Best Convertible Car Seats for Small Cars Reviews 2018
Car seats are fundamental baby gear designed to ensure your child will not suffer major injuries in the case of a road accident. But which are the best convertible car seats for small cars on the market?
Not all convertible car seats were created equal. There are compact, reclining, 3-in-1, and even travel system convertible car seats.
With a myriad of products out there, how to choose the best one?
We’ve done the hard work for you and identified the safest and most popular convertible car seats on the market. Then, we divided them into categories, to help you find the right one for your needs.
Check our top 5 picks below or read on to find out more details about each model.
When a baby arrives into the family, there are many things that need to be purchased, giving priority to those that serve for his/her safety. One of these things is the car seat.
This fundamental accessory for the car keeps the child safe in a collision. In fact, many statistics show that well-fitted child seats protected a significant percentage of children involved in road accidents.
When choosing the car seat, it is important to pay attention to many details in order to purchase a safe unit. It should accommodate both the needs of your child, the size of the car and where you want to position it during transit. Here are a few characteristics to consider.
Types And Groups Of Car Seats
When it comes to car seats one thing should be clear: they aren’t all the same. A distinction can be made between 5 types of car seats based on the weight of the child.
Group 0 seats are suitable for babies who weigh less than 22lbs. In this group are also included the so-called “shuttles”, a type of car seats mostly used in the first months of the infant’s life. They ensure a relaxed position for the underdeveloped muscles of the neck.
Group 0+ seats are suitable for infants up to 28lbs. These seats have the particularity to better protect the head and legs, keeping the baby in a semi-reclining position, which also offers back support. This type of seats must always be mounted in a rear-facing position and always with deactivated airbags.Group 1 seats are suitable for babies weighing from 20 to 40lbs. These seats can be mounted both rear-facing and facing the direction of travel.
Group 2 seats are designed for toddlers with a weight comprised between 33 and 55 lbs. They can be mounted facing the driving direction and most models offer the possibility of being transformed into group 3 car seats by simply removing the backrest.
Group 3 seats are suitable for children from 48 up to 80+ lbs. These seats are generally designed in the form of a pillow with or without armrests and with adjustable height in a manner to allow closing the seatbelt in the correct position (as in adults).
Where And How To Place The Car Seat
It is recommended (and in some cases even mandatory) to place the car seat in a rear-facing position for babies up to 15-months old. The seats from the groups 0 and 0+ can never be placed on the front seat, while the seats from the last three groups can be placed on any seat of the car, even facing the driving direction. In any case, be careful to turn off the airbag.
It should also be pointed out that the best place to position the child seat is in the central part of the rear seat where the baby gets the most of the protection from a collision.
How To Choose The Best Car Seat
To determine which car seat to buy, try first to get an understanding from the product description and other parents opinions, which model is more convenient in terms of installation and use ease. It might not seem like it at a first glance, but hooking and unhooking the car seat can be a more problematic task than expected, especially if you own a small car.
From this point of view, our suggestion is to evaluate the Isofix system which is probably the most practical and rapid in terms of car seat hooking. Not to worry, almost all car seats have this feature, as this system was implemented as a universal mounting system due to the great advantages it offers in terms of convenience and safety.
When choosing a car seat, you must always evaluate the convenience offered to the child, as this is probably the most important quality. The child should sit comfortably, so pay attention to purchase a seat that’s wide enough. Also, the baby should get in and out easily.
Another important feature to look for is a reclined angle which offers the baby comfort. This will also pass the baby gently from sitting to lying position, promoting sleep. Check to see if the seat is easily adjustable and how many positions it offers. If you love versatility, then the best car seat you might purchase is one that offers the widest range of options.
- In the first months of the infant’s life is recommended to use the “shuttle” models when making long commutes or if you like taking frequent trips. But if you’re not traveling that often, this model is superfluous. The best option for infrequent travelers is to go directly for a car seat from the groups 0+ or 1 with cushion for newborns.
- If for any reason the car seat suffered any internal damage, change it right away, as it could jeopardize the safety of the child.
- Do not look to save money on this purchase. The safety of the child comes first, so get a car seat that has the correct connections for stability. Check to see if the car seat is built, of good quality and if it has all the important features already described.
- Beware of car seats that are on sale as they could have faults.
- For small cars, the best car seat option is a convertible one, as these seats are generally compact, have many features and are very comfortable for the little ones.
Our Detailed Reviews of Best Convertible Car Seats...
1. Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat
Guide 65 by Safety 1st is the most popular convertible car seat on the market, and it’s our favorite too. Ideal for small cars, the seat is only 18 inches wide, and you can fit up to three units on the rear bench.
Ideal for babies from birth until youth, this convertible unit has a weight capacity up to 40lbs when installed in a rear-facing position. Converted to a forward-facing unit, the seat withstands up to 65lbs. The minimum weight load recommended is 5lbs rear-facing and 22lbs forward-facing.
A comfortable newborn insert with padded lateral cushions provides a cozy place for the youngster, while the 5-point safety harness comes with height adjustments and three buckle locations for a proper fit.
Designed for safety, the seat provides excellent side impact protection and attaches to the car through a standard latch system.
2. Eddie Bauer XRS 65 Convertible Car Seat
Designed with convenience in mind, Eddie Bauer XRS 65 is a 2-in-1 convertible car seat that grows with your child. Suitable to use from birth to youth, the unit accommodates kids between 5lbs and 65lbs either in a rear-facing or in a forward-facing mode.
Easy to adjust, the car seat has a compact design and fits perfectly on the rear bench of a compact city car. Taking up less space, it makes the ride roomier for everyone or allows you to fit up to three car seats.
Thanks to its LATCH compatibility, the unit is easy to install by simply clicking the attachment into the LATCH buckle. Moreover, XRS 65 comes includes side impact protection, increasing safety.
A thing we like is the removable infant insert and the 5-point safety harness with up-front adjustment. Securing the child in the car seat is easy regardless of how the unit is positioned in the car.
3. Safety 1st UltraMax Air 360 4 In 1 Convertible Car Seat
If you’re looking for something small but versatile, Safety 1st UltraMax Air 360 won’t disappoint. This 4-in-1 convertible car seat is ideal for kids between 4lbs and 120lbs, or up to 57 inches tall. Used as a rear-facing, forward-facing or booster car seat, this product provides 360° impact protection.
The 360 Protect™ technology provides six layers of safety, including superior side impact protection given by the GCell® HX patented race car foam. A steel-reinforced frame adds additional stability to the unit while a motion control headrest contains lateral movements.
The deep structure of the seat shields the child from all sides, while the soft foam adds further safety and comfort.
Two other things we like are the QuickFit™ and ClickClean™ systems. The former provides 10 easy adjustment positions for harness and headrest. Adjusting both parameters is easy with just one hand and in a single step. The latter allows a quick removal of the machine washable seat pad.
4. Disney Baby Apt 40RF Convertible Car Seat
Disney Baby Apt 40RF is not ideal for newborns and young infants, but it’s a versatile solution for babies who can already hold their head upright. The unit converts from a rear-facing to a forward-facing unit in minutes, and in both configurations, it can hold up to 40lbs.
The playful design will certainly entertain your bundle of joy during the ride, while the precision-designed side impact protection will keep them safe in collisions. The pain-free installation LATCH system is compatible with all modern cars, and the seat is tiny enough to fit in city vehicles.
Getting the baby in and off the seat is also easy. The front-adjustable 5-point safety harness is easy to adjust, increasing safety and ensuring comfort. A cushioned headrest also provides comfort and support to a sleeping child.
As for convenience, the unit comes with two built-in cup holders to store baby bottles, sippy cups, or toddler snacks. Available in seven colors and styles, this unit is undoubtedly one of the most baby-friendly out there.
5. Combi Compact Convertible Car Seat
Combi Compact is a compact, lightweight and convertible car seat designed to accommodate kids between 3lbs and 40lbs. Ideal to use in a small car, the unit is only 15.5 inches wide, and it’s one of the tiniest car seats on the market.
But tiny doesn’t mean unsafe. The Tru-Safe side impact protection offers a deep energy absorption, while interior foam distributes crash energy away from the kid’s neck, head, and spine.
The removable infant insert allows a proper positioning of the newborn, and the seat is suitable to use as a rear-facing unit until the child reaches 33lbs.
FAA certified, the unit is convenient to use during travel, while the minimal width allows an easy installation of up to three units on the rear bench of a car. Comfortable to use in multiple circumstances, the unit also has a buckle with an indicator that provides a visual signal when the harness is securely buckled.
Our Top Pick
Guide 65 by Safety 1st is our favorite convertible car seat for small cars out there for a reason. The unit is compact, it fits perfectly in a small car, and has a great weight capacity. In fact, the unit accommodates babies between 5lbs and 65lbs in either rear-facing or forward-facing configurations.
With a width of only 18 inches, the unit is narrow enough to save room on the rear bench of a small city car.
Comfort is another thing the manufacturer considered, and the unit comes with a newborn insert. Lateral padded cushions provide a cozy place for the youngest babies, and the insert is easy to remove when no longer needed.
All this, combined with an easy-to-use 5-point safety harness, height adjustable headrest, and three buckle positions, make the unit one of the greatest convertible car seats for small cars to consider.
Best Compact Convertible Car Seats
Sometimes, a standard convertible car seat is not compact enough to fit in a small car, even if the manufacturer says so. We know how painful it is to try and find a unit that fits well into your vehicle yet is safe enough for your bundle of joy.
Fortunately, there are many suitable options on the market. But what to look for when choosing a compact convertible car seat?
1. Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible Car Seat
Evenflo Tribute Sport is one of the most popular compact convertible car seats. With a width of 18.5 inches, the unit fits on the rear seat of most small cars, providing a great vehicle fit. Ideal for kids between 5lbs and 40lbs, this unit is recommended to use for children older than one year.
Designed and tested for structural integrity, the seat meets and exceeds all standard federal side-impact crash tests. At the same time, the unit is fairly comfortable for the baby, and it comes in two colors and styles.
Safety is also ensured by a 5-point safety harness system with four height adjustments, designed to provide a secure fit. The upfront adjustment allows an easy access, helping parents get the baby in and off the seat seamlessly.
The unit is also easy to clean. Cleaning the safety harness requires only warm water and mild soap, while the seat pad is removable and machine washable in cold water. Tumble dry the fabric is possible, providing you’re using the low heat setting.
2. Evenflo SureRide DLX Convertible Car Seat
If you’re looking for a compact convertible car seat ideal to grow with your baby from day one, Evenflo SureRide DLX is more suitable for newborns and infants. The unit accommodates babies between 5lbs and 40lbs in a rear-facing mode, and between 22lbs and 65lbs in a forward-facing mode.
However, even if the seat is narrower than the model above, the unit still doesn’t come with an infant insert and should, therefore, be used with caution for very young children.
That said, the seat is amazing. Tested to meet or exceed all Federal Crash Test Standards, the unit is equipped with shock-absorbing foam and comes with a head insert designed to minimize head and neck impact.
The head insert also provides support for a sleeping baby, while the 5-point safety harness boasts 6 height and two crotch adjustments. For a simple and secure fit, the harness is upfront adjusted.
3. Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat
Evenflo seems to dominate the compact convertible car seats market. Tribute LX is another excellent product to consider.
This convertible car seat has a width of 18.5 inches and fits seamlessly on the rear bench of most small cars. Meeting or exceeding all applicable safety regulations and standards, the unit has been side impact tested for structural integrity.
Ideal for babies between 5 and 40lbs, the unit is only suitable for toddlers and accommodates kids older than two years. However, the unit is designed to grow with the child and comes with a height-adjustable 5-point safety harness with upfront adjustment.
Compact yet comfortable, the unit also has a removable seat liner and a comfortable head pillow.
Best Reclining Convertible Car Seats
To be honest, car seats are not the most comfortable for babies, especially for newborns and young infants who can’t hold their head up yet. That’s why some manufacturers propose reclining convertible car seats.
Designed to grow with the child these units boast three or even more backrest recline positions to accommodate the needs of all children. Here are a few things to check before buying.
1. Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite Convertible Car Seat
Alpha Omega Elite by Safety 1st is a versatile reclining car seat suitable for babies from birth to childhood. The unit has a weight capacity of 100lbs and accommodates kids up to a recommended height of 52 inches.
Adapting to the needs of all kids, the unit boasts three modes of use, including a rear-facing configuration suitable for babies from 5 to 35lbs. A 5-point safety harness allows an easy adjustment to fit the size of the child.
In the forward-facing configuration, the product is suitable for infants and toddlers from 22 to 50lbs, while in the booster mode it withstands between 40 and 100lbs.
Featuring thick side impact protection and an infant head support, this car seat boasts 3-position recline which is easy to adjust with just one hand. Add-ons include rotating armrests and a detachable cup holder.
2. Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120
Peg Perego’s Viaggio Flex 120 is synonymous with innovation, an ideal car seat for the technology enthusiasts. Manufactured in Italy, the unit complies with all European safety regulations, which are surprisingly similar, and in some cases even more rigid, than the federal safety laws.
The 4D Total Adjust technology is the signature of this exceptional car seat. Ideal for toddlers and kids from 40 to 120lbs, this car seat can be adjusted in four different directions, all independent from one another, and converts from a car seat to a child booster when the kid is old enough.
The independent adjustments include several height and width positions for the headrest, upper headrest, side wings, and the seat itself. With a width of only 17.25 inches, the unit fits wonderfully in small cars, and it even folds flat for easy storage and transport.
We also like the aluminum-reinforced backrest that provides extra safety and protection in the event of a collision. The comfortable reclining seat boasts 5 recline positions that can be achieved regardless of the position of the car’s backrest.
3. Graco Size4Me 65 Convertible
Wider than Viaggio Flex but still narrow enough to fit perfectly in a small car, Graco Size4Me 65 is designed to accommodate babies from birth to youth. With a simple safe adjust harness system and tested for side impact protection, this unit is an excellent reclining car seat.
The product boasts two configurations and comes with an infant insert. In the rear-facing configuration, it accommodates babies from 4 to 40lbs, while the forward-facing configuration is ideal for toddlers between 20 and 65lbs.
The can seat also boasts three recline positions that allow the passenger to rest in a comfortable position. To recline, the seat slides in its car base, a feature that doesn’t compromise safety.
As for compatibility, the unit attaches to the car seat through the universal LATCH system. The car base adds convenience and it’s possible to safely remove the seat without the base as often as you like.
Best Convertible Car Seat Strollers
More often than not, parents prefer the convenience of a travel system. If you’re not familiar with the term, a travel system is nothing but a car seat and stroller combo. Suitable to use since birth, the car seats are usually ideal for newborns and infants, and they attach to the stroller base as a bassinet in the first months.
Convenient from many points of view, this solution is often more budget-friendly than buying separate gear. You’ll have three uses with just two products, and the car seat is usually ideal to use for babies up to 35lbs.
Comprising two separate products, the convertible car seat stroller systems are more difficult to choose. Some things reduce to your preference, but there are a few features to pay attention to.
1. Graco Modes Travel System
Graco Modes is one of the most popular travel systems on the market, and it includes the comfortable Snug Ride Click Connect 35 infant car seat. The seat accommodates kids from 4 to 35lbs and, thanks to the convenient car seat base, can be installed either rear-facing or forward-facing.
Easy to take in and out of the car, the seat converts into a newborn bassinet and attaches to the stroller base, forming a convenient pram.
On the other hand, the stroller is also fantastic. Boasting a reversible design, the product allows the baby to face you or the world. With 4 recline positions, the stroller converts into a fancy carriage for on-the-go comfort or lets the toddler enjoy the ride.
For safety, both the car seat and the stroller seat are equipped with 5-point safety harnesses which are easy to adjust. The Click Connect system also lets you know when the seat is in place with an audible signal.
2. Chicco Viaro Travel System
Chicco Viaro is another popular travel system but it comes with a smaller car seat suitable for babies up to 30lbs. The car seat shouldn’t be installed in a forward-facing position, but the unit comes with an infant insert and can accommodate youngsters from 4lbs up to 30lbs.
The KeyFit 30 car seat comes, however, with advantages. The unit is super easy to install using the integrated LATCH system, and it also fits cars without LATCH thanks to a built-in belt locking system.
Allowing an easy transitioning between car and stroller, the car seat boasts a convenient canopy and an ergonomic carry handle. Thanks to these features, you’ll never have to wake a sleeping baby when you’ve reached the destination.
The three-wheeled stroller, on the other hand, is easy to maneuver and has a sporty stance. Featuring a removable canopy, independent locking brakes, and a 5-point safety harness, the stroller accommodates infants and toddlers up to 50lbs.
3. Baby Trend Sit N Stand Travel System
The last travel system we tested is the Baby Trend Sit N Stand. Coming with a double stroller ideal for twins or infant and toddler, the system includes the Baby Trend Flex-Loc Infant Car Seat ideal for babies up to 35lbs or 30 inches long.
The infant car seat is comfortable and safe. Provided with an infant insert, the unit grows with your kid, but it’s only suitable to mount in a rear-facing configuration. Easy to take in and out of the car, the car seat attaches through a LATCH system.
On the other hand, the stroller is compact enough to fit in the trunk of a small car and it comes with two toddler seats. The rear seat is removable and reveals a toddler bench on which the older sibling can rest.
The sit and stand platform makes the stroller ideal for infant and toddler, while the car seat stroller combo transforms into a versatile newborn carriage and toddler transport solution.
Best 3 In 1 Convertible Car Seats
Convertible car seats is a broad term comprising any car seat that turns from a rear-facing to a forward-facing unit, or those converting into a carrier when used with a stroller frame. A distinct category is the 3-in-1 convertible car seats.
Designed to grow with a kid until he or she outgrows the car seat stage, this type of product converts from a rear-facing to a forward-facing to a seatbelt booster.
In our opinion, a 3-in-1 unit is the best investment to make. This option saves you money in the long run, as you won’t have to invest in additional baby gear. And a quality unit will keep your bundle of joy safe for many years. Here are the most important features to check.
1. Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
Graco Extend2Fit could be the only convertible car seat your kid will need. Ideal for small cars, the unit has a width of 19.2 inches and can accommodate kids up to 65lbs, the weight that corresponds to a kid of about 10 years old.
The unit is easy to arrange in two configurations. The rear-facing mode for infants and young toddlers has a weight limit of 50lbs, and you’ll be able to extend the use of this configuration as long as there is enough leg room for the little one.
In forward-facing mode, the car seat is ideal for kids from 22 to 65lbs. An adjustable safety harness delays the transition to the seatbelt, while the booster base will ultimately keep the child at seatbelt height until he’s old enough.
A drawback of this unit is the backrest, which isn’t removable. In other words, even if the kid will be able to ride in this seat for a long time, the unit might be uncomfortable for kids older than 6 years.
2. Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
Built to grow with the child, Safety 1st Grow and Go is designed for children from 5 to 100lbs and can accompany your little one for the years to come.
Starting as an infant car seat, the unit comes with a comfortable infant insert that keeps the newborn comfortable and safe. Arranged in a rear-facing configuration, the unit can hold up to 40lbs, which means you’ll be able to hold the child in a rear-facing position for longer.
Once the toddler outgrew this stage, the car seat converts into a forward-facing unit with a max weight limit of 65lbs. In this configuration, the seat can accommodate kids from 22lbs upwards while the cushioned padding and cup holders add convenience.
When the time comes to transition to a seat booster, just remove the backrest and use the base to raise the child in position. In this mode, the seat accommodates kids from 40 to 100lbs, or up until your baby outgrows the car seat stage.
3. Graco Milestone All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
Milestone All-in-1 by Graco is another convertible car seat designed to grow with the baby. This unit has a weight capacity of 100lbs and accommodates babies heavier than 5lbs.
The rear-facing configuration has a weight capacity of 40lbs, while the belt-positioning booster is ideal for kids heavier than 30lbs.
Boasting an exclusive InRight LATCH system, the unit is easy to install in less than a minute. Besides this, the car seat is also safe and it has been tested to meet or exceed federal regulations.
To keep the baby comfy, the unit also boasts a 4-position recline backrest, while convenient cup holders can hold baby bottles, drinks, and toddler snacks.
4. Graco Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster
Graco Nautilus 65 LX is another excellent alternative to consider. However, the unit is not suitable to use for newborns and young babies. In fact, this is a forward-facing car seat ideal for children from 22 to 120lbs.
The car seat harness booster is ideal for toddlers up to 65lbs, and the unit comes with a 3-position recline backrest to let the little one rest comfortably. At this stage, the unit includes a padded insert and side headrests.
For babies outgrowing this stage, or taller than 49 inches, the car seat converts into a high back booster that can accommodate kids from 30 to 100lbs, or backless booster for kids between 40 and 120lbs.
Side impact tested and coming with a built-in 5-point safety harness, the unit is designed to keep the child safe for at least 10 years.
5. Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster Convertible Car Seat
Graco Tranzitions is another 3-in-1 model unsuitable for newborns and infants, but we like that it’s budget-friendly and made to last. The unit accommodates kids from 22 to 100lbs and can be used as a forward-facing harness booster, high back booster or backless booster.
With a Simply Safe Adjust harness system, the unit grows with the kid and boasts 8 harness and headrest positions. Add-ons include a dual cup holder which is removable. The car seat is lightweight and compact, perfect for a small car.
Moreover, there is plenty of choices to consider. The unit is available in three colors, and you can even let the toddler choose it.
Easy to clean, the unit comes with a removable cover, and the other add-ons including the seat pad and body support and harness covers are also removable and machine washable. The metal and plastic parts are easy to clean with mild soap and cool water.
Conclusion & Final Pick
While choosing the best convertible car seats for small cars will ultimately depend on your particular needs, our favorite unit is still the Guide 65 by Safety 1st. This exceptional car seat is the ideal fit in a small car.
With a width of only 18 inches, the seat is compact enough to occupy a little space. It’s possible to fit up to three units across the rear bench or maximize space for the other passengers.
The unit accommodates babies between 5 and 65lbs in either rear-facing or forward-facing configuration. Comfortable and coming with a newborn insert, this car seat is sturdy, safe and secure.
Certainly, the seat might have its flaws. But it comes with enough advantages to stand out. And undoubtedly, this is one of the best convertible car seats for small cars on the market.