Having a child requires tons of different things, ranging from learning new skills, responsibility, equipment and a lot of things that you might not have thought that they were necessary. One of the most important parts of our lives are cars, and there are certain safety measures and precautions that you have to undertake to take your child on the car, most importantly baby car seats. Since car seats are not designed for children and babies can’t support themselves, on top of that it is not the safest thing to carry a baby on your arms unfastened in a moving vehicle.
For that reason it is extremely important to invest in a car seat for babies, however, there are some certain requirements and rules when it comes to this issue. Since not every car seat can accommodate every child and seats are corresponding to the weight and height of the child, meaning that you will have to buy several seats until your child grows up to not need or require a seat. To counter that manufacturers have developed and designed excellent convertible car seats that will fit into different age groups, heights, and weight categories, and will be worthy investments you can count on. On top of that, in my opinion, it is better to invest in a high-quality convertible car seat that may cost a little more than your typical mid-range product but will deliver more value and durability than buying two or three seats throughout the life of your child. The problem just gets bigger if you have a smaller car, since not every convertible car seat will fit into your car, and you have to shop accordingly.
For that reason today I want to present you this guide, which will show you the best convertible car seats for small cars, what makes for a good convertible seat that will into small cars, what you should be careful when buying and tons of knowledge you will need to make the best-informed choice when it comes to convertible car seats for small cars. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
The Top 10 Best Convertible Car Seats For Small Cars
10. Safety 1st Grow and Go
First, on this list, we have an exemplary convertible car seat that will deliver excellent safety to children and is perfect for small cars since it is pretty compact and will allow the passenger to have extra leg space on the front, on average about 7 inches from your average convertible seat.
The Safety 1st Grow and Go is perfect for a wide range of children starting from newborns to toddlers and it has a weight range from 5 to 40 in the rear-facing position, 22 to 65 in the forward-facing harness position and up to 100 pounds in the booster mode.
The whole thing is extremely well designed and will give both the child and the parent excellent comfort. It also has side impact protection to keep your child safe at all times and has two cup holders for maximum comfort. On top of that, the Safety 1st Grow and Go is extremely light at 18.7 pounds and measures 24x19x23.8 inches in total.
9. Clek Fllo Convertible
Next up we got another convertible car seat for your child that is perfect for smaller cars since this one is extremely narrow, is FAA approved for your safety, has one of the most durable bodies, 50 pounds weight limit for the rear-facing mode which is perfect, and the anti-rebound bar that I mentioned earlier which is great for safety reasons.
However, I should mention before starting that the Clek Fllo Convertible is a little expensive compared to most of the models in this list, however, when you consider it that you can use it for a long time it is a worthy investment.
Like I said the Clek Fllo Convertible is pretty narrow, measuring just 16.9-inches at its widest point. The biggest convenience feature of the Clek Fllo Convertible is its amazing stain-resistant fabric that is specifically designed by Crypton Super Fabrics. On top of that this fabric also prevents bacteria growth, stops moisture absorption, and also is free from any volatile compounds.
With tons of safety features such as the anti-rebound bar and the energy-absorbing crumple technology, the Clek Fllo Convertible is one of the best convertible car seats.
8. Britax Marathon ClickTight
Moving on we have a great convertible car seat coming from Britax, which is one of the most popular brands in the market, and its amazing Marathon ClickTight. This convertible car seat will keep your child safe and comfortable during every trip and it has tons of features that will give you peace of mind on every single trip.
The Britax Marathon ClickTight can hold children in the rear-facing harness position until they reach the weight of 40 pounds and it can carry them in the forward-facing harness position until they reach the weight of 65 pounds which is perfect.
This chair has tons of adjustable features you can choose from like its 14 positions, adjustable harness, a pair of buckle positions, and a whopping seven recline positions you can choose from, so your child is comfortable at all times. On top of that, it is extremely comfortable thanks to its padding and also it is extremely safe.
7. Maxi Cosi Pria 85 Max
On number seven on his list, we have the Maxi Cosi Pria 85 Max, which is a great convertible car seat, if you have the money to afford it at least since this one is a little expensive. However, this excellent seat will fit a wide range of children, since it can carry up to 40 pounds in the rear-facing mode and up to 85 pounds in the forward-facing mode.
I should also mention that the seat comes with 3 positions for the crotch strap, with a no-rethread harness and an easy to remove the cover. I also liked the adjustable recline settings and the pair of infant positioning inserts which are perfect for families that are always in a rush.
The removable cover makes everything easier to maintain since you can toss it in the washing machine and the dryer since it is perfectly safe with that. The cup holder, thick padding, and soft to touch fabric, all make things perfect and you should not worry one bit about the comfort and safety of your child with this seat.
6. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio
Moving on we have the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio. This Italian made amazing convertible seat is one of the best in the market, and it is worth mentioning that the company is the oldest one in the business when it comes to children’s car seats. The company has used amazing technology throughout the years, and it has kept the formula of its success well hidden.
The biggest selling point of the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio is its amazing construct and design that keeps an emphasis on head, neck and spine stability in the case of a crash. On top of that, this chair comes with a great size range and most importantly it can keep children up to 45 pounds in the rear-facing position and up to 65 pounds in the forward-facing position, but unfortunately, there is no booster mode.
The conversion process is very easy though, and the deluxe LATCH strap system makes it extremely easy and safe to use, definitely one of the better-made seats.
5. Chicco NextFit Zip
Chicco is a well-known brand when it comes to babies and children. The manufacturer has never disappointed with its products and the Chicco NextFit Zip is one of the best convertible car seats in the market. The biggest feature of this convertible seat hides in its name, as you can unzip the whole seat pad and wash it in the machine, however, it is not safe to go in the dryer.
On top of that, the Chicco NextFit Zip is pretty small and compact measuring 21x19x29.2-inches in total and it weighs 25 pounds which means that it is a little heavy. This seat takes its weight from the steel-reinforced frame and EPS energy absorption technology which is also covered with a sturdy casing, making it heavy but also extremely safe and sturdy. It will protect your child at all times, with its DuoGuard Protection, and it will be by your side for a long time.
This seat is also extremely comfortable thanks to its adjustable harness and headrest height, which can get in 6 positions, and the harness is also padded. The ComfortFlex Harness management system just makes things better, top-notch products.
4. Diono Radian 3RXT
Next up we have one of the best convertible car seats in the market, which can convert from a rear-facing mode, to a forward-facing mode to a highback booster mode, the Diono Radian 3RXT.
This amazing convertible car seat measures just 16.1×16.9×28.3-inches in total which makes it one of the most compact ones in the market. It has a 45-pound weight limit for the rear-facing mode, and it is also FAA approved meaning that you can bring it along on your flights. For added portability, the Diono Radian 3RXT can be folded as well.
The whole thing is extremely well built as it uses a steel alloy frame and a good memory foam for its construction and it also has aluminum walls with EPS foam on the sides for impact protection from the sides. The fabric is also removable on this one and in the package of the seat, you will find an infant support cushion and a cup holder.
3. Graco Extend2Fit
On number three on this list, we have the Graco Extend2Fit which is one of the most affordable convertible car seats in the market, however, it doesn’t sacrifice in any aspect at all. It has one of the highest limits for rear-facing mode at 50 pounds, has a four-position leg extension that will add about 5 inches of extra legroom for your child.
On top of that, it converts smoothly to forward-facing harness mode for toddlers up to 65-pounds, but unfortunately, it doesn’t support booster seat mode. It is one of the most versatile sets in the market in my opinion, and thanks to its compact size it is perfect for smaller cars as it allows for the passenger in the front to have plenty of legroom. It has 6 recline positions, Fuss Free Harness Storage Pockets and 2 crotch strap positions.
For rigidity, it has a steel-reinforced frame, an InRight LATCH system for easy and super secure installation and cup holders. For convenience it also has removable and machine washable covers and overall the Graco Extend2Fit is perfect.
2. Evenflo Symphony Elite
At our runner up spot, we have a great all-in-one, car seat, the Evenflo Symphony Elite. The Evenflo Symphony Elite is not a runner up just for its all-in-one nature, but for its wide range of features and attention to detail that will fit into the lives of many parents, and on top of that it is pretty compact and lightweight.
The Evenflo Symphony Elite has lots of side impact protection built in its body, has buckle pockets, and a 5-position adjustable headrest. On top of that, I found it quite good that it had three recline positions, also it has a capacity of 40 pounds in the rear-facing mode, and 65 pounds in the forward-facing mode and about 110 pounds in the high back booster mode, which is excellent and it also has a quick installation.
The Evenflo Symphony Elite will keep your child secure and comfortable at all times since this is a pretty well-built chair. The cover is also durable as well and it can be tossed in the washer and dryer for convenience in the cleaning process. It has Sure Latch connectors for security, overall definitely a worthy runner up.
1. Graco 4Ever
On top of the list, we have the Graco 4Ever, which as its name implies is the only car seat that you will need to buy. On top of that this car seat is perfect for smaller cars as well since it measures 20x24x21.5-inches in total so you can accommodate it wherever you want. While it is not perfect it is pretty close to perfection thanks to its all-in-one nature and small dimensions.
However, this chair is a little heavy, thanks to its sturdy construction and you can see that the Graco 4Ever has passed many different safety tests, such as the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213, and the New Car Assessment Program standards, meaning that it is super secure. On top of that, it is FAA approved for air travel means that you can take it on your flights.
The Graco 4Ever has a 5-point safety harness, steel frame, LATCH system, 10 positions for the headrest, and 6 recline positions, making it comfortable, safe, convenient and versatile at the same time, definitely the best in the market.
Convertible Car Seat Buying Guide
Simply explained a convertible car seat is a seat that can be converted through different modes to suit the needs of your child while growing up so you won’t have to buy different seats while your child is growing up. While different types include different modes, the modes range from the rear-facing car seat, forward-facing, highback booster, and backless booster. There are different types as I said earlier and these include 2-in-1s, 3-in-1s, and all-in-ones.
What Are the Modes?
Rear-Facing Seat Mode
This model is shaped like a cradle and uses a harness for stability. I have to say that this is the most popular of all the types since it covers the whole body of the child so it is safe during impact. However, this mode is only appropriate for newborn and very small babies, since you can’t position a larger child in this mode.
Forward-Facing Seat Mode
This is pretty similar to the first option but it faces forward unlike the other one. This mode generally uses either a 5 or 3-point harness system to prevent your child from moving too much, and for safety as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should stay in a rear-facing seat as long as possible until they outgrow them.
Highback Booster Seat
Like their name implies these seats boost your child’s height, so they can fasten with the car’s seatbelt, and on top of that a highback booster seat offers great neck and head support, which makes them perfect for sleeping compared to backless boosters which we will talk in a second.
Backless Booster Seat
This is essentially the last stage when it comes to car seats for children. This is also for older and larger children that can sit properly throughout the ride and don’t need neck and head support, and this also means that your child is pretty much ready to eliminate car seats.
Things You Should Look For In A Convertible Car Seat
Size – This is an important thing when you are searching for a car seat for your child, but especially important when you are searching for a convertible car seat for your child when you are an owner of a smaller car, which translates into the smaller interior, and this is where things get difficult.
First, off you should check out the width of the seat that you want to buy, the narrower the better, but be sure to still leave space for your child to sit properly and comfortably, and also take into consideration that your child will grow up and you will still have to use this seat. However, the narrower it is the more space is left for other passengers in the back, and this is especially important if you have two children and you have to install two car seats for your children.
Another thing that you have to be cautious when it comes to size is the measurement from front to back. For example, if the car seat that you plan to buy takes up to much space front to back, you may not leave much foot space to your passenger, or even the driver. However, this can be easily countered if you search specifically for car seats that can be installed in the middle position. Also be careful with infant seats since they always have a handle that needs to be in a certain position when installing in a car, called the travel position. However, this factor can depend on your car as well since different cars have different angles and depths in their seats. Measure twice cut once.
Weight – This should also be taken into consideration when you are buying a car seat for your child. However, this is most important if you will need to transfer the car seat into different vehicles, which is the case when parents have different cars. But as a whole you should take a look into the weight of the model you are considering, and if there are several models with the same features that you like choose the one that weighs less.
Installation – This is also very crucial since it combines everything, weight, size, car-to-car transfer. If your car seat is very difficult to install you can’t take advantage of its lightweight and small size when transferring from car to car. Since there are different systems when it comes to installation you better choose the one that fits your needs the most. This counts even if you don’t have to transfer the seat from car-to-car. Since on every trip you will have to make sure whether or not the seat is installed properly. Most of the seats in the market today have the LATCH system or the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. This system uses anchor straps from the seat that latch to the anchors of your vehicle’s seat, which is extremely secure and easy to install.
Security – This should also be taken into consideration, not just for car seats, but for everything concerning your children. However, when it comes to car seats pay extra attention since this is the most crucial part, check to see whether or not the seat you are considering has passed federal safety tests and whether or not it has some extra feature built-in that may provide better protection in case of a crash. For example, an anti-rebound bar and a deep headrest go a long way to provide amazing protection and support in case of an accident. While there are some extra features such as shock-absorbing materials used in the body of the seat, it may not be a worthy investment when you consider its value-wise, however, if you have an unlimited budget or don’t want to compromise anywhere you can invest in the best one you can find.
Transition – The aforementioned factors such as size and may count for all types of car seats, however, the transition is the factor that concerns those who want to buy convertible car seats. For example, when your child reaches a certain age, you will need to change the mode of the seat and you need to check whether the whole process is easy and intuitive enough. Then again you should check whether the chair works in the different mode before buying, you can check all of them via Youtube videos.
Durability – The main reason that parents buy convertible car seats, is that they want to use the same chair through different periods of their child’s lives, however, all the plans will go to vain if the seat cannot handle years of abuse. That is why it is important to check the materials used in the construction of the seat, for example, if the steel is integrated into the frame you can be sure that it will last a long time. Also make sure to check out the fabrics used in the seat, if they are durable enough and whether or not they are easy to clean and maintain.
If you have read this guide you will find a great convertible chair for your small car, fitting your needs and budget. It is also important to consider other factors such as safety and durability. I think that all the parents will take these recommendations and suggestions to consider and will make the best possible choice when it comes to a convertible car seat for small cars. Also if you don’t want to be bothered with all the details our top picks deliver the best possible options in the market. Until next time!