. And if you do have an accident, even a very minor one, you may be able to claim for the cost of a new car seat on your car insurance.


Safety

Which brand of car seat is the safest?

All child restraints sold in the USA are required to comply with the dynamic testing requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS 213). These regulations mean that if you buy a car seat, you know that it’s safe. 

In addition to this, Consumer Reports has implemented even more rigorous crash tests and released their data on car seat safety to subscribers. This data has shown that there isn’t one particular brand of car seat which is safer than the others. The safest convertible car seats on the market in 2020 belong to various brands including Chicco, Graco and Britax.

Safest convertible car seat: Chicco NextFit Zip Max 

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Rear Facing: 4 to 50 pounds

Forward Facing: 22 to 65 pounds

Product Weight: 25.5 pounds

Advantages:

  • Excellent performance in safety tests
  • More leg room in rear-facing mode than other car seats
  • Rear facing up to 50 pounds (most other seats are up to 40 pounds)
  • Extended calf support in forward-facing mode
  • Nine recline positions
  • Two cup holders

Disadvantages:

  • Heavier than other car seats
  • More expensive than other car seats

Price

Car seats can be expensive and price is an important factor for many people. Whether you’re on a tight budget or just want a spare car seat for Grandma’s car, you don’t have to spend a lot to get a great-quality convertible car seat.

Best budget convertible car seat: Evenflo Tribute LX

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Rear Facing: 5 to 40 pounds

Forward Facing: 22 to 40 pounds

Product Weight: 9 pounds

Advantages:

  • The compact design is good for small cars
  • Three of these car seats can fit across most vehicle back seats
  • Lightweight so good for switching between vehicles
  • Easy to install and adjust
  • Cover is easy to take off and wash
  • Choice of four colors

Disadvantages:

  • Doesn’t have as much padding for small babies as other car seats
  • Not as comfortable as some other car seats

Size

Do all car seats fit in all cars?

No, not all car seats fit in all cars. Common problems with car seats not fitting include buckle crunch, which is caused by seat belt buckles getting in the way and floor storage boxes making the leg support unsafe. 

When buying a car seat, it’s important to check the manufacturer guidelines to make sure that the car seat will fit your make and model of car.

Can you have three car seats in the back?

Most cars will not fit three car seats across the back. Of those that do, you may need to look for a slimline car seat for the third one, depending on the width of the car seats that you already own.

What is the smallest rear facing car seat?

If you intend to have three car seats in the back, you might need to look for a slim-width car seat. Alternatively, if the car driver or passenger is particularly tall and likes to have their seat further back, you may need to look for a car seat with a small front to back footprint.

It’s a good idea to measure your car and see exactly how much space you can afford before buying a car seat.

One of the smallest convertible car seats, both in terms of width and length is the