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Best Convertible Car Seat In Every Category

Convertible Car Seat
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Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more about it.

updated: July 8, 2024
edited by Amber Katz

Researching the perfect car seat for your kid can seriously drive you insane with all the options out there. You want something safe, comfortable, and easy to use and clean. You also want to check out height and weight limits and ensure your kid isn’t going to grow out of it, like, tomorrow. Your vehicle (and how many other kids you have) matters too, as some seats may fit better in certain cars and three-across situations than others. And while all seats sold meet federal safety standards, like cars, certain seats do have better crash test ratings than others. To curate this list, I consulted two renowned child passenger safety technicians to determine exactly what to look for in the best convertible car seat, spoke with real parents, used my own experience, and read hundreds of reviews to check for factors like comfort, value, ease of use and installation.

Our top picks for best convertible car seats

Best designed convertible car seat: Nuna Rava

Best designed convertible car seat
Nuna Rava

The Nuna Rava is the luxury vehicle of convertible car seats. Not only does it sit pretty, but it’s incredibly easy to install, buckle kids in, tighten straps, and it just feels super safe and sturdy for them. My children also rave about how incredibly comfortable it is thanks to all the padding and super soft, breathable fabric.

For parents interested in rear-facing as long as possible, the Rava comes with a unique leg extender, offering up to two extra inches of legroom for them to spread out. This gives forward-facing kiddos more leg support too, which they’ll love. Side impact protection pods add an extra layer of protection, and an ultra-secure installation couldn’t be easier with the true tension door. For convenience, there’s a no re-thread two-position crotch strap, no re-thread 5-point harness, and a 10-position headrest that’s easily adjustable as they grow.

It comes with two flip-open cupholders and ventilation panels to keep them cool and comfy as they cruise. While the Rava is expensive, the quality, comfort features, and ease of use are absolutely worth it.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 16" L x 19" W x 25.2–31" H
  • Rear-facing limits: 5-50 lbs | 49 in or less
  • Forward-facing limits: 25-65 lbs | 49 in or less
  • Weight: 27.7 pounds
  • Colors: 12
  • Expiration: 10 years
  • Price on publish: $550

The bottom line:

If you’re looking for a luxury car seat that’s super easy to use and install, the ultra-comfy Nuna Rava is your best bet.

Get it here: Nuna Rava


Best value convertible car seat: Graco Extend2Fit 2-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Best value convertible car seat
Graco Extend2Fit 2-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Graco Extend2Fit 2-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

At only $200, the Graco Extend2Fit offers a ton of bang for your buck. It has over 70,000 rave reviews on Amazon and a super impressive 4.8-average star rating, which is no easy feat for any car seat. Like the Rava, kids can comfortably ride rear-facing up to 50 pounds. The 4-position adjustable extension panel offers up to 5 inches of extra legroom so they aren’t cramped, while a no re-thread headrest and harness make adjusting the seat a breeze as kids get bigger. Reviewers report that it’s straightforward to install and the harness storage pockets are a favorite feature, allowing parents to more easily and quickly get kids strapped in. It’s also excellent for compact cars and tall parents who need more legroom themselves, as there are six different recline angles to achieve the perfect fit.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: ‎21.5 x 19.5 x 23.5 inches
  • Rear-facing limits: 4-50 lb, head must be at least 1" below handle
  • Forward-facing limits: 22-65 lb, up to 49"
  • Weight: 19 pounds
  • Colors: 5
  • Expiration: 10 years
  • Price on publish: $199.99+

The bottom line:

Kids can ride rear-facing for longer in this surprisingly compact and affordable car seat, which offers plenty of legroom.

Get it here: Graco Extend2Fit 2-in-1 Convertible Car Seat


Best rotating convertible car seat: Baby Jogger City Turn

Best rotating convertible car seat
Baby Jogger City Turn Rotating Convertible Car Seat, Onyx Black

Baby Jogger City Turn Rotating Convertible Car Seat, Onyx Black

Getting kids into their car seats can be a whole ordeal, especially if you don’t own a van or a super spacious SUV. A rotating car seat, like the top-rated Baby Jogger City Turn, can make parents’ lives a whole lot easier. The City Turn features a one-handed 180-degree turn in rear-facing mode, bringing your child 10 inches closer, so getting kids in and out is way more convenient. Plus, you don’t have to break your back or bend your arms in all sorts of weird ways trying to fight with a fussy baby or a squirmy toddler.

The seat features comfortable and soft padding with moisture-wicking material to ensure they don’t overheat. While many rotating seats I researched didn’t have the best crash test results, the City Turn excelled in this area so I couldn’t help but recommend it. I also like that kids can rear face up to 50 pounds and that installation is easy.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: ‎‎21.75 x 19 x 23.5 inches
  • Rear-facing limits: 4-50 pounds
  • Forward-facing limits: 22-65 pounds
  • Weight: 28 pounds
  • Colors: 2
  • Expiration: 10 years
  • Price on publish: $549.99

The bottom line:

The 180-degree one-handed rotation on this car seat is effortless, saving you time, tears, and your back.

Get it here: Baby Jogger City Turn


Best luxury convertible car seat: Babyark Convertible Car Seat

Best luxury convertible car seat
Babyark Convertible Car Seat - Eggshell / Moonlight

Babyark Convertible Car Seat - Eggshell / Moonlight

Dubbed the world’s safest convertible car seat, I’ve been using the super luxe Babyark in my SUV for a few months now, and it’s very much worth the investment for all the smart features and peace of mind it provides me as a parent. It’s designed with premium military-grade materials, which means it has no expiration date! An innovative side-impact system and impact-absorbing steel SafeCoils help slow the seat’s forward momentum upon impact.

Installation is fool-proof, thanks to the Babyark app, which guides you every step of the way until the base and seat are installed correctly. I love that the app gives me real-time notifications if the seat is installed incorrectly (one time the support leg lost contact with the floor and I was notified immediately), if my toddler is or isn’t buckled, and it even alerts you if you’ve left your child in the car. It’s also the only convertible car seat that comes with rigid latch, an anti-rebound bar, and a stabilizing support leg, which honestly feels like the future of convertible car seats.

Right after we got the seat my toddler vomited all over it, of course. Cleaning the cover and zipping it right back on was seriously so easy though, and that’s an often overlooked feature. I also love, love, love the magnetic straps for easy in and out, as well as the fact that the crotch buckle automatically stays out from underneath his butt.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: ‎‎27” L x 17.3” W x 25.5” H
  • Rear-facing limits: 4-55 pounds
  • Forward-facing limits: 26.5-65 pounds
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Colors: 4
  • Expiration: Never
  • Price on publish: $990

The bottom line:

This stylish smart car seat is an investment in your child’s safety, and it never expires so can be used for multiple children to get your money’s worth.

Get it here: Babyark Convertible Car Seat


Best slim convertible car seat: Britax Poplar S

Best slim convertible car seat
Britax Poplar S Convertible Car Seat, 2-in-1 Car Seat with Slim 17-Inch Design, ClickTight Technology, Onyx

Britax Poplar S Convertible Car Seat, 2-in-1 Car Seat with Slim 17-Inch Design, ClickTight Technology, Onyx

At just 17 inches wide, the new Britax Poplar S is one of the best convertible car seats for parents who need to fit three kids across—or just want the extra room in the back. We use this in my husband’s car, which is much smaller than mine, and it’s a real space-saver. I appreciate all the added safety features too, like the anti-rebound bar, and ease of installation with the ClickTight technology, though I do wish it was easier to get the door shut. There’s a lot of padding to keep kids comfortable and 14 different positions on the quick-adjust headrest so it’s easy to get a good fit when they hit a growth spurt or quickly adjust it to fit another child. The fabric is washer and dryer-friendly for easy cleaning too.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: ‎‎20.5 x 17 x 23.5 inches
  • Rear-facing limits: 5-50 pounds
  • Forward-facing limits: 22-65 pounds
  • Weight: 27.2 pounds
  • Colors: 6
  • Expiration: 10 years
  • Price on publish: $349.99

The bottom line:

This slim car seat performs well in three-across situations and comes with an anti-rebound bar for extra crash protection.

Get it here: Britax Poplar S


Best convertible car seat for travel: Cosco Scenera NEXT

Best convertible car seat for travel
Cosco Scenera NEXT

Cosco Scenera NEXT

When my oldest was a toddler, a CPST recommended the Cosco Scenerra NEXT for travel, and it’s perfect for that. At just over 10 pounds, it’s easily the lightest seat on our list making it a breeze to bring on the plane or check until you get to your destination. It doesn’t have any fancy features and you’ll have to adjust the harness height by hand as your child grows (and they’ll grow out of it by 40 pounds), but for the price, it’s a great buy and has served our family well. I also found it very easy to install quickly in Ubers or grandparents’ cars.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: ‎‎20.5 x 17 x 23.5 inches
  • Rear-facing limits: 5-40 pounds | 19-40 inches
  • Forward-facing limits: 22-40 pounds | 29-43 inches
  • Weight: 10.2 pounds
  • Colors: 11
  • Expiration: 8 years
  • Price on publish: $59

The bottom line:

This lightweight car seat is easy to install and bring with you on any adventure.

Get it here: Cosco Scenera NEXT


Best all-in-one convertible car seat: Chicco OneFit ClearTex All-In-One Car Seat

Best all-in-one convertible car seat
Chicco OneFit ClearTex All-in-One, Rear-Facing Seat for Infants 5-40 lbs, Forward-Facing Car Seat 25-65 lbs, Booster 40-100 lbs, Convertible| Obsidian/Black

Chicco OneFit ClearTex All-in-One, Rear-Facing Seat for Infants 5-40 lbs, Forward-Facing Car Seat 25-65 lbs, Booster 40-100 lbs, Convertible| Obsidian/Black

This Chicco all-in-one seat lives in my husband’s car, where we’ve used it in rear-facing mode for my youngest and, most recently, booster mode for my 5 and 7-year-old. It’s a solid seat all around that’s easy to use and install and features plenty of padding to ensure kid’s comfort. Getting a super secure install is a cinch with the seat belt or latch, and my toddler greatly appreciates all the extra legroom in rear-facing mode. The no re-thread harness is handy for quickly adjusting the height when my husband takes one of the older children to practice or the pool. I love the versatility and value this seat provides as a mom of three.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: ‎‎21.5" x 19" x 27"
  • Rear-facing limits: 5-40 pounds
  • Forward-facing limits: 25-65 pounds
  • Booster limits: 40-100 pounds
  • Weight: 25 pounds
  • Colors: 4
  • Expiration: 10 years
  • Price on publish: $224+

The bottom line:

This all-in-one convertible car seat is comfy, easy to install, and grows with them from birth through the early elementary years.

Get it here: Chicco OneFit ClearTex All-In-One Car Seat


Easiest to use convertible car seat: Britax Boulevard ClickTight

Easiest to use convertible car seat
Britax Boulevard Clicktight Convertible Car Seat, Green Contour SafeWash

Britax Boulevard Clicktight Convertible Car Seat, Green Contour SafeWash

I love an easy-to-use car seat because it helps ensure your kid is safely strapped in and cuts down on a ton of frustration for parents. The sleek and stylish Britax Boulevard ClickTight receives high marks in this category, with tons of reviewers raving about how incredibly easy it is to install with the ClickTight technology. There are 14 quick-adjust headrest and harness positions and 7 different recline positions so you can get the best fit for your vehicle and child. We also really like that the cover can be thrown in the washer and the dryer for quick cleaning when you don’t have time to wait for it to air dry.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: ‎‎‎24 x 18.5 x 23.5 inches
  • Rear-facing limits: 5-40 pounds
  • Forward-facing limits: 20-65 pounds
  • Weight: 29.5 pounds
  • Colors: 5
  • Expiration: 10 years
  • Price on publish: $359.99

The bottom line:

This sleek car seat is super easy to install thanks to ClickTight technology, and the cover can be washed and dried.

Get it here: Britax Boulevard ClickTight


How we test and select the best convertible car seat

I’m a mom of three kids who has personally used and tested many of the car seats on this list in multiple vehicles over the years. I considered key factors like comfort, ease of use and cleaning, overall value, and any standout features, like leg extenders, a narrow footprint for three across, and the ability to convert into a booster seat once they outgrow it. I also spoke to plenty of real parents to see which convertible car seats they use and love, as well as looked into crash test ratings for safety purposes. All of the car seats included on this list have hundreds, if not thousands, of stellar reviews.

What to consider when buying a convertible car seat

When selecting a convertible car seat, Sarah Tilton, Britax Director of Consumer Advocacy, says “The most important priorities are the child should fit in the car seat correctly, the car seat should fit the vehicle properly, and the caregiver should be able to install and use the car seat easily every time.”

Ease of use

No matter how fancy your car seat is, if you aren’t able to use it properly, it doesn’t matter. A few features Jamie Grayson, a CPST and renowned Baby Gear Expert, always tells people to look for are “a no-rethread harness to make it easier to adjust the harness height as your kid grows and a built-in lock off to help with seatbelt installation, especially once your lower anchor weight limits are hit and you have to switch to using a seatbelt.”

Seat limits

Planning on extended rear facing? Want to use the seat from birth? Or just have a kid who is off the growth charts? Grayson advises parents to look at the rear-facing weight limit, as well as the top harness height of the shoulder harness in a forward-facing install. Some kids will max out of certain seats much sooner than others so it’s important to factor this into your buying decision.

Ease of cleaning

If you’ve ever attempted to clean a car seat, you know what a pain in the butt it can be, especially getting the cover back on. “Some car seats allow you to machine wash and dry your fabrics, which is nice because car seats can get pretty dirty,” says Grayson. It’s a good idea to read reviews before purchasing to see how easy (or difficult) getting the seat clean is. Check out the care instructions too to determine whether the fabric is machine washable should your kid get car sick.

Seat width

“Width of the car seat can be important, especially if you want to try to install multiple seats in a row,” notes Grayson. The good news is, more and more brands are catering to this market so there are lots of narrow seats on the market now to choose from. “However, there is no easy answer for a three-across installation, and those are best worked out with individual help from a child passenger safety technician if at all possible.”

Comfort

For my kids, comfort is a top priority. Look for comfort features like leg rests, cup holders, extra cushioning, ventilation panels, and soft, breathable fabrics. Car seats that offer multiple recline positions can also help ensure a smoother ride for children.

Read on to shop our top convertible car seat picks in every category, and take a peek at our list of the best infant car seats if you’re currently expecting.

How to use a convertible car seat safely

"Safety in a convertible car seat starts with attention to detail when reviewing the car seat user guide and vehicle owner’s manual,” says Tilton. “Be sure to focus on correct positioning and regular fit checks to accommodate your growing child.” Other safety checks to consider include:

The wiggle test

“You should not be able to wiggle the car seat base at the belt path more than one inch side-to-side or front-to-back and the 5-point harness should fit your child securely around the hips, torso, and shoulders,” says Tilton.

Rear-facing vs. forward-facing

Children should be rear-facing until, at minimum, the age of two but every CPST will tell you that it’s best and safest for your child to rear-face as long as possible until they hit those rear-facing limits—check your specific seat for height and weight requirements. “You want to make sure that your lower anchors or seatbelt are going through the rear-facing belt path for rear-facing mode,” says Grayson. And the forward-facing belt path for forward-facing. “Always, always, always use the top tether when forward-facing. This is a crucial part of car seat installation in forward facing, as it helps reduce forward head excursion in a collision.”

Harness and chest clip position

“Be sure that the harness straps are at the correct position stated in the car seat user guide,” advises Tilton. For forward-facing, this is typically right above the shoulders, and right at or slightly below the shoulders for rear-facing. The chest clip should always be at the armpit level.

The pinch test

To ensure a snug fit, car seat straps should always be tight enough so that when you try to pinch the harness straps at the shoulders you won’t be able to. If you can pinch any material between your fingers it’s not tight enough.

Installation and set-up

Always follow your car seat manual (and vehicle manual) for proper installation and set-up. Typically, if you visit the brand’s website or do a quick Google search for your specific car seat you can find detailed instructional videos to follow along step by step as you install—I’ve personally always found these super helpful, in addition to thoroughly reading the manual.

How to maintain and clean a convertible car seat

Every car seat will have specific care instructions, however, there are some general best-practice guidelines when it comes to cleaning and caring for your toddler car seat. First and foremost, “always read your manual,” advises Grayson. “When in doubt, just spot clean fabric as needed.”

While some car seat covers can be removed and machine-washed on the gentle cycle, most can’t be thrown in the dryer, though there are exceptions. You also want to be careful not to soak or submerge the harness straps, “as this can weaken the material and make them less effective,” warns Grayson. He suggests using a very gentle soap with a little bit of water and a toothbrush to spot-clean those straps and let them dry. “Dr. Bronner’s unscented baby soap is a really good option.”

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

When should a convertible car seat be forward-facing?

In short, when your child outgrows the rear-facing limits. “Convertible car seats should be used in the rear-facing position until the child exceeds the rear-facing height or weight limit provided by the seat's manufacturer,” says Tilton, who advises parents to always follow guidelines specific to their car seat model.

What is the safest spot for a convertible car seat?

“The center of the back seat is perceived to be the safest spot to install a car seat as it is the furthest from any potential impact, however, the safest position will always be the one in which you can achieve a proper installation, whether in the center or on the sides,” tells Tilton. You’ll also want to think of real-life scenarios. For example, if you have older children and do school drop off and pick up, realistically the seat may need to be behind the driver so your older children can climb in and out. Or, “If you do street parking you more than likely do not want to deal with getting your kid in and out of the car on the street side, so you would try to install it on the side of the sidewalk,” says Grayson. “Sometimes the position will also depend on a taller caregiver riding as a passenger or driving the car because you can run into issues with rear-facing seats in tight back seats.”

How many years are convertible car seats good for?

“Convertible car seats typically have a lifespan of 6 to 10 years from the date of manufacture, but caregivers should always refer to their car seat’s manual and/or date of manufacture labels for the exact expiration date,” advises Tilton.

Do all convertible car seats fit in all cars?

No, not always. According to Grayson, “There are problems with features like non-removable or protruding headrests, waterfalls in the seat bite, sometimes the position of the actual seat belts can be issues, the angle of the automobile seat can be a problem, and there are multiple more concerns.” If you can, he recommends going to a local retailer and seeing if you can try a seat in your vehicle. “You can always call a car seat manufacturer and try to see if they know of any issues with your particular vehicle in terms of fit, or there are car seat safety groups on Facebook that can help as well,” he says.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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