Car Seat

The 5 Best Convertible Car Seats: Top Options For All Ages

Updated on 5 July 2022 • 10 minute read

 

Overview

Car seats are among the most important items to add to your baby’s postpartum essentials because you aren’t supposed to travel with your baby in a car unless they’re strapped safely into one.

Motor vehicle crashes rank among the main causes of death of children in the US, with as many as 38% not buckled up. (1)

Studies show that car seats (infants or convertible) can reduce the risk of injury for children by as much as 71-82% compared with using a seat belt alone. (1)(2)

However, for car seats to work as intended, you have to ensure that they’re suitable for your baby’s age, height, or weight and installed correctly in the back seat.

Are convertible car seats a better option? How should you choose your baby’s car seat? Which brand has the highest safety rating?

Continue reading to learn more.

 

What’s A Convertible Car Seat?

As the name suggests, convertible car seats convert into different configurations. 

Most convertible car seats can turn from a rear-facing position (from birth to 12 months, or up to three years old) to a forward-facing mode. Some can also turn into a highback booster or a backless booster seat (for preschool or older kids).

Some products, such as the Doona convertible, can turn from a rear-facing car seat into a stroller but can’t be used as a forward-facing car seat or booster.

 

Our Top 5 Picks For The Best Convertible Car Seats

  1. Nuna RAVA Convertible Car Seat ($499.95)GREENGUARD Gold certified car seat (for low chemical emissions) with colored belt path indicators
  2. Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB (Anti-Rebound Bar) ($364.99) 14-position harness, patented V-shaped tether that helps reduce forward movement, and among the highest safety ratings by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  3. Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat ($549.99) – Aircraft-approved, ethically sourced 100% Merino wool, and REACT Safety System (it actively reduces the forces transmitted to your child in a frontal collision)
  4. Maxi-Cosi Pria All-In-One Convertible Car Seat ($299.99) – Washer-and-dryer-safe fabrics, a spring-assist harness system, and ClipQuik one-hand, magnetic chest clip
  5. Graco SlimFit 3 LX 3-in-1 Car Seat ($279.99) – Slim design can fit three in the vehicle seat, one-second LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) attachment, and machine-washable seat pad covers

 

You can learn more about the top features of our five best convertible car seats below.

 

Nuna RAVA Convertible Car Seat

(source: nunababy.com)

 

Price

  • $499.95

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Conversion Options: Rear-facing and forward-facing modes
  • GREENGUARD Gold certified product for low chemical emissions
  • Extra 2 inches of legroom for rear-facing mode
  • Colored belt path indicators to help decrease the risk of user error
  • No-rethread 2 position crotch strap
  • Removable infant head and body inserts
  • Washable ventilation panels for comfort even on long trips
  • 10-position headrest
  • FAA-certified for aircraft use (*FAA means Federal Aviation Administration)

 

Key Features 

  • Material: Steel frame, reinforced belt path, and flame-resistant, energy-absorbing foam and fabric material without fire retardant chemicals
  • Safety Features: Energy-absorbing side impact protection and 5-point harness (goes over your child’s legs and shoulders)
  • Ease Of Installation: Simple but secure installation

 

Other Specifications

  • Capacity: Up to 50 lbs for rear-facing mode and up to 65 lbs for forward-facing mode
  • Warranty: Two years
  • Extra Features: Dual flip-open cup holders

 

Product Recall

  • None

 

Cons

  • Unlike the Nuna PIPA infant car seats, Nuna RAVA isn’t compatible with the Nuna strollers.

 

Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB (Anti-Rebound Bar)

(source: us.britax.com)

 

Price

  • $364.99

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Conversion Options: Rear-facing and front-facing modes
  • Easy-read level indicators
  • Quick-push recline
  • 14-position harness
  • Seven recline positions
  • Easy-adjust harness and headrest
  • Removable cover

 

Key Features 

  • Material: Steel frame 
  • Safety Features: Patented V-shaped tether that helps reduce forward movement, torso crumple zone help absorb crash energy, anti-rebound bar, and two layers of side impact protection surround your child’s head, neck
  • Ease Of Installation: Easy to install, with visual demonstrations

 

Other Specifications

  • Capacity: Up to 40 lbs for rear-facing mode and 65 lbs for forward-facing mode
  • Warranty: One year

 

Product Recall

The Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB (Anti-Rebound Bar) hasn’t had a recall. However, its standard version, Britax Boulevard ClickTight, was recalled on August 17, 2015, due to a manufacturing defect.

Britax announced the recall of Britax Boulevard ClickTight and other ClickTight products Advocate and Marathon for a possible defect in their harness adjuster buttons. (3)

The car seat buttons with the defect can remain in the “release” position even after the harness is tightened. It could make the shoulder harness loose from your child’s movement and make them unsecured in their seat.

Affected Britax Boulevard ClickTight model numbers and codes: (3)

  • E9LV45Q BOULEVARD CT CAN, CIRCA
  • E9LV45S BOULEVARD CT CAN, SPLASH
  • E9LV46A BOULEVARD CT CAN, KALEIDOSCOPE
  • E9LV46H BOULEVARD CT CAN, METRO

 

Consumers were sent a repair kit, while Britax also recommended putting lubricant on the harness adjuster button.

They were also told to contact Britax for questions or other concerns:

  • Customer Service Department (US customers) at 1-888-427-4829 (choose option 3)
  • Consumers outside of the US and Canada: 704-409-1699
  • Email: [email protected]
  • BritaxClickTightConvertibleRecall.com.

 

Cons

  • Its standard version had a recall.

 

Which Convertible Car Seat Has The Top Safety Rating?

Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB has one of the highest safety ratings. 

Although the brand had a recall in 2015 for its standard version, it has been resolved.

The car seat received the following NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) crash test and safety standard ratings: (4)

Rear-facing ratings:

  • Overall Ease of Use: 4 stars
  • Securing the Child: 4 stars
  • Evaluation of Labels: 5 stars
  • Installation Features: 5 stars
  • Evaluation of Instruction: 5 stars

 

Forward-facing ratings:

  • Overall Ease of Use: 4 stars
  • Securing the Child: 5 stars
  • Evaluation of Labels: 4 stars
  • Installation Features: 5 stars
  • Evaluation of Instruction: 3 stars

 

It has slightly better ratings than the standard version, Britax Boulevard ClickTight (forward-facing ratings): (5)

  • Overall Ease of Use: 4 stars
  • Securing the Child: 5 stars
  • Evaluation of Labels: 3 stars
  • Installation Features: 4 stars
  • Evaluation of Instruction: 4 stars

 

Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat

(source: clekinc.com)

 

Price

  • $549.99

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Conversion Options: Rear and forward-facing modes
  • REACT Safety System that actively reduces the forces transmitted to your child in a frontal collision
  • Rebound bar that provides 1-2 inches of extra legroom for rear-facing mode as your child grows
  • Easy-to-clean, removable cushion
  • An adjustable crotch strap and six different harness heights
  • Three recline positions
  • Hand-washable seat pad covers
  • Aircraft approved

 

Key Features 

  • Material: Steel frame, anti-rebound bar, ethically sourced 100% Merino wool, and EPP (expanded polypropylene) foam that’s free from brominated and chlorinated flame retardants
  • Safety Features: Advanced side-impact protection, energy-absorbing foam layers, deep side wings, and adjustable structural headrest
  • Ease Of Installation: Rigid LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) for secure and easy installation

 

Other Specifications

  • Capacity: 50 lbs for rear-facing mode, 65 lbs for front-facing mode
  • Warranty: Three years
  • Expiration: Nine years
  • Extra Features: Conforms to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

 

Product Recall

In December 2021, Clek Inc. recalled the Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat due to a possible safety defect. This recall also included Clek Fllo. (6)

Although the seats are considered safe and can protect your child in the event of a crash, a gap at the crotch buckle opening allows little fingers to reach the foam material. Repeated picking on the foam can let your child remove a piece, which could pose a choking hazard and increase the risk of injury. 

Affected Clek Foonf car seats have the following model codes: 

  • FO12
  • FO14
  • FO15
  • FO16
  • FO17
  • FO18
  • FO19

 

These car seats were manufactured from 2012/12/03 to 2021/05/20. 

Clek clarifies that the car seats are safe to use, but affected consumers should check the opening for signs of damage while waiting for the plastic kit the company will send to fix the issue. (6)

Registered Clek owners will receive a message from the company if their car seats were affected, but they could also reach them through the following channels:

 

Cons

  • It had a recall.

 

Maxi-Cosi Pria All-In-One Convertible Car Seat

(source: maxicosi.com)

 

Price

  • $299.99

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Conversion Options: Rear-facing, forward-facing, and belt-positioning booster modes
  • In and out harness holders
  • Adjustable headrest
  • Removable infant pillows that can help start support if your baby weighs 4 lbs or more
  • Three recline positions
  • Quick-fit shoulder harness that automatically raises the harness and the headrest height

 

Key Features 

  • Material: Free from fire-retardant chemicals, washer-and-dryer-safe fabrics, and steel frame
  • Safety Features: GCell side impact protection, a spring-assist harness system, and ClipQuik one-hand, magnetic chest clip
  • Ease Of Installation: LATCH connectors

 

Other Specifications

  • Capacity: Up to 40 lbs for rear-facing mode, up to 65 lbs for forward-facing mode, and up to 100 lbs for the highback booster mode
  • Warranty: One year
  • Extra Features: Two removable cup holders

 

Product Recall

  • None

 

Although the car seats “Pria 70”, “Pria 85,” and Pria 85 Max” (production years from 2019 to 2021) were recalled for possible design defects that can lead to safety concerns, the Maxi Cosi Pria 3-in-1 and the Maxi Cosi Pria All-in-One models aren’t included in the recall. (7)

 

Cons

  • Several complaints about the fabric easily ripping apart

 

Graco SlimFit 3 LX 3-in-1 Car Seat

(source: gracobaby.com)

 

Price

  • $279.99 (price on Amazon)

 

What Makes It Special?

  • Conversion Options: Rear-facing mode, forward-facing mode, and highback booster 
  • The slim design can fit three in the vehicle seat
  • It can be ideal for small cars
  • 10-position harness system
  • Four recline positions
  • Machine-washable, rapid-remove cover that can come without uninstalling the seat
  • Removable, plush head and body inserts
  • It’s slimmer than the Graco Milestone All-in-1 and other Graco car seats.

 

Key Features 

  • Material: EPS (expanded polystyrene) energy-absorbing foam, steel-reinforced frame, plastic, and fabric
  • Safety Features: Breathable mesh AirFlow channels for ventilation
  • Ease Of Installation: Graco’s exclusive push-button InRight LATCH (one-second attachment with an audible click) and seat belt

 

Other Specifications

  • Capacity: Up to 40 lbs for rear-facing mode, up to 65 lbs for forward-facing mode, and up to 100 lbs for the highback booster mode
  • Warranty: One year
  • Extra Features: Two cup holders and harness storage pockets

 

Product Recall

  • None

 

Cons

  • Graco car seats may contain toxic flame retardants. (8)
  • Some complaints about the harness straps being too short and difficulty installing the car seat.

 

Summary & Recommendations: Which Convertible Car Seat Should I Get?

For your baby’s added safety, it’s also important to check a car seat’s chemical emissions, not just its best safety features

So, we recommend the Nuna RAVA Convertible Car Seat ($499.95) because it’s a GREENGUARD Gold-certified car seat, which means it has low chemical emissions. It also features colored belt path indicators as a guide.

Still, you can pick these other options if they meet the features you’re looking for in a convertible car seat:

 

Choose Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB ($364.99) if:

  • You’re looking for a car seat with a 14-position harness
  • You want one with a patented V-shaped tether that helps reduce forward movement
  • You prefer one that has one of the highest safety ratings by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

 

Choose Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat ($549.99) if:

  • You’re looking for an aircraft-approved convertible car seat
  • You prefer one with ethically sourced 100% Merino wool
  • You want one with the REACT Safety System (actively reduces the forces transmitted to your child in a frontal collision)
  • You don’t mind its price tag
  • You don’t mind that it has had a recent recall (but its safety rating wasn’t affected)

 

Choose Maxi-Cosi Pria All-In-One Convertible Car Seat ($299.99) if:

  • You’re looking for a car seat with washer-and-dryer-safe fabrics
  • You prefer one with a spring-assist harness system and a one-hand, magnetic chest clip

 

Choose Graco SlimFit 3 LX 3-in-1 Car Seat ($279.99) if:

  • You’re looking for a budget-friendly convertible car seat
  • You need a slim design that can fit three in the vehicle seat
  • You prefer a car seat with a one-second LATCH attachment and machine-washable seat pad covers
  • You don’t mind that it might contain flame retardants

 

Factors To Help You Choose The Best Convertible Car Seat

  • Safety indicators – such as built-in leveling systems and indicators to show if you installed them correctly 
  • No recent recalls or safety issues – check for possible safety issues or product recalls on NHTSA (nhtsa.gov/recalls) or Consumer Reports 
  • Ease of installation – using the LATCH system (with built-in anchors and tethers) or the regular seat belt
  • Ease of adjustments – a no-rethread harness lets you adjust the straps without manually rerouting them through the back
  • Higher rear-facing weight limits – the NHTSA and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend keeping your child in a rear-facing for as long as possible until they reach the weight limit for that seat because it can be safer than riding in a forward-facing car seat (2)
  • Size and fit – car seats come in different sizes and shapes, with some wider or narrower than others (check the width, especially if you have a smaller car)
  • Size limitsif you want a car seat that can last until your child’s grade school days, choose one with a higher size or weight limits
  • Safe and durable fabrics – consider fabrics that are durable, easy to wash messes, but also have low chemical emissions
  • Safety extras – some car seats also have extra safety features, such as an anti-rebound bar, additional shock absorption padding, or higher quality materials without toxic flame retardants
  • Comfort check for extras that can add to your child’s comfort, including padded neck support, breathable or ventilated seats, and a leg rest
  • Other extras – for example, car seats with cup holders might be more useful as your little one grows

 

FAQs

What’s The Most Popular Convertible Car Seat?

Many convertible car seats are popular because different parents look for different styles and features.

Graco Milestone All-in-1 Car Seat, Safety 1st Grow and Go All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat, and Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat are among the top contenders, but the five best car seats we listed above are also favorite options. 

 

When Do You Need Convertible Car Seats?

Many parents opt to get a convertible car seat from day one so they don’t have to buy a new car seat for each stage in their baby’s life.

However, because convertible car seats are usually heavier and require more time to install, some opt to get infant car seats for the first year, then use convertible car seats (forward-facing mode and booster).

 

Are More Expensive Car Seats Safer?

More expensive car seats often have premium seats, possibly lower chemical emissions, higher weight or height limits, more conveniences, and more bells and whistles. However, the higher price tag doesn’t always mean it’s safer.

It’s still good to check for their car seat safety and crash test scores.

 

Can I Buy A Second-Hand Car Seat?

We recommend getting a new car seat (infant seat or convertible) as much as possible. Used car seats might already be expired (yes, car seats also expire, mama).

However, a used car seat might still be alright as long as you check the seat’s expiration date, whether this particular model has ever been recalled, it hasn’t figured in a car crash, and if the actual car seat looks clean and intact.

 

Other Convertible Car Seats To Try

  • Graco Milestone All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
  • Britax Allegiance 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat
  • Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Kinetic
  • Graco Contender Slim Convertible Car Seat
  • Britax One4Life ClickTight All-in-One Car Seat
  • Safety 1st Grow and Go Convertible Car Seat (All-in-1)
  • Evenflo Gold Revolve360 Rotational All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
  • Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat
  • Diono Radian 3 RXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
  • Cybex Sirona S
  • Evenflo Tribute LX
  • Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
  • Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat 
  • Britax Marathon ClickTight
  • Evenflo Stratos
  • Clek Fllo
  • Cosco Scenera Next

 

References

(1) https://www.cdc.gov/injury/features/child-passenger-safety/index.html

(2) https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.gov/files/documents/carseat-recommendations-for-children-by-age-size.pdf

(3) https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5d8e31f237fce41a1f60ccf4/t/5e62a99a05645219a38552a2/1583524250652/1036-dd7.pdf

(4) https://www.nhtsa.gov/car-seat/Britax/Boulevard%252520Clicktight%252520ARB/i__137729#child-seat-ratings-mode-Rear-Facing

(5) https://www.nhtsa.gov/car-seat/Britax/Boulevard%252520Clicktight/i__137809

(6) https://clekinc.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2021/12/NHTSA-Recall-Notice-for-Website-FINAL-Updated-DEC22.pdf

(7) https://www.maxicosi.com/us-en/pria-recall-information

(8) https://hbbf.org/safe-product-guide/subcategory/31

 

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