A car seat is one of the most important aspects in keeping your child safe in moving car. Convertible car seats are unique in that they grow alongside your child. Meaning, they can transition to different positions, designed to take your child from infancy through elementary school.
A convertible car seat starts as a rear-facing for the beginning of a baby’s life, and then converted to front-facing when your kids are old enough. Some convertible car seats are all-in-one to include a booster mode for kids that are at least four years old.
Convertible car seats are the best option for parents as they will last more than just a few months, saving them the trouble of researching and buying a new seat each time their child outgrows the current one. They can seem expensive upfront, but when you consider the longevity of these seats, they are definitely quite a bang for your buck.
Best Rated Convertible Car Seats in 2018
We have reviewed the top 5 convertible car seats along with a buyer’s guide that provides all the information you need in order to decide which car seat is the best for your child and for your budget. The list is based on a number of factors including safety, comfort, ease of use and features. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Graco 4Ever 4-in-1
The Best Car Seat for Safety, Comfort and Features
A car seat that grows with your child. It transitions to four positions offering use from 4-120 pounds. The seat is easy to install and comes with lots of features, earning it the top position on our list.
Safety 1st Grow and Go
A Convertible Car Seat That Your Kid (and Wallet) Will Adore
This is a 3-in-1 car seat that offers side impact protection, easy in and out, QuickFit Harness, and extra leg room for parents — all for less than $152.
Graco 4Ever is an All-in-1 convertible car seat that offers 10 years of use. It can fully transition from rear-facing infant car seat (4-40 lb) to forward-facing 5-point harness seat (22-65 lb) to high-back belt-positioning booster (30-100 lb) to backless belt-positioning booster (40-120 lb).
The product is equipped with plenty of decent features, including the 6-position recline to keep your child comfortable; FussFree Harness for easy in and out; and InRight LATCH for easy installation. Additionally, there is an integrated storage chamber that holds unused harness straps while in the booster mode.
In terms of safety, the Graco 4Ever is designed using SafeSeat Engineering, which is a series of protocols developed by the company. All Graco car seats undergo rigorous safety testing and are crash tested to meet or exceed all applicable US safety standards.
- Brand: Graco
- Model number: 1991921
- Weight: 27.8 pounds
- Dimensions: 21.5 x 20 x 24 inches
- Color: Basin
- A true 4-in-1 convertible car seat
- No Re-thread harness
- Steel-reinforced frame
- Promises 10 years of use
- Adjustments get sticky over time
- Big and heavy
Britax USA is a world-renowned brand recognized for their innovative and safest car seats. The Boulevard ClickTight is the company’s top rated convertible seat that offers increased convenience and superior protection for your little ones.
The car seat is super easy to install with just a click. You can use it as both a rear-facing (5-40 lb) and as a forward-facing (20-65 lb) car seat. It’s made of a steel frame with energy-absorbing base and a deep foam-lined headrest that would reduce forward movement during a crash.
The product also features plush foam padding and fabric, along with 7 recline positions providing premium comfort to your child. Further, the 14-position harness technology allows you to change the height of the seat with just the push of a button – no rethreading required.
Another great feature is the Click & Safe Snug Harness Indicator that gives you a “click” sound when your child’s harness is within range of proper tightness. The Boulevard ClickTight is safety tested, receiving excellent crash test ratings at Babygearlab’s reviews.
- Brand: Britax
- Model number: E1A325Q
- Weight: 24 pounds
- Dimensions: 23 x 18.5 x 23.5 inches
- Color: Circa
- Double side impact protection
- Easy to install
- No Re-thread harness
- Durable quality
- Old-style LATCH connectors
- No booster mode
As the name implies, this 3-in-1 car seat is built to grow with your child. It transitions easily from a rear-facing car seat (5-40 lb) to forward-facing seat (22-65 lb) to a belt-positioning booster (40-100 lb), making it the perfect option for first time parents.
This Grow and Go car seat comes with built-in Harness Holders that make it easier for you to get your child in and out of it. In addition, the Quick Fit Harness allows you to adjust the height of the seat, providing additional convenience when it comes to giving your growing child the best fit.
One of the biggest benefits of this product is that it is machine washable and dryer safe. You can easily remove it without the need to remove harness. It’s also designed to take up less room when placed rear-facing, giving parents in the front seat extra leg room.
- Brand: Safety 1st
- Model number: CC138DWV
- Weight: 19.71 pounds
- Dimensions: 24.5 x 19.2 x 24.2 inches
- Color: Harvest Moon
- Superior side impact protection
- Extremely easy to clean
- Harness clip holders for easy in and out
- The seat isn’t approved in booster mode
- Some users find it harder to tighten harness straps
The Graco Extend2Fit shares many basic features and specifications with the 4Ever convertible car seat. It features the same steel reinforced frame, 6-position recline, InRight LATCH system, FussFree Harness, and more. The difference between the two, however, is that the Extend2Fit supports up to 50 pounds rear-facing using a 4-position extention panel that pulls out on the front and provides 5″ additional leg room.
That being said, the Extend2Fit has also got to lose some features in comparison to the 4Ever. Specifically, it’s not an “all-in-one” convertible car seat as the unit lacks booster mode. It’s unable to transition to a belt-positioning booster, or a backless booster. This is probably why it’s $100 cheaper than its sibling, the 4Ever.
So for parents who are not interested in booster mode, the Graco Extend2Fit is definitely worth the money. The seat is designed for super versatility, comfort, reliability and ease of use. It’s also rigorously crash tested to meet or exceed US Standard FMVSS 213.
- Brand: Graco
- Model number: 1993220
- Weight: 23.8 pounds
- Dimensions: 19.2 x 25.2 x 22.1 inches
- Color: Davis
- Rear-facing up to 50 pounds
- Side impact protection
- EPS energy-absorbing foam
- No booster mode
- Large seat may not fit in smaller SUVs
Here comes another model from Britax USA on our list of best convertible car seats. The Advocate ClickTight offers higher weight capacity than most other car seats on the market today, with a forward-facing limit of 65 pounds.
The product features a full steel frame with 3 layers of side impact protection, quick-adjust head protection, and impact absorbing base. Apart from safety features, the Britax Advocate comes with 7 recline positions, and plush foam padding and fabric that ensure premium comfort for your child.
Moreover, you also get the 14-position easy-adjust harness with Click & Safe Snug Indicator that gives an audible click when your child’s harness is within range of proper tightness. The installation is as simple as buckling a seat belt thanks to the Patented ClickTight technology.
- Brand: Britax
- Model number: E1A268X
- Weight: 30.1 pounds
- Dimensions: 23 x 20.5 x 23.5 inches
- Color: Mosaic
- SafeCell Impact Protection
- No re-thread harness
- 14-position harness for maximum comfort
- A bit pricier than other models
- Big and heavy
Infant Car Seats: These are for newborn babies up to 15 months old and are always rear-facing. Typically, these seats have a weight limit of 35 pounds, or until the crown of your child’s head is level with the top of the car seat.
Convertible Car Seats: These work for children in both rear-facing (up to 40 pounds) and forward-facing (up to 70 pounds) positions. Remember that it is always safe to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat up to at least they are a year old. Some convertible car seats are actually 3-in-1 since they can transition to a booster seat.
Booster Car Seats: These are for children who are at least four years old, or weigh at least 40 pounds. These seats come in high back and backless varieties, and as the name suggests, they boost lift your child high enough for your vehicle’s lap and shoulder belts to fit properly.
Some manufacturer’s website will list what cars their seats are expected to fit in, so it’s worth checking before you make a purchase.
These seats have two or three points that can be fixed. There are two at the base and a third either as a strap to go over the back of the car seat or a drop-down foot. We recommend looking for one with three points as it’s generally more secure if fitted correctly.
There’s usually a gap between the two front seats allowing for easy installation. But, not all cars offer LATCH connectors which means you’ll need a seat belt for installation. Either way, the seat belt often becomes your only installation option after your child reaches a certain weight.
Most convertible car seats are good for at least six years from the date of manufacture. Most manufacturers put an expiration date statement into the bottom or back of a car seat, but if you can’t find it anywhere on the seat, check the owner’s manual or simply call to ask them.
Can I use a Convertible Car Seat for my Newborn?
Yes, you can but make sure the seat is rear facing. Babies’ heads are about a third of their body weight and their neck muscles are weak, so if they’re forward facing, there is a risk of the head being pulled by the force of the crash causing severe neck and spine injuries.
When is my child ready for a Booster Seat?
A child who has outgrown the weight or height limit of their forward-facing harnesses is ready for a booster seat. Typically, these are four to eight years old children ranging from 40-80 pounds or at least 35” tall.
What if I am transporting more than one child?
If you already have child car seats, make sure you take them along to the fitting so that you can check the new one will fit alongside them. Or, if you can’t take them with you, at least mention it to the retailer.
Is it safe to buy a Second-hand car seat?
We’d never recommend buying a child car seat second-hand or buying unofficial replacement parts. It may have been weakened by an accident or have wear and tear that could make it less safe for your child. Even if you’re using one from a friend or family member, it may have damage that you can’t see.