Product Reviews Car Seats
Convertible car seats are called convertible because they can face rear or forward in a car. The rear-facing position should be used at least up until two years of age—most convertibles can be used rear-facing to 30 or 40 lbs. The forward-facing position is used for kids over the age of two . . . depending on the seat’s weight limit and size, many older toddlers can continue to ride in these seats until 65 lbs. or higher. Note: a handful of seats in this section are forward-only facing car seats, designed for kids over age 2. Here’s a look the best brands, models and our recommendations.
Best Bets: Convertible & Forward-Facing car seats
Good. For a decent, no-frills car seat, we recommend the Cosco Scenera Next. It works to 40 lbs. rear-facing or forward-facing and has a new narrow profile (17” wide). It is sold primarily at Walmart for $39 to $49—perfect for that little-used second car or Grandma’s vehicle. With the prices of some car seats pushing $400, it’s nice to know you can find a good, safe seat for well under $100.
Better. The secret sauce of the Chicco NextFit ($300) is its ease of installation. Whether with LATCH or a safety belt, the NextFit is a breeze to install, thanks to what Chicco calls its Super Cinch feature. The NextFit features nine recline positions, a no rethread harness, side impact protection and a cover that can be machine washed. The downside? This seat is heavy and bulky—you won’t be moving it from car to car or taking it on an airplane.
Best. So, what is our top recommendation for convertible car seats? The Britax Boulevard ClickTight ($296) takes the crown this year. This seat combines both ease of installation and use with excellent safety features. The new ClickTight base pops open to enable a super simple install with a safety belt. The Boulevard ClickTight features a no rethread harness, seven recline positions, enhanced side impact protection and an easy to remove cover for cleaning. Bonus: this seat doesn’t take as much room in the back seat when installed rear-facing (except when it is fully reclined).
FYI: there are two versions of the Boulevard on the market: ClickTight and G4. G4 is the older model with much the same features, but lacks the ClickTight base.
If Grandma is buying. What if money isn’t an issue when buying a seat? One obvious seat that we’d suggest is the top-of-the-line Britax Advocate ClickTight ($336), which is much like the Boulevard, but adds additional side-impact protection in the form of a protective shell on the sides of the seat. The downside? This additional side impact protection adds to the seat’s width, possibly making it harder to fit in smaller vehicles. If your vehicle lacks rear side curtain air bags, however, the Advocate may be worth the upgrade.
Another excellent seat if Grandma is buying would be the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP ($350-$400). This seat boasts excellent reader feedback on ease of use and installation; the adjustable side impact protection is impressive. Premium LATCH connectors and fabrics complete the seat.
Click here for a PDF with our shopping tips for buying car seats!
In a hurry? Check out our new convertible car seat site with quick recommendations of our top picks.
- Classic Ride 50
- Contender 65
- Head Wise
- My Ride 65
- Ready Ride
- Size4Me / Fit4Me
- Smart Seat
Lilly Gold Play
A EXCELLENT-our top pick!
B GOOD-above average quality, prices, and creativity.
C FAIR-could stand some improvement.
D POOR-yuck! Could stand some major improvement.