Convertible Car Seat Review- What Should I know When Buying?

Convertible Car Seat Review – What Should I know When Buying?

A convertible car seat is an important investment for your child’s safety. The convertible car seats can be installed in rear-facing and front-facing configurations. It is important to make the right choice for your child and your car. So what do you need to know?

Safety First

From a safety perspective, all car seats must meet federal safety standards in a 30 mph crash test. No car seat can be sold if it does not pass this federal safety test. This safety standard provides peace of mind to parent that any car seat they purchase will be safe. Some car seats may exceed the federal requirement and something that interested parents should keep in mind and look for.

The most important advantage of the convertible car seats is they allow your child to ride rear-facing for a longer period of time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping a toddler rear-facing until age two for safety in a car. Convertible car seats have a higher weight limit when using the car seat in the rear-facing position. This increases the protection for your child until they reach the age of two.

Convertible Car Seat

© Chris Philpot

Fit-to-Vehicle

One important factor in the safety of your child is how the car seat fits your vehicle. The crash testing and crash safety ranking are only good if the car seat is installed properly. This is the responsibility of the parent. It is vital that a parent is able to understand how to securely install a child seat into his own vehicle.

Things to look for when purchasing are the ease-of-use and the fit-to-vehicle. One important change made in 2002 is the use of the LATCH system. This change made is easier to attach car seats securely and correctly into vehicles. It is important to note that there is a weight limit to the use of LATCH and the convertible car seat will need to be converted to the seat belt for installations as the child’s weight increases. This is important to look for when purchasing because the heavier the car seat is the sooner the installation will be converted to the seat belt.

To make a final fit-to-vehicle decision, you will need to install the car seat into the vehicles it will be used with. If it is not a good fit it must be returned.

Watch the video on proper installation Here.

More Expensive is Not Better

The saying, “You pay for what you get!”, is not completely accurate in reference to car seats. From a safety point of view, all car seats have met the federal safety standards in a 30 mph crash test. Price is not a factor in this rating.

What you will get with the higher price are some features that may add to the comfort for your child while using the car seat. The colors, patterns, softness of the fabric and the name brand will affect the final price. The actual structure of the seat that keeps your child safe in the testing will not significantly increase the price of your convertible car seat.

Many mid-priced models work as well as or better than pricier ones.

6 Top Rated Convertible Car Seats

Chicco Next Fit

Features: Convertible Car Seat

  • ReclineSure 9-position leveling system adjusts for an accurate fit to most vehicles
  • Two RideRight bubble levels indicate correct positioning
  • SuperCinch latch Tightener with force-multiplying technology provides a tight and secure fit.
  • Multiple position height-adjustable head rest
  • Two-position chest clip
  • One-pull harness tightener provides a secure fit.
  • Integrated slide path makes it easy to re-position the Latch strap
  • Infant insert
  • Removable cup holder

List Price:  $299.99

Star Rating: 4 1/2

Pros: Very easy to install, non-rethread harness, comfortable, nice quality

Cons: Hard to remove fabric, difficult belt lock off

Rear facing Passenger Weight Range: 5 – 40 lbs.

Forward facing Passenger Weight Range: 22 – 65 lbs.

Rear-facing Passenger Height Maximum: N/A

Care: Fabrics may be spot-cleaned: Hand wash using mild soap and water, or machine washed in cold water on delicate cycle using a mild detergent. Hang to dry.

Click here for additional manufacturer information.

 

Britax Marathon G4 Click Tight

Features: Convertible Car Seat

  • Superior Protection with side impact protection, impact-absorbing base, impact-stabilizing steel frame
  • Smart design featuring the easy buckle system
  • Safe and Easy Installation – On/off lower anchors lock into place with a click and 3-position recline
  • Maximum Fit and Comfort
    • No-rethread 10-position harness
    • Quick-adjust 2-position buckle
    • Removable body pillow
    • plush foam padding and fabrics

List Price: $289.99

Star Rating: 4 1/2

Pros: Non-Rethread harness, easy installation, nice features

Cons: Hidden belt pathway that is harder to use

Rear facing Passenger Weight Range: 5 – 40 lbs.

Forward facing Passenger Weight Range: 20 -65 lbs.

Rear-facing Passenger Height Maximum: 1 inch below top head pad

Care: Removable cover, hand wash using cold water and mild soap. Lie flat or line dry.

Click here for additional manufacturer information.

 

Diono Radian RXT

Features: Convertible Car Seat

  • Full steel frame and aluminum reinforced sides for unmatched safety
  • Unique Super LATCH system for easy installation
  • Folds flat for travel and is FAA certified
  • Infant body support and memory foam for added comfort
  • Energy absorbing EPS foam and Safe Stop harness for added safety
  • 12-position adjustable headrest, 5 shoulder and 3 buckle positions for comfort.
  • Rear-facing tether capability
  • Expandable sides and long seat bottom for proper leg support
  • Angled cup holders
  • 10-year life

List Price: $359.99

Star Rating: 3

Pros: Narrow width, only foldable option, steel frame

Cons:  Stiff buckle, rethread harness, higher price, with a busy feel

Rear facing Passenger Weight Range: 5 – 45 lbs.

Forward facing Passenger Weight Range: 20 -80 lbs.

Rear-facing Passenger Height Maximum: 44 inches

Care: machine washable cover

Click here for additional manufacturer information.

 

Evenflo Tribute LX 

Features: convertible car seat

  • Light weight for easy transition between vehicles.
  • Durable 100% polyester with resistance to moisture and stains.
  • Easy-to-access upfront harness adjustment and buckle release make adjustments simple and easy.

List Price: $65.00

Star Rating: 4

Pros: Budget friendly, better than average crash test results, narrow

Cons: Thin padding, rethread harness, lower quality

Rear facing Passenger Weight Range: 5 – 40 lbs.

Forward facing Passenger Weight Range: 22 – 40 lbs.

Rear-facing Passenger Height Maximum: 37 inches

Care: 

  • Plastic and metal parts are wiped clean with mild soap and water.
  • Wipe harness with mild soap and water. Allow to air dry.
  • Machine wash and dry seat pad separately in cold water, delicate cycle.

Click here for additional manufacturer information.

 

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio

Features:Convertible Car Seat

  • Adjustable Side Impact exceeds the most stringent test.
  • Adjusts to 5 positions
  • Energy-absorbing foam and Expanded Poly Styrene.
  •  Includes a secure LATCH System Base for easy installation.
  • Quick-Release, Five-Point Safety Harness
  • FAA approved
  • Made in Italy

Star Rating: 4 Star

Pros: Easy to install and use, well put together, non-rethread harnessStar Rating: 3 1/2

Cons: Basic crash test results, higher price

Rear facing Passenger Weight Range: 5 – 45 lbs.

Forward facing Passenger Weight Range: 22 – 65 lbs.

Rear-facing Passenger Height Maximum: Fit head rest at or below position 7

Care:  removable, washable covers

Click here for additional manufacturer information.

 

Maxi-Cosi Pria 85

Features:Convertible Car Seat

  • Air Protect®: Advanced air cushion system protects your child’s head
  • FlexTech™ system for multi-directional energy management
  • Not rethread harness
  • One click LATCH system, with easy click-in for better installation
  • Integrated gripping cup holder securely holds drinks
  • CosiCushion premium fabrics and padding provide the most comfort for child

List Price: $299.99

Star Rating: 3 1/2

Pros: Thick padding, non-rethread harness, easy to use buckle

Cons: Our height adjuster broke, hard to thread belt for installation

Rear facing Passenger Weight Range: 9 – 40 lbs.

Forward facing Passenger Weight Range: 22 – 70 lbs.

Rear-facing Passenger Height Maximum: 40 inches

Care: The Pria 85 seat pad is both machine washable and dryer safe.

Click here for additional manufacturer information.

 

What is your experience with Convertible Car Seats?
Leave a comment and tell us about your car seat selection.

4 Comments

  1. Kathy

    Very good reviews. It has been a while since I have been in the market for a car seat, but these reviews are extremely helpful. Very well chosen products.

    Reply
    1. Janice Martin (Post author)

      Thank you for your visit and comments. There are many choices available. They all meet the safety requirements. The real consideration will be the buyers budget and personal preference.
      Pass along the site to those that will benefit from the information.

      Best regards, Janice

      Reply
  2. Andy

    Thank you so much for your comprehensive review on major brand available car seats, it was a good overview. Can you tell me, from your personal perspective, what are the best models to look at? Is that all tied up in the rating – it would be nice to see that a little more clearly. Also, you have a chart that shows child age vs. type of seat but is there not also a weight component to it? My children are very tall their age and thus, because they are correspondingly heavier than the median, transition earlier to seats than the chart implies.

    Thanks,

    Andy

    Reply
    1. Janice

      The first two car seats that are listed are the two that I would recommend. Chicco Next Fit and Britax Marathon G4. For the price they exceed the basic safety requirements, are user friendly and offer good comfort for toddlers.

      The chart is a basic guide. As I explained in the review you need to check each car seat for the specific height and weight limits. I did include height because for some children, like yours, it is an important measurement to be considered for their safety.

      Thank you for your comments. I will look at stating the top choices more clearly.

      Best regards, Janice

      Reply

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