A car seat is an essential purchase for any new parents. Driving is never a risk-free activity, but it is only natural to want to make sure that your children are as safe as possible when they are passengers in your car. Ensuring that they are placed in a suitable car seat will dramatically improve their safety as well as their comfort during car journeys.
But with so many car seats available out there, choosing the right one can be a challenge. We have reviewed 5 of the best children’s car seats available on the market today to help you make the choice a little bit easier for you.
1. Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat ($324.99)
- Easy installation: patented click tight makes car seat installation as simple as buckling a seat belt
- No rethreading, ever: quick adjust 14 position harness with click and safe snug indicator gives a click sound when the harness is tight
- Adjust accurately: harness indicator gives an audible click when you’ve pulled to the proper tightness
- Surrounded in safety: 2 layers of side impact protection, steel frame and impact absorbing base
- Fits: rear facing 5 to 40 pounds and forward facing 20 to 65 pounds; dimensions: 23 x 18.5 x 23.5 inches (LxWxH)
The Britax Boulevard ClickTight is a sturdy and comfortable convertible seat. The thick padding ensures the comfort and safety of your child, while solid construction gives you peace of mind that the seat can stand up to stress and will see your child through their first year and beyond. You can start using this car seat from the time your child is around six months old and it will serve them until well beyond the 18-month mark.
Installation is simple and only takes a couple of minutes. All you need to do is thread your seatbelt through the car seat’s loops and click it into place. Britax’s ClickTight installation system makes it easy to tell when the seat has been secured in place, thanks to a loud click. This is a great feature for any parent that has had to deal with an unreliable car seat in the past. There’s nothing worse than having to worry about whether your child has been properly secured in your car or not.
Once the seat is in your place and your child is in it, all you need to do is pull a single strap in order to tighten the harness and make sure that it fits properly. Some seats make it a bit awkward to adjust the harness, and it’s certainly not as easy as pulling on a single strap.
Overall, the Britax Boulevard is a fantastic car seat. It’s hard to think of a single area that lets it down. Before you buy any car seat, you should always make sure that it has not been included in a prior safety recall. Previous models of Britax’s ClickTight car seats were recalled voluntarily because of a safety issue. Anything manufactured after 2015 is fine, but make sure that you check before you buy a ClickTight car seat from Britax.
2. Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat ($269.99)
- 4 in 1 car seat gives you 10 years of use: seamlessly transforms from rear facing harness car seat (4 40 pounds), to forward facing harness car seat (22 65 pounds), to high back belt positioning booster (40 100 pounds), to backless belt positioning booster (40 120 pounds)
- Graco protect Plus engineered helps to protect Your little one in frontal, side, rear and rollover crashes
- Simply safe adjust harness system adjusts the height of your harness and headrest to 10 positions in one motion to ensure that Your child is always properly secured
- 6 position recline helps keep your growing child comfy on Your many journeys together
- The Graco exclusive In right Latch attachment provides an easy, one second attachment with an audible click to help ensure secure installation
The 4Ever 4-in-1 from Graco is designed to last your child from the time they first need a car seat right up until they no longer need one. There are a lot of seats on the market that claim to be able to do this, but many of them fall short when you try them out under real-world conditions. However, the 4Ever 4-in-1 is sturdy enough and versatile enough to be relied upon throughout this period of your child’s life.
There is a range of different colors and fabrics for you to choose from, so it’s easy to find a suitable option to suit any car interior. The 4Ever 4-in-1 also features some of the best cup holders that we have ever seen in a car seat, keeping your child’s drink and snacks secure throughout any car journey. Even with both cup holders occupied, there is still plenty of space available for storing toys and other activities. The whole thing is machine washable, so if there are any spills or accidents, it is easy enough to clean the unit.
As with most other convertible car seats, this one is designed to remain in your vehicle and can’t be used as a portable carrier. You can’t fit it to a stroller, either.
The 4Ever 4-in-1 has excellent safety and comfort features, ensuring that your child can happily remain in the seat even on the longest car journeys. There are three different recline positions to choose from when the seat is in front or rear-facing mode. A bubble indicator tells you when the seat is leveled appropriately.
3. Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat ($122.78)
- Convertible car seat grows with your child from rear-facing harness (4-50lbs) to forward-facing harness (22-65 pounds)
- Made of Steel reinforced | Product dimensions – 20.75” D x 19” W x 24.5” H | Product weight – 19.25 lbs.
- Up to 50 pounds rear facing, allowing your child to safely ride rear-facing longer
- Graco ProtectPlus Engineered | Simply Safe Adjust no-rethread headrest and harness adjust together
- Extend2Fit 4-position adjustable extension panel provides up to 5" additional legroom, allowing your child to safely ride rear facing longer
The Extend2Fit is one of the higher-end convertible car seats that Graco produces, and it offers all the features and build quality that you would expect from a car seat in this price range. Despite being lightweight and easy to carry, the Extend2Fit is also well-built and sturdy. There are two built-in cupholders that do a great job of holding drinks, snacks, and even toys, as well as a footrest that provides some extra legroom when the seat is in the rear-facing configuration.
The Extend2Fit is unlike other comparable car seats in that its rear-facing option supports children up to 50lbs, a higher limit than most competitors. The no re-thread harness makes it possible to adjust the height of the seat while your child is in it, which helps to add to the convenience level. The LATCH installation system enables you to quickly install the seat. Getting it set up or taking it out of the car are both equally simple thanks to this intuitive system.
As with Graco’s other designs, the Extend2Fit looks great, and there are plenty of options for customizing its appearance to make sure that it fits in with your vehicle. While the padding isn’t as thick as it is on some of the other Graco models we have reviewed, it is still more than enough to provide a comfortable ride for your child.
One drawback to this car seat is that it takes up quite a lot of space in any car, thanks to its width. Measuring close to 20 inches at its widest point, packing more than one of these seats into some vehicles presents a logistical challenge.
4. Maxi-Cosi Pria 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat ($199.99)
- 3-In-1 seating system: rear-facing, from 4-40 pounds; forward-facing to 65 pounds; and up to 100 pounds in Booster mode
- Side Impact protection with Cell protects your child's head where it's needed most in a side impact crash
- In and out harness holders keep straps out of the way when buckling
- One click latch system, with easy click-in for better installation
- Quick fit shoulder harness automatically raises the harness and headrest height
The Maxi-Cosi Pria 3-in-1 is a high-end car seat that provides exactly the kind of quality and reliability that you would expect from a top of the range model. Regardless of the exact setup that you use, you are getting a car seat that is reliably safe and comfortable for children to use. The rear-facing configuration supports children that weigh between four and 40 lbs with three different recline levels for you to choose from.
On the other hand, the forward-facing setup is suitable for children that weigh between 22 and 65 lbs. With a seat as big as this one, you probably won’t want to turn it around until your child is at least 24 months old. When the seat is in the front-facing position, a five-point safety harness ensures that children are kept securely in place. If you are looking for a car seat that will be able to serve your baby well from when they first require a car seat right up until they are old enough to not need one anymore, this one ticks all the boxes.
The Maxi-Cosi name is shorthand for ‘maximum coziness,’ and this is a seat that more than lives up to the name. The padding that is in use on this seat is some of the best that we have ever seen, and it isn’t just softer than most - it is also much denser, meaning that it still manages to offer some resistance.
The safety profile for the Maxi-Cosi Pria 3-in-1 is exceptional. The seat has even been federally approved for use on aircraft. However, in practice, this seat is going to be too big for most people to consider bringing it on an aircraft. That dense foam makes the seat comfortable, but it also adds to its weight.
Evenflo Tribute LX ($69.99)
- Side Impact Tested, Meets or Exceeds All Applicable Federal Safety Standards and Evenflo's Side Impact Test Standard
- Designed and Tested for Structural Integrity at Energy Levels Approximately 2x the Federal Crash Test Standard. Rear Facing Fit Tip is Top of Child Head is at Least 1 Inch Below the Top of the Child Restraint Seat Back
- Multiple Shoulder Harness Positions for Better Fit and Longer Use. Age at Least Two Years of Age
- Upfront Harness Adjustment and Buckle Release Allows Easy and Convenient Adjusting
- Integrated Body Cushion Gives Added Comfort to Baby and an Easily Removable Head Pillow for Older Children
If you are looking for a car seat that combines high-quality construction and design with an affordable price tag, the Evenflo Tribute LX is an excellent choice. Just because the Evenflo Tribute LX is less expensive than its competitors, it doesn’t mean that parents have to accept a lower standard of comfort or safety. The Evenflo Tribute LX offers a lot for the asking price.
During crash testing, the Evenflo Tribute LX has shown itself to be one of the safest seats out there. In fact, the Evenflo Tribute LX has managed to outperform some of its more expensive competitors in the key metrics used to determine how safe a child’s car seat is in a crash situation.
One area where the Evenflo does show its more budget nature is in the LATCH system. This isn’t the most intuitive installation system that we have ever tried, and we found ourselves having to twist and push a lot to get the LATCH to hook and unhook.
The Evenflo Tribute LX is also lacking many of the features that more experienced users might think of as being standard on modern car seats. If you are looking for a car seat with all the bells and whistles, this probably isn’t the right option for you. However, that lack of features means that it is much easier to get to grips with this car seat and it doesn’t take very long to learn how to use it properly.
If you need to clean the seat, the fabric cover is easy to detach and is also machine washable for added convenience. In fact, this is one of the few car seat covers that you are able to tumble dry.
When you are choosing a car seat for your child, you want to make sure that you get something that is strong, sturdy, and reliable. As always, the more you are willing to spend, the higher the quality of the car seats that you can consider. However, you don’t need to pay through the nose for a good car seat, not if you buy it from the right place. If you are on a budget, the Evenflo Tribute LX is one of the best options out there. However, if you are looking for something more upmarket, then you first need to establish what your priorities are.
High-end car seats from Graco have a solid track record when it comes to the quality of their design and construction. If you can afford one of their high-end models, you can be certain of a worthwhile product. But if your child is the kind that is fussy and will only accept the very best, consider whether the super-comfortable Maxi-Cosi Pria 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat might be the best seat for them.
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