What’s the best convertible car seat? Sadly, it’s not that simple.
Size and Weight
Just to be crystal clear: by and large, convertible seats are huge and heavy — and not something you can easily transfer from car to car like you can with an infant seat (with bases). If you’re used to sharing a car seat with one or more people, you’ll be sorely disappointed to learn how difficult this is to do with convertible seats.
If you thought choosing an infant car seat was confusing, JUST WAIT. Ha!
For simplicity’s sake, we’ve narrowed it down to the best convertible car seats on the market (plus specialty seats). We chose these seats because they give you the best value for your buck in my personal opinion, based on experiences with my own car seats, my experiences as a CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician), and taking into account hundreds of bits of feedback and user reviews.
Also, since I feel very strongly about it, most (all?) of these seats offer at least some side-impact protection. Side-impact protection is especially important if your child is riding in one of the side or “outboard” positions (i.e., not in the middle). —> Read more about where to put your car seat.
Again, remember: There are no guarantees that the seat you buy will fit properly into your car. Be sure to keep the tags on (the box, packing material, etc.) so you can return it if it doesn’t work.
* Note that all of the seats mentioned here are FAA-approved to be brought aboard an airplane.
Best Convertible Car Seat Summary
$ — Evenflo Sonus ($79) – Best Barebones Economy Seat
$ — Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 ($129) –
~ EDITOR’S CHOICE, ECONOMY ~ can also be used in booster mode
$$ — Graco Size4Me ($179) – Good Value (lots of features)
$$ — Graco Extend2Fit ($199) – Best for Extended Rear-facing
$$$ — Britax Emblem (and Allegiance) ($189, $199) –
~ EDITOR’S CHOICE ~ Great Features, Excellent Value
$$$ — Chicco NextFit ($249) – Fave all-around for LATCH installation
$$$ — Britax Marathon and Boulevard ClightTight ($299) – “all you really ever need”
$$$$ — Peg Perego Primo Viaggio ($349) – Worth Mentioning
$$$$ — Nuna Rava ($449) –
~ EDITOR’S CHOICE, LUXURY ~ Fancy Euro seat, Extended rear-facing, narrow
$$$$ — Clek Fllo, Clek Foonf ($379, $449) – Great for LATCH installation, 3-across, great safety features, eco-friendly
Seats for Special Situations
- Small Car — Combi Cocorro ($239)
- 3-across — Diono Radian ($239) and Clek Fllo or Foonf
- For Newborns — Combi Coccoro ($239), Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 ($250), Chicco NextFit ($249), Britax G4 series ($195)
- For Flying —Cosco Scenera NEXT ($46), Evenflo Tribute ($70), Evenflo SureRide DLX ($99), and the Combi Coccoro ($239)
$ — Evenflo Sonus ~ $79 – BEST BAREBONES ECONOMY SEAT
The Evenflo brand really excels in this economy category. The Tribute, the Triumph and the SureRide have been economy allstars, but their latest and greatest is the Evenflo Sonus.
Want to learn more? Read the full Evenflo Sonus Review.
$ — Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 ($129) – Best Economy 3-in-1
If you’re looking for a decent economy seat that later becomes a booster, check out the Safety 1st Grow and Go. It replaced the Alpha Omaga series a few years ago and has been very well-received by parents and car seat techs alike.
To learn more, read our full Safety 1st Grow and Go Review.
$$ — Graco Size4Me ~ $179 – Solid Value, some higher-end features
To learn more, read our full Graco Size4Me review.
$$ — Graco Extend2Fit ~ $199 MSRP
The Graco Extend2Fit is the right seat if you want to keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible. I’m really glad Graco created this feature and hope other brands will follow suit.
To learn more, read our full Graco Extend2Fit review.
$$ — Essentials Allegiance and Emblem ~ $179 and $199
To learn more, read our full Britax Emblem and Allegiance Review.
$$$$ — Chicco NextFit ~ $249 MSRP – Fave all-around for LATCH installation
The NextFit is a high quality tried and true seat that won’t break the bank. It’s a favorite all-around seat for LATCH installation.
To learn more, read our full Chicco NextFit Review.
$$$ — Britax Marathon and Boulevard ClickTight Seats ~ $299+
To learn more, read our full Britax Marathon review.
$$$$ — Peg Perego Primo Viaggio ~ $349 – Fancy Euro seat
Do you have loads of money and want a gorgeous car seat? Or perhaps you just want to impress your friends? Great, then I have just the seat for you! Check out the delicious Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible car seat.
All kidding aside, the Peg is a fantastic seat with luxurious fabrics. The 45-lb maximum rear-facing weight limit is one of the highest on the market. Other than the fact that it’s pretty difficult to install with a seat belt rear-facing, car seat techs generally like it too. If you’re in the market for a high-end seat, check out this beauty.
If have zero complaints about this seat, other than the fact that it was very hard to recline and un-recline.
$$$$ — Nuna Rava ~ $449
In the luxury category, the Nuna Rava steals my heart. If I could afford this seat… it would be mine…
To learn more, read our full Nuna Rava review.
$$$$ — Clek Fllo ~ $379
Clek is a neat company out of Toronto that makes high-end, luxurious, and very safe car seats. The company’s roots are in automotive products and they apply the same crumple zone technology to their car seats.
The Clek Fllo is their entry level seat (which is pretty hilarious considering the price). The Fllo is their newer, more affordable seat that has regular LATCH connectors (vs. rigid connectors) and an optional anti-rebound bar. Like its big brother, it’s super narrow and will definitely fit 3-across. This seat is built like a tank. For more info, please read our full review of the Clek Fllo.
$$$$ — Clek Foonf ~ $449-$499 – Great for LATCH installation, 3-across, great safety features, eco-friendly
Their original seat, the Foonf, is the most coveted in the world of car seats, with rigid LATCH connectors and an anti-rebound bar. The Fllo is their newer, more affordable seat that has regular LATCH connectors and an optional anti-rebound bar. Both seats are excellent for extended rear-facing.
The Foonf is a little harder to install than the Fllo, but once you learn how, it will pay dividends.
The narrowest seats on the market (along with the Radian), they will both easily go 3-across in nearly every vehicle. And you know what? It’s not just about going 3-across, it’s the fact that you can have two of them in the outboard position and still fit an adult human in the middle in some of the smaller and mid-size cars out there, which is HUGE!!! Nope! You don’t need to buy a minivan, just spend a little more to get two of these puppies and you’re golden.
Fabrics, ahhhhh – the fabrics! The fabrics are easy-to-clean Crypton and best of all, they are free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants. Did we mention they are beautiful?
Both the Fllo and the Foonf have a rigid magnesium and steel substructure that prevents twisting in a crash. They also have an aluminum honeycomb system, which absorbs energy from a collision resulting in less force being transferred to the child.
Clek offers a 9-year lifespan, excellent customer service, and they can even be recycled (huh?).
Beauty, brains, extended rear-facing, Clek has it all. If you can afford it…
* Clek makes an infant insert thingy for infants (yes, that’s the name).
Best Convertible Car Seats for *Special Situations*
Some people have special situations that require specific seats, such as…
A small car
Combi Coccoro ~ $219
So you have a small car. Or even a sports car. Sadly, you may not have a lot of options (sorry). But as my friend Mira said, “It’s much easier to buy a new car seat than a new car!” True that, sista!
Generally speaking, the best convertible car seat for a small car is the Combi Coccoro ($239). The Japanese-inspired Coccoro is specially designed for small, fuel-efficient cars. It weighs only 11 pounds and I’ll admit, it’s quite luxurious! People who own this seat love it. This seat also fits 3-across very nicely. But unless you have triplets, it’s unlikely that you will have three kids that fall in this age/height/weight range (~under 4) – if you do, God bless you.
Also, note, this seat only goes up to 40 lbs (rear-facing, up to 33lbs), but by this time, your kiddo will be forward-facing and seat depth will no longer be such an issue.
If the Coccoro cannot fit rear-facing in your car, you may have to accept the fact that it’s time to ditch your sports car and buy a big, lame family car. Just kidding (sort of).
Diono Radian 3RXT ~ $299
If you need to fit three child restraints in one row (or two seats and an adult into a smallish car) the go-to seat is the Diono Radian RXT (formerly known as the Sunshine Kids Radian).
The Radian is a nifty, narrow seat that fits 3-across in nearly every car. It’s got safety features out the wazoo and is also one of the tallest shells on the market. If you want to rear-face your kid as long as possible, this is the seat for you.
Being so tall also makes it quite a space hog when rear-facing, so it’s NOT for compact cars or for people who need lots of leg room in the front seat. Yes, there is an angle adjuster to make it a bit more upright in the rear-facing position for older babes who have neck control, but it’s not always a sure thing. Many say the Radian is the best convertible car seat out there. I agree it’s a good one (in that it’s very safe), but the size and weight are a problem for many. It also lacks a lot of convenience features that most other high-end seats have, such as a no-rethread harness and a seat belt lock-off.
If you need to do 3-across AND you have a small car, use the aforementioned Combi Coccoro for this purpose. If you have some mo’ money to spend, check out the Clek Foonf, a luxury seat that will easily go 3-across as well.
Another unique feature of the Radian is that it folds for easy storage or for toting around (below). You might think — Yay, perfect for flying! Eh – not so much. This bad boy is 26 freakin’ pounds and is a BEAST. Not something I would want to lug through the airport on my back. Just sayin’. * Made in China.
Best Convertible Car Seats for Newborns
Just because a seat says it fits down to a 5-lb baby (for example) doesn’t mean it will fit them well. In general, the lowest harness slots on most convertibles are too high for the average newborn. However, there are some exceptions.
The best seats for newborns are:
- Combi Coccoro
- Graco 4Ever
- Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 with TinyFit
- Chicco NextFit
- All Britax seats, which now come with an infant insert
Best Convertible Car Seats For Flying
There are a few seats I recommend for airline travel because they are small, lightweight (less than 12 lbs) and affordable: the Cosco Scenera NEXT ($45+ at Walmart), the Evenflo Tribute ($59), and the Evenflo SureRide (see above) ($89).
While lacking the bells and whistles of nicer seats, these budget convertibles are perfectly safe and are consistently recommended for travel by my trusted community of CPSTs (Child Passenger Safety Technicians). If you want to pay for a higher quality, but still small/lightweight seat, check out the Combi Coccoro (mentioned above).
Did I mention they are less than 12 pounds? I promise you, there is an enormous difference between carrying a 10-lb seat and a 22-lb seat on and off a plane, into the car, etc. Plus, you won’t have to remove and install your everyday car seat(s), which is one less hassle to deal with when parking at the airport. I discuss all of this in detail in mahh eBook, Flying with Baby.
Okay, well, I totally failed at keeping this short, but hopefully you got what you came for.
Please note that nobody pays me to promote their product, nor do I get free products in exchange for reviews (I like it that way; it keeps everyone honest). However, we do make a small commission if you buy your seat from an Amazon (or other affiliate) link on our site, so please buy it here (cough).
To find an inspection station to have your seat professionally checked, go here.