Top 8 Best Convertible Car Seats
By | Last updated: June 25, 2020
best convertible car seats

It’s all well and good to reminisce about the good old days but, chances are, we’re looking at another time through seriously tinted rose-colored glasses. Sure, more than a few of us used to bounce around on the bench seat of a station wagon or in the bed of a pickup truck but there’s no way anyone can argue in good faith that it was very safe.

With that in mind, we’ve selected eight different options for new parents seeking to safely seat their recent bundle of joy. There is a mahoosive amount of R&D that goes into these things, including crash testing. One of the most recent advancements is the development of the convertible car seat, which doesn’t endow it with a ragtop but does permit the seat to adapt to the kid’s size as they grow. This, in most cases, saves parents a bundle of money compared to the days when they had to shell out for a new car seat every time Junior grew a few inches.

They beat the heck out of riding around in the box of a tattered GMC Sierra, too.

1. Editor's Choice: Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

This brand name has been around for ages and will appear twice on our list. This particular unit from them is intended for rear-facing infants weighing from 4 to 50 pounds. After they outgrow and out-age that seating position, this seat converts to accept forward-facing toddlers from 22 to 65 pounds.

A 4-position extension panel adjusts to provide 5 inches of additional legroom for the kid, allowing your child to ride in rear-facing safety for a longer period of time. This is more important than you might think, especially for those of us who raised kids that quickly grew to NBA stature – too big to comfortably fit in a rear-facing seat but too young to flip around and face the windshield. This seat solves that conundrum.

Pros/Top shelf reviews, grows with the child
Cons/Only a couple of colors beyond dull grey
Bottom Line/Well-known for a reason

2. Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat

As a damning indictment of his rapidly advancing age, reading this brand name immediately puts your author in mind of a certain Pearl Jam song from the ’90s. Fortunately, this seat comes without any sign of Seattle’s famously soggy weather.

This seat incorporates multiple shoulder harness positions for a better fit and longer use as the kid grows up. Real-world reviews praise its light but sturdy construction with one customer showing the aftermath of a scary crash. Like others, the seat is side-impact tested for this very reason.

Pros/Very affordable, brain-stimulating colors
Cons/Flimsy cupholders
Bottom Line/Removable pillow and easy-clean surfaces are popular

3. Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat

In a remarkable case of doing exactly what it says on the can, this brand of car seat is built to grow for extended use through 3 stages of child development. First, it can accommodate children in a rear-facing configuration, bearing from 5 to 40 pounds.

Then, it can be adapted to a forward-facing model good for children weighing between 22 and 65 pounds. Finally, it’s also suitable as a belt-positioning booster seat for urchins in the 40 to 100 pounds weight class. Essentially then, this thing should last until the kid is ready for grade school. Heights, by the way, are recommended as 19-40 inches rear-facing and 29-52 forward-facing.

Pros/Many adaptations, a ton of colorful options
Cons/Some complaints about difficult belt routing
Bottom Line/Buy this one and forget about it

4. Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1 Car Seat

See? We told you Graco would appear on this list for a second time. It’s difficult to exclude them from double consideration, given the vast number of car seat permutations they have developed. This unit is marketed as a 4-in-1 solution that should see your kid from newborn to near teen years.

Said to give 10 years of use, it’ll go from a rear-facing to forward-facing harness seat. Then, it converts to a high-back seatbelt positioning booster until it finally is can be used as a simple backless booster seat. The latter is good for up to 120 pounds, more than some adults I know.

Pros/Last through many different growth stages
Bottom Line/Many modes offset the price

5. Disney Baby Convertible Car Seat

If you don’t mind some of your hard-earned money finding its way into the corporate coffers of the Disney corporation, this car seat has a lot to offer. It is, of course, styled with the famous Mickey/Minnie ears but it is less blatant than one might expect given Disney’s propensity for marketing.

The seat is good for rear- or forward-facing duties, carrying kids until they’re about 50 pounds in weight. The seat pad is washable and dryer safe, a feature you’ll appreciate the first time Junior’s stomach disagrees with whatever he just ate.

Pros/Convenient seat configurations, lightweight design
Cons/The never-ending cycle of Disney marketing
Bottom Line/For budding Mouseketeers

6. Maxi-Cosi Pria 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Here’s a 3-in-1 seat that’ll take Junior from a rear facing seat all the way up to a booster. Its one click latching system makes for easy installation, a feature that will please harried parents who are trying to juggle many items at once while trying to safely buckle a perturbed youngster who’s missed their afternoon nap.

Six different colors are available, all of which are the same price. A quick fit shoulder harness automatically raises the belts and headrest height for comfort, while a flip away buckle keeps the latter out of harm’s way. Holders for the harness are incorporated into the seat’s design, allowing them to stay out of the way when placing baby in the seat.

Pros/No more fishing for buckles underneath or behind the kiddo
Cons/Eye-watering price
Bottom Line/Expensive but versatile with good features

7. Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat

You might expect a 9-position recline to be a feature found in a minivan or, in the Before Times, on the seat of an airplane. This car seat incorporates such a thing, allowing parents to adjust it so their youngster is resting in a comfortable position.

The padding is removable thanks to a zip-off cover. Underneath is a rigid shell covered with energy-absorbing foam, good for soaking up impacts from angry toddlers while providing protection in an accident. Interestingly, the ad notes the cup holder is dishwasher safe, a good call-out to practicality.

Pros/Great features to accommodate the very little ones
Cons/Doesn't convert all the way to a big-kid booster
Bottom Line/A good intro seat

8. Diono Radian 3QXT, All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

You know I had to include at least one seat on this list that bears a passing resemblance to a racing seat, right? This unit can be converted to suit children from birth to booster, meaning they had better appreciate whichever one of the 18 colors chosen by dear old mom and dad.

Various cushions and harness setups permit the seating of kids at various life stages, along with a crossbar that looks for all the world like something one would find on a roller coaster. That alone is nearly worth the cash. Speaking of, this thing is very costly; but on the flip side, it should be the only seat you’ll ever need to buy (unless you have a passel of kids, that is).

Pros/Funky looks, grows with the child from birth to booster
Cons/Trust Fund price tag
Bottom Line/Versatility at a cost

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main photo credit: mathom / Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

5 Comments on “Safety First: Best Convertible Car Seats...”

  • avatar

    We were thinking of getting a convertible car seat. Then we looked at them at Babysaurus and decided it would be much easier to carry a small, lightweight rear-facing seat and get something bigger when we don’t have to carry it around so much.

    • 0 avatar

      Problem is just like the article led with you will be buying another after baby turns 1. We have gone for nothing but convertibles specifically because 1) we hate buckets, and 2) why drop $150 on a bucket then another $200 on a convertible once baby turns 1. Baby can fit in a convertible safely from birth.

      • 0 avatar

        Why do you hate buckets?

        Ours was part of a stroller/bucket combo and she uses the stroller every day, so we’re happy with the setup. We’re fine with eventually buying another car seat. The price seemed worth it for the convenience.

  • avatar

    I am generally skeptical of these “Best Product” articles, but I can confirm that the #1 suggestion, the Graco Extend2Fit, works very well. It’s really useful for keeping a child rear-facing up to and past the age of 2. Which is annoying in some ways, but it really is safer.

  • avatar

    Shame that Recaro exited the market in the US.

    Always thought it was hilarious that people would see the Recaro child seat in my car and then strike up a conversation.

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