The Best Convertible Car Seats of 2014
If your baby is out-growing his infant car seat, it’s time to think about buying a convertible car seat. What’s a convertible car seat? I was long baffled by this myself.
It’s a car seat that’s “convertible” because it can be used in a rear-facing position for babies, or in a front-facing position for toddlers. Like infant car seats, convertible car seats use your car’s LATCH system or seat belt to hold it in place, and they also have a five point safety harness. Unlike an infant car seat, they are rather large and cumbersome and generally aren’t meant to be seats for your child outside of the car.
The important thing to know here is that the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends keeping your child rear-facing in the car until age two, or as long as possible. This means you want to look for a convertible car seat with high rear-facing height and weight limits so that you can keep your child rear-facing longer.
I’ve looked at many, many convertible car seats, and have complied this list of today’s safest, most cutting-edge, and all-together best convertible car seats.
Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 Convertible Car Seat
What’s the Pria 70 by Maxi-Cosi all about? Your baby’s comfort and safety. This seat is the comfiest looking convertible car seat I’ve found, and it’s made of a special fabric that stays cool to the touch – an absolute must in hotter climates. This is like a La-Z-Boy for your little one.
If your baby is cranky in the car, I would pick this car seat to try. Safety-wise, the Pria 70 has a special “air protect” system that immediately reduces impact forces through the precise release of air. It’s actually safe for babies from four to 40 pounds in the rear-facing position, so you can skip the infant car seat and go straight to this one to save some money. Forward-facing, this seat is safe for children 22 to 70 pounds.
There are a couple not so great things about this seat that may or may not be a big deal to you. One is that the seat isn’t the easiest to install with a seat belt (versus the LATCH system). Given that you’re probably only going to install the seat a handful of times, perhaps this isn’t a huge detractor. The second negative for this seat is that you cannot remove the cover and machine wash it. Instead, you must spot clean the fabric and let it air dry. If your baby does a lot of eating in the car, take a look at the other options here before deciding on this one.
Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat
Out of all the car seats I’ve looked at, this is the convertible car seat I plan to buy. It’s the most expensive, but I think the safety features are head and shoulders above other car seats on the market.
The Foonf uses the same “crumple zone” technology that cars use, reducing collision forces in the forward-facing position by up to 40%. For extra protection in the rear-facing position (still the safest position, even with the “crumple zone” technology), an anti-rebound bar presses against the back seat to keep the car seat in place in a crash. The safety features alone make this one of the best convertible car seats available today.
Aside from the safety features, another huge selling point for me is that this car seat sits higher in the car than others, allowing for your little one to see the view out the window, which I’m sure my daughter would appreciate. The Foonf allows for rear-facing up to 45 pounds (the highest rear-facing weight limit that I’ve encountered) and forward-facing up to 65 pounds.
This seat is only safe for babies six months or older, however. The Foonf comes in awesome colors, has easy-clean fabric, and has magnets that keep the belt out of the way while you put your child in the seat. Genius! The big downside is that it’s expensive. If it’s in your budget, however, I highly recommend the Foonf.
Safety 1st Guide 65
This seat is the most affordable on my list, which makes it a great option for families on a tight budget, or for anyone looking for a secondary seat to keep with Grandma or the babysitter.
The Guide 65 comes with all the standard safety features, and is cushy for your little one’s comfort. This convertible car seat fits fine in smaller cars, too. Like the Maxi-Cosi, the Guide 65 is safe for babies five to 40 pounds rear-facing, so you can put your newborn right in the convertible car seat if you don’t need the portability of the infant car seat carriers.
For the forward-facing position, this seat is safe for kids 22 to 65 pounds. The Safety 1st Guide 65 makes my list of the best convertible car seats because it’s safe, comfy, and most of all, affordable.
Chicco makes a fantastic infant car seat, and now they’ve finally released a similarly fantastic convertible car seat. This seat comes with some awesome bells and whistles, like one-handed head rest and harness adjustments, EPS foam for side-impact protection, and nine recline positions.
It even has a SuperCinch LATCH Tightener that uses force-multiplying technology to get a super tight fit with less manual effort when you install the seat. The seat is safe for children five to 40 pounds in the rear-facing position, and 22 to 65 pounds in the forward-facing position.
My only beef with this seat is the harness. It’s more difficult to tighten than other seats I’ve tried, and the shoulder pads are bulky. Despite this, the Chicco NextFit makes my list of best convertible car seats because it’s extremely easy to install and it has cutting-edge safety and comfort features.
Britax Marathon 70-G3 – Best Convertible Car Seat ($209.25)
The Britax Marathon 70 is the #1 best seller in convertible car seats on Amazon for a reason – it’s comfortable, decently priced, and it has a ton of great safety features.
The safety technology in this seat is no joke – side impact protection system, a base that compresses to contract forward momentum, an energy absorbing tether, and integrated steel bars keeps everything stable.
The Marathon 70-G3 is safe for babies in the rear-facing position from five to 40 pounds, and 20 to 70 pounds for forward-facing. I find that this car seat sits a bit lower, making it a little difficult for babies to see out the window.
Also, the darker colors get blazing hot in the summer sun (nothing a blanket over the seat can’t fix). In short, this is one of the best convertible car seats on the market because you get so much bang for your buck – safety, easy installation, and comfort.
All of these choices on my list of best convertible car seats are highly rated for safety and will help protect your child in a collision. But please remember that a correctly installed car seat is the safest car seat. Once you’ve chosen your car seat, doubly ensure your child’s safety by having a local child passenger safety technician check the installation for free.