The best convertible car seats

Buying a convertible car seat is a must and may be the only seat you will have to buy if you make the decision not to buy a shell-style seat. In fact, convertible seats can be used from birth and offer the option of rear and front facing installation. Rear-facing installation is safe for the newborn baby until he or she reaches a certain weight and height depending on the seat model.  

As part of this evaluation, 6 of the most popular models on the market were selected. The functionalities of each one are compared and an inventory of the advantages and disadvantages of each seat was made.

Four main criteria were evaluated: Safety, representing the results of the crash tests; Ease of use, for the installation of the seat in the car and the attachment of the child; Comfort, for the quality of the materials and the comfort of the seat; and finally, Overall Appreciation for the reliability and overall performance.

Britax Marathon ClickTight

Britax Marathon ClickTight
My first choice is the Britax Marathon ClickTight.  This high quality car seat is frequently at the top of the convertible car seat charts. Britax has built a solid reputation for safety and quality while maintaining reasonable prices. In fact, the Britax B-Safe 35 shell-style car seat is also Option Parent’s choice in its category.

The ClickTight installation system will help you avoid problems when it’s time to install the seat in the car and the 10-position strap adjuster will provide an optimal fit for your child. Also user-friendly front and rear facing, this seat offers the performance you are looking for. 

Graco also offers an interesting product for small budgets with its Contender 65 model. This seat does not offer the same quality as a Britax seat, but will provide comfort for your child with soft padding that is easy to clean. Also, it is compatible with most vehicles; you probably won’t have any difficulty installing it. You are definitely making a good value purchase with this model.

The installation of a seat may differ from one car model to another. Option Parent recommends that you have the installation of your seat checked by a certified organization. Remember that the safety of a seat depends first and foremost on the quality of its installation. In fact, read and keep your seat’s instruction manual at all times.

In addition, many health organizations recommend that you use your car seat facing backwards at least until your child reaches the age of 2 years to avoid major injuries in the event of a collision.

Benefits

  • High performance in crash tests
  • Ease of installation
  • Quality of materials

Disadvantages

  • Heavy
  • Short crotch strap
  • No cup holders

The Britax Marathon offers one of the best safety performances in its class, which is not insignificant when choosing a car seat for our children. Its steel frame and expanded polypropylene foam padding offer optimum resistance in the event of an accident. Note that the latter material is more environmentally friendly compared to expanded polystyrene foam.

At a more reasonable price than its higher-end model, the Britax Boulevard, it is frankly worth it and there is no need to pay more. The only advantage of the Boulevard model is that it offers more adjustment options, which can make it more comfortable. On the other hand, the Britax Marathon performs better in crash tests, especially in side impacts.

The ClickTight system, developed and patented by Britax, makes installing this seat child’s play.

Simply lift the seat, put on your car’s seat belt, tighten it and close the seat. Even grandparents will find it just as easy to use for a short walk with their grandchild. It is probably the safest and easiest installation system on the market. 

Also, the buckle of the straps is very easy to hook and unhook. The straps are soft and very comfortable for the child. The Britax Marathon seat harness system has 10 adjustment points to ensure optimal adjustment to the child’s size. However, the crotch straps may be a little short for children with beautifully plump thighs. 

The fabric of the Britax Marathon can be washed very well with a cloth in the event of minor damage. However, many parents have noticed that the seams have deteriorated, making the cover more susceptible to tears. However, Britax does sell a separate seat cover that can protect against this type of inconvenience.

At 28.5 pounds, it may not be the lightest model on the market, but it is probably the price to pay for high-quality materials to prevent shocks. 

Also, the Britax Marathon comes without a cup holder, which is not ideal for long trips. It can be purchased separately, but the many negative comments about the product discourage the purchase. Indeed, many mention that the cup holder does not fit in place and is of poor quality.

Still, the Britax Marathon is an excellent choice for parents who want to purchase a safe and easy to use convertible car seat. This model certainly stands out from its competitors. It is important to note that the easier a car seat is to install, the safer it is; the most common cause of injury in accidents is due to improper installation of the seat.

Graco Extend2Fit

Graco Extend2Fit
Graco excels once again with its Extend2Fit car seat at a more than affordable price and unprecedented reliability. This seat is named one of the safest models in crash tests.

The Graco Extend2Fit is relatively light and compact compared to other convertible car seats on the market. However, even with a sport utility vehicle, you’ll have difficulty putting 3 seats of this model in the back or 2 seats and a rear passenger.

This model is much easier to install in rear-facing mode than in front-facing mode. Moreover, it’s perfect for a car seat from birth (starting at 4 pounds) if you make the decision not to buy a shell-style infant car seat. Your child must weigh between 22 and 65 pounds to use the forward-facing seat, but you can use it rear-facing up to 50 pounds, which is rare for a convertible seat.

Benefits

  • Affordable price
  • Comfortable
  • Optimal use rear-facing

Disadvantages

  • Difficult to wash
  • Poor quality of materials
  • Straps that are difficult to tighten and tend to twist

The biggest advantage of this seat is the leg rest that stretches to 3 different positions under the seat. It is recommended that the child be left rear-facing for as long as possible (at least up to 24 months). The main reason why parents install the seat early forward (from 12 months) is the lack of space between the backrest and the seat. Fully extended, the Graco Extend2Fit’s leg rest provides up to 5 inches of additional leg room for the child’s legs while providing a safe and comfortable head and neck rest. This option alone makes this model very popular. However, if you have a compact vehicle, the front passenger will have less space with a fully extended leg rest.

The Graco Extend2Fit offers 10 different positioning options for the head and neckrest and 6 reclining options. Parents mentioned that it was easier to install the seat with the UAS system than with the seat belt. 

The chest buckle is sometimes difficult to use due to a lack of flexibility. Some would say that this is a good safety feature since there is no chance that the child will be able to unbuckle. Several users mentioned that the belt straps twist easily and that their stiffness hinders their tightening.

The cover is machine washable, but should be dried flat. However, the seat cover is difficult to remove for washing. The buckles and straps are difficult to remove from the cover, wasting valuable time and causing serious annoyance.

The Graco Extend2Fit has a beautiful design and is available in several colors. It competes greatly with the Graco 4Ever model, the most popular model of the brand sold at a higher price. The main differences between these two seats are the possibility of transforming the 4Ever into a booster seat as well as its higher front-facing size limit. 

This seat is definitely a safe choice with its ability to be used for long periods of time facing the rear. Offered at a reasonable price, the Graco Extend2Fit is a tribute to the brand’s great reputation.

Diono Radian 3rXT

Diono Radian 3rXT
Many call this seat the Cadillac of car seats. However, at the high asking price, an informed consumer could demand more user-friendliness and comfort from this seat.

First of all, the 3-in-1 formula of the Diono Radian 3RXT is interesting. This seat will accompany your child from birth until he or she reaches the legal weight and height to safely sit directly on the bench of your vehicle. The use of the rear-facing seat implies the addition of a base included at the time of purchase, which allows a better angle for a young baby. This rearward-facing mode is possible for a child between 5 and 45 pounds. The forward-facing mode is possible for a child between 20 and 80 pounds. Finally, the Diono includes a booster mode for up to 120 pounds, allowing you to use your car’s seat belt directly. Enough to get your child used to the range. 

Benefits

  • High end seat
  • Narrow width
  • Comfortable

Disadvantages

  • High price
  • Difficult installation
  • Difficult-to-adjust adjustment loop

The Diono owes its reputation to its narrow width, which allows the installation of 3 seats in most vehicles on the market. This seat is narrow but very heavy. This is probably the price to pay for a quality steel frame. However, this steel frame allows a regulated useful life of 10 years as opposed to 5 years on average for a plastic frame. Convenient for a seat that accompanies the child from the moment he or she is discharged from the hospital until the start of school!

The Diono will be difficult to install for some people. Many have reported a complication to ensure proper tightening of the seat and avoid movement of the seat, even with the UAS system. Also, it is convenient to be able to put 3 seats in a row, but the installation of the child is more difficult in these conditions, given the limited space.

The Diono Radian 3RXT doesn’t offer much padding, which doesn’t suggest optimal comfort for the child. The fabric covering the seat is still very soft to the touch and seems comfortable, especially the memory foam underside. Also, the cushions on the straps are interesting because they are longer than what is usually seen in this type of seat. The cover covering the seat can be easily removed, making it easier to wash in case of damage or simply for maintenance. Also, a cup holder is included with the purchase, but it is possible to add 3 others, sold separately. 

The Diono Radian RXT is distinguished by its folding function, allowing for more compact and practical transportation. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s one of the heaviest seat models on the market, so it’s best not to move it around a lot. Nevertheless, it is the preferred model for parents who wish to travel with their children by plane and carry their own seat (in countries where this is possible).

This seat is very high, which will interfere with the parent’s view of their child when used in the rearward direction. The Diono also takes up a lot of space when used in the rear-facing position.  Diono sells an angled cushion separately for a better orientation of the bench to reduce the space between the seat and the front bench. However, this cushion cannot be used for a newborn baby, as the child must wait until he or she is able to support his or her head unaided.

Many consumers find the Diono’s headrest difficult to move. In addition, the belt straps can sometimes be stiff and difficult to buckle. 

With the purchase of a Diono Radian 3RXT, you are probably making a lasting investment. Its price discourages many, but its compact nature is just as appealing. If your main buying criteria is narrow size, this seat is definitely for you, don’t hesitate any longer.

Graco Contender 65

Graco Contender 65
Graco Contender 65
Graco has beautifully designed a reasonably priced convertible car seat that is compatible with most vehicles, including compact sedans, which is a feat in itself.

You can install rear-facing baby up to a maximum weight of 40 pounds, which is not ideal for parents of large children. This is not ideal for parents of large children, as the recommendations stipulate that a rear-facing child should be installed at least until the age of 2 years. A front-facing child can be installed from 22 to 65 pounds.

As with other Graco seats, installing the Contender 65 from the UAS system is very easy and the level indicator is very user-friendly. You will have no difficulty installing this seat very tightly and avoiding any shaking, both front and rear facing.

Benefits

  • Good value for money
  • Narrow
  • Easy to install

Disadvantages

  • Rigid strap loop
  • Tilt forward
  • 40 lb. limit when used rear-facing

Adjusting the Contender 65 to your child’s size is really easy. The headrest with 8 possible adjustments is connected to the shoulder straps, which makes the adjustment easier and faster. The 5-point harness is very easy to use. Tightening and loosening the straps is child’s play! However, some parents have mentioned that they had more difficulty with the strap buckle, which is not very long.

Some parents also mentioned that the seat, when used forward-facing, could be slightly reclined, which would be uncomfortable for the child.

The Contender 65 comes with an insert and an additional comfortable and removable cushion for small children. The seat cover can also be easily removed and machine washed. The seat is also equipped with a cup holder.

You are definitely making a good choice with this model. Its price is not to the detriment of its quality and comfort. The Graco Contender 65 can be safely installed in most vehicles without compromising the front seat.

Evenflo Triumph Lx

Evenflo Triumph Lx
Evenflo Triumph Lx
The Evenflo Triumph Lx impresses for its low price and some features that set it apart from its competitors.

Compatible with the UAS system, this seat can be used rear-facing from 5 pounds up to 40 pounds and up to 65 pounds front-facing if your child weighs a minimum of 22 pounds at 1 year old. The seat offers 3 different recline levels.

The company has demonstrated that this seat has exceeded all safety standards in crash tests. The Evenflo Triumph Lx is without a doubt a safe seat offered at a more than affordable price. The best choice if your main criterion is price.

Benefits

  • Good value for money
  • Good result in safety tests
  • Strap support

Disadvantages

  • Difficult cleaning
  • Width
  • Difficult adjustment

Many parents have noted a difficulty in installing the seat using the UAS system, mainly facing forward. The short UAS anchoring straps make it difficult to access for optimal tightening.

The Evenflo Triumph LX stands out with its strap tightening mechanism. When your child is in the seat, simply turn the tightening mechanism located on each side of the seat to allow you to tighten the straps evenly on both sides. The mechanism can sometimes be difficult to turn and the straps can sometimes twist, but it works most of the time.  A great innovation! Note that the button to unlock the straps sometimes locks, making it difficult to loosen the straps. 

Another distinction: the Evenflo Triumph Lx infinite slide harness allows you to easily adjust the straps to the right height for your child’s height.

When you remove your child from the seat, you can insert the strap loops into two small pockets on each side of the seat. This feature makes it easier for your child to install the seat in the future and avoids exposing the metal buckles to the summer heat.

The Evenflo Triumph Lx comes with a very comfortable padding to support newborns and a headrest for the little ones. However, the fabric is of low quality. Prolonged use and a lot of friction will probably get the better of this seat. The seat cover is easy to remove and is machine washable. 

The cup holders are equipped with an elastic band to allow compatibility with any cup or snack container.

The Evenflo Triumph Lx is wide enough, but still fits into some compact cars. 

It is the perfect seat for low budget families who don’t want to compromise on quality. It has some interesting features that set it apart from the competition, but these distinctions would benefit from being further refined in order to rise to the top of this comparison.

Safety First Grow and Go

Safety First Grow and Go
Safety First Grow and Go
Safety First Grow and Go offers parents on a small budget an interesting product. The company has built a strong reputation in baby products worldwide.

At this price, don’t expect a top-of-the-line model, but the Grow and Go meets the minimum criteria that parents are looking for in a convertible car seat: safety, comfort and user-friendliness. However, this model is very wide, especially when used rear-facing. Therefore, it may not be compatible with your vehicle for a safe installation. Please make the necessary verifications before purchasing it.

Your little one will be ecstatic when you take it for a ride in the car thanks to the comfortable cushions that this seat has. The head support adapts to your child’s morphology throughout his growth. The fabric of the cushions is comfortable, even in hot weather. However, the buckle on the chest is quite wide and can be uncomfortable for smaller babies when the seat is used from birth. 

Benefits

  • Affordable price
  • Ease of washing
  • Good padding

Disadvantages

  • Difficult adjustment of the straps
  • Lack of stability during installation
  • Very wide

In addition, the cushion covers can be easily removed for easy washing. You won’t have to remove the straps to remove the covers, which will save you a lot of time. With this seat, you will no longer have to worry about milk or other unwanted substances. 

When it comes to installation, you won’t have the same ease as with other similar but more expensive models. The SAU system of the Grow and Go is difficult to use to ensure the stability of the seat. You may have to go over it several times before you succeed. In addition, the attachment straps are difficult to adjust. Considering that you have to adjust them every time you use it, this is a major disadvantage for this model. Nevertheless, the Safety First Grow and Go is a better choice than its lower-end model, the Alpha, which presents an even greater installation challenge.

You’ll appreciate the 2 cup holders that easily detach from the seat to put them in the dishwasher. Also, the strap holder is easy to use, so you won’t have to look for the straps under your child.

Large, but fairly light (you won’t have any trouble carrying it from one car to another), the Safety First Grow and Go is available in several colours. Its design is interesting and easily hides its low quality materials. As mentioned above, expect this seat to be imposing when used rear-facing. 

In short, while comfortable for your child, this seat disappoints with its more difficult installation and with its rigid straps that make installing your child a real nightmare. You can definitely find a better seat at a better price.

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