Best Infant Car Seat
Nuna Bugaboo Turtle Air

A premium infant car seat made of soft materials.

Check Price
Best Toddler Car Seat
Chicco MyFit

A quality-made car seat that is easy to install and adjust.

Check Price
Best Convertible Car Seat
Chicco Fit4

An easy-to-install, all-in-one convertible seat.

Check Price
Most Comfortable Convertible Car Seat
Maxi-Cosi Pria

A premium car seat with exceptionally soft, removable padding.

Check Price
Budget Car Seat Stroller Combo
Baby Trend EZ Ride

A value-priced car seat and stroller travel system.

Check Price

Any car seat sold in the United States must meet certain federal safety standards and is therefore considered safe to use. However, the best car seats are not only safe, but provide years of use, feel comfortable, and are easy to install and adjust.

After testing a number of top-rated car seats, our review team has found several child car seats that are worth a recommendation. In this review, we’ll suggest car seats for various ages and help you find the best car seat for your child’s age and size.

What Are The Ages And Stages Of Car Seats?

The right car seat for you depends on your child’s weight and height. NHTSA guidelines describe the type of car seat you need at each age. Also, any car seat you purchase will list the recommended height and weight limitations.

Infant Car Seats (Rear-Facing)

These rear-facing car seats are designed for newborns but know that newborns will likely outgrow them after a year. An infant car seat typically has two parts: a base you leave installed in your vehicle and a detachable carrier that can often double as a carriage for a stroller. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children remain in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible until they reach the maximum weight or height limit their seat allows.

Toddler Car Seats (Forward-Facing)

Experts recommend your baby switches to a forward-facing car seat once reaching a certain size. Car seats for toddlers are typically suitable for children between ages two and seven. Weight and height are more important indicators than age for when to make the switch. Children typically need a forward-facing car seat once they reach 2.5 feet and 40.0 pounds, though this may vary by seat. Check your specific car seat for height and weight recommendations.

Booster Seats

Booster seats represent the final stage of child car safety and should be used for children after they outgrow a forward-facing car seat (typically once they reach around three feet). With booster seats, children are secured by your car’s seat belt and the booster is intended to raise your child’s height so that the strap is properly positioned.

High-backed booster seats look similar to a forward-facing car seat and may be more comfortable for some children, especially those who are still too small for a backless booster but have outgrown their standard forward-facing car seat.

Combination And Convertible Car Seats

Many manufacturers sell convertible car seats that can transform between rear-facing seats for infants, forward-facing seats for toddlers, and high-backed boosters. This type of car seat has the disadvantage of often being larger, heavier, and more expensive than other infant or toddler car seats.

Some convertible car seats can transition between all three car seat configurations and some only switch between two. Typically, the term “convertible car seat” is used for car seats that have both a forward- and rear-facing configuration. “Combination car seats” are forward-facing seats that can transition from a five-point harness to a high-backed booster seat.

For the purposes of this article, combination car seats that don’t have a rear-facing option are included in our toddler car seat section.

Car Seats At A Glance

Make/ModelSeat Type Approximate CostSeat Weight
Bugaboo Turtle AirRear-facing$480 25.8 lbs.
UPPAbaby MesaRear-facing$350 18.7 lbs.
Graco SnugRideRear-facing$160 18.8 lbs.
Chicco KeyFit 30Rear-facing$230 16.6 lbs.
Baby Trend EZ RideRear-facing$190 31.2 lbs. (includes stroller)
Chicco MyFitForward-facing; high-backed booster$210 25.0 lbs.
Britax Grow With YouForward-facing; high-backed booster$310 26.5 lbs.
Graco Nautilus 65Forward-facing; high-backed booster; backless booster$140 21.8 lbs.
Chicco Fit4Rear-facing; forward-facing; high-backed booster; backless booster$285 25.0 lbs.
Britax AdvocateRear-facing; forward-facing$300 30.6 lbs.
Graco Extend2FitRear-facing; forward-facing$200 19.0 lbs.
Maxi-Cosi PriaRear-facing; forward-facing; high-backed booster$300 22.5 lbs.

*Because cost data fluctuates, the prices in the table above are approximate values that our team regularly updates.

Best Infant Car Seats

Graco Xtend 2fit

  1. Best Infant Car Seat: Bugaboo Turtle Air
  2. Easy-to-Use Infant Car Seat: UPPAbaby Mesa
  3. Most Comfortable Infant Car Seat: Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35
  4. Most Adjustable Infant Car Seat: Chicco KeyFit 30
  5. Budget Car Seat Stroller Combo: Baby Trend EZ Ride

#1 Best Infant Car Seat: Bugaboo Turtle Air

Pros FAA-approved Wool lining for comfort and warmth Optional attachment to a compatible stroller
Cons Expensive Bulky visor

One of the more expensive car seats, the Bugaboo Turtle Air earns its price tag. It is made from ultra-soft Merino wool and uses a no-rethread five-position harness. This lightweight car seat weighs around 7.0 pounds and is compatible with the Bugaboo stroller travel system.

The rear-facing Turtle Air is designed for infants and newborns and can accommodate children between 4.0 and 32.0 pounds.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $480
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 32.0 pounds
  • Height range: 32.0 inches or less
  • Car seat weight: 25.8 pounds

Our Experience 

The Turtle Air’s belts and buckles are simple to adjust, and the merino-wool lining is softer than any other car seat we tested.

We couldn’t get the anchor clips to attach to our vehicle because the straps didn’t reach far enough. However, it wasn’t difficult to install the car seat using the shoulder belt, which hooks neatly through the designed path.

Once the base is attached, the Turtle Air infant carrier is easily detached with a click of a button. Lower-quality infant car seats can be difficult to detach, but the Turtle Air slides out nicely and is less likely to disturb a sleeping infant.

Our Rating4.5 out of 5
Ease of Use4.5 out of 5
Adjustability4 out of 5
Quality of Materials5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.8 out of 5 based on over 30 ratings

Few negative comments about the Turtle Air exist online. Most parents are surprised by the light weight and appreciate the high-quality materials. Nearly all reviewers mention this infant car seat being easy to use and install.

Some people say the canopy can get in the way when not in use, but we didn’t have any issues with it during our test installation.

#2 Easy-To-Use Infant Car Seat: UPPAbaby Mesa

Pros Easy to install and adjust Durable construction Soft lining materials Can be attached to a compatible stroller
Cons Seat angle too steep for some babies Expensive

The UPPAbaby MESA is a premium infant car seat that features thick padding with a soft wool blend. We found it easy to set up because of the SmartSecure® latch system, which has a tightness indicator and self-retracting LATCH connectors to ensure perfect installation. We also like the adjustable headrest and no-rethread harness.

This car seat is compatible with Vista and Cruz strollers. To learn more, read our in-depth UPPA baby Mesa review.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $350
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 35.0 pounds
  • Height range: 32.0 inches or less
  • Car seat weight: 18.7 pounds

Our Experience

Because of the SmartSecure system, which automatically tightens the anchor straps, the Mesa is exceptionally easy to install. There is also a helpful indicator that tells you when the seat base is properly aligned.

One thing that stands out about the MESA is the soft padding and the high-quality stitching. This infant car seat is on the expensive side, but this extra cost is reflected in the material and construction quality.

Overall Rating4.5 out of 5
Ease of Use5 out of 5
Adjustability4 out of 5
Quality of Materials4.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.9 out of 5 based on over 2,700 ratings

Reviewers praise the Mesa primarily on three points: appearance, comfort, and ease of installation. Most write that their child finds the seat especially comfortable and that they are impressed with the build quality.

A few people feel that this seat has too much padding. This is an issue for some children and especially in hot environments. Others complain about the price, as similar safe car seats can be purchased for $50 to $100 cheaper.

#3 Most Comfortable Infant Car Seat: Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35

Pros Easy to install and adjust Can be attached to a compatible stroller Removable head and body support cushions
Cons Large, bulky canopy

The Graco SnugRide®SnugLock®35 car seat is a lower-priced alternative to the Mesa. Graco car seats are thoroughly tested for safety, even beyond what is legally required by the NHTSA. Like the Mesa, the Snugride can be attached to compatible strollers.

We recommend the SnugLock 35 because it is easy to use, and based on customer reports, comfortable for most babies. Read our full Graco SnugRide review for a more detailed look at this car seat.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $160
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 35.0 pounds
  • Height range: Up to 32.0 inches
  • Car seat weight: 18.8 pounds

Our Experience

The Graco Click ConnectTM system makes the SnugRide very easy to install. This is a special LATCH anchor design that makes it much easier to connect a car seat to your vehicle compared to the metal anchor that is common in car seat design. Both types of connectors are safe, but the LATCH style is much easier to connect and remove.

When handling this car seat, we found the materials to be soft and durable. The padding inserts can be attached or removed as needed to best accommodate your child. The loosening and tightening mechanisms for all of the straps work as expected, and are not overly difficult to secure.

Overall Rating4.5 out of 5
Ease of Use4.5 out of 5
Adjustability4.5 out of 5
Quality of Materials4.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.8 out of 5 based on over 3,300 ratings

Like us, reviewers on Amazon point out how easy it is to use the lower anchors to secure the SnugRide to the back seat. Many people also comment about this car seat’s solid and durable feel. A few even mention that the SnugRide effectively protected their little one during an actual car crash.

Some people complain about the weight of this car seat. Having tested many car seats, the SnugRide is not especially heavy compared to other options, and not even the heaviest car seat that we tested.

Another thing that some people mention is that the canopy and headrest are bulky. They can get in the way of installation and the headrest is uncomfortable for some children.

#4 Most Adjustable Infant Car Seat: Chicco KeyFit 30

Pros Easy to install and adjust Can be attached to a compatible stroller High-quality, comfortable lining Includes adjustable canopy
Cons Lower maximum weight limit and height limit compared to other brands

The Chicco KeyFit 30 has a number of features that make it easy to use, including a simplified latch tightener, bubble levels, and a spring-loaded leveling system. This car seat offers several recline positions and adjustment mechanisms to ensure you’ve fitted it perfectly for your vehicle and your child.

The KeyFit 30 comes in a few models: the standard version as well as  “Zip” models that feature an extra quick-remove seat pad. This upgrade is worth it if your child regularly has accidents in the back seat.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $230
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 30.0 pounds
  • Height range: Up to 30.0 inches
  • Car seat weight: 16.6 pounds

Our Experience

The KeyFit is among the easiest-to-install car seats that we’ve tested because the instructions are straightforward and the adjustment mechanisms are all well-designed. For instance, the leveling mechanism is spring-loaded, and the anchor latches are tightened by a single, force-multiplying SuperCinch® strap.

Our Chicco KeyFit review goes into some more detail, but we like this car seat not only for its ease of installation but apparent safety and comfort. The removable padding is easy to clean, especially for those who opt for the KeyFit Zip model.

Overall Rating4.3 out of 5
Ease of Use4 out of 5
Adjustability5 out of 5
Quality of Materials4 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.9 out of 5 based on over 3,700 ratings

As with many popular car seats, there are a number of Amazon reviews for the Chicco KeyFit that are written by parents who claim to have gotten into a car accident while using this car seat. Among the brands we studied, the KeyFit had the most of these types of reviews, while that doesn’t mean it is the safest child car seat, it does provide some peace of mind.

Aside from safety, reviewers like the KeyFit because it is easy to use and clean. Those who don’t like this car seat write that the sunshade is difficult to manage and get to fully extend. Some also claim that the material is less comfortable than other, similar car seats.

#5 Best Budget Infant Car Seat: Baby Trend EZ Ride

Pros Includes compatible stroller Inexpensive Special configuration for underweight newborns
Cons Difficult to adjust straps Less comfortable lining materials

The Baby Trend EZ Ride is a rear-facing infant car seat that includes a stroller. While many infant car seats are compatible with strollers, you typically must purchase them separately, with the car seat and stroller together costing upward of $300. The EZ Ride is a safe car seat that includes a stroller for a low overall price.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $190
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 35.0 pounds
  • Height range: Up to 32.0 inches
  • Car seat weight (including stroller): 31.2 pounds

Our Experience

baby trend ez ride installed in backseat of car, angled top down view.

The EZ Ride is not especially difficult to install, but by the standards of the best car seats, it’s more difficult than average. The straps are hard to tighten, and the anchor clasps are tricky to remove.

Like most infant car seats, the EZ Ride carriage is detachable from the base and can connect to a stroller. While this car seat works, it’s still hard to detach from the base and may require some shaking. It’s unlikely you could detach the carrier without waking a sleeping baby.

The materials are soft and easy to clean, but the nylon padding seat cover is less comfortable than a wool lining or the soft lining of other high-budget car seats. That said, this seat does the job for the cost.

Overall3.5 out of 5
Ease of Use3.5 out of 5
Adjustability3.5 out of 5
Quality of Materials3.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on over 12,900 ratings

Like with many of the best car seats, Amazon reviews claim the EZ Ride succeeds at its most important task: keeping your child safe. At least one person says this seat saved their daughter’s life when they had a wreck.

Most positive reviews praise the EZ Ride’s versatility and low cost. Reviews on ease of use are mixed. Some users believe the system works great. Other reviewers note, as we did, that the EZ Ride can be difficult to adjust and that it’s not easy to detach the seat from the base.

Best Toddler Car Seats

  1. Best Toddler Car Seat: Chicco MyFit
  2. Durable Toddler Car Seat: Britax Grow With You ClickTight Plus
  3. Most Adjustable Toddler Car Seat: Graco Nautilus 65

#1 Best Toddler Car Seat: Chicco MyFit

Pros FAA-approved Steel-reinforced frame Machine-washable seat padding
Cons Heavy Some concerns with longevity

The Chicco MyFit is a convertible toddler car seat that transitions from a five-point harness to a belt-positioning, high-back booster. It’s a good choice for parents who want a toddler vehicle seat that will also fit their child as they grow.

The MyFit has four recline positions and nine headrest positions, offering a lot of adjustability. The soft padding and removable inserts protect any child with comfort.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $210
  • Weight range: 25.0 to 100.0 pounds
  • Height range: Up to 57.0 inches
  • Car seat weight: 25.0 pounds

Our Experience

We found the MyFit very easy to install. It uses LATCH system connectors that are easy to tighten. The built-in level helps ensure proper installation and the recline adjustment works fluidly. Explanatory stickers also help ensure proper installation by providing positioning guides.

Overall Rating4.7 out of 5
Ease of Installation5 out of 5
Adjustability4 out of 5
Quality of Materials5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.9 out of 5 based on over 5,500 ratings

Positive reviews mention the plush padding and light weight of the MyFit. A few users report getting into an accident while using this seat and that their child was unharmed. Many positive reviews also say the seat is very comfortable. The head support prevents a child’s head from dropping forward.

One reviewer claims the mechanism to attach the MyFit using a seatbelt (instead of the lower anchor tethers) doesn’t work – at least not in the reviewer’s Honda Pilot. Another negative review complains that the cupholders are too low for some children to reach.

#2 Durable Toddler Car Seat: Britax Grow With You ClickTight Plus

Pros Durable Comfortable Easy-to-clean, removable padding High-quality straps and buckles
Cons Harder to install Difficult to adjust straps

The Britax Grow With You is a solidly-built toddler car seat that can hold up to heavy use. It features a steel frame, three layers of side-impact padding and is made with flame-retardant materials. This car seat also utilizes Safe Cell technology – a flexible material that absorbs and reduces impact force.

Like many toddler car seats, the Grow With You can transition between a forward-facing model and a backless booster, to accommodate children up to 120.0 pounds. The ClickTight system allows you to attach this car seat using your back seat belt instead of the sometimes hard-to-use seat anchors.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $310
  • Child weight range: 25.0 to 120.0 pounds
  • Child height range: 34.0 to 64.0 inches
  • Car seat weight: 26.5 pounds

Our Experience

The Britax Grow With you is a little harder to install than some other car seats because of its weight. The steel frame adds significant heft to this car seat, though it also gives the seat a solid and safe feel.

It is obvious from handling this car seat that it is made with high-quality materials – thick plastics, well-stitched fabric, and strong straps and buckles. However, we did have some trouble tightening the straps for this car seat.

Overall Rating4.5 out of 5
Ease of Installation4
Build Quality4.5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on over 2,800 ratings

Many reviews for the Britax Grow With You praise this car seat for its safety features and solid feel. While some mention that this makes the seat rather heavy, most feel very comfortable strapping in their little one. A few reviewers even say that the Grow With You protected their child during a car accident.

Some complain that the head support squeaks and that this is annoying. There are also comments about how the straps can be difficult to tighten.

#3 Most Adjustable Toddler Car Seat: Graco Nautilus 65

Pros 3 seat configurations Durable construction Easy-to-clean, removable padding
Cons Harness strap can be hard to adjust

The Graco Nautilus 65 includes many common car seat safety features such as EPS foam lining, a steel-reinforced frame, and layers of side impact protection. It offers three configurations: forward-facing car seat, high-backed booster, and backless booster. What makes this car seat stand out is the number of adjustment positions it offers, making it a versatile option.

The Nautilus 65 utilizes a no-rethread harness, making it easier to switch between forward-facing and booster modes. And the harness system allows you to adjust the harness and the headrest in one motion. The exception to this is the harness strap, which we found touchy to adjust.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $140
  • Child weight range: 22.0 to 120.0 pounds
  • Child height range: Up to 57.0 inches
  • Car seat weight: 21.8 pounds

Our Experience

Initial installation of the Graco Nautilus 65 is not especially difficult, but not as easy as some other models. The lower anchors are hard to attach and unlike the Britax Grow With You, there is no easy ClickTight system.

We noticed that the stitching in the cushion material isn’t as consistent as the Britax or Chicco models that we tested, but still noticeably better than any car seat under $100.

We like the Nautilus 65 because it offers a broad range of adjustment configurations, including three recline positions, five headrest positions, and three seat configurations.

Our Rating4.3 out of 5
Ease of Installation4 out of 5
Adjustability5 out of 5
Quality of Materials4 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on around 400 ratings

One of the features consistently praised about the Graco Nautilus 65 is child comfort. This may be partially due to the adjustability, which makes it easier to find the perfect setup for your child. People also appreciate the relatively low cost, and many feel you can’t do better in this price range.

Some complain that the seat is difficult to install. Others say that installation is a breeze, so it may depend on your vehicle. We found the Nautilus a little harder to install than some other models, but not particularly difficult.

Best Convertible Car Seats

  1. Best Convertible Car Seat: Chicco Fit4
  2. Easy-to-Install Convertible Car Seat: Britax Advocate
  3. Easy-to-Clean Convertible Car Seat: Graco Extend2Fit
  4. Most Comfortable Convertible Car Seat: Maxi-Cosi Pria

#1 Best Convertible Car Seat: Chicco Fit4

Pros Multiple configurations for children between 4 and 100 pounds Steel-reinforced frame and EPS foam lining Easy installation Easy to adjust
Cons Bulky Some reports of headrest deteriorating after a couple years

The Chicco Fit4 is a convertible car seat with four configurations, nine recline positions, and ten headrest positions. It can accommodate children from birth up to 100.0 pounds, transforming from rear-facing mode to a high-backed booster. We’ve rated the Fit4 higher than any other car seat because it is easy to install and uses soft, high-quality materials.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $285
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 100.0 pounds
  • Height range: Up to 57.0 inches
  • Car seat weight: 25.0 pounds

Our Experience

Among the car seats we tested, the Chicco Fit4 may be the simplest to install. The instruction guide is easy to follow, and you can access a more detailed user manual online (by scanning the QR code plastered to the frame).

This car seat is large. Most convertible car seats take up a lot of space and therefore may not be suited for small cars. We managed to install and use this car seat just fine in a small sedan, but if you’re sitting in the front seats and need a lot of legroom, the Fit4 may be too big.

Overall5 out of 5
Ease of Use5 out of 5
Adjustability5 out of 5
Quality of Materials5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.8 out of 5 based on over 1,900 ratings

Many positive reviews say the Fit4 is easy to install. Parents like the SuperCinch Latch tightener, which is easy to adjust and has a secure feel.

The most frequently mentioned downside to the Fit4 is its size. It can be difficult to maneuver, and drivers with small cars find it hard to get into their vehicles. While we installed the Fit4 in a sedan with no issues, this convertible car seat is much bulkier than infant and toddler car seats.

#2 Easy-To-Install Convertible Car Seat: Britax Advocate

Pros Supports children between 5 and 120 pounds Lasts up to 10 years 15-position headrest and harness
Cons Expensive Heavy at 30 pounds

The Advocate is Britax’s 2-in-1 convertible car seat for both infants and toddlers. This car seat does not offer a high-backed booster mode, though as a result is a bit lighter and easier to maneuver. Britax also has a similar model that does include a booster configuration, the Britax One4Life.

As with other Britax models, the Advocate uses the patented ClickTight system for easy installation. It also includes the safety design elements present in other Britax car seats such as a steel frame, EPS foam lining, and 3 layers of side impact protection.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $300
  • Weight range: 5.0 to 65.0 pounds
  • Height limit: Up to 49.0 inches
  • Car seat weight: 30.6 pounds

Our Experience

While the Advocate does not feature a no-rethread harness, it is nonetheless easy to transform this car seat from the rear- to forward-facing configuration. The belt straps follow guides located underneath the seat cushion and a single button allows you to open the front part of the Advocate to reposition the straps underneath.

The straps adjust easily and the buckles are all covered with soft, flame-retardant padding for child comfort.

Overall Rating4.5 out of 5
Ease of Use4.5 out of 5
Adjustability4.5 out of 5
Quality of Materials4.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on around 700 ratings

Parents like Britax car seats because of the brand’s reliability and the ease of installation, aided largely by the ClickTight system. The Advocate gets praise for these reasons and is noted to be especially well-padded and comfortable.

A few mention that they dislike the lower latch anchors, which are the metal clasp type and difficult to install. However, you do not need to use these anchors to secure the seat, and the ClickTight system allows you to attach the Advocate using your vehicle’s seat belts.

#3 Easy-To-Clean Convertible Car Seat: Graco Extend2Fit

Pros High-quality latches 4-position adjustable extension panel for increased legroom Several color options
Cons Square cup holders Difficult to reposition anchor LATCH system Some users claim it’s hard to tighten

The Graco Extend2Fit is another two-in-one car seat suitable for children up to 65.0 pounds. It has a no-rethread harness, six recline positions, and machine-washable padding. The four-position extension panel can add additional legroom which allows your child to stay in the rear-facing position for longer (the NHTSA recommends keeping your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible).

For the cost, we think the Extend2Fit offers excellent value for a convertible car seat. It is less expensive than similar options like the Chicco Fit4 and Britax Advocate. To learn more about this car seat, check out our detailed review guide here.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $200
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 65.0 pounds
  • Height limit: Up to 49.0 inches
  • Car seat weight: 19.0 pounds

Our Experience

While the Extend2Fit is easy to install in both the rear- and forward-facing positions, it can be a pain to reposition the anchors, which requires removing most of the outer fabric layers. The adjustment mechanism works but is a little sticky.

That said, this seat uses high-quality LATCH connectors that make installation simpler. A ball indicator tells you if the seat is properly positioned.

Adjusting this convertible car seat can be tricky, as the straps are a bit harder to tighten compared to others that we’ve tested. You’ll need to tug pretty hard to secure your child.

If you need to wash this car seat, the removable padding makes this simple. We also appreciate the apparent quality and softness of the padding.

Overall Rating5 out of 5
Ease of Installation5
Build Quality5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.8 out of 5 based on over 69,000 ratings

One thing many reviewers like about the Extend2Fit is the price. Relative to similar car seats from other top brands, the Extend2Fit is a bargain (typically around $50 less than comparable car seats). Many note how easy the Advocate is to clean, in part because of the removable padding.

Some reviewers complain that the Extend2Fit is bulky. Several people note (as we have) that the straps can be difficult to tighten.

#4 Most Comfortable Convertible Car Seat

Pros Comfortable and adjustable padding 3 configurations for children between 4.0 and 100.0 pounds Fits in smaller cars Steel frame
Cons Difficult to adjust Some complaints about rear-facing mode

The Maxi-Cosi Pria is a premium convertible car seat that’s a little more expensive than other options we recommend. While this premium doesn’t necessarily translate to increased safety, the Pria does offer superior comfort and better-quality padding materials.

This is also a three-in-one seat system and includes a booster mode, meaning that while it costs more, it could also last your child through the entire span of the car seat years.

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $300
  • Weight range: 4.0 to 100.0 pounds
  • Height limit: Up to 52.0 inches
  • Car seat weight: 22.5 pounds

Our Experience

We found the Pria to be easy to install, but difficult to adjust. It uses the best type of anchor latch, but the reclining mechanism can be hard to adjust properly and we had difficulty tightening the anchor straps.

The Pria stands out when it comes to the padding, which was hands down the softest of any car seat we examined. It comes with a number of removable inserts to ensure you get the perfect, snug fit for your kid.

This car seat also has one of the widest ranges of style and color choices, which was not a factor for our scoring, but it is nice to have options.

Overall Rating4 out of 5
Ease of Use4 out of 5
Adjustability3.5 out of 5
Quality of Materials4.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.6 out of 5 based on over 4,400 ratings

The feature most commonly-praised about the Pria is comfort. Parents rave at how much their children like this car seat because of the soft, adjustable padding. Parents also appreciate that this all-in-one car seat can potentially last the entirety of the car seat years.

Some reviewers mention a strong odor – like glue or Sharpie® marker – that lingers with the seat. This is not a common complaint, but one that is mentioned by multiple people. We did not notice any such odor in the Pria that we tested and the vast majority of reviews do not mention this. It may be an issue with some Pria seats.

Another common complaint about this seat is its large size. Because it is an all-in-one seat, it is bigger and heavier than other options.

How Do You Install A Car Seat?

Car seat installation depends partially on the type of seat you’re using (a rear-facing or forward-facing configuration). Additionally, every car seat is a little bit different, so the first thing you should do is carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions.

That said, the installation processes for most car seats are often similar. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Tether or Buckle: Most car seats can be installed using the car seatbelt or the LATCH (lower tethers and anchors) system. Both are safe, but do not use both methods at the same time (only one or the other).
  • Upper Anchor: Always attach the upper anchor for forward-facing car seats. Do this if you are using the LATCH system or using the vehicle belt. The upper anchor connector is typically located on the back of the seat or near the headrest.
  • Lower Anchors: Make sure you use the appropriate lower anchor connectors. In many cars, there are two sets of lower anchors, on the left and right rear passenger seats. Some vehicles and car seats allow you to “borrow” one anchor from each side to install the seat in the middle, but this is uncommon. Check the owner’s manuals for your car and car seat before using lower anchors for middle seat installation.
  • Auto Retractor: If you install a car seat using your vehicle’s seat belt, be sure that you engage the automatic retractor by pulling the seat belt out as far as it can go. Some older vehicles may not have an auto retractor, in which case you’ll need to use a belt clip.
  • Testing Stability: Tighten your seatbelt or tether anchors so that the seat moves no more than one inch from side to side. When testing stability, grip the seat at the base (more wiggle at the top of the seat is acceptable).
  • Harness Position: Generally, you want the harness straps to be level with your child’s shoulders. For rear-facing car seats, straps should be at or below the shoulders. For forward-facing car seats, straps should be at or above the shoulders.
  • Pinch Test: After you’ve buckled your child into their car seat, try to pinch the belt material at your child’s shoulders. You should not be able to gather more than an inch of material this way.

These are general tips that apply to most car seats, but the best advice for installing your car seat will be found in the owner’s manual. To ensure a safe installation, take your seat to a Safe Kids Worldwide inspection station.

Car Seat Safety

Every car seat sold in the United States is required to meet certain federal safety standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Check your car seat for a label or notice that proves it complies with these standards. This is typically indicated by a sticker that includes wording like, “This restraint is certified for use in all motor vehicles and aircraft.”

While the NHTSA safety standards are rigorous, they are not perfect. For instance, the NHTSA allows car seat companies to self-certify. Therefore, it is also good practice to research the manufacturer and model of any car seat before you buy it. Read reviews from other parents and child safety advocacy groups (like the American Academy of Pediatrics).

In addition to ensuring your seat meets federal safety guidelines, you need to buy the car seat for your child based on their height and weight. Children should be placed in a rear-facing car seat from birth until they are big enough for a forward-facing seat (typically between the ages of two and four, according to the CDC). Any infant car seat you purchase will have minimum and maximum weight and height limits to help ensure you use the right seat for your child.

Safe Installation

It’s not enough to purchase a safe car seat, it must also be properly installed to ensure child safety. The NHTSA website has a locator to find the nearest car seat inspection site. If you’re unsure if you’ve installed your car seat properly, take it to an expert for inspection. In many cities, this is a free service. Most hospitals will not allow parents to drive their newborns home unless they have an approved infant car seat that’s properly installed.

To ensure you install your seat safely, read the instructions. Petra Stanton, the Safe Kids Supervisor at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, recommends all parents take the time to learn about their particular car seat.

“I feel like reading the manual has never been people’s favorite thing to do, but in this case it should be. Because the manufacturer created the product, they were there from the beginning stages. They ruled out everything that did not work in safety testing, that might have malfunctioned in a certain way, they fixed it, went back to testing, spent thousands of dollars to create a manual on how this product will work.”

Do Car Seats Expire?

Yes, a car seat can expire. Most car seats typically expire after six or 10 years. It’s unlikely a single car seat will fit a child for that long, but some all-in-one car seats do.

Are Used Car Seats Safe?

It is possible to buy untested and counterfeit car seats online. Be sure that any car seat you purchase is from a known, established manufacturer and be wary of secondhand sellers. That said, infant car seats can be very expensive and it is possible to buy a safe used car seat, though there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Check the expiration date. Car seats typically expire after about 10 years, and some expire sooner than that. Find the model number and manufacturer date to be sure the car seat isn’t expired.
  • Check for recalls. A web search of the manufacturer and model number will quickly help you determine if the car seat has been subjected to recalls. You can also check Buckle Up NC’s recall list, which updates regularly.
  • Do not buy a car seat that has been in a crash. Seats may be damaged or warped during an accident and should no longer be considered safe for use.
  • Thoroughly inspect your car seat to ensure there is no damage and that no parts are missing.

In general, buying a used car seat from a person you know and trust is the safest way to ensure you’re getting the right seat. Take special care when buying infant car seats from third-party sellers. If you can afford to buy a new seat directly from a reliable manufacturer, that will always be the safest bet.

Car Seat Safety Tips

All car seats sold in the U.S. should meet federal safety standards. However, some car seats are recallable, and an improper installation can render a seat unsafe.

  • Register the car seat online: This should be one of the first steps of buying a car seat. A one-time registration will opt you in to regular updates and notices from the manufacturer.
  • Check national standards: Every car seat for sale in the U.S. should meet or exceed state and federal safety codes and undergo a New Car Assessment Program crash test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Parents can follow organizations such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the American Academy of Pediatrics for regular reports about child passenger safety.
  • Review the expiration date: The best convertible car seats usually have an expiration date between six and ten years. You can find the date printed on your product or in the user manual. If you’ve misplaced the manual, call the manufacturer.
  • Have your installation inspected: Take your car seat to the nearest inspection station so a certified child passenger safety technician can make sure it is properly installed and adjusted.

Car Seat Buyers Guide

The first step in choosing the right car seat is determining which type of car seat your child will need. The important factors to consider are:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Developmental Level

Height and weight limitations are described by the manufacturer. New parents might consider purchasing a car seat with the highest rear-facing weight and height limits, as this is the safest position for a child. You might check NHTSA guidelines to determine which type of seat will best suit your child.

After determining the type of car seat you need, you should keep a few considerations in mind when seeking the best car seat for your child and budget.


Even the top-rated car seat is only safe if installed properly. Make sure you fully understand every feature of the car seat you buy. Read the instruction booklet before installation.

After installing a car seat, you should have a child passenger safety technician inspect your installation. Find the nearest inspection location using the NHTSA locator.

Car Compatibility

Convertible car seats are bigger than infant car seats. Keep this in mind if you have a sedan or sports car. Bucket seats can also affect the ability to install two car seats side by side. If you or your partner are tall, your legroom may be limited by a bulky rear-facing car seat in the back. Another consideration is your car’s upholstery material. A 30.0-pound car seat with a 40.0-pound toddler might mark up leather seats. If you have leather seats, you might want to invest in seat protectors.


Do you intend to leave your car seat attached, or will it often move between vehicles (or from car to airplane)? If you plan to lug around your car seat, it’s better to purchase one that’s lightweight and easy to install and detach.

Ease Of Use

Babies grow quickly. In addition to installing your car seat, you’ll also need to continually adjust it so that your child is properly secured. Some car seats have features that make them easier to install and adjust. There are also car seat travel systems that make it easy to transition your child from the car to a stroller.

Many car seats advertise the inclusion of a no-rethread harness. A no-rethread harness does not need to be rethreaded when you adjust the shoulder straps. Car seats that don’t have a no-rethread harness typically must be removed from the vehicle entirely and then reinstalled after the shoulder straps have been adjusted.

Rear-facing car seats are easier to install than forward-facing seats, so for infant car seats, a no-rethread harness is less of an advantage, but nonetheless a convenient feature.

Car seat stroller combos are increasingly popular and very convenient for parents on the go. Most infant car seats are designed as carriers that attach to a base you keep installed in your vehicle. Many seats come with stroller compatibility, transforming your car seat from road to sidewalk use.


Better materials can mean an easier installation process and a more comfortable ride for your child. Look for car seats with machine-washable padding that’s plush and well-stitched. Beyond that, the most comfortable car seat is different for every child.

Weather can play a part in car seat comfort, with some materials working well in the cold, but proving too hot and scratchy in hot climates. The only way to know how your infant feels about a car seat, however, is to monitor their behavior when they use it.

Car Seat Terminology

As with many products, certain terms are frequently used to describe car seats and it isn’t always obvious what these words mean in practical terms. Many manufacturers also use proprietary, brand-specific terms to describe their products. The list below defines several that appear in this article:

  • EPS Foam: Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam is essentially Styrofoam™. EPS foam is excellent at dissipating the force of high-speed impacts and so is a standard material for crash safety devices like helmets and car seats.
  • Five-point harness: A five-point harness is a seatbelt design that is secured at five points (over both shoulders, at each hip, and between the legs). This strap system provides increased safety over a three-point strap system typical in passenger automobiles.
  • No-rethread harness: As your child grows, you will need to reposition the shoulder straps in your car seat. With a rethread harness, straps must be removed and rerouted through different slots in the car seat. A no-rethread harness only has one slot for shoulder straps, and strap height is adjusted by raising and lowering the headrest.
  • Click Connect (Graco): Click Connect is the name of the connection system Graco uses for its detachable car seats. Graco car seats that feature Click Connect can be detached from the car seat base and connected to a compatible stroller. When a Click Connect carrier is attached, it produces an audible clicking noise so that the user can be certain it is properly connected.
  • ClickTight® (Britax): ClickTight is Britax’s system for securing a car seat to your vehicle. Rather than connecting via lower seat anchors, the ClickTight system is a series of guides through which the car seatbelt is threaded. The result is a self-tensioning system that doesn’t require adjustment or guesswork from the parent.
  • SmartSecure® (UppaBaby): The SmartSecure system is designed to ensure proper car seat installation. It consists of a set of lights that change from red to green to indicate that certain parts of the car seat are properly adjusted, such as the anchor latches, stabilizing leg, and incline position.
  • SuperCinch® (Chicco): The SuperCinch system is a specialized pulley that Chicco attaches to the anchor straps that connect the car seat to your vehicle. This pulley makes it easier to tighten the anchor straps by requiring less force on the user’s part.
  • QuickFit (Maxi-Cosi): The QuickFit system is what Maxi-Cosi calls its proprietary no-rethread harness design. The shoulder straps and headrest are raised together without rethreading required.

Helpful Resources

We recommend several infant car seats based on our in-person testing and parent experience, but when it comes to your child’s safety, it’s worth consulting medical and safety professionals as well.

See the links below for several helpful doctor and government resources that help parents find the right infant car seat:

Car Seats: How We Tested

Our review team tested more than a dozen car seats. To select products for testing, we searched Amazon for top products by looking at customer ratings, Amazon superlatives, and prices. We only chose car seats that comply with United States Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

During testing, we compared adjustability, material quality, and ease of use to determine our rankings. We also considered customer opinions as represented by reviews on retailers’ websites such as Walmart, Target, and Amazon.

Ease Of Use

Even a car seat that meets federal guidelines is unsafe if installed incorrectly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 46 percent of car seats and booster seats are used incorrectly. When a car seat is simple to install and includes easy-to-follow directions, the chance of user error is lower.

A car seat’s lower anchor clips can make a big difference with ease of installation. While testing car seats, we encountered two types of anchor clips: a simple metal anchor and a buckle anchor (both displayed below). The buckle LATCH is much easier to attach and release. Seats with this type of lower anchor scored higher in the ease-of-use category.


car seats hooks

Buckle LATCH

car seats hooks


Though small babies are typically of similar size, older children often come in various shapes, heights, and weights. You’ll need to adjust any car seat to fit your child and your car. Features such as a built-in level, adjustable headrest, and multiple harness positions are useful in this regard. Car seats with more harness positions and incline positions scored best in this category.

Quality Of Materials

Better materials mean a more comfortable ride for your child. It’s also helpful when a car seat has machine-washable fabrics for easy cleanup. Car seats with soft materials, extra padding, and quality stitchwork scored best in this category.

Car Seat Testing Process

To test the best car seats, our review team installed each product into a sedan. In addition to inspecting the materials of each seat in person, we noted the ease or difficulty of the installation process. We also tested each adjustment mechanism to ensure it worked smoothly.

You can attach most car seats using the car’s built-in infant seat anchors or using the seatbelt. For our testing, we installed each seat using the built-in lower anchors when possible.

Why You Can Trust Us

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. A team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

Our Research

In 2022, our reviews team launched a study to gauge what shoppers valued most while searching for car seats. This is what consumers told us they look for before purchasing any size or style of car seat:

  • Approximately 89 percent of respondents stated safety as their top priority
  • Over 46 percent of respondents said the car seat needed to be the appropriate size for their child
  • 42 percent of those surveyed mentioned functionality as a priority 
  • Over 38 percent of respondents listed easy installation

Our team also found that 73 percent of respondents say they rarely uninstall their car seat once it is in place. Roughly a quarter of those surveyed said the most they removed the car seat was a handful of times each month.

Best Car Seats: Bottom Line

The hard part about choosing the best car seat is the landscape is changing on several fronts. Not only is your child growing, increasing in height and size, but the design of new car seats is always changing. Manufacturers have to adapt to government regulations, improve functionality, and add safety features like energy-absorbing foam.

While some products flash the all-in-one convertible car seat, a lot of wear can happen over the years that may render the car seat unusable before your child outgrows it. There’s also always the threat of a recall that could invalidate your purchase. The best bet is to choose a car seat you feel best suits your child, meets your budget, and installs easily in your vehicle.

Best Car Seat: FAQ

*Data accurate at time of publication.