There are a lot of popular car seats out there, but are they the best? There is a temptation to rely on word-of-mouth advice when choosing the right products for your precious baby, but after reviewing the specifications of different car seat models, you might form your own opinion.
First and foremost, choose a car seat that is safe. After you’ve identified the safest options in each category, you can think about other details – such as ease of use, style, price, and cleanability – especially if you are choosing something other than an infant car seat since you will be using it for years to come. The work has been done for you by us.
Top 5 Bestseller Car Seat
What is a Convertible Car Seat?
Convertible car seats have the ability to change from rear-facing to forward-facing and can be used with children of varying sizes. A convertible seat starts out in a rear-facing position for babies and toddlers and becomes forward-facing as your child gets older. (Some can even be used as booster seats for school-aged children.) A convertible car seat will last from day one through preschool.
Top 10 Best Convertible Car Seat Reviews
Britax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat
- Easy installation: Patented click tight makes car seat installation as simple as buckling a seat belt
- No rethreading, ever: Quick adjust 14 position harness with click and safe, snug indicator gives a click sound when the harness is tight
- Adjust accurately: Harness indicator gives an audible click when you’ve pulled to the proper tightness
The ClickTight feature on this car seat ensures a safe and secure installation every single time, which is vital since so many parents install car seats incorrectly. Everyone from Dad to Grandma can perform a rock-solid installation, even when you’re not around.
This car seat features SafeCell Impact Protection, which is a hexagonal technology that absorbs extra energy and protects a baby beyond federal standards in a serious crash.
Additionally, this car seat includes an anti-rebound bar that provides extra padding in case of a crash, something that’s rare to find here in the United States. It is designed for babies weighing 5 to 65 pounds.
- Exceptional safety standards
- Made in America
- Three layers of side-impact protection
- Can be used rear-facing up to 40 pounds and forward-facing up to 65 pounds
- Heavier than other car seats
UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat
- Includes: 1 MESA Infant Car seat and 1 MESA base
- Suitable for infants 4–35 lbs and up to 32” in height
- SMARTSecure system installs in seconds, Adjustable headrest with Side Impact Protection
Mesa’s no-rethreading harness means you won’t have to take apart the harness system as your baby grows. What a breeze! The car seat is so light and lean that you won’t have to worry about lugging a heavy baby and car seat around.
If you want to make your life even easier, you can pick up the Vista2 stroller by UPPAbaby. The seat also has the first-ever auto-retracting mini latch, along with a red-to-green tension indicator, which makes handling the seat a lot easier, and, in turn, safer for the baby. Children weighing 4 to 35 pounds will be able to sit safely in this seat.
- Lightweight yet durable
- Perfect for preemies
- Breathable and washable fabric
- Canopy is flimsy
Graco Nautilus SnugLock LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat
- SnugLock Installation Technology – installs in less than one minute with either vehicle seat belt or LATCH
- Converts from 5-point harness car seat (22-65 lbs.) to highback booster (40-100 lbs.) to backless booster (40-100 lbs.) to a slimmer backless booster (40-120 lbs.)
- Removable armrests for a better fit that keeps your child protected up to 120 lbs. for longevity of use, in keeping with American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations.Do not use bleach
This car seat is perfect for toddlers to enjoy multiple snacks and drinks, and you won’t have to worry about spills, thanks to its easy clean up. The seat is easy to install, easy to remove, and overall, it’s just great.
The patented Snuglock design makes it easy to secure the Graco Nautilus toddler seat to your latch. With its threadless adjustable harness, the seat can grow with your child without having to continually remove it from the car.
Consumer Reports claims that it has a steel-reinforced frame and a foam lining and headrest, making it one of the safest car seats on the market.
Cleaning it isn’t a problem, either. The seat pad is machine washable. In addition, there are multiple storage areas, four reclining positions, five harness placements, and six headrest positions.
- Easy to adjust
- Transitioning is tricky
Maxi-Cosi Magellan Xp All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
- Designed to be the only car seat you'll ever need for your child, the Maxi-Cosi Magellan XP comfortably seats your child from birth to 10 years old and from 5 to 120 pounds.
- With plush, full-featured European design, it protects with a seven-position recline, the only adjustable torso side-impact protection with three torso height positions, and 14 headrest heights that raise the harness automatically for best fit.
- Easily transform the seat to booster mode with the HideAway harness. Integrated belt lock-offs for easy and secure installation, and One-click LATCH connectors install and release easily.
Maxi-Cosi’s magnificent car seat is a favorite of the Best Products team. Our executive editor, Christine Anderson, uses the Magellan with her son and commented, “We were recommended the Maxi Cosi Pria by a friend – and after comparing its features to those of the Magellan XP, it was easy to upgrade our recommendation.
With the Magellan, you are purchasing a 5-in-1 convertible car seat (you do not need an additional infant seat or booster seat). There are no additional accessories needed. Furthermore, the Magellan comes equipped with Maxi Cosi’s patented Air Protect in the headrest (for side-impact protection) and torso side-impact protection.”
Despite taking a minute, it’s ridiculously simple to install. It’s not difficult, thanks to very explicit guides that explain how to do it. It’s also a really nice-looking seat.
- Easy to adjust
- Great side-impact protection
- Not the easiest to remove
- Limited color choices
Chicco Keyfit 30 Zip Infant Car Seat
- EASIEST INFANT CAR SEAT TO INSTALL – Simple, accurate and secure installation – every time – with two bubble-level indicators and spring-loaded leveling foot for proper base angle and SuperCinch Force-Multiplying LATCH Tightener for a secure fit.
- COMPATIBLE WITH CHICCO STROLLERS – Infant car seat clicks securely into the stay-in-car base and compatible Chicco strollers for a convenient car seat and stroller combo. A two-position carry-handle and one-hand release make it easy to remove.
- PREMIUM DETAILS – Full-coverage canopy with zip-open mesh extension panel provides ventilation and a zip-open boot offers a cozy environment and easy access.
Easy to install, this infant car seat fits securely in the back seat of any vehicle, from compact cars to SUVs. The flip-out visor provides great sun protection, and the removable insert is perfect for bringing home a preemie.
Chicco’s attention to detail really shows when it comes to installing this car seat: It features ReclineSure (which provides an accurate fit in any car model), RideRight (an angle indicator bubble), and SuperCinch (an easy, one-pull tightener). It is safe for your newborn to ride in this seat until she reaches 30 pounds. Additionally, the cover is machine-washable and removable!
- Machine washable
- Easy to install
- Cover unzips
- Zip gets stuck with sticky substances
Britax Grow with You Harness-2-Booster Car Seat
- TRUSTED QUALITY, UPDGRADED DESIGN: Looking for Frontier. Grow with you ClickTight is our newest harness to booster car seat
- PREMIUM, SOFT TOUCH FABRIC: 4-way stretch athleisure fabric combines style and function for a modern look that’s easy to clean
- 2 in 1 BOOSTER SEAT: Easily transitions from forward facing harness mode to belt positioning booster mode as your child grows from toddler to big kid
As with some of the others on this list, the cover can also be machine washed. The washable performance fabric is very breathable and does not scratch baby’s skin.
With its click-tight installation, the harness features a no-rethread design that is easy to move when your child grows. Steel-reinforced, the frame is easy to install. This chair reclines in two positions and comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
With its well-cushioned side-impact walls, the Britax Grow with You toddler seat is both comfortable and crash-tested. With four cup holders and storage compartments for snacks and drinks, your kids will love it.
- One-hand adjustability
- Easy to Install
- Cupholders are hard to clean
Baby Trend Trooper 3 in 1 Convertible Car Seat
- 3 modes of use: rear facing infant mode (4-18lbs), rear facing toddler mode (18-40lbs), and forward facing toddler mode (22-65lbs)
- Immediate right installation angle: rear-facing recline flip foot allows for great installation angles with ease; The built-in bubble level indicator helps find the correct angle
- Fits three across: at its widest, the Trooper is 16.75" Allowing it to fit 3 ACROSS in most vehicles
The car seat is a real tank. An impressive 65 pounds is the weight of this steel-reinforced anti-rebound bar. Basically, it’s an Oldsmobile, but with a modern twist.
Thanks to their C Zero+ performance fabrics with moisture barrier, the car seat cover is almost spill-proof due to the fluorine-free solution for stain resistance that gives it a level of protection against liquids and spills. It is GREENGUARD Gold-certified and does not contain chlorinated or brominated flame retardants.
It can hold your baby in a rear-facing position up to his or her fourth birthday or until he or she reaches 50 pounds. This car seat has multiple headrest positions that will allow your child to use it up until age 10 once they’ve outgrown that stage.
However, what is perhaps the most impressive aspect other than safety and cleanliness? These are so narrow that you can fit three of them across a standard backseat.
- Spills clean easily
- Multiple safety features
- Not machine washable
Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat
- Easy installation: Patented click tight makes car seat installation as simple as buckling a seat belt
- No rethreading, ever: 14 position harness, 2 position buckle for a comfortable fit as your child grows
- Relax and recline: 7 recline positions ensure comfort and the best vehicle installation angle
Wirecutter raved about this car seat, saying it “performed better than any other seat in our side-impact crash tests, earned excellent ratings in our government front-impact tests, and had a significantly easier time installing than any other convertible car seat we’ve tested.”
The ClickTight system uses your car’s seat belt instead of the sometimes-troublesome LATCH system. Children up to 40 pounds can use it rear-facing. Is that the only disadvantage? It does not have a cupholder.
Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
- 4-in-1 seat grows with your child, so you can enjoy 10 years of use, from 4 - 120 lb Extend2Fit 4-position extension panel provides 5" additional leg room
- Up to 50 lb rear-facing allowing your child to safely ride rear-facing longer plush inserts keep your child comfortable washable seat cover is easy to remove without removing the harness
- Simply Safe Adjust Harness System headrest and Harness adjust together one-hand, 10-position adjustable headrest easily adapts for your growing child.Do not use bleach
The Wirecutter testers found the Graco Extend2Fit more difficult to install but were able to do it. In crash tests, it placed second to the top pick Britax. It’s also slightly lighter (22 pounds vs. Britax’s 28.4), which makes it a little easier to move.
In addition, it can hold heavier kids (50 pounds vs. 40 pounds for the Britax), is cheaper, and has not one, but two cupholders built-in. The juice box champ!
Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat
- EXTENDED REAR-FACING USE — NextFit Max Zip Air offers 25% more legroom than other NextFit car seats and a 50 lb. weight limit maximizes time in rear-facing position; forward-facing mode for older children (up to 65 lbs.) with more calf support.
- BUILT TO GROW — The 9-position, Easy-Extend Headrest System with one-hand adjustment raises with the 5-point harness to effortlessly accommodate growth in both modes and a removable newborn positioner provides support for infants weighing 4-11 lbs.
- ADDED FEATURES — 3D AirMesh backrest offers improved ventilation and comfort; zip-off, machine-washable seat pad for everyday use and easy cleanup.
Have you ever had to clean your car seat after a big mess or other incidents (baby barf, we’re looking at you), you know how difficult it can be? The NextFit Zip solves this issue with a completely washable seat pad that is easily removed. The best part? It’s just as easy to reattach the seat as it is to zip it off, which isn’t true for a lot of other seats.
Other features of this seat include a “Super Cinch” strap, which makes installing it using the LATCH system easy (no tug-of-war with straps). A bubble level indicates when you have nailed the correct angle for the rear-facing and forward-facing modes. A wider range of vehicles can be accommodated by this seat’s nine recline positions.
Choosing the Right Convertible Car Seat for You
As soon as you get your convertible car seat, test it in your car’s backseat to see how well it fits. If it doesn’t work out, you can exchange it and have a new one installed before your baby arrives.
Some questions to consider once you place the seat in your car include:
- Is there legroom left in the front?
- From the rear-facing position, can you easily adjust the harness straps?
- How confident are you that it has been installed correctly? If not, you can have it checked.
A different car seat model can resolve any issues that may arise. When you give yourself enough time and patience, you can ensure every passenger-big and small-has a comfortable trip.
How to Clean a Car Seat
Even though cleaning a car seat can seem like a chore, you don’t have to – if you know-how. Because each seat is slightly different, check your seat’s instructions. It is universally true that straps cannot be machine washed, so you should use a damp cloth to wipe them off.
Get rid of the little things first
Use a handheld vacuum to clean the car seat of dirt, crumbs, and anything else that looks icky.
Spot clean spills
Every child spills something at some point. Make sure you clean up any stains with the carpet cleaner. You can also use an inexpensive degreaser and simply pour it on the stain to see it magically disappear. Once the degreaser is dry, dab it up with a washcloth dampened with water so the chemicals will not sit.
Freshen it up
Wet a cotton towel with water and baby-safe laundry detergent and wash the car seat. Air-dry the seat outside. Voilà! (And, let’s face it, you will probably Febreeze it more than once.)
Some seats have removable covers that can be machine washed. Just follow your manufacturer’s instructions and you’ll be fine.