For new parents, one of the most surprising things is often the large amount of stuff that you absolutely have to have in order to properly take care of your child. While a lot of those items may be somewhat gimmicky, one item that is important and necessary is a reliable and safe car seat. When it comes to car seats, many parents opt for a convertible car seat that will allow their child to grow without having to replace the car seat every year or so.
This can add up to some serious cash savings over the life of the car seat. If you’re looking to purchase a convertible car seat, check out my top picks and informative buying guide to make sure you’re getting the ideal model to suit your needs and budget.
- Best Overall: Graco Size4Me
- Best Value: Evenflo Tribute LX Harness Convertible Car Seat
- Honorable Mention: Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
- Best for Small Cars: Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat
- Best Uniquely Designed: Baby Trend Cover Me 4 in 1 Convertible Car Seat
- Best Rotating: Evenflo Gold Revolve360 Rotational All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
- Best Premium: Britax One4Life ClickTight All-in-One Car Seat
When it comes to convertible car seats, The Drive’s Gear staff have a lot of parents on the masthead, including myself, who has gone through more than my fair share of car seats. When it came to offering up my favorites, I used that hard-earned knowledge of sweaty, grunt-filled wrestling, Cheerio-encrusted covers, and LATCH usability to select the products below. I relied on name-brand offerings, kept the price within reason, and ensured that safety and functionality were the highest priority in terms of offerings. And if you’d like more about the selection criteria and methodology, check out The Drive’s Gear About page.
Best Convertible Car Seat Reviews & Recommendations
Our Verdict on Convertible Car Seats
If you’re looking for the ideal combination of safety, comfort, user-friendly design, and price, my top pick for the best overall convertible car seat is the Graco Size4Me 65 Convertible Car Seat. Approved for use in children ranging between 4 and 65 pounds, this seat may be the only one you ever need to buy. And if you’re looking for a great budget-friendly option that will still provide you with reliable protection and safety, check out the Evenflo Tribute LX Harness Convertible Car Seat.
What to Consider When Buying a Convertible Car Seat
Not all car seats are created equal. When purchasing a reliable and safe convertible car seat, there are so many options on the market that it can be difficult to pull the trigger and decide which one best suits your needs. The following buying guide will help you prioritize what’s most important as far as features and options so that you can quickly weed through the choices and select one with confidence.
Convertible Car Seat Key Features
This type of protection varies from model to model. For example, you can find seats with single-layer protection, double-layer protection, and side-impact absorbers. A good convertible car seat will have been subjected to rigorous impact and crash testing to ensure that it provides maximum protection for your child in the unfortunate event of an accident or crash. However, side-impact protection could add bulk to the seat and make it more expensive. You have to decide whether a seat with this feature suits your needs.
The most common types of energy-absorbing foam are expanded polypropylene (EPP) and expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), which are both water-resistant, high-density, closed-cell foams that decrease the amount of energy your child absorbs in an accident. The foam is placed in the sides, bottom, and back of the seat. EPP and EPS perform very well in an accident and help protect your child.
If you purchase a less expensive car seat, you may need to adjust the height of the shoulder harness by manually rethreading it through the holes on the back of the car seat. More expensive seats have a no-thread harness that adjusts with the click of a button. Some car seats offer just a few harness positions, while others may offer up to 14 or 15 different harness heights, giving you virtually unlimited options for comfort and customized fit.
Some models of convertible car seats can be installed using just the seat belt. Other seats use the LATCH or ISOFIX systems, which attach to the frame of your car’s seats. In general, car seat manufacturers recommend you use one system only, except when installing a booster seat. To keep your vehicle's upholstery in good condition, you also have the option of buying seat protectors.
Some children get very sweaty when traveling in a car seat, and oftentimes, it’s the fabric that’s the cause. Look for seats that feature breathable material so it is more likely to keep your baby cool. You really don't want your child to be uncomfortable or overheated in the vehicle.
This feature is intended to protect your child in a rear-end collision. Specifically, it's designed to reduce whiplash, neck, and spinal injuries. Seats with this feature are much more common in Europe than in the United States. They are not required but are intended to offer additional protection in a crash.
Convertible Car Seat Pricing
When it comes to convertible car seat pricing, you can get a great seat ranging in price from $75 to upwards of $400. On the lower end of the spectrum, convertible car seats will provide basic level safety and cushioning. In the $100 to $250 range, you will start to see better-made car seats that may grow through all the stages with your child. You can also get a greater selection of styles, padding, and colors in this price range. Above $250 is where you will find the crème de la crème of convertible car seats with the best methods of adjusting, padding, features, and safety standards.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!